The Republican Party Can Still Deny Trump the Nomination
When Ted Cruz announced last Tuesday that he was dropping out of the Republican primaries, it appeared that Donald Trump had done the impossible. Despite facing an enormous field of experienced politicians…despite an unending series of controversial statements…despite all the bad press…despite everything, he managed to overcome the odds and become the nominee.
If you look around, there’s barely a peep to suggest that Trump supporters might be popping the champagne too early. But after watching Republicans try their damnedest to keep him away from the nomination – to watch them try so hard that they were willing to get behind a dyed-in-the-wool conservative like Ted Cruz – it’s hard to believe they will give up so easily.
Don’t you think it was a little odd that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus anointed Trump as the presumptive nominee only minutes after Cruz dropped out? The cable news networks, though pushing the “it’s over” narrative, didn’t even officially follow suit until the next day, when John Kasich dropped out. After all the talk of a contested convention, why would the RNC capitulate so quickly?
Untold millions have been spent by anti-Trump forces. And a lot of that money was spent long after Cruz and Kasich had been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination on the first ballot. What changed after Indiana?
Well, the story we’re fed is that after his northeastern landslides and his win in Indiana, Trump had a clear path to get to 1,237. Cruz’s numbers were headed in the wrong direction, the advertising onslaught wasn’t changing anything, and there simply wasn’t any use in going forward.
It’s believable. But is it true?
We’ve wondered for a long time what would happen if Trump were to finally vanquish all of his challengers. Would the established Republican leaders recognize that the people had spoken? Would they get behind what can charitably be called an “unconventional nominee”?
Well, over the past week, we’ve found out the answer. Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Bush 41, Bush 43, and Paul Ryan have all denounced Trump’s nomination with varying degrees of vigor. And we’re still two months away from the convention in Cleveland.
Make no mistake: Trump is not the Republican nominee for president. Not yet. And until he is voted as such by Republican delegates in July, we should not assume that the GOP has surrendered. They’ve surrendered publicly, sure. But don’t think for a minute that there aren’t still establishment forces plotting to take this away from him. There is no legal hurdle standing in the way; the RNC is a private organization, they rewrite the rules every four years, and they can easily tell Trump to take a hike if they determine that it’s in their best interests to do so.
Is it likely? Certainly not. To blatantly thwart the will of the voters in this way would be tantamount to political suicide. Not only would it ensure a Hillary Clinton win in November, it would likely be the end of the Republican Party as a national force in politics. The party recognizes this, the media recognizes this, and Trump recognizes this. And that’s why you don’t see anyone still entertaining the idea in a serious way.
But let’s be clear about the threat Donald Trump represents to the Washington power complex. With his unprecedented approach to trade, government corruption, and America’s military responsibilities, Trump actually represents something much more dangerous: A change in the status quo that transcends Republican/Democratic divides. We’re not talking about the Hillary Clintons and the Paul Ryans of the world. We’re talking about the entrenched network of think-tanks, public-private intelligence communities, and financial interests that call the ultimate shots regardless of which party is in power. It is because of this network that – aside from rhetoric – both parties enthusiastically support Middle Eastern intervention, unrestrained free trade agreements, and domestic spying initiatives that compromise the privacy of the American public.
If the real powers-that-be in this country decide that it would be better to disenfranchise millions of Republican voters than to risk letting Trump get within striking distance of the White House, denying him the nomination becomes academic. We’ll hear plenty of high-minded talk about conservatism, the Party of Lincoln, and the seriousness of the presidency, but it will just be a cover for what’s really happening.
Democracy’s fine…as long as you pick from the candidates you’ve been offered. Democracy’s fine…as long as you limit your preferred ideology to a certain acceptable spectrum. Democracy’s fine…unless your democracy challenges the real heart of American power.
By all means, we should start turning our attention to the general election. It is overwhelmingly unlikely that the Republican Party will actually deny Trump the nomination.
Still, keep it in the back of your mind. He’s not the nominee yet.