Reaching the delegate majority he needs to be nominated at the Republican convention remains a “big challenge” for Donald Trump, the New Yorker’s John Cassidy observed Wednesday. But even if Trump falls short, Cassidy doubts he can be denied: Trump will come into the convention with far more delegates than anyone else, and he’ll have won them all over the country.
Party bosses could try to broker the convention to avert the catastrophe of Trump as their candidate; but that would invite reprisals by Trump’s hell-raising supporters—possibly an even greater catastrophe. Or they could run a candidate they’re comfortable with on a third party. This is likely to happen. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has called for a “third option.” Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s top campaign strategist four years ago, told the New York Review of Books‘s Elizabeth Drew that if Trumps is nominated, “I think 100 percent there will be a third party.” He’s probably already organizing it.
If Republicans accept Trump, wrote Stevens in the Daily Beast, “the greatest pain” they will suffer “will be from the shame of pretending that an evil man was not evil and a hater really didn’t mean what he said.”
The conversation about how to make Trump go away misses the point that even if he leaves the race, his supporters won’t. Trump’s success in the primaries is a case history in the principle that out of sight out of mind only works for so long. It’s true that Trump didn’t get 50 percent of the vote in any of Tuesday’s five primaries, four of which he won. But he got 40 percent or more against multiple opponents everywhere but in Ohio, which he lost, and he got 36 percent there. Someone on CNN came along during the evening with charts that showed Ted Cruz was carrying the “frustrated” vote but Trump dominated the larger “angry” bloc. Who had known so many Americans were angry? Who had cared?
It’s now a commonplace to observe (here for example) that the Republican Party is getting what it deserved: when Barack Obama was elected president its leaders indulged his demonizers, contentedly riding the tiger that today is swallowing them. But something about flogging this perspective smacks of seeing the street through a Starbucks window. The view’s not so clear, and it’s not all you need to know. Do the protesters who descended on the UIC Pavilion to challenge Trump’s noxious message have anything to do with those Trump supporters otherwise? There are tens of millions of them now. They are a fundamental piece of American reality.
As we now know. But their view of everything—from race to weather—is so different from ours, it’s hard to see how or where to begin a conversation. Instead we hope that come November those views will be repudiated—sort of the way World War II did with fascism.
And if they are repudiated—then what do we think happens next? Do we think Trump’s people will simply straighten up and fly right? Trudge in defeat back to the margins? Do we think that come November, God willing, with Trump as their candidate, America will teach them a lesson once and for all and we’ll never have to think of them again?
Americans’ cluelessness about one another could be at an all-time high.