The past couple of days have shown, in vivid monochromatic white, that the Republican Party is in full-blown Three Mile Island meltdown mode, what with talk about a brokered convention and establishment plots to deny Donald Trump the nomination and vast amounts of money to stop his campaign that should have come in November when, perhaps, and I mean perhaps, it could have made a difference. What’s clear is that the party wants to stop him, but in the absence of any one candidate that has been identified as the anti-Donald, this is not going to happen.
Carting out Mitt Romney, of all people, to tell the world that Trump is a fraud is in itself a fraud of momentous proportions, but it is emblematic of how far the GOP has fallen and how they have, in Karl Rove’s famous words, created their own reality. Remember that it was Republican fuzzy math that gave them the false idea that Romney was going to defeat Obama until FOX News called Ohio for the president and Rove went into mini-meltdown mode on national television.
Then they thought that simply by winning some House seats that they were going to force the president to give up his signature accomplishment because, well, the base demanded that he do that. Then there’s the Cruz shutdown gambit and the proposed Planned Parenthood shutdown gambit and the climate denial gambit and now the Supreme Court shutdown denial gambit that just got a whole lot more interesting.
But they’re saving the biggest reality denial for the fall, and that’s the idea that a political party that loathes its potential nominee and is publicly and loudly looking for an alternative that includes forcing a brokered convention and inviting talk about a third-party challenge can actually win a presidential election in November. Moderate Republicans, and I mean real moderates, not right wingers like John Kasich or Marco Rubio, will flee the GOP in the fall. Senators will run from Trump and try to create their own local reality in a news environment that will force them to take sides. And if the GOP does give in and support Trump, it will lose Hispanic voters and ensure that more women, young people and African-Americans will go to the polls. It’s difficult enough to win national elections when the party is helping its nominee; it’s almost impossible to win with a party that is spilt along three or four fronts.
I said repeatedly that Trump would not be the nominee because I assumed that the Republican Party would do anything to ensure its viability. That clearly is happening too late and I will admit that I am wrong as soon as Trump crosses the delegate math finish line. But if the party is still this fractured at the convention, then they will find it extraordinarily difficult to win in the fall.0