Abandoning even the pretense of a democratic process, Republican insiders and even one of the presidential contenders have begun to openly thumb their noses at the primary process. More determined than ever to keep Donald Trump from becoming the nominee, establishment Republicans are busy telling the American public that the party – not the voters – has the final say in who gets the nod.
The arrogance in this message is remarkable. These insiders lay out their position as though explaining a simple concept to a country filled with mentally-challenged kindergartners. It’s in the rules, they say. There’s no funny business going on, they insist. This is the way it is. Sorry you wasted your time coming out to vote. You didn’t really think we were going to let you choose Trump, did you? Miraculously, they avoid concluding with an evil laugh.
Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be the only one who understands that the party is heading towards certain suicide. He has maintained a message that says that the only way to keep Trump from becoming the nominee is to beat him fairly at the ballot box. At CPAC, he predicted that there would be a “revolt” if the delegates stole the nomination away from Trump at the convention.
Trump himself, speaking to the possibility on Wednesday, said there would be “riots” if such a scenario unfolded.
Republicans seem to believe that the voters will just go along with it if they can convince them that the “rules” say everything’s above board. That the Trump revolution will just vanish in a cloud of white smoke once they nominate John Kasich or Paul Ryan or some other establishment alternative. Or that voters will come back in November, too disgusted by the thought of President Hillary Clinton to hold a grudge against the Republican Party.
Maybe they’re right.
But more likely, Cruz has hit the nail on the head. If this party wants to stop Trump, they’ll have to get behind the Texas conservative and hope he can get to the convention with more delegates than the New Yorker. Because that is the only way Republicans can nominate someone other than Trump without destroying their chances of a November win.
But in a very real sense, there’s more at stake here than the 2016 election. The establishment has apparently spent very little effort in figuring out why the Trump phenomenon happened in the first place. This didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was born out of the very arrogance they’re still displaying. This rinse-and-repeat cycle of pandering to conservatives, getting elected, and proceeding to ignore the voters until the next campaign. 2014 was the last straw.
Republicans like Mitt Romney may well be right. Trump may turn out to be a terrible president. He may lose in a landslide to Clinton. In either case, it would be a very damaging blow to the party.
But if they go through with this plot to thwart the voters, there will be no more party.