A few weeks ago, it seemed to be settled. Not only had Donald Trump outlasted (or, to put it another way, crushed) 16 other candidates for the Republican nomination, he had crossed the delegate threshold of 1,237, guaranteeing him victory on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in July. After all the talk about a contested convention, Trump had taken away the GOP establishment’s power. Whether they liked it or not – and they most certainly did not – he was going to represent the party in the general election.
Knowing this to be true, Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got on board the Trump Train, even if their reluctance was palpable. They took the position of almost all Republican voters – even those who had hoped to the last second that someone else would find a way to move past the New Yorker in the finals weeks of the contest. That position being: Trump may not be perfect, but he’s a hell of a lot better than Hillary Clinton.
Many of these Republicans hoped that Trump, having won the nomination decisively, would begin dropping some of his more outlandish rhetoric in favor of a disciplined (read: pre-written) approach to the fall campaign.
Instead, Trump found himself in the middle of his biggest controversy to date. Irritated by Gonzalo Curiel, the judge presiding over a civil lawsuit against Trump University, the billionaire questioned whether he could get a fair trial considering Curiel’s Mexican heritage. In the aftermath of the comments, even some of Trump’s most consistent supporters like Newt Gingrich said the remarks were indefensible, racist, and un-American.
Some Republican officials began making ominous threats, reminding Trump and his supporters that he was not the nominee “yet.”
As a private organization, the Republican National Committee could indeed finagle the rules in such a way that would prevent Trump from being crowned the nominee in July. Sure, it would be a disaster for the party, but if the establishment thinks that they’re headed for disaster either way, what’s to stop them?
United, the GOP and Donald Trump have an excellent shot at defeating Hillary Clinton this November. Divided, that shot diminishes but the possibility still remains.
But if Republicans thwart the will of the people – if they deny the nomination to a man who has won more primary votes than any candidate in the party’s history – they will not only put Clinton in the White House, they will effectively destroy the party they claim to care so much about.
That’s what will happen, and that’s the only thing that can happen.
Hopefully, GOP and RNC leaders will remember that.