Thursday, March 24, 2016

Quote of the day #1: "end of the line for GOP"

That's part of the headline from an op-ed in the Daily Star this morning by Jonah Goldberg, the full headline being It’s the end of the line for GOP as we know it.

We all ought to pay attention to this one. Here is why. "Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute." In other words, he is a serious conservative. His article is a damning indictment of the Republican party and a chilling prediction of how Trump's candidacy presents the Republicans with a lose-lose scenario.

Nominating Donald Trump will wreck the Republican Party as we know it. Not nominating Trump will wreck the Republican Party as we know it. The sooner everyone recognizes this fact, the better.

Denial has been Trump’s greatest ally. Republicans and commentators didn’t believe he would run. They didn’t believe he could be an attractive candidate to rational people, no matter how angry with “the establishment” voters said they were. They — which includes me — were wrong.

[snip]

Trump’s response to [the] floor-fight talk was to vomit up the usual word salad.

“All I can say is this, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Trump told ABC’s “This Week.” “But I will say this, you’re going to have a lot of very unhappy people (if I’m denied the nomination). And I think, frankly, for the Republicans to disenfranchise all those people because if that happens, they’re not voting and the Republicans lose.”

Even through the syntactical fog, Trump’s point is clear: If he can’t reach 1,237, he should get the nomination anyway. Because he is Trump. If that doesn’t happen, his supporters will stay home, defect from the party, riot or all three.

And he’s right. Not about deserving the nomination even if he doesn’t have the delegates. That’s typical Trumpian whining. But he’s right that if he’s denied the nomination, many — not all, but many — of his supporters will bolt from the convention and the party.

Left out of Trump’s unsubtle threat: Many anti-Trump Republicans will desert the convention and the party if he’s not denied the nomination.

There are only three possible ways to avoid a calamitous walkout. Ted Cruz can win the nomination outright before the convention. That’s very unlikely given that he’d need to win roughly 80 percent of all the remaining delegates.

Second, Trump could reveal he has a hidden reservoir of magnanimity and patriotism, and rally his faithful to the consensus nominee. Stop laughing.

Third, the delegates could pick someone sufficiently attractive that Trump followers get over their understandable bitterness and support that candidate despite Trump’s objections. Who would that be? Certainly not Mitt Romney. Maybe a reanimated Ronald Reagan. Or Batman? I have no idea.

All of these scenarios are so unlikely in part because the split in the GOP isn’t merely about a single personality. Trump represents just the most pronounced of a spiderweb of ideological and demographic fault lines that are increasingly difficult to paper over.

That set of fault lines, as I've written about them before, is the divide between the Republican Elites and the new American Authoritarianism. Or, as Goldberg put it, "Put simply, and with the incessant and obtuse comparisons of Trump to Reagan notwithstanding, you cannot have a party that’s both Reaganite and Trumpish."

So ends the GOP as our parents knew it.

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