The Republican National Convention begins on July 18, 2016.
I’m with Jim Geraghty here in imagining this scenario,
Picture it: It’s July, and Republicans are gathering in Cleveland. The polls still look more like the most recent CNN one – Hillary ahead by 13 – than the most recent Rasmussen one – Trump ahead by 2. Trump remains the same man he’s been all along – speaking off-the-cuff and contradicting himself, offering conspiracy theories, casually suggesting he might use nuclear weapons here and there, rambling about celebrities, and still jabbing at “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco” even though the primary is done. Supporters fight with protesters at Trump rallies, week after week. Every Republican lawmaker is hiding from the press, as they’re constantly being asked if they stand by the nominee’s latest controversial comment. GOP hopes of holding the Senate look doomed; they know they will lose House seats, the question is whether it will be enough to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker again. The Republican Party peers at the abyss ahead.
Do the delegates still nominate Trump?
. . . If Trump is still down by ten points or so nationally in mid-July, traditionally red states are turning purple, purple states are turning deep blue . . . why shouldn’t the delegates alter the rules and choose a new nominee? Why are they obligated to ratify a landslide loss?
The only difference between I and Geraghty is that I’m not even inclined to wait that long. I am firmly of the belief that Trump would be a disaster in the General Election and he would drag down everyone on the ticket with him. With Trump as the GOP’s nominee, the only question is about the size of Hillary’s coat tails. Another nominee would reduce the possibility of Hillary being elected without any effective opposition to her agenda.
Apparently, Mitt Romney (and #NeverTrump) is of the same mind in trying to recruit a candidate to run as an Independent – where we part ways is that he seems to think the recently departed from the race John Kasich, Ben Sasse and interestingly, Mark Cuban are viable prospects.
To my mind, Ted Cruz is a significantly better prospect than either John Kasich, Ben Sasse and to a lesser extent, Mark Cuban. The fact that he has stacked a large number of the delegate slates with his supporters and a massive nationwide turnout and data operation (even though they didn’t help him knock out Donald Trump) is a big point in his favor. But, like Kasich, Sasse, Perry, Jindal, etc. he is not a viable prospect as either a substitute for Trump on the Republican ticket or as an Independent candidate.
July means that we will be a little less than 4 months to the election. It is important that we avoid a replay of the primaries, and all the bitterness, recriminations and division that will bring about. For Cruz fans like myself, the assumption that a majority of the delegates would be uniformly in favor of Cruz in the event that Trump is rejected by the delegates is not a given – Rubio, Bush, Walker and Kasich supporters would definitely contest the idea that Cruz coming second entitles him the nomination.
Second doesn’t mean a thing in a nomination race.
Which brings me to a key point; the American people have an innate sense of fair play (which is not the same as fairness). Donald Trump may have laid out the welcome mat for Kluckers, Birthers and Truthers, he may have been given $2 billion worth of free coverage by the media, he may have been confronted with only obsequious questioning by talking heads, but ultimately he broke no rules and came out on top – fair and square.
For Trump to be denied the nomination (even if just because he is dragging everyone down with him), turning around and giving the nomination to someone he defeated in the primaries would stick in the craw for millions of people – including many who would welcome Donald Trump’s removal from the ticket. It would strike millions of voters as unjust and essentially, unsportsmanlike, and that is not going to be an insignificant factor on election day. Likewise if any of them, Cruz, Kasich, Walker, etc. attempt to run as Independents – they would be seen as sore losers, especially given that Trump was forced to sign a pledge that he would not run as an Independent if he lost.
Drafting in someone else from the ranks of the Governors and members of Congress who did not run this year is also as likely to be just as problematic. First, because Trump beat their peers and second because they could easily be called out for not having the courage or the commitment to run in the first place.
The only scenario where the fairness charge is muted is if the nomination is denied to Trump for a previously unknown and undeniably disqualifying reason e.g. paedophilia, murder, rape, etc (even though it’s obvious most Trump supporters wouldn’t even blink – some would even applaud).
Cruz’s second place finish could matter then, but Rubio, Bush, Walker, Kasich, etc. (and any other Governor or member of Congress, both current and former) would be perfectly within their rights to put themselves forward before the delegates as an alternative.
All these factors lead me to believe that if, by some miracle, the delegates at the convention, faced with Trump cratering in the polls and vast swathes of the nation turning from Red to Purple and Purple to Blue, do the smart thing and choose to deny Trump the nomination and seek out a substitute, the best option, the option that would give us the best chance of avoiding any further chaos and division would be a retired General officer.
This applies just as well to the #NeverTrump effort to find an Independent Conservative/Republican to run in November.
From the polls, this is probably the first General Election in which a credible Independent candidate could very well win the Presidency given the immense unpopularity of both major party nominees.
Going the military route for me is a matter of expediency and pragmatism; looking at the political environment and salvaging what we can. Because that is what we, as Conservatives, are stuck with right now, especially once the media stops being indulgent and turns on Trump – a salvage operation.
To be clear; I do not think serving in the military somehow makes a person intrinsically more worthy to serve as Commander-in-Chief or that the uniform and stars on your shoulders makes you any less susceptible to the same temptations and character flaws that afflict the rest of us.
However, as a matter of experience and intimate familiarity with matters of national security and foreign policy that a President would have to deal with, flag rank military officers, especially 3 and 4 star officers who have served in the Joint Chiefs, as a Vice Chief of Staff or headed up any of the nine Unified Combatant Commands are very hard to top.
The second issue is the matter of instant credibility and good will. The fact remains that the military is the most trusted public institution in America. Politicians who have served in the Armed Services – even Democrats – play up their military backgrounds in campaign season for that very reason. Having served and reached the rank of General or Admiral automatically gives you a immense amounts of credibility and trust with middle America.
Another environmental factor to take note of is the current caterwauling for an “outsider.” A tough-talking General/Admiral can take advantage of this and make a solid race of it.
The final issue, the one that could pose some difficulty, has to do with the question of if the General wanted to be President, why didn’t he run for President in the first place? This is the same objection that would arise against another Governor or Senator (apart from the 2016 competitors) suddenly deciding to throw his hat into the ring as either a Republican alternative or an Independent.
My belief is that this is easily overcome; he can turn it into an attack. He can answer that he is running because none of the two major candidates are fit to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief, and it is only for that reason – a sense of duty to his country, one that will not allow him to sit idly by – that he has decided to step up and humbly present himself to the American people as another option to choose from in November. Furthermore, as a career military man, this charge will not stick to him the way it would a Governor or Senator – the last American President that was a General officer was elected in 1952.
If I were Mitt Romney (or Ben Sasse) I’d be researching (in no particular order) Peter Pace, Peter Schoomaker, Carroll Chandler, Peter Chiarelli, James Stavridis, Richard Cody, Patrick Walsh, William Fraser, Robert Willard, etc. – looking at their voting histories, party registration, donations since retirement, etc. and then sending a delegation to beg and plead.
There are many wallets that have been snapped closed now that Donald Trump is the nominee. The typical deep pocketed Republican donor can read the polls coming out of states like Georgia, Utah, Arizona and Mississippi, and he/she would certainly know that giving money to a man – a billionaire no less – with 100% name recognition, 0% self-control and 70% to 80% disapproval ratings in almost every demographic is no better than burning a mountain of cash.Get one of the names above on board and a huge number of those wallets will suddenly snap open.