The GOP is faced with an actual existential crisis as it approaches the RNC Convention in Cleveland. The presumed nominee is a man who is not only a liberal Democrat by inclination but a demagogue and a charlatan. The RNC delegates will have to decide whether they wish to participate in changing, forever, the GOP into a populist, isolationist party in search of grievances to bitch about and people to blame. This is not a party that will have a long or distinguished future.
There have been rumblings that a mutiny was brewing among delegates. On Friday, for instance, it was reported that RNC chairman Reince Priebus was actively polling state delegations trying to map the size and scope of the Dump Trump movement which could make this the most interesting convention since the Democrat’s 1968 offering. The movement is serious enough that Priebus was moved to deny that it, like the US Army on the edge of Baghdad International Airport, even existed.
“Donald Trump bested 16 highly qualified candidates and received more primary votes than any candidate in Republican Party history. All of the discussion about the RNC Rules Committee acting to undermine the presumptive nominee is silly. There is no organized effort, strategy or leader of this so-called movement. It is nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets.”
Donald Trump, on the other hand, seems spooked:
And one can easily read Paul Ryan’s interview on Meet the Press yesterday as giving a green light to the mutineers (more comment from my colleague
Trump called attempts to strip of the party nomination “totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying.” On Saturday, he accused former opponents Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) of trying to undermine his candidacy.
CHUCK TODD: You do have a role at the convention as Convention Chairman. You had doubts about whether to support Trump. You took a month–
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: I took a month.
CHUCK TODD: –to make that decision. Shouldn’t delegates if they’re having second thoughts about it have an opportunity to express that second thought, and be unbound, and let the will of the convention decide for sure that they want him?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: That’s not my place to decide. My place is because of again this role I have, which I feel has very important responsibilities, is to call balls and strikes, and just play it by the rules. So it is not my job to tell delegates what to do, what not to do, or to weigh in on things like that. They write the rules. They make their decisions.
All I want to make sure is that it’s done above board clearly, honestly, and by the rules. So I see my role now given that he’s got the plurality, he actually won, is pretty much a ceremonial position. But the last thing I’m going to do is weigh in, and tell delegates what to do–how to do their jobs.
CHUCK TODD: All right. I guess so if they decide to change the rules, which they can do, you’re comfortable with however they change the game?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: You’re asking the wrong person. You should ask the party. You should ask Reince Priebus. You should ask the delegates. I think the Rules Committee meets the week before or something like that–
CHUCK TODD: But if you have an opinion on this it matters–
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: My opinion is not relevant here. I’m not going to tell the delegates how they should do their jobs, because I am Chair of the convention.
CHUCK TODD: As you know, there’s a ton of prominent Republicans that said they’re not going to do it. Governors of Maryland and Massachusetts. You know the handful of senators, whether it’s Senator Sasse, Senator Grant. Do you think it is that members in the House Republican Conference; follow your conscience. If you don’t want to support him, don’t do it?
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Oh, I’m not going to tell– Absolutely. the last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn’t do that. Look, believe me, Chuck. I get that this a very strange situation. He’s a very unique nominee. But I feel as a responsibility institutionally as the Speaker of the House that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party. Because you know what I know that’ll do? That’ll definitely knock us out of the White House.
CHUCK TODD: The party’s already divided.
SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: Well, it’s divided, and I’m not going to tell somebody to go against their conscience.
Today the Washington Post reports that the movement is a lot more than talk:
Supporters of a growing anti-Donald Trump movement announced plans Sunday to raise money for staff and a possible legal defense fund as they asked new recruits to help spread the word with less than a month until the Republican National Convention.
Having started with just a few dozen delegates, organizers also said Sunday that they now count several hundred delegates and alternates as part of their campaign.
“As we carefully consider not only the presidential nominee but the rules of the convention, the platform of the Republican Party and the vice presidential nominee, remember that this is true reality TV – it is not entertainment,” Regina Thomson, co-founder of the group now calling itself “Free the Delegates,” said Sunday night.
The group is led by delegates seeking to block Trump at the GOP convention next month in Cleveland by changing party rules so that they can vote however they want — instead of in line with the results of state caucuses and primaries. It is quickly emerging as the most organized effort to stop Trump and coincides with his declining poll numbers.
Priebus and Trump had better be taking this seriously. We know that a majority of the people selected as delegates oppose Trump. They don’t oppose him a little, they oppose him a lot. Most of them realize that the stakes are not only the White House… which Trump could win considering his opposition… but the future of the GOP. If his only compelling case is his poll numbers then Trump will arrive at the convention trailing Clinton by double digits and exuding the odor of death, decay, panic, and flopsweat and there will be no reason at all for delegates to set themselves on fire for the sake of Trump’s ego.