Conservatives who are understandably appalled by the prospect of a Donald Trump nomination – and therefore understandably intrigued by the notion of a revolt among the delegates – should be careful what they wish for. Dumping Trump at next month’s Republican convention could cause far more permanent damage to the GOP than sticking with him.
Trump has legitimately won the GOP presidential nomination. He played by the rules, beat out 16 other candidates and surpassed the required 1,237-delegate limit. To deny, ignore or spin away the fact that he won the nomination fair and square, and deserves to be the nominee, is beyond comprehension.
Party rules are crystal clear about voting for the nominee on the first ballot. The winner of a particular primary or caucus receives the largest number of bound delegates at the convention. Trump, having won 40 of these contests, has accomplished this impressive goal. While some senior Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, have suggested delegates should follow their conscience at the convention, this approach defeats the spirit of the entire process. It’s not illegal, but it’s morally wrong.
Such a move would smell of sour grapes on the part of the GOP establishment. Yes, it’s their party and they can do as they please. At the same time, such a move would be perceived as undemocratic, underhanded and incredibly devious by many party members and potential voters.
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Senior officials such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus would have to explain to the nearly 14 million people who supported Trump that their votes don’t count. I strongly doubt any political spin doctor would eagerly raise his or her hand to take up this near-impossible task.
Dumping Trump would set a horrendous precedent for the GOP. If the party opts to take the nomination from Trump, it could easily do the same thing to future candidates that the party establishment and grass-roots members had issues with. It would also defeat the purpose of running in the Republican presidential primaries, because the party could simply change the result at the very end.
And if it were to happen, widespread media coverage of a delegate revolt would be devastating for the GOP. If the nomination were taken from Trump, he would scream bloody murder to every reporter in sight. His supporters would erupt in justifiable anger, and God knows what else would happen. It would be a public relations nightmare for the party.
A delegate revolt would badly splinter the conservative movement. Many party members could abandon the Once-Good Ship Republican after the dust had settled. They could refuse to support the GOP’s preferred candidate and park their votes with other parties.
Finally, but far from least, a delegate revolt against Trump would all but ensure that Hillary Clinton became the next president. Is this something that Republicans wish to see play out?
For the record, I dislike Trump as much as his fiercest critics. He has made many offensive comments on the campaign trail, acted like a bully as well as a petulant child, and doesn’t adhere to the cherished values and principles of modern conservatism. He’s a detriment to the GOP, and right-thinking individuals fully know this.
But while some Republicans would relish the opportunity to revolt against Trump’s candidacy, they would end up destroying their own party in the process. That’s far too high a price to pay. Like it or not, we’re stuck with The Donald.
Taube, a political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.