Since nothing else has worked, mainline Republicans have been reduced to wringing hands and lighting their Ronald Reagan candles in prayerful pleas that Donald Trump fails to secure the nomination before their convention in July. He needs 1,237 delegates, and it’s not clear he will achieve that.
Denying Trump a first-ballot coronation conceivably could throw the convention into chaos and pave the way to nominate a more conventional candidate. That’s the establishment’s best hope — maybe its only hope.
Weird, huh? Republicans, having been swallowed by the chaos Trump inflicted on their plans, need a dose of the same to stop him.
I have a better idea. Give it up.
By any standard Republicans claim to hold dear, Donald Trump should be their nominee for president. I think he will get clobbered by Hillary Clinton in November, but more than 7 million GOP voters thus far have selected him from a field that once numbered 17 candidates, far more than anyone else. That’s supposed to matter.
These people chose Trump because they’re fed up with Washington and the way leaders there don’t listen to them. Republican voters can’t speak any louder than they have this election season. They want Trump!
True, more than 12 million voters chose someone else, but those people had a lot of options. As the field has dwindled to three, options other than Trump are either far-fetched (John Kasich) or downright scary (Ted Cruz). Frankly, as a citizen of this great nation, Trump scares me less than Cruz.
Kasich may be the sanest of the bunch, and he certainly is qualified. Alas, he also has been all but dismissed by the pundits, even after his home-state win last week in Ohio. I’m tempted to say that judgment should all but secure the nomination for Kasich, since the experts haven’t been right on much about this election. They may have a point, though, about the implausible, if not impossible, task Kasich faces going forward.
He would have to win a few more states to set himself up as a viable mainstream alternative in a brokered convention. Out of the primaries and caucuses thus far, though, he has won only the state where he is a popular governor. He finished third, behind Trump and Cruz, next door in Michigan.
That doesn’t bode well, even though polls have shown Kasich faring well against Clinton. At a recent debate, Kasich noted “I beat Hillary Clinton by more than anybody, by 11 points.”
Voters don’t seem to care about those polls.
They want Trump.
Imagine the outrage if their man is denied the nomination. That would strike a matchstick that quickly could turn into an inferno and make a strange scene worse.
Republicans have been building toward something like this. It’s time to see it through. They lost the last two presidential races, and the answer each time was to go harder to the right. They don’t seem to accept that a majority of Americans reject their hard-line stances on immigration, reducing taxes on the wealthy, gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and so on.
Even the main target of their ire, President Barack Obama, is gaining in popularity. In the most recent Gallup poll, 52 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing. That’s up from a 39 percent approval rating in July 2014.
Now along comes Trump with his build-a-wall mantra and all the other things he says. That may seem counter-productive to the mood of the country overall, but the fact his message has resonated deeply with millions of Americans can’t be denied. They deserve to have their man judged in November.
If Trump goes to the convention in Cleveland as the clear leader, accept the judgment of those who voted in the primaries. It’s Trump they want, it’s Trump they should get and, as Republicans like to say, let the people decide.
(c)2016 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)
Visit the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.) at www.tampatrib.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.