While Democrats are lining up behind Hillary, albeit reluctantly in many cases, some Republicans still harbor a desire to “Dump Trump.” Kendal Unruh of Colorado and Curly Hougland of North Dakota are leading a fight to change the rules at the Republican Convention to allow delegates to “vote their conscience,” and presumably choose someone other than Trump to carry the GOP banner in 2016.
On the face of it, their arguments are pretty convincing. Even if you dismiss the concerns about political correctness, anti-semetic imagery, and outlandish statements, Trump looks like a candidate doomed to fail. His fund raising operations have been slow to start, he lacks a solid staff in many swing states (in many cases Hillary has had full time staff in those places for over a year), and seems like someone not ready for prime time: A dilettante who isn’t prepared for what is next.
On the political right – especially Christian and social conservatives – there is a fear that Trump signals the downfall of their movement, a victory once and for all of a kind of ‘secularism’ that Trump represents. His personal life, his New York roots and lack of conviction on social issues causes many to fear that once the Republican party has been Trumped, it will cease being a beckon for true Christian conservative values. If Trump is the nominee, they want him to lose. These voters also disliked Romney and McCain for being too moderate; now they’d give anything for such a candidate to emerge.
As always, people with strong political views engage in outlandish wishful thinking that somehow reality will twist around, the pundits will be shocked, and they will prevail. Almost always, such thinking is delusional.
No matter how ardent the Dump Trump forces are, the odds are stacked firmly in Trump’s favor. Most establishment Republicans now back Trump, who got over 13 million votes in the primary season. Their support maybe lukewarm, but it’s real. Moreover, while the rules committee could send a “vote your conscience” plank to the convention floor, Trump’s lead in delegates assures it will be defeated. True, some Trump delegates may be having second thoughts, but almost certainly not the 300 or so needed to pass a rule change.
Beyond that, such a rule change would greatly minimize the influence of primaries and caucuses, making the whole system less democratic. After all, if insiders want to create rules that allow them to reject a candidate should voters choose the “wrong one,” then we’re back to the smoke filled rooms and inside deals. People looking to 2020 and beyond see this rule change as a dangerous precedent. Think super delegates are bad on the Democratic side? This would be super delegates on steroids.
Trump is in a position where he is assured victory unless something bizarre happens – as the old political saying goes, unless he’s ‘caught in bed with a dead hooker or a live boy.’ While a rule change is politically possible, it is exceedingly unlikely, even if Trump continues making unforced rhetorical errors.
What does this mean for the GOP? The Christian conservative movement will be weakened if not rendered all but impotent. The culture wars began in the 1980s are done, and they have lost. For the establishment, on the other hand, there are mixed feelings. A Trump loss means four more years of having a Democratic President, thwarting any plans to truly shape policy. If Trump’s weakness leads to loss of the Senate and/or even the House, this would be an electoral disaster for Republicans. So many hope that Trump manages to eek out a victory, and that our famous checks and balances system of government can help Congress keep him on the straight and narrow. If so, many reckon Trump could be a successful President.
Others secretly hope Trump is defeated, and that Republicans at least keep the House. That assures the Democrats won’t be able to do anything too dramatic, and sets the stage for the establishment to regain party control by 2020.
So can Trump be dumped? Yes, but probably not by the Republican party. If Trump is to be dumped, it’ll be by the voters in November.