The Trump Bandwagon Is Rolling Toward a Cliff
With Donald Trump’s resounding New York primary win, the conventional wisdom is on the move again. It’s returning to the presumption that Trump will win enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot or come so close he can’t be denied it without setting Cleveland on fire.
There are opportunities ahead for John Kasich or Ted Cruz to outperform expectations and prompt the CW to pivot again. But for now we’re back to “Oh my God, Trump is actually going to be the Republican Party nominee for president.”
To Trump’s chagrin, his return to inevitability is accompanied by the media’s notice of his poor prospects in the general election. But what Trump and his supporters take for disrespect is reality nonetheless. Trump would indeed be “the most unpopular nominee in history.” That’s what an unfavorable rating approaching 70 percent means.
Hillary Clinton may not be America’s sweetheart, but most Americans believe she’s fit to hold national office. The same is not true for Trump. By the time California Republicans cast their ballots, Trump’s voters will number some 13 million, around 10 percent of the electorate. Most of the remaining 90 percent are repulsed by him, as anyone with informed opinions and a sound conscience should be.
He might lose more Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in November than he won in the primaries. It’s possible that as much as a third of Republicans won’t vote for him, especially if a conservative alternative runs independently.
It’s safe to say and a comfort to know that barring some catastrophic misfortune, Donald Trump will be remembered as one of the biggest losers in the history of presidential elections.
I feel better just writing that.
That doesn’t mean that all good patriots shouldn’t do everything in their power to make history’s verdict certain. No voter should stay silent or at home out of disapproval with our choices or disinterest in the outcome. We can’t take any chances that the most powerful office in the world might be occupied by this ignorant egomaniac.
Reporters will get bored writing Trump-is-going-to-lose-big stories. Some will want the race to tighten. They’ll look for angles to promote the idea. You can see some of that taking shape already. The media took approving notice when experienced political operatives supplanted Trump’s posse of fanboys, who’d been running things until recently. With a change of personnel has come a little more maturity and message discipline—or what passes for discipline in a willful, insecure, ungovernable personality like Trump’s.
Small glimmers of normal candidate behavior as well as Hillary Clinton’s own unpopularity will encourage speculation that the general election might become more competitive. My money is on Trump, though, to spoil the narrative with regular outbursts of the childish bragging and bullying that is his native tongue. You can’t keep the fool in check for long. He’s too damn insecure.
Nevertheless, other Republican professionals will come to his aid. They’ll offer rationalizations such as preventing a Clinton-appointed majority on the Supreme Court. They’ll whisper assurances that they’ve surrounded Trump with grown-ups to stop him from acting on his worst impulses as a candidate and a president.
Baloney. They’ll be acting to advance their own fortunes or egos at the expense of the country. Unlike many of his deluded voters, party professionals can see Trump plainly. They know he’s an aspiring autocrat without any attachment to our national values, and oblivious to the realities of world affairs.
He professes admiration for Vladimir Putin, not just a desire to pursue better relations with an adversary but approval of Putin’s despotism. He’s applauded the Chinese government’s bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests.
He wants to end alliances that have kept us safe for decades because he thinks our friends are more expensive than our enemies.
He thinks more countries ought to have nuclear weapons.
He would start a global trade war that could plunge us into a depression.
He fantasizes about circumventing the First Amendment to make it easier to punish his critics.
He’s promised to murder the wives and children of terrorists, and to order American soldiers to commit other war crimes.
That’s just a partial to-do list for a President Trump, but you get the picture. He is unfit for the office, and a danger to the country and the world.
His campaign’s new hires know that, as do the Chris Christies and Newt Gingriches of the world, who make excuses for him. Working for Trump might not trouble de facto campaign manager Paul Manafort, who’s worked for tyrants on several continents. Having reached retirement age, he probably just finds it more convenient to work for one with whom he shares a home address, Trump Tower.
Maybe it doesn’t bother the conscience of any of Trump’s enablers. But it should. And it should trouble the rest of Republicans that we are identified with them.