The Republican-wing of the #NeverTrump movement has not had a good election year.
Their attempts to carpet bomb Trump into political rubble in the primaries through Super PACs did little to stop his rise.
They failed to coalesce the divided Republican field behind a single challenger to the reality television show star, in part because they could not stomach the only feasible threat to Trump. The unpleasant reality is that the #NeverTrump crowd was just as much #NeverCruz. They just never had a chance to trot out that hashtag.
When it became apparent that Trump could not be stopped at the ballot box, there was the feverish search for a conservative alternative for the general election, not so much to be president but presidential spoiler.
Neo-Con grandee Bill Kristol boasted he had his champion in what turned out to be a ludicrous oversell. The public face of #NotTrump would not be Mitt Romney but lawyer and National Review writer David A. French. Qui?
Monty Hall had revealed more impressive gag “prizes” behind Door #2.
After an awkward quasi-run, French quickly departed the stage sans parting gift.
The series of collapsing schemes has left one final option for the #NeverTrump camp.
In two weeks, delegates at the Republican National Convention will have to make two very important decisions.
The obvious is officially choosing the GOP nominees for president and vice-president.
But before that vote, is the adoption of the rules of the convention, specifically whether the delegates to the Republican National Convention should be bound to the presidential candidate they are officially representing.
A good many Trump delegates are probably not enthusiastic boosters of the candidate they were sent to Cleveland to support. And that could be a problem.
With the nominee-to-be struggling with high negatives and low cash, a November disaster no longer seems to be a generic criticism by Trump haters, putting delegates in the unprecedented position to have to choose between abiding the results of the primaries/caucuses and placing the rubber stamp on Trump’s nomination or taking the drastic measure of setting aside the nomination contests and choosing someone else.
There are forces within the party energetically arguing that the results of the democratic process in the primary must be dismissed for the sake of the republic. Whatever candidate these rebels put up would doubtlessly be less personally offensive than Trump however the damage to the Republican Party could be fatal to the institution and the scab nominee.
An essential element to successfully orchestrating a hostile takeover of the nomination would be the support of Republican voters, and right now too many of them are enjoying the show.
Winning the nomination battle without having first won the public makes the execution of the switch unlikely and the electability of the replacement unviable.
If denied the nomination by a delegate revolt, Trump won’t spend the remainder of election sulking in his luxurious penthouse in Trump Tower but will rev up his jet engines to barnstorm the country plastering the beneficiary of the coup with his latest school yard sobriquet.
Some Republican leaders believe defenestrating Trump is the best hope for saving both the party and the republic. However a “delegates know best” play would tear the party asunder much like the Teddy Roosevelt-William Taft feud did. It took eight years of Wilsonian domestic statism and sovereignty-eroding internationalism to heal the GOP. And the Republican Party of today is not nearly as strong as the GOP of the roaring ‘20s.
Granted we would not even be having this conversation if Trump were a stronger, more organized, and better disciplined candidate.
Trump effectively became the de facto Republican nominee with his triumph in Indiana almost two months ago.
And what has the real estate developer done in this period?
Trump continued to run his primary campaign (sans LYIN’ Ted Cruz mentions) as if on autopilot, spending time and resources in Oregon and California, states where he had no chance of winning in November, and then taking a break to tour the media around his Turnberry Scotland golf resort during a peak fundraising window, with the convention only weeks away.
His primary “advance team”/crowd control operation remains in place and has not been upgraded to that of a capable general election machine. Trump plans to “borrow” the existing RNC political operation, much like a 16 year old seeks to borrow his old man’s car for the junior prom.
Expect to see the RNC campaign apparatus returned in the same condition as pop’s wheels.
Conservative activists fretting over the future of the courts, the economy, and the protection of civil liberties deserve to have a candidate fully engaged in a presidential campaign with four months remaining.
On the fundraising side, the businessman has to demonstrate to potential investors that he has the cattle to back up his Make America Great Again! hat.
Thus far he’s not scoring well on either front.