18 March 2016

Republican chaos

A much-ballyhooed meeting of big-name wingnuts yesterday produced a call for a "unity ticket" behind which all anti-Trump Republicans could unite in a last-ditch effort to snatch the nomination away from the Orange Peril.  So far, so good.  But who should comprise that unity ticket?  Cruz and Kasich are the obvious choices -- yes, it means pairing an extremist religious wacko with a moderate religious wacko, but they're the only two non-Trump candidates still in the race.  But which one should get the top spot?  And maybe some of the 14 ex-candidates should be considered?  Cruz is even more hated by the party establishment than Trump is, and Rubio did pile up a passel of delegates even though he dropped out after losing his home state by 19 points, and, and.....

These people are hopeless.  This is just more of what they've been doing for months as The Donald led the polls and then swept state after state.  Almost everyone agreed that anti-Trump Republicans should unite behind just one of their absurdly large (though steadily shrinking) motley plethora of candidates, but nobody could agree on which candidate should be that one, and so the non-Trump vote remained hopelessly divided and ineffectual.

There's a lot of talk about another option -- if Trump wins the needed 1,237 delegates to clinch the nomination or gets very close, the bigwigs can still save the party by dragging out a bunch of arcane technicalities from the rule book which will allow them to set aside the decision of millions of Republicans in the primaries and hand the nomination to somebody else.  Most of the objections to this idea have centered on the obvious fact that the Trumpolines would go apeshit, storm out of the party, and either vote for their man as a third candidate or sit out the election.  But it seems like the immediate problem would be agreeing on who should get the nomination instead of Trump.  If a few insiders in a closed-door meeting can't settle on a "unity ticket" to oppose Trump, how are 2,472 delegates engaged in some Rube Goldberg parliamentary process at a chaotic contested convention going to do it?  There are too many possibilities.  Cruz would point out that he got the most primary votes after Trump.  Kasich would argue he appeals more to centrist voters.  A lot of insiders admire Romney.  And Rubio.  And Ryan.  Christie would have a case to make.  Even the hapless Jeb! might try to drag his exclamation point out of the grave.  How would the party make a final choice?  Could it make a final choice?

The same problem applies with the last-ditch back-up plan -- that if Trump gets the nomination, the establishment would run a "normal" Republican as a third candidate in hopes of luring non-Trumpoline Republicans to the polls where they would hopefully also vote for endangered Senate, House, Governor, etc. candidates and save the party from a total rout.  They even dream that this third candidate could carry enough states to deny both Trump and Hillary an Electoral College majority, thus throwing the election to the House, whose Republican majority could then install the third candidate as President.*  But who would be that third candidate?  The number of options is just as large -- larger, in fact, since they include throwing support to the Libertarian or Constitutionalist candidate.  Most likely everyone would dither and argue for months and wind up with several desultory third candidates taking the field.  The anti-Trump Republican vote would end up as divided and ineffectual as it has been in the primaries.

I, for one, can hardly wait to see this all play out.  The way we're going, this election is going to look like 1964, but with the Republican side organized by the Three Stooges aboard the Hindenburg.  There's not enough popcorn in the world.

[*This is, of course, very unlikely to happen.  Even if the establishment did choose a single third candidate, that candidate would not get any electoral votes unless he got a plurality in one or more states.  The only scenario where this could happen would be if he and Trump genuinely split the right-wing vote between them, which would mean they would just divide the red states between them, leaving Hillary's electoral majority intact -- in fact, a divided Republican vote might allow Hillary a plurality in some red states, giving her even more electoral votes.]

10 Comments:

Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Infidel, while I am glad to see you enjoying the GOP crackup--your pieces on this train wreck have been fantastic--I am still fearfully cautious. The GOP may be a dying beast choking on its own bile, but there is nothing more dangerous than a mortally wounded creature striking out at any and all targets.

Add to that the few (but very loud on the web and social media) voices who blare "Bernie or burn it down!" and who pump out anti-Hillary screeds that make me wonder if they really believe that Hillary is worse than Trump or Cruz.

Still, as you said, this is worth watching. The GOP is facing what Commander Adama said in the Battlestar Galactica reboot: "Sooner or later the day comes when you can't hide from what you've done."

18 March, 2016 07:46  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: Thanks for the kind words! Yes, it's a mortally-wounded monster lashing out, but it's doing so while mired in a tar pit. The party still can't come up with a coherent response to Trump.

The vast majority of Bernie supporters aren't dead-enders. Especially once Bernie starts campaigning for Hillary in the general election, most of them will get on board. Remember, in 2008 there was the "PUMA" movement of Hillary supporters who rejected Obama (I was one of them -- what can I say -- I was being naïve and the Republicans hadn't gone completely nuts yet in 2008), but in the end not enough of them stuck to that position to have any impact on the election. And the thought of President Trump is a hell of a lot scarier of an incentive than President McCain.

This is going to stay scary right up to election day. But on election day we'll see that, yes, the Republican leadership really is as flustered and inept as they look, and yes, most of the nation can indeed see how loathsome Trump is, and yes, the flailing and floundering and lashing out of the enemy party over the last eight years have really been its death throes. It will be worth it.

18 March, 2016 15:27  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

"bigwigs can still save the party by dragging out a bunch of arcane technicalities from the rule book which will allow them to set aside the decision of millions of Republicans in the primaries and hand the nomination to somebody else."

You minimize the possibility of this happening, whereas that is exactly what was done by Republican bigwigs to set aside the decision of tens of millions of Americans and put George W. Bush in the White House. What makes you think they will hesitate for a second to do any kind of dirty thing to get their way, other than their possible conviction that Democrats are sissies who will lay down and take anything (they certainly did in their case) but the Republican base has been so filled with rage and hatred that they will go on an uncontrollable rampage if they don't finally get what they want?

And given the mighty Malheur revolution we just witnessed, that is vanishingly unlikely.

18 March, 2016 18:21  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Green: Look again -- I don't minimize the possibility of the bigwigs trying it, I merely predict that if they do try it they'll make a mess of it due to their divisions and incompetence.

As for the Trumpolines going apeshit, that doesn't need to involve an armed uprising to hit the bigwigs where it hurts. It only requires them to sit out the election, or vote Trump if he runs as a third candidate out of spite.

Although I suspect Trump would be more than willing to give them inspiration for more of the violent acting-out we've already seen from some of them at his rallies.

18 March, 2016 19:12  
Anonymous NickM said...

Apart from the obvious comment that the biggest wig of them all is on The Donald ;-) it has to be said that I agree essentially with your analysis Infidel. Yes, there is a plethora of possibilities but only one certainty and that is the GOP is in a right royal, nah, imperial mess. I don't think of this as good though. OK, if you are card-carrying Dem it is hilarious (pun intended) but... long-term is the USA really ready for the implosion of the GOP? That leaves a power vacuum by creating essentially a one party state. I don't mean NK fashion stuff but it means essentially if the Republicans disintegrate by this inglorious clown-fight (as is on the cards) it means any quarter-way competent Dem wins by default. I am not thinking Hilary but further ahead.

But maybe it is good. You might get at least a couple of other parties out of this. I think I have said here that I don't think the duopoly does America any good. Maybe a shake-up is needed but I am generally conservative (note the small "c" here) by which I fear revolutionary change. I think most Americans share this view that the Republican zombie apocalypse is scary. I want Hilary to win (ultimately - yes ultimately you lot over the other side of The Pond do drag these things out) but only because I see her as a safe pair of hands. But there lies the rub. The Dems need a strong opposition by which I mean a credible one.Trump is incredible (in every sense) and a hooch-up consisting of whatever set of the seven dwarfs is scarcely less bizarre. Interesting times (in the Chinese sense) indeed.

18 March, 2016 23:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick: Again, see my response here. If we end up with a re-alignment into a Clinton/Obama-type party vs a Warren/Sanders-type party, I can live with that.

I understand the UK is now up to five significant parties (Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, and Scottish Nationalists) -- maybe you can loan us a couple.

19 March, 2016 04:40  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I don't see the Trumpistas giving up easily; and from what we've been hearing from himself and his supporters, there will be an ugly fight if he doesn't get the nomination, or Trump peels off his people and goes third party.

I'm still counting on this country to not put the narcissistic baboon in the White House, but then the fact that he's come this far leaves me with terrifying doubts.

19 March, 2016 18:45  
Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

Good article as always, Infidel.

It amuses me how the Establishment types think they can use a split party to somehow still win the whole Presidency thing. It's as you pointed out: they seem to think they can split 50-50 with Trump on the Red States, and then somehow deny Hillary (or Bernie) enough of the Blue States that went for Obama in 2012 to force an Electoral stalemate into the House. They seem to forget, the Electoral results for each state just goes to the overall winner (save for Nebraska and Maine which do give proportional Electors, which still aren't a lot), and if Trump and INSERT GOP SAVIOR HERE split turnout in 20-35 percent counts, it still could leave Hillary sitting with 40-45 percent and winning those states.

It's fitting that the Republican Party as a group have failed to learn any history they choose not to learn, because if they really studied US History they'd have seen how such party-splitting DOES NOT work - such as 1912 or 1992 (I digress, but 1948 is a notable exception, but that was because a majority of Democrats stuck with Truman as he earned it as an honestly good President over the damn Dixiecrats and Wallace's meager Stalin-hugging party).

And yet, can you blame them? If they fail to do nothing, if in fact they throw all-in with Trump and his platform of hate and ignorance, they face the likelihood of the entire party getting trashed anyway. The polling shows Trump's unfavorables still outranking Hillary's, the moderate voters bound to show up in the general are NOT going to be as racist or destructive towards government the way Trump's followers are, and this is one election where the down-ticket elections - especially the Senate - are vulnerable due to the Republicans committing mass obstruction across the board (not just blocking a SCOTUS nominee but the growing possibility of another budget gridlock).

Also, we need to poll for a good nickname for the Trumpaphiles. Trumpolines... I'm sorry boss, but that just doesn't sound right. They're not that fun and bouncy, you know?

19 March, 2016 18:57  
Blogger Paul Wartenberg said...

I use the map generator Bouie pointed to in his tweets, and discover that even with massive voter suppression as long as Trump is polling 49 percent among White voters the GOP is REALLY screwed: http://noticeatrend.blogspot.com/2016/03/playing-with-demographics-on-electoral.html

19 March, 2016 20:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Shaw: Oh, the screeching and clawing and poo-flinging are going to be epic. I wouldn't miss it for anything.

Paul: That's the beauty of it -- they're screwed no matter what they do, and they've got no one to blame but themselves.

I came up with that name last year, when sober Republicans were confidently claiming that Trump's poll numbers weren't real and would eventually drop. It was because every time he did fall in the polls a bit, he always went back up soon after. The Trumpolines always give their man another bounce!

And I generally prefer an approach that emphasizes the enemy's absurdity rather than their evil. Fear, after all, is a kind of respect. Trumpism, like religion, is fundamentally absurd even when terrifying.

20 March, 2016 04:04  

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