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.]