Over at The New York Times, my favorite conservative columnist is beginning to build the case that the Republican Party should prepare to steal the nomination from Trump if he goes into the convention with the most delegates.
He writes that one of the roadblocks to this unprecedented move will be “from the officially neutral press, where there will be much brow-furrowed concern over the perils of party resistance to Trump’s progress, the ‘bad optics’ of denying him the nomination if he arrives at the convention with the most delegates, the backlash sure to come if his uprising is somehow, well, trumped by the party apparatus.”
He does not mention that the Democrats will no doubt make much hay out of the fact that the replacement nominee–be it Cruz, or Paul Ryan, or Mitt Romney–is not the legitimate heir of the party’s nomination process. It’s easy to imagine Democrats going so far as to argue that they should *almost* win the presidency by default.
The principled response is for the Democrats to say openly: Trump is so extreme, we officially support the GOP’s maneuvers to remove him, like a boil, from the body politic.
The thing is, from the standpoint of a political tactic, Democrats don’t need say anything more. It will be painfully obvious that the GOP will not enter the November election as a united front. The Cruz/Ryan/Romney nominee won’t need to hear from Democrats that he is illegitimate; he will hear it from Trump himself, who will hardly crawl under a rock, but fight this out on cable TV to the bitter end like only he knows how to do. And that’s if he doesn’t run as a third party candidate.
This is going to be a hard-to-resist temptation for the Democrats. Conservative radio host Micahel Medved recently wrote: “Trump is the living, breathing, bellowing personification of all the nasty characteristics Democrats routinely ascribe to Republicans.” By which he probably means: racist, sexist pig who is giving shrieking voice to the final throes of white male political and cultural dominance. Or as Thomas Friedman calls it: the #middleagewhitemalesmatter movement. For your opposing political party to nominate your own caricature of them to the highest position of their party leadership is the definition of winning. The possibility of this big win must be blinding to some Democrats, even though a Trump nomination would be bad for the country, especially for communities of color.
The Dems need to be on the right side of history, not the right side of the political argument. They need to say to the GOP: we are going to beat you fair and square in November, but until then we are united with you against all that Trump represents. Do what you have to do, and we won’t attack you for it. It would be a sign that our leaders are ready to work together, that we are ready to try to bring the country together. We’ve seen the alternative… and it cannot stand: