Postmodern Conservative

How to Dump Trump

I’ve been away for a week at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s summer honors program. It’s quite the unique and hugely edifying educational experience. And I will say more about it from time to time.

Meanwhile, the real concern about Trump is that his roguish behavior is deteriorating into a pathetic freak show. There’s no justification for dumping him but that.

Can the Republicans dump him at the convention? Legally, sure. In a way that wouldn’t seem to most of the country an illegitimate betrayal of the will of the people by establishment oligarchs? Well, that’s between tough and impossible.

Dumping Trump would guarantee big-time defeat. But it looks like keeping him will too. The truth is that, for now, the Republican party can’t live with him, and probably can’t live without him. So the only issue is which form of defeat is more dignified and does less damage to candidates down the ballot.

Let me say, for the last time, that reason and experience both tell us that Trump can’t be beaten by “Never Trump.”

And let me add that the nominee can’t be one of the candidates Trump humiliated during the campaign. Especially not Cruz! But also not Scott Walker.

One more thing we’ve learned lately is that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and what they stand for have also been marginalized. They would both look like desperately oligarchic choices.

So for those serious about dumping Trump, I recommend they convince a credible candidate to announce his or her candidacy right now. Here’s my list: Senator Ben Sasse, Mitch Daniels, and Governor Nikki Haley.

The credible candidate would campaign not only — or even mainly — against Trump but also trumpet his or her qualifications for the office. The intention would be to be vetted by the media and the country and to quickly pick up popular support as demonstrated by polls.

Then the delegates at the convention might convince themselves that they are doing the will of the people by choosing the most attractive and electable candidate.

It might also be the case that the relevant studies show that a significant majority of Republican voters would still choose Trump over the respectable, last-minute insurgent. In that case, Donald still will be the nominee, and God help us all.

Peter Augustine LawlerPeter Augustine Lawler is Dana Professor of Government at Berry College. He is executive editor of the acclaimed scholarly quarterly Perspectives on Political Science and served on President George ...

Most Popular

Elections

The Highest-Stakes Moment Brings the Worst Debate

Tonight’s debate would have been only marginally less incoherent, noisy, and grating to the ears if CBS had broadcast two hours of static. The last debate before the South Carolina primary featured so much shouting, you would think that the candidates had just been told their microphones weren’t working. ... Read More
Elections

The Highest-Stakes Moment Brings the Worst Debate

Tonight’s debate would have been only marginally less incoherent, noisy, and grating to the ears if CBS had broadcast two hours of static. The last debate before the South Carolina primary featured so much shouting, you would think that the candidates had just been told their microphones weren’t working. ... Read More
Media

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More
Media

‘Undiagnosed Sociopath’

As we abandon moral language for clinical language, we run into technical difficulties. Writing in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman describes the 2020 presidential election as one that may be a contest between “a self-proclaimed socialist and an undiagnosed sociopath.” There is no such thing as an ... Read More