Postmodern Conservative

There Really Is No Republican Party

First off, I was very moved by Cruz’s concession speech. It was classy, and he didn’t pretend to have a clue about what he or we should do next. 

It would be easy right now to speculate on what should have been done to keep Trump’s hostile takeover from working. There will be lots of time for that soon enough.

Even when I’ve said Republicans should do more to learn from Trump’s appeal, I’ve consistently underestimated him. Maybe not him exactly. He’s still a buffoon with quite the knack for negative branding. But things are about to change.

Not only is Trump entering a new and more diverse electoral environment, he’ll be opposed by those who really know what they are doing. There will be little left of him by November. It’ll be clear to most everyone that he’s not prepared in any way to be president.

Republicans in general  now seem to have no effective way to campaign. If they campaign against Trump, then the Trump enthusiasts (probably just over a quarter of the country) won’t vote Republican down ballot. If they campaign with Trump, they’ll go down with him, looking fearfully unprincipled in the process.

The most sanguine view is that Hillary Clinton was probably going to win anyway. But she wasn’t going to win by a landslide with the Democrats having comfortable margins in both the Senate and the House. She might have been (as her husband was) a decent president in many ways had she had to work with a Republican Congress. And the Republicans might have finally learned the hard lesson that if you can’t win the presidency, you need to work with the president you have.

The same Republicans who were so impotent in the face of what is basically a minority faction aren’t likely to be better in coming up with a compelling third-party candidate. They should try, of course. And I will likely vote for that person if he or she makes it on the ballot in Georgia.

For now, I note that that crafty John Kasich has managed to be the last man standing with Trump. I hope against hope for a kind of buyers’ remorse that allows him to surge in the remaining primaries. 

My depressing takeaway is to ask you to think about what the Republican convention will be like now. Certainly not a deliberative body charting the future of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. It will be a Trump rally, and most of the nation will not be amused.

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 ...

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