“Even though… many old and famous States have fallen or may fall… we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!
“And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
–Winston Churchill, 4 June 1940
Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican party.
It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of this disaster. If you are a supporter of Mr. Trump and reading this, well, first, hello! We don’t see many of you around these parts, and I welcome your differing perspective. Second, I take you for either or a liberal or a fool; it is impossible to believe him an ally of conservatism after even a few minutes’ exposure to his record.
Odds are, you are a regular reader of this blog, and we have been over my opposition to him many, many times before. To sum up, Trump is the most unpopular major-party nominee in polling history (the second most-unpopular, oddly, is Hillary Clinton). It is difficult to imagine the Republican “brand” ever recovering from the historic damage his candidacy will do among women, non-whites, and young people… which, oh, hey, happen to be the exact demographics most key to winning elected office for the next generation. Even if Trump does win (which remains a small but real possibility), his constant shifts of position make it impossible to know precisely what he would do in office — though his more consistent opinions expressed prior to this election cycle make it clear he would be much closer in practice to Hillary than his supporters would believe possible. Will he nominate good judges to the Supreme Court? I’ll give you a definite maybe on that! Are you sure he’ll build that wall? He’s not! (Which… is probably a good thing, come to think of it.)
Last night, we discussed how this happened. Today, we have to decide: what are we going to do about it?
This is the first of a three-part series. It deals with the fight from here to the convention. The second part deals with the 2016 election. The third part looks beyond 2016 to a new conservative future.
May 4th – July 18th: Fight In the Fields and the Streets
“If you need me to explain the problems with Donald Trump, you are one of the problems.”
–Me, in July of last year
Trump is the all-but-certain nominee. I had an array of desperate, convention-coup tactics lined up, all ready to publish here on De Civ in the event of a narrow Indiana loss. Heck, I’ve been teasing those tactics for weeks. They were the planned climax of my Conventional Chaos series. But the magnitude of the Indiana loss, combined with the GOP establishment’s sudden surrender to Trump, combined with the organized anti-Trumps (Cruz and, later today, Kasich) dropping out of the race, swept even my desperate tactics into the dustbin of implausibility. (I may still publish the final parts of Conventional Chaos, but it is now a theoretical exercise.)
This is no excuse to give in. The Republican National Committee may have decided to form a Vichy government, but we can join the Maquis. Trump remains the weakest frontrunner in history, and faces a convention with hundreds of delegates — perhaps more — who despise him. It is important, even now, to make clear that we do not accept Trump, that we will not unify behind a party defined by Trumpism, and that we will not kneel before Zod just because Reince Preibus asked us to. If you are a Republican engaged at any level of the delegate selection process, you should continue your efforts to stymie Trump with national delegates hostile to him.
That’s not just for show, nor is it just in case a miracle happens and Trump becomes somehow vulnerable to a contested convention. The Republican National Convention exercises many important powers besides picking a president. National delegates will define the structure of the next primaries (in 2018), and they’ll decide on the 2016 party platform.
Perhaps most interestingly, Republican national delegates will have the power to choose Trump’s vice president. Delegates are not bound for a vice-presidential vote and are under no obligation to choose the person the presidential nominee wants. Ideally, I would like to see the delegates choose someone who is and remains openly hostile to Trump as his running mate… someone who could, in the unlikely event of a Trump presidency (and, let’s be honest here, not-so-unlikely impeachment of a Trump presidency) smoothly step into the Oval Office without being tarnished by the Trump legacy. How about Jonah Goldberg for Vice President? Or maybe we attach Carly Fiorina to the Trump campaign, against his will?
It is, as yet, unclear how likely it is that an organized Trump resistance will emerge at the convention, but no effort should be spared in pursuing it it. Trump’s candidacy should be denied every undeserved comfort, every unearned courtesy, and his conservative opponents of all stripes should be helped and heartened at every opportunity. For now, at least, the Republican Party is still the only home for conservatives in the country, and has been our vehicle, our ally, and (at times) even our friend, for over forty years. We would be fools to hand the keys to the enemy without a fight. And, frankly, we owe it to our Party and its (former) principles to battle for its soul — even if the battle is hopeless. (And, hey, you never know: maybe a miracle will happen and we’ll win!)
Meanwhile, those of you who have an opportunity to become involved in the Libertarian Party nominating process should do so. It is not clear to me how the Libertarian process works (yet), but I will be figuring that out in the coming days. If the Libertarians welcome the exiles of the GOP, it may put us in a better position come Election Day… which is the subject of Part 2.