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“It Really Is This Simple”: Donald Trump Should Not Be President Of The United States

The #NeverTrump movement is rightfully disgusted and deeply concerned about the prospect of Donald Trump winning the presidency. These #NeverTrump conservatives have admirably broken from the Republican National Committee, which seems to care far more about avoiding “an embarrassing spectacle” at the convention than about sparing the party from being enduringly identified with Trump.

I admire and sympathize with #NeverTrump motives. But I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that the movement’s goal is not just futile but also somehow illegitimate. Trump won the nomination fair and square. He pulled in nearly 45 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, which is on the low end historically but not at all unprecedented. He carried 36 states and ended up with 300 more delegates than he needed to clinch the nomination. Roughly 14 million people voted for him, which is 4 million more than Mitt Romney won four years ago. All of which means that Trump seems to deserve the honor of standing as the Republican Party’s nominee for president.

The GOP should dump Trump anyway.

Yes, an anti-Trump coup (in which delegates are given the freedom to vote their consciences) would most likely fail. And even if it succeeded, it would almost certainly guarantee a GOP loss in November. Bill Kristol may like to indulge in fantasy-tweets about how an alternative nominee could win in November. But the result would almost certainly be a badly fractured party, with probably around a third of its voters bolting to a protest candidate or just staying home on Election Day.

The case for a coup has different grounds. It’s not about the conservative movement or the Republican Party’s chances in the 2016 election. It’s about what’s best for the country.

Since he clinched the nomination, Trump has managed the seemingly impossible by becoming even more erratic and even less presidential than he was during the primaries. The insults, the transparent lies, the racist taunting and bullying, the demagoguery, the narcissistic self-obsession, the incapacity to take a position and stick to it, the failure to raise funds and manage a campaign — the man has no business running anything of public consequence, let alone the government of the most powerful nation on the planet.

It really is that simple: Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. If there is even a small chance of successfully deposing him at the convention — an act that, if it worked, would deprive him of the means to compete in the general election — it should be undertaken. The alternative is complicity in a politically reckless and blatantly irresponsible endeavor: the attempted election of a candidate who deserves to lose.

Beyond the dangers posed by Trump himself are more sweeping concerns. As Jonathan Rauch argues in his important cover story in The Atlantic, American politics has gone “insane” in recent years due to the unintended consequences of a series of democratic reforms since the 1970s. These reforms severely weakened, and in some cases eliminated entirely, numerous informal intermediary institutions in Congress and the parties that once served to stymie the self-interested egoism of individual politicians and channel the populist passions of grassroots movements. Individual politicians are now increasingly free agents out to do the bidding of the angriest and most agitated voters, with both sides using social media to circumvent the institutions that would have once hemmed them in.

Rauch’s analysis is mostly correct — and he’s right to conclude that the best thing we can do to prevent the further degradation of our political system is to reassert the vitality of those old, anemic intermediary institutions. Allowing delegates to opt for an alternative to Trump would be a powerful example of precisely such a reassertion. The party would be saying, in effect, that although Trump prevailed democratically, democracy isn’t the only thing that counts. The party itself stands for something — not just popular government, but good government — and it would rather go down upholding a high standard than allow itself to be used as a hollow conduit for a demagogic rabblerouser to attain the pinnacle of power.

But wouldn’t this backfire? If the party denied Trump the nomination at the Republican convention, wouldn’t it fuel a “stabbed in the back” narrative that would inspire an even darker political movement four years from now? This was Jeet Heer’s argument in a recent smart piece in The New Republic. The Trump voters are a problem for American democracy, Heer asserted, one that can only be solved by allowing them to get their nominee and then ensuring that he’s roundly defeated at the ballot box in November.

It’s a powerful argument, but I’m unpersuaded that a general-election defeat will “solve” the problem of the Trump voters. These voters are activated now. Trump has given them a style and the rudiments of a policy agenda that they clearly prefer to the offerings from either the Republicans or the Democrats. The only way to keep those voters from flocking to Trump four years from now, or rallying around some even-worse populist copycat, is for the GOP to woo them by adjusting its platform and agenda.

That’s what both parties did after the original Populists upended American politics in the 1890s. It could happen again. It needs to happen again. And whether and how it happens will do far more to determine the future shape of the Republican Party than whether it dumps Trump this July.

In the short term, the party would most likely be wrecked. But that could well be less destructive, in the longer term, for both the party and the country, than trying to ride the Trump tiger. Exiling the Trump voters in 2016 would save the GOP from making a fatal compromise with competence and put it in a relatively strong position to run more compelling and capable post-Trump populists in the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential elections. America would be much better for it.

At the end of the transformation, the Republican Party would look and sound quite a bit different than it has since Ronald Reagan took it over 36 years ago. But Republicans should consider that vastly preferable to allowing Trump to remake the party in his own Know Nothing image. We all should.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, June 29, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Washington Weasel-Wording”: After The Trump-Ryan ‘Summit’, Both Sides Can Pretend The Other Is Surrendering

As political theater, the “summit” between Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan was first-rate. By that I don’t refer to the street circus of protesters and counter-protesters and a thousand cameras. The “joint statement” the two men issued after a meeting in the presence of RNC chairman Reince Priebus was a quick espresso shot of nothingness topped with pious hopes for “unity.” It left everyone free to interpret it as they wish.

Like a truce between Roman generals and a barbarian chieftain in late antiquity, the “summit” will probably be regarded by each side as representing the first stage in the other’s surrender. For Trump, the very ritual of meetings with the RNC chairman, the House Speaker, the House leadership team, and (later today) the Senate leadership team connotes the conferral of respectability on a figure each and every one of these potentates has almost certainly disparaged in private as a buffoon, an overgrown juvenile delinquent, or a proto-fascist. And for said potentates, Trump’s day on Capitol Hill represents his coming domestication. This dance could go on for quite some time before any push comes to shove in a public disagreement. And by then Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party will be stuck with each other for the duration.

On Wednesday, Trump’s little-known top policy adviser, the former Iowa politician Sam Clovis, offered a good example of how easy it might be for Trump and Paul Ryan to blur their differences on even the most inflammatory issues. Pressed about whether “entitlement reform” was indeed off the table, as Trump himself seems to have said in debates and on the campaign trail, Clovis allowed as how a Trump administration might actually mosey over in that direction if fiscal circumstances so indicated. I’m sure Paul Ryan was pleased to hear that, and perhaps he was exactly the intended audience for that small but significant shift. Having spent much of the 2012 general election pretending to love Medicare more than life itself after issuing budget after budget proposing to gut it, Ryan knows how to blur his positions as well.

As Greg Sargent shrewdly observed, a lot of the distance between Trump and Beltway Republicans can be bridged by Washington weasel-wording. They’re off to a good start today.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 12, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Catastrophe Of His Own Making”: How Reince Priebus Handed Donald Trump The Republican Party

Racist political opportunist and billionaire businessman Donald Trump won the Indiana primary last night, effectively securing the Republican nomination despite near constant punditry predicting he would not. Meanwhile, Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, told party followers it was time to fold and help elect Trump to the White House.

.@realDonaldTrump will be presumptive @GOP nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton#NeverClinton

— Reince Priebus (@Reince) May 4, 2016

He backed up his pronouncement today on cable news, even if it was lukewarm. “You know what, I think something different and something new is probably good for our party,” said Priebus on CNN, seemingly uncertain that Trump would result in anything other than catastrophic defeat. “Look, I don’t think anyone predicted what happened. So, look, we’re here. We’re going to get behind the presumptive nominee.”

The RNC chairman had previously struck a different tone prior to the current debacle unfolding inside the Republican Party. Just a week ago, he said that the party’s nominee needed to exceed the 1,237 delegate count, otherwise there would be a contested nomination. “You need a majority,” said Priebus. Referring to the congressional vote on the Affordable Care Act, which initially looked like it would fall short by a handful of votes, he said, “We didn’t say, ‘Oh he’s almost there, let’s give it to him.’ He had to get a majority.”

The current catastrophe facing Priebus and his party is one of his own making. When the nomination process first started, there were 17 candidates, many of whom had thrown themselves into the ring for several election cycles. After early polling showed a Trump surge, Priebus did nothing to “thin the herd,” as Scott Walker advocated when he suspended his campaign in September.

“Today I believe that I am being called to lead to help clear the field,” Walker said at the time. “With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately, and I encourage other presidential candidates to consider doing the same.”

Even after the Republican donor class began “encouraging” candidates to end their campaigns, Trump’s anti-establishment war continuously put Priebus (and the Republican Party) on the defensive, forcing him to fend off accusations of establishment meddling in the nomination process. “It’s a crooked deal,” said Trump following the Colorado primary, after the state’s 34 delegates went to Ted Cruz.

“Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself,” he said to The Hill in an interview. “He should be ashamed of himself because he knows what’s going on.”

But Priebus didn’t push back at any point, instead delivering meek responses to all of Trump’s transgressions in the name of party unity, possibly out of fear that he would upset the ever-growing contingent of Trump supporters inside the Republican Party. “Given the year we have, you know, I honestly don’t take it all that personally,” he said to Politico shortly after Trump’s outburst about the delegate allocation process.

In a separate interview, he said, “This is going to blow over. I believe this is some frustration that has bubbled.” He even appeared on CNN to reassure the American public that he wasn’t at odds with Trump. “I don’t sit here and internalize the charge, because there’s nothing the RNC can do about it,” he said.

At the start of Trump’s campaign, before he amassed the following of disgruntled Republican voters he now commands, Priebus framed the interest Trump was generating as a good thing for the Republican Party.

“I think it’s a net positive for everybody and I think it’s an indicator that there’s a lot of folks out there who are sick and tired of Washington and Trump has tapped into that,” said Priebus on Milwaukee radio. “When you have 30 million people watching [the first GOP debate], not to mention the fact that we have 16 other incredible candidates out there, I think we are showing America that we are the young, diverse party, offering a whole slew of options for people and that’s a good thing.”

When Priebus did try to stop Trump, he was accused by Bruce Ash, chairman of the RNC Rules Committee, of having tried to prevent changes to the Republican convention rules that would make it harder to have a contested convention.

The final nail in the coffin of the old Republican Party was Priebus’s tweet last night. Until this morning, John Kasich had not announced that he would exit the race. The RNC chairman’s announcement that Trump was the presumptive nominee upended months of his own claims that the RNC was an impartial arbiter governing the party’s nomination process. if anyone believed that before, they surely don’t now.

There were numerous factors contributing to Trump’s rise that were outside of Priebus’s control. But Priebus had options, if he wanted to save his party: He could have reprimanded Trump for his repeated attacks on the institutions of the party he wanted to represent as the nominee, or for the wild rhetorical excesses that have become associated with his campaign. But Priebus decided not to.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 4, 2016

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Media Is Ready To Grant Trump A Mulligan”: As Though We Hadn’t Just Witnessed His Reality Show Of The Last Six Months

If The Apprentice was basically a boardroom version of Survivor, then it shouldn’t surprise people that Donald Trump sees the Republican nominating contest as a game, and that he approaches the game the way a smart contestant approaches an elimination reality game show.

I’m no expert on this kind of strategy, but some things seem universal and obvious, like going after your strongest competitor first, and making a lot of temporary alliances. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why Trump spent all his early energy on the well-funded Jeb, why Cruz chose to be nice to Trump, and why Trump initially returned the favor.

Winning the general election is a completely different kind of game, though, so naturally Trump needs a completely different strategy. And, yes, that means that he has to play a different role. He has to actually be someone else.

And that’s precisely what he’s now promising the Republican bigwigs that he will do. I think Steve M. does a fine job of explaining this, so I’ll refer you to him rather than duplicating his efforts.

The key is that the Associated Press obtained a secret recording of a meeting that took place yesterday between Paul Manafort and top players at the Republican National Committee.

Trump’s chief strategist Paul Manafort told members of the Republican National Committee in a closed-door briefing here Thursday afternoon that his candidate has been playing a “part” on the campaign trail, but is starting to pivot toward presenting a more businesslike and presidential “persona.”

“He gets it,” Manafort told RNC members.

And this introduces a question about our modern environment. Now that every single thing you do and say seems to be captured digitally, it’s harder than ever to get away with flip-flopping, or saying one thing to one audience and something completely different to another one. Something you said on the Senate floor a quarter century ago can be brought up and plastered all over social media to make you look like a hypocrite.

Yet, the diffusion of the way people get their news, and the way that digitization kills people’s attention span (listen to a whole album lately?), makes it easier than ever to spin the news or change the subject and move on from controversy.

These two factors will be in tension as Trump tries to remake himself in front of our eyes, as though we hadn’t just witnessed the reality show of the last six months.

The media’s readiness to give him credit for this is not a good sign.

Let’s try not to forget how this campaign began. It began with widespread boycotts of Trump and Trump’s businesses because his campaign announcement had been so racist against Mexicans.

We’ve gone from that to the media applauding him for “presenting a more businesslike and presidential “persona.””

That’s amnesia, right there, and widespread media-assisted amnesia is Trump’s best hope for November.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 22, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Media, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Just A Crumpled Up Little Ball Of Paper”: The Night Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, And John Kasich Killed The RNC Pledge

Around 9:36 p.m. on Tuesday night in Madison, Wisconsin, the Republican National Committee loyalty pledge was pronounced dead.

It was killed by the combined efforts of three men, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, all of whom all but confirmed that they would rather leap in front of a speeding train than support each other for president.

Trump was the most upfront about it when asked during CNN’s town hall. “No, I won’t,” the candy corn-headed frontrunner said when asked by Anderson Cooper if he would promise to back the eventual nominee. “[Cruz] was essentially saying the same thing. He doesn’t have to support me.”

For months, Trump has complained that he has been treated unfairly by the Republican Party and the media and those who don’t support him. He reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday, offering, “I’ve been treated very unfairly” as his main reason for giving any other possible GOP nominee his stubby little finger.

Cruz, as has been his penchant of late, demurred once again when asked about his support for another nominee. “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife, who attacks my family,” he answered, referring to someone other than John Kasich.

That, of  course, was not an answer to the question.

“Let me tell you my solution to that: Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee,” was Cruz’s response to the second attempt at the question.

But the third time he must have gotten it right. Right?

“I gave you my answer,” the senator from Texas said of the man who has recently spent some of his time online mocking Cruz’s wife.

When asked about those responses after the town hall, Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Cruz, just repeated his initial answer: “Sen Cruz said he does not make a habit of supporting people who attack his wife.”

That left Kasich, the supposed man of reason in the Republican race, the nice guy just trying to run an honest campaign.

“Maybe I won’t answer it, either,” the Ohio governor joked, the wrinkles from his cheeks touching his ears. Kasich added that he has “respect for people that are in the arena” but also said he’d been “disturbed” by some stuff he had seen on the trail. And he wasn’t referring to the thing that fell out of Cruz’s mouth during a debate.

“I don’t want to be political here: I’ve got to see what happens,” he concluded.

Both the Kasich and Trump campaigns have not responded to a request for additional comment from The Daily Beast. Neither has RNC communications director Sean Spicer.

The pledge was dreamed up in September by the RNC to try to keep Trump from jumping ship and running as an independent candidate. Little did they know that he would become their presumptive nominee.

“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” the pledge read. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”

It took Trump approximately 24 hours to call a press conference, where he held up the piece of paper like Simba on Pride Rock, proudly declaring: “The best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge.”

Oh, how things have changed.

Five months after signing, Trump hinted at potentially running separately from the Republican ticket, claiming that the RNC hadn’t held up its side of the bargain. His two gripes? That establishment donors had packed the rafters to boo him at recent debates and that (Lyin’) Ted Cruz had questioned Trump’s past positions on guns and abortion.

But Trump steeled away and stuck it out!

For another month.

And then, just like that, the pledge died.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Loyalty Pledge, John Kasich, Republican National Committee, Ted Cruz | , , , , | 3 Comments

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