Tuesday, March 1, 2016

As Trump Closes in on Likely Super Tuesday Near Sweep, Conservative Republicans Look to Support Third Party Candidate

Today is Super Tuesday, a day that features twelve states, mostly in the south, holding primaries and caucuses. Current polling suggests on the Republican side that New York businessman Donald Trump will sweep 11 of the 12 states, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz winning his home state.  Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio also have an outside shot to win primaries in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but that would be an upset.

Donald Trump
Given that GOP delegates up for grabs today are awarded on a proportional basis, the result will have only a minor impact on allowing Trump to sew up the nomination.  But a near Trump sweep could feed into a growing perception that his nomination is inevitable.  The consensus has always been that field narrowed to two or three candidates would consolidate the anti-Trump vote into a plurality if not a majority that would defeat Trump.  Even that is in question though given a recent CNN poll that pegged Trump's Republican support nationally at 49%, an increase from 41% in CNN's previous poll.  It should be noted that CNN's polls, which are based on registered voters instead of the subset of likely voters, tend to show Trump support higher than most other polls.  Still the movement toward Trump is undeniable.

As Trump, a life-long liberal who was registered as a Democrat until 2012, appears to be marching toward the GOP nomination, prominent conservative Republicans are speaking out about their unwillingness to every back Trump.   First up is Stuart Stevens, a legendary Republican media consultant.  In the Daily Beast, Stevens writes:
[Trump has] proven he’s a uniquely ugly figure to emerge in American political history. He’s threatened citizens who oppose him, like his outburst against the Ricketts family, who have contributed to a super PAC opposing him. He ended the week ranting about rewriting libel laws and threatening Amazon because founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and it is covering Trump. Fortunately, Bezos is vastly wealthier than Trump and can buy and sell him a dozen times over. In Trump’s value system, Bezos is much the better man. Actually that’s one thing Trump probably has right.   
Across the spectrum, smart and troubled voices on the center-right spectrum are articulating why they will not support Trump and why Republicans must reject the menace. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Pete Wehner, one of the most eloquent voices, wrote in The New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance,
emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe.” ...   
He’s right, of course. Every Republican, from elected officials to super volunteers to leaders of the party, must ask themselves what it will mean for the GOP and, vastly more important, the country to play a role enabling this hateful man. Hillary Clinton will likely crush him, but that’s really not the point. There is something at stake here larger than one election. To support Trump is to support the hate and racism he embodies. That is simply an intolerable moral position for any political party.
Stuart Stevens
If Trump wins the nomination, politicians who support him will be acquiescing to, if not actively aiding, his hate....
If the Republican Party stands for nothing but winning elections, it deserves to lose. It will with Trump. But on the day after the election, the pain will not be just that the White House, the Senate, and possibly the House of Representatives are now in Democratic hands.
No, the greatest pain will be from the shame of pretending that an evil man was not evil and a hater really didn’t mean what he said. We hold elections every two years, and there is always the chance to regain lost offices. But there is no mechanism to regain one’s dignity and sense of decency once squandered.
While Stevens focuses on Trump's hatred and bigotry, conservative Georgetown law professor Randy E. Barnett pens an editorial arguing Trump's big government views and his lack of respect for the Constitution will send conservatives fleeing from the GOP:
If Trump wins, he’s made clear he cares nothing for the constitutional constraints on the president, or on government generally. His ignorance of our republican Constitution — to match his ignorance of much else — and his strong-man approach to governance would make Trump’s election a political cataclysm second only to Southern secession in its danger to our constitutional republic.
For this reason, millions of patriotic Americans who would ordinarily vote GOP — including most conservatives and all constitutionalists — will never vote for him. Yet were he somehow to win without them — say by moving to the left of Hillary Clinton to capture the Sanders vote — a Trump presidency would doom America as an exceptional nation.  
Far more likely, however, once the Republican nomination is in his grasp, the media who have been irresponsibly reaping the ratings whirlwind will lay waste to Donald Trump in conjunction with the Democrats.  His presidential campaign will be reduced to a few million die-hard Trumpies and little more. Down-ticket Republican candidates will flee him like position poison (as Mitch McConnell has already suggested). But to where? 
Professor Barnett goes on to make the case for a conservative third party:
What the nation needs is a new party that is expressly dedicated to upholding the Constitution of the United States, however it may cut politically — a party that can attract principled conservatives, but also any American who is tired of crony capitalism, runaway government and rule by an out-of-touch political class.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who won his Senate seat against his state's GOP establishment, outlined Trump's dictatorial comments and repeated attacks on the Constitution, especially the First Amendment:
So let me ask you: Do you believe the beating heart of Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been a defense of the Constitution? Do you believe it’s been an impassioned defense of the First Amendment – or an attack on it? 
Which of the following quotes give you great comfort that he’s in love with the First Amendment, that he is committed to defending the Constitution, that he believes in executive restraint, that he understands servant leadership?
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Statements from Trump:
***“We’re going to open up libel laws and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”
***“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. They were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…”
***Putin, who has killed journalists and is pillaging Ukraine, is a great leader.
***The editor of National Review “should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him.”
***On whether he will use executive orders to end-run Congress, as President Obama has illegally done: "I won't refuse it. I'm going to do a lot of things." “I mean, he’s led the way, to be honest with you.”
***“Sixty-eight percent would not leave under any circumstance. I think that means murder. It think it means anything.”
***On the internet: “I would certainly be open to closing areas” of it.
***His lawyers to people selling anti-Trump t-shirts: “Mr. Trump considers this to be a very serious matter and has authorized our legal team to take all necessary and appropriate actions to bring an immediate halt...”
***Similar threatening legal letters to competing campaigns running ads about his record
Sen. Sasse concludes:
Given what we know about him today, here’s where I’m at: If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee, my expectation is that I will look for some third candidate – a conservative option, a Constitutionalist.
I do not claim to speak for a movement, but I suspect I am far from alone. After listening to Nebraskans in recent weeks, and talking to a great many people who take oaths seriously, I think many are in the same place. I believe a sizable share of Christians – who regard threats against religious liberty as arguably the greatest crisis of our time – are unwilling to support any candidate who does not make a full-throated defense of the First Amendment a first commitment of their candidacy.
Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his "reign" and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.


Anonymous said...

Americans don't like conservative policies. Why can't they figure that out?

Anonymous said...

Nice post Paul....but the question that needs to be asked is where are the Indiana Republican voices of dissent in this tragicomedy that is Donald Trump? I don't expect anything from our empty suit Governor Dense, but is there not a Congressman, state legislator, local elected official, state party official to come forward and say they will not support this idiot? I am a former Republican who left the party after the disaster of "W" and Sarah Palin...that was too much to take, but this is beyond ridiculous -- the only good thing I can see emerging from this sad spectacle is that the GOP goes under and re-emerges as a Libertarian form of party....

John Accetturo said...

You can see the frustration. Conservatives, moderates, and liberals didn't really get anything done for the people. Politicians seem to have replaced the mob. A system where you can get virtually anything done if you feed the politicians enough money is corrupt. It continues to feed on itself and the same people get re-elected over and over. Government got involved in everything because the politicians can make a lot of money by controlling all these out comes. How do you think the Clintons who could not afford to buy a house are bring in hundreds of million of dollars into their control which they use to live their high life style. By the way this applies to the Indiana State House and Mayors in Indiana.