No, We Shouldn’t Have a “Conservative” Third Party if Trump is the Nominee

Since Rubio came up short in South Carolina, there has only been one man who had a chance to beat Donald Trump and that’s Ted Cruz. Today, Cruz is roughly 200 delegates short of where he would have been if Kasich and Rubio had gotten out once they had no realistic shot to win. Although the odds are increasingly turning against Cruz, he still has an outside chance to beat Trump. So, are the establishment Republicans pushing Kasich to get out? No. Are they spending massive amounts of ad money to attack Trump and going all out to slam him? No. Are they rallying behind the only guy who has had a chance to beat Trump since Rubio came up short in South Carolina? No, to the contrary Ted Cruz was told to come to the Senate, apologize to Mitch McConnell and then maybe, just maybe they might help him beat Trump. Wisely, Cruz declined.

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As a practical matter, that means Trump is going to be the nominee and the establishment, being the establishment, is willing to do anything to stop him except the right thing.

More than a few establishment Republicans have been talking about taking the nomination from Trump at the convention even though it would look AWFUL and would practically guarantee a loss in the general election. As disastrous as Trump is for the GOP, many people would look at it as the GOP “stealing” the nomination from him and it would practically guarantee a loss in November. The thinking behind that seems to be that it’s okay for the Republican Party to lose as long as an establishment Republican is in charge. Unfortunately, it’s exactly that kind of thinking that created Trump and whatever happens with Trump, it needs to end.

If that doesn’t work, the next big idea (which in all fairness, seems to have more grassroots support) is to have a conservative third party candidate — the idea being that people who won’t like Trump can vote for that candidate and ideally that will help candidates down the ticket.

Would that work? It’s doubtful because it’s unlikely any blue chip candidate will want to be at the top of a doomed third party candidacy that is unlikely to be on the ballot in every state. Even if that candidate did get let’s say 20% of the vote tops, but more likely something in the 2% to 8% range, would the juice be worth the squeeze? Trump is already highly likely to lose in a landslide and a third party gives him a ready-made excuse for his failure. Additionally, when the Trump disaster and the recriminations, grudges and open hatred it stirs up are over in 4-8 years, do you want someone else forming a third party bid designed to thwart the Party’s nominee? Also, like it or not, even if a third party is formed, Trump will still be the GOP nominee and the damage to the Party’s reputation will be done whether there’s a third party or not. Additionally, after spending the entire Obama presidency thwarting the will of the people who voted for them, do the establishment Republicans really want to do it again when 1/3 of the voters settled on a candidate primarily because they openly hate them?

The ramifications of this primary are likely to be ugly, far reaching and they’re highly likely to do a lot of damage to conservatism and the Republican Party. All of us, including the establishment Republicans who are primarily responsible for this mess, need to accept that no cheap tricks like a contested convention or a third party are going to fix it. Sometimes when you’re sick, you need to stop making excuses and take your medicine.

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