The Rule-or-Ruin Republicans
“Things reveal themselves passing away,” wrote W. B. Yeats.
Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, his campaign has done us a service—exposing the underbelly of a decaying establishment whose repudiation by America’s silent majority is long overdue.
According to the New York Times, super PACs of Trump’s GOP rivals, including PACs of candidates who have dropped out, are raising and spending millions to destroy the probable nominee. Goals of the anti-Trump conspirators: Manipulate the rules and steal the nomination at Cleveland. Failing that, pull out all the stops and torpedo any Trump-led ticket in the fall. Then blame Trump and his followers for the defeat, pick up the pieces, and posture as saviors of the party they betrayed.
This is vindictiveness of a high order. It brings to mind the fable of the “The Dog in the Manger,” the tale of the snarling cur that, out of pure malice, kept the hungry oxen from the straw they needed to eat.
Last week came reports on another closed conclave of the “Never Trump” cabal at the Army and Navy Club in D.C. Apparently, William Kristol circulated a memo detailing how to rob Trump of the nomination, even if he finishes first in states, votes, and delegates.
Should Trump win on the first ballot, Kristol’s fallback position is to create a third party and recruit a conservative to run as its nominee. Purpose: Have this rump party siphon off enough conservative votes to sink Trump and give the presidency to Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose policies are more congenial to the neocons and Kristol’s Weekly Standard.
Among the candidates Kristol is reportedly proposing are ex-Governor Rick Perry of Texas and former Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, both respected conservatives.
Kristol contends a third-party conservative candidate can win. He can’t be serious. It is absurd to think Gov. Perry, whose poll numbers were so low that he dropped out of the race last September without winning a single primary, caucus, or even a delegate, could capture the White House on a third-party ticket.
Perry would not even be assured of winning his home state. Trump and Perry would split the conservative vote in the Lone Star State and deliver its 36 electoral votes to Clinton, thus assuring a second Clinton presidency. Does Perry want that as his legacy?
As for Coburn, he is not nationally known. But his name on the ballot would take votes, one-for-one, from the Republican nominee. How would that advance the causes for which Tom Coburn has devoted all of his public life?
Indeed, if the supreme imperative for Kristol and the “Never Trump” conservatives is to defeat him, they have become de facto allies of George Soros and MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, and Occupy Wall Street—and the party of Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton.
However, if the oligarchs, neocons, and Trump-loathers, having failed to stop him in Cleveland, collude to destroy the GOP ticket in the fall, they have a chance of succeeding. And Clinton’s super PACs would surely be delighted to contribute to that cause. But, again, what will they have accomplished?
Do they think that Republicans who stay loyal to the ticket will not see them for the selfish, rule-or-ruin, wrecking crew they have become? Do they think that if a Trump-led ticket is defeated, they will be restored to the positions of power and preeminence that a majority of their fellow Republicans have voted to strip away from them?
The Beltway has to come to terms with reality. It has not only lost the country; it has lost the party. It is not only these elites themselves who have been repudiated; it is their ideas and their agenda.
The American people want their borders secured, the invasion stopped, the manufacturing plants brought back and an end to the conscription of our best and bravest to fight wars dreamed up in the tax-exempt think tanks of neoconservatives.
Trump is winning because he speaks for the people. Look at those crowds.
Establishment pundits are now wailing that they have gotten the message, that they understand that they have not been listening. But still, they refuse to act on this recognition.
In June of 1978, Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who had fought tirelessly against Proposition 13, which would slash property taxes across California, did a U-turn when it passed in a landslide. And Brown himself implemented the tax cuts he had opposed. He got the message and acted on it. One sees none of this flexibility in the Beltway establishment, none of this acceptance of the new realities, only obduracy.
Donald Trump is only the messenger.
If these conservative defectors from a ticket led by Trump collude with Democrats, by running a third party candidate to siphon off Trump’s votes, they may succeed. But they delude themselves if they think they will have solved the problem of their own irrelevance, or that they have a future.
The party will survive. They won’t.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of the new book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.