With each passing primary or caucus, Americans are awakening to the real possibility that Donald Trump may well gain the nomination of the Republican Party. He has been successful in overcoming obstacles that other Republican candidates, the media, and, most often, his own bullying have set in his way. Shedding the red or blue glasses of party affiliation and looking at the United States as the sole hegemon, controlling economic innovator and financier, and policeman-to-the-world, we collectively must stand up to this bully and chase him off the block – the sooner, the better…
Except if it makes him a martyr for his followers.
To say that Mr. Trump is unprepared to be President of the United States is a huge understatement. But his supporters, populist nationalists emboldened by his authoritarian platform, are stating that he represents them. There are many notable exceptions, but for the time being, a Trump voter is participating in the democratic process. This might change if he is martyred at the Republican Convention.
The median Trump voter already believes in conspiracies and is unlikely to develop an understanding of convention protocols. What they will know is what candidate Trump has been telling them all along, “that they are winning huge, that the polls forecast they will win the nomination.” Unless Mr. Trump outperforms expectations in Wisconsin, New York, and California, his self-foretold victory will have to come at the convention.
A contested convention will not be a Trump rally but a political circus. It will not be an environment where Mr. Trump or his supporters are comfortable or prepared. Rules can be changed to reduce his advantage. For most delegates, his plurality of votes will only be valued on the first ballot. For each ballot thereafter, states’ rights acted on by party-insider delegates will take hold. An august member of the GOP like Paul Ryan could be the candidate after having received no votes in primaries or caucuses and having no established ground-game or financing for general election.
And most of the world would breath a sigh of relief.
Except the Trump supporter.
There is a smoldering revolution in both parties, but if presented with a martyr in Cleveland, the authoritarian lane of the Republican and Tea Party would revolt. They would affix blame to Republicans to be sure, but with pundits on talk radio and the internet, the standby cadre of everyone from the liberal media to a Jewish cabal would also be held accountable. The every-present and ever-oppressive Other would have actually conspired to end their Party.
In other articles, I’ve drawn parallels to how it feels to be a supporter of someone you believe can change the country, its politics, and its racial profile. In 2008, I like many others was drawn to the positive message that candidate Barack Obama inspired a nation with. I celebrated with friends at his nomination, convention, and when it was time to count the votes in Pacific Standard Time, wept with nationalistic pride and happiness for his victory. The parallels end when you place any sort of moral compass on the ideas of candidate Trump versus candidate Obama and it does not take a soothsayer to show which is likely to be on the right side of history, there is nothing like that naive fervor in backing a change candidate.
So I say let them have their day in Cleveland.
The Republicans have already held their noses and began endorsing Mr. Trump along party lines instead of doing what is right for the country and making him a pariah. I anticipate that the #NeverTrump movement will not get their collective poop in a group in time to stop a second ballot from crowning Trump with the handful of delegates he’ll need to gain the nomination. Nothing the GOP does: from supporting Trump in a lukewarm fashion to running against him by supporting Mr. Cruz on a Constitutionalist ticket will save the GOP from losing seats in Senate races and maybe more. There will be a large voter turnout of every demographic, mostly against Mr. Trump, but ready to vote all the way down the ticket.
It won’t tear the GOP apart, but it’ll be a huge blight and will cost them the Court.
Yet even for them it is still better than the alternative. Martyring Trump at the convention would mean riots and the rise of other more virulent voices within the Authoritarian lane of the Republican and Tea Party. Rallies might turn to riots. Trump will continue to incite his supporters until he has to be detained, which will be muffling the microphone when the message has already spread in every other medium. With no reason to trust the processes of America, the Trump supporter will turn to its Authoritarian leaders for direction. For now inside rallies this authority has targeted the Other; if Mr. Trump is martyred at the convention, the violence we have already seen will have no place to go but out on the streets.
The Democrats have been made stronger by their primary race and stand poised to win in all but uneducated white demographics across the majority of electoral and popular votes. Hillary Clinton has a strong, targeted, fifty-state strategy likely to defeat any candidate. With Mr. Trump defeated and working to reclaim a movement in his next gig in talk radio and/or cable television punditry, his supporters with still have his voice but his authority and its power over them will be eliminated.
No matter what happens in Cleveland or if Mr. Trump goes on to lose in the general election, the Trump supporter will have to be dealt with. There are positions that federal progressive policymakers partnering with conservative governors and private industry can take to continue to decrease unemployment and ensure improved wages, health coverage, and education. Any gains in supporting the angry Middle Class can only be made through the peaceful transition of power. These changes will be resisted on their face but accepted in practice — this being the wing of the Republican Tea Party that will state without irony that “I don’t need government handouts but stay away from my Medicare.”
In order for the country to improve the functionality of governance, commerce, and society through this trying political season, we must adhere to principles and practices of democracy, that choose the candidates and eventually the President by the number of votes they receive. As Mr. Trump so often points out, it is in our games, business ventures, and our cultural DNA to seek out clear winners and losers, so it must be left to the voters in November to call-out Mr. Trump as the loser he is.