The Election Chronicles, Volume 25: What Happens if Trump Gets the Republican Nomination?

I’ve written about this topic often, but it continues to fascinate me. The Republican primary is running in directions that nobody could have predicted. A year ago Jeb Bush was the presumptive nominee and he was swimming in money. It was his to lose.

But in June Donald Trump announced his candidacy and at that time few thought of him as a serious candidate. Don came with no experience in governing anything, a history of avoiding responsibilities for his mistakes by declaring bankruptcy, and very little experience as a Republican.

But for numerous reasons Donald’s numbers have gone up while Jeb’s tanked. Many of us (myself included) expected Don to flame out in late summer or early fall. Or late fall. Or early winter. Or…well, you get the point.

In an earlier post I spoke about the possibility that the Republican Party may well fracture because different Republicans point to different values. There are “mainline” Republicans who favor smaller government but see their path as one of cooperation and coalition building. Marco Rubio speaks to this group. Christian conservatives populate another faction. They strongly believe that we are one nation under God and we are subject to God’s laws. They agree with the idea of smaller government but they also believe that government must defend traditional marriage, ban abortion, and ensure Christians never be compelled to violate their beliefs. They see our future best defended by Ted Cruz. Donald Trump speaks to a group much larger than anyone expected. They believe that government is so broken that someone from the outside, someone who has a track record of getting things done, who is not afraid to say bold and even offense things gives us our best path forward. They look at Don and believe he can translate his success in real estate to making “America great again.”

Last fall I honestly thought that he would flame out, lose Republican support, drop in the polls, and announce an independent candidacy. As a Democrat I saw this as good news. Trump and the Republican nominee would divide the Republican vote and the Democrat would win.

Now I’m not so certain. It’s true that we are in the delegate count’s early stages (and you can track that here) but Trump continues to steam ahead. Perhaps he will still flame out, but the “Republican establishment” is trying to figure out what to do.

I suspect that if Trump’s momentum continues and his delegate count rises, he will not leave the Republican race. I suspect Ted Cruz might.

Ted comes to the 2016 race with decent Republican credentials. After graduating from Harvard Law School he clerked for William Rehnquist and later served as the Solicitor General of Texas. In 2012 he was elected to the United States Senate.

But as a member of the Senate he went out of his way to offend his fellow senators. House Speaker Sam Rayburn (1882-1961) famously stated: “You have to go along to get along.” Ted never got the message. He has consistently claimed the “high moral ground” as a rational to prevent progress in Congress.

The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to write the annual National Budget for the President to sign. This gives the Congress the “power of the purse” and allows Congress to defund any program they don’t like.

Several times Congress has refused to fund the government over budget disagreements and when they do the “federal government” shuts down. This means that thousands of ordinary government employees (including my sister) stay home, don’t do their work, and pray that they won’t be docked the time they lost while Congress and the President can’t get along. It also means that National Parks close and a host of other services are out of reach.

This may be a long way around my point but Ted has made his career based on not playing well with others. Simply put, other senators hate his guts and not even Republican senators want him to be President.

Since Ted is behind in the delegate race, and since he has no loyalty to himself (and claims a loyalty to God), I wonder this: if Donald Trump appears to be winning the GOP nomination, will Ted leave the Republican party and run as a candidate of his own party? I think there is a real possibility that Ted will claim that he is God’s candidate and will found his own party (perhaps called the Christian Party). He will run on a platform that the only way forward for our country lies in following God’s Law.

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