Thursday, April 14, 2016

Republicans face split whatever they do

It's scary for Republicans this year. In what many thought would be a cakewalk to the White House amid all the Obama hatred, Republicans instead are looking at a possible collapse of the party.

If the nation is divided between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, male and female, gay and straight, black and white, blue collar and white collar, the Republican Party is also splitting between the traditionalists and the Tea Party types. This split threatens party unity like nothing since the 1964 GOP convention. Democrats have not seen such an angry divide since their 1968 convention.

For Republicans, it's beginning to look like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. Donald Trump, the leader in committed delegates, is calling the nomination process unfair, claiming there's a conspiracy against his candidacy, saying the rules have been changed or the rules are unfair. His fanatical followers are latching onto his complaints as further proof that the party and the government in general have ignored them and stacked the cards against their interests.

Many Trump followers are threatening to walk out of the convention if their candidate doesn't get the nomination. Trump himself might walk out. If his followers are angry enough, they don't need to do anything in November. Their simple refusal to participate in an electoral process they see as "rigged," will deliver the presidency, and perhaps the House and the Senate, to the Democrats.

The only scenario scarier than that, to many establishment Republicans, is Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, or (perhaps worse) a Trump presidency. Although Trump has garnered the majority of Republican primary votes, his nationwide disapproval rating is over 50%. It seems highly unlikely that with such unpopularity and perceived lack of qualifications that he could win a general election. Establishment Republicans fear that he would bring down candidates farther down the ballot, costing the party an opportunity to consolidate their gains in 2010 and 2014.

And should he win, his narcissism, his bluster, his insults and his lack of interest in the details of issues or foreign policy could lead to a disastrous presidency.

Unless things change, Republicans face a divided party no matter whom they nominate. If it's Trump, moderate and mainstream conservative voters will abandon the party's presidential nominee and probably hurt other party nominees. If it's not Trump, the billionaire and his loyal followers will stay home on election day, handing the White House and perhaps many other seats of power to the Democrats.

Democrats win if you do; Democrats win if you don't.

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