Donald Trump’s latest Florida rally had the crowd raising their right hands to recite a pledge to their beloved Orange Furher. The optic was gallingly Reich heavy. They droned in unison after Herr Donald, “I do so solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for President.” Trump added, “Don’t forget, you all raised your hands. You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

Those poor eternally doomed fucks.

The most compelling plotline to this stranger than fiction campaign season has been the GOP’s nomination process. Its primary function is no longer concerned in selecting a candidate. Instead, its sole cause is that of defeating Donald J. Trump. Amid his menace and the doomed crusades that the Republican Party has launched in vain against him, the latest of Knight of the Elephant Round is a familiar face, former 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Romney held a press conference last Tuesday issuing as stern a criticism that a devout Mormon could muster. Obviously, the milquetoast billionaire is not the man who is going to convince the average indoctrinated Trump enabler, especially after fawning over Trump’s personal endorsement of his own failed 2012 campaign. There was a legitimate fear that his objections would only serve to galvanize Trump’s base, a core of followers whose support has been shown to have little to do with either policy or Conservative credentials. Romney’s words were paired with other prominent members of the Republican Party including Romney’s own former running mate, Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, House Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and Senator Ben Sasse; all of whom have publically disavowed their party’s presumptive nominee.

Whether it’s the concerns of the Establishment finally gaining traction or Trump’s own appalling outbursts which seem to be occurring faster than real time allows that are just wearing thin, his momentum is slipping. His closest rival, Ted Cruz, trails in the primary race but is not without his own string of victories. On the confirmation delegate number of 1237, Cruz currently trails at 307 to Trump’s still within reach 390. After kicking off the primary elections with a caucus win in Iowa, Cruz has gone on to take Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, Maine and Kansas. While no one can deny Trump’s meteoric rise, the objective for all parties concerned has shifted from winning to stopping him at all costs. To that end, it is unnecessary for either Cruz or Florida senator, Marco Rubio, to suddenly start dominating Trump in the race, which will not happen. It is much more critical to continue bleeding what delegates they can away from Trump with their continued presence.

When Trump called for Rubio to drop out during his latest press conference, his unspoken concern was not that Rubio could ever beat him outright, but that Rubio would gain enough ground to take his home state of Florida on March 15th. If this win can be coupled with a Kasich win in his home state of Ohio that same day, then Trump will need around sixty-seven percent of the remaining delegates still to vote in the remaining states in order to gain the total amount of 1,237 needed to become the uncontested nominee. This would be a tall order even for him. If Rubio and Kasich can do the bare minimum of what should be expected of candidates who have insisted on staying in the race this long and take their own states, then that would most likely leave Trump short on the total amount of delegates.

Even if Trump manages to hold onto his lead in Florida and splits the pair, he would be forced to make up 57% of the remaining delegates; not at all impossible, but far from certain. Either scenario would offer a credible excuse to hold a contested convention in Cleveland where party elders would hold a spate run-off votes among themselves. If this happens, avoid the metropolitan area for the week. Lay low, take a vacation to Alleghenies. With a $50,000,000 grant given to the Cleveland Police Department in preparation for the convention and a request for 2,000 more sets of full tilt riot squad suits, the conflict that this coup would spark will make the riots outside of the 1968 Democratic convention of Chicago look like a LARP session.

What viable candidate the GOP can muster so late in the game against either a wildly popular Bernie Sanders or a strong Hillary Clinton remains to be seen, but there is one Republican (okay, well two) that it will not be. Before settling on diluting the delegate count amongst themselves, a one-on-one contest was viewed as the only solution to Trump’s defeat. The idea that any one of them alone could effectively take on Trump now is a pipe dream, but Cruz is still calling for Kasich and Rubio to step aside so that he and Trump can square off alone. Cruz does this, not because he thinks it is likely he can defeat Trump, but because he knows it is impossible for him to be the choice of the party elders if it results in a brokered convention.

Cruz has made a political career of being a petulant thorn in his party’s side. His grandstanding is as arrogant as it is misguided and his ideology is inflexible and religiously intolerant. In short, outside of hardcore Evangelicals and whatever passes for Libertarian, no one likes him. Kasich is much more amiable and likely to play ball and Rubio can be preprogrammed with up to seven life-like phrases. There has been talk of a ‘draft Ryan’ movement, and lest not forget that the potential incentive for Romney to play spoiler in March could be to play emergency nominee in November; although it would be hard to convince anyone that what failed to sell in both 2008 and 2012 would have any chance in 2016.

Make no mistake, Trump’s ascension went from impossible to inevitable and is now rolling back to a lukewarm probable. His attitude is so vile, his message so anathema to the very nature of what America is supposed to represent, and his rallies so toxic that the slightest crack left open will be blown wide the moment that the party has an opportunity. While his dangerous rise has made for some unlikely allies, it cannot be denied that it is the same cheap politics that the Republican Party has employed for the past fifteen years that has led to the short-fingered vulgarian’s success. They have bred a populace on the sugary diet of fear and bigotry, of xenophobia and anger. To this, an alarming portion of the electorate has developed a sweet tooth. Trump is merely the latest creep in a windowless van trolling with a bagful of candy. He is a snake oil salesman peddling wares to a high yield audience. In this act of the serpent eating his own tail, Trump will serve as the end to the Republican Party. Of this, it has already been decided.

If the nomination is taken from him in a contested convention, his diehard supporters will revolt against a Republican establishment that they already view as the enemy. There will be a civil war among the GOP. Trump would most likely run under a third party. The vote would be split and the Democrat candidate would win in a landslide. Even if Trump wins the nomination uncontested, there is a good possibility (but no certainty) he would lose to either Clinton or Sanders. His failure and the aftertaste of a nasty campaign would work to upset other Republicans running to hold onto their own Senate seats. Republicans will be voted out in large numbers and the country will have been run by democrats for twelve years (sixteen if Clinton can manage a successful reelection as the majority of incumbents do). In either outcome, however the Republican Party sees itself today it will soon require dental records to recognize that Grand Ol’ Party by tomorrow.

  • Content Strategist, novelist and prolific roustabout who drinks entirely too much coffee. You can find him on Twitter @therealadamdodd

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