Rush Limbaugh called out Senator Ted Cruz on his show yesterday (audio below), declaring that Cruz would trigger the “end of the Republican Party” if he takes the nomination from Trump on the second ballot. Despite the protestations and appeals to the minutiae of state rules, convention rules, and Republican conventions from another age, Rush accurately described the real world political situation: Denying the clear front-runner the nomination and using the rule book as a fig leaf is political suicide. Rank and file Republicans expect their votes to count. They have the quaint belief that the elections held in their state should determine the nominee, not the rules committee.
If Ted Cruz lawyers his way to the nomination it will be viewed by much of the Party – a large plurality if not an outright majority – as illegitimate and proof of their worst suspicions about how the GOP and government in general is run. In short, it would prove the central thesis of the Trump campaign: the game is rigged by insiders against the common man and it’s time to take the country back. However, Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination at the ballot box so, as Rush says, “It’s the only chance he’s got.” But to win the nomination, Cruz would destroy the party.
Now, I’ll tell you something else. There’s one little other thing to add here. Let’s say — just pretend here that all of these efforts that Ted Cruz is making to win on a second or third ballot, let’s skip forward and say that it happened, all right? Whew. First ballot, nobody gets 1,237. Go to second ballot, and all of this work that Cruz has done in securing delegates in his favor gives him 1,245 delegates on the second ballot. I don’t think anybody understands the blowback that would happen from the Trumpsters.
If that ever happens, we are gonna see a nuclear explosion like you’ve never seen before. Because if they think what’s happened now is cheating and rigging the game, with Trump leading everything and nobody even close to him throughout the entire primary process — and nobody gets closer than 300 delegates, and then somehow on the first ballot he doesn’t get to 1,237, maybe he gets to 1,150 — and they don’t let him have it, and they go to the second ballot and all this work that Cruz has done produces 1,250 and he wins it on the second ballot?
Holy smokes! The blowback that will happen then, the backlash? That will be the end of the Republican Party. There are results. There is… I mean, there are consequences to all this. I’m not speaking about any of this in a vacuum, folks. All of it has consequences. That…? Whew! I shudder to think. That would end up being one of the most dramatic political conventions ever to be on TV. It might make the Watts and Rodney Riots look like Romper Room when it was all over, if something like that actually happened. But that is all Cruz can do.
That’s the only chance he’s got.
The #NeverTrumpers in the media may not care. In their pique they may say or think they are better off if the GOP is destroyed and Trump supporters (40% or more of the Party at this point) leave. But elected Republicans may have other ideas. Every Republican Congressman will face voters this year, 24 of the Senate’s 54 Republicans will stand for reelection as will countless other Republicans at the state and local level.
Most elected Republicans have been much more circumspect with their rhetoric. They don’t have sinecures at think tanks, magazines, or universities. They are answerable to the people at the ballot box. And most of them still live in the same communities as their constituents, not in the D.C. bubble. And so they have a better sense of what is going on in the country. These Republican leaders would serve the party and the country well if they act in a spirit of common sense fairness and good faith and commit to let voters, not rules committees determine the nominee.