Conservative writer and anti-Trump ringleader Erick Erickson -- long a bane of the GOP establishment -- appeared on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson to discuss a private meeting of movement conservatives that took place yesterday, at which various avenues for defeating or blocking Donald Trump were explored. Watch Erickson discuss the gathering, including his response to fierce criticism from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich:
Erickson packs a lot of information into the four-minute segment, including a reference to the GOP convention from which Abraham Lincoln emerged as the nominee, despite entering the proceedings trailing in the initial delegate count. "It wasn't the elite, it wasn't Republican leaders," he explains, noting that the call was comprised of grassroots activists who find both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump unacceptable. These conservatives believe Trump does not share their values -- and that ideology, morals and character must transcend any political party. In response to the withering critique from Gingrich, who argues that a potential third-party effort against Trump would functionally help Hillary Clinton win, Erickson shoots back with polling data indicating that a Trump nomination would a Clinton vote-getting machine in and of itself. Newt is correct that a fractured Right would hand Hillary a victory in November, which is a terrible outcome. But Erickson is right that the soul of a party and a movement can be bigger than any single election, even one with enormously high stakes. I'd also add a few points:
(1) The Right will be divided, probably bitterly so, this year. Trump is an exceptionally polarizing figure. Carlson is insightful to point out that the Republican frontrunner is facing strong opposition from many stalwart conservatives, some elements of the GOP establishment (while other elements embrace him) and Democrats. Quite a coalition. (2) The idea of a splintered vote abetting Hillary's chances never seemed to bother Donald Trump very much as he leveled on-again, off-again threats to bolt the GOP -- his current alleged party after five switches. (3) Giving staunch anti-Trump conservative somewhere to land with a conscience-worthy independent candidate could potentially help protect Republicans down ballot who are fighting for their political lives in Senate and House races. Of course, ideally, this battle is resolved at the convention itself. It bears frequent repetition that a contested convention scenario is only possible if voters make that decision by denying any of the candidates a majority of delegates. Trump has the only realistic chance of getting to Cleveland with the number he needs, but it's no guarantee, and the fight could drag all the way into June. If he fails to secure 1,237 or more delegates, then it's an open game because a majority of Republicans would have voted for someone other than Trump. I'll leave you with this analysis from Ben Domenech regarding what an effective third party effort would look like in practice:
Here you have to make a real decision about what you want to achieve with a third party candidacy. Is it merely an expression of rage against the dying of the light, an opportunity to throw your vote away on a true believer or someone who can give voice to the case for free markets, free hearts, free foreheads? Or is the intention to actually undo the nominations by both parties by sending the nomination to the House of Representatives? If it’s the former, any potential candidate would do – anyone with enough name ID and charisma to get 5 percent in the polls and make it onto the debate stage...The smart thing for both the #NeverTrump folks and for the Libertarian Party – assuming that neither faction would ever come around to supporting Trump as the nominee – would be to nominate someone with regional political appeal and the capacity to win a handful of key states, enough to prevent either Clinton or Trump from achieving an electoral college majority. At that stage, the House votes based on state delegation for any of the top three vote getters – that’s how you got John Quincy Adams.
He's right, of course. But -- show of hands -- how many people anticipate libertarians will happily go along with this plan? Anyone?