Two days ago, courtesy of Bloomberg, we outlined how the (extremely perturbed and after Tuesday completely decimated) GOP establishment would go about stealing the Republican nomination from Donald Trump.
“Although everyone now jokes about just how unstoppable the Trump ‘juggernaut’ has become, the establishment isn’t called ‘the establishment,’ for nothing,” we said. “Trump may have proven remarkably adept at whipping certain sectors of the electorate into a veritable frenzy, but he himself will tell you that he’s no politician.” The bottom line: he may be a wily, braggadocious, billionaire but he doesn’t know all of the tricks of the political trade. That could - and likely does - mean that Republicans are already working behind the scenes to figure out how to rob him at the last minute.
There’s all sorts of ways for crafty, career politicians to rig the delegates and use procedural maneuvers at the convention to undercut Trump and you can read the full account here, but suffice to say, a Trump nomination is far from a sure thing and the more he attacks the establishment the more willing they’ll be to use any means at their disposal to stop him.
But Trump has a ...er... trump card.
He has an army (and that’s probably a more accurate characterization than any at this point) of supporters that would literally take to the streets if they feel as though the popular will has been subverted by the very same establishment politics that compelled them to vote for Trump in the first place. As Ted Cruz put it in Maine (although he was probably talking about himself, not Trump), “If the Washington deal-makers try to steal the nomination from the people, I think it would be a disaster. It would cause a revolt.”
Asked by CNN what would happen if he can’t muster the 1,237 delegates he needs to lock up the nomination and ends up getting robbed at the convention in Cleveland, Trump said this:
"I think you'd have riots.”
“[I’m] representing many millions of people. If you disenfranchise those people, and you say, 'I'm sorry, you're 100 votes short' ... I think you'd have problems like you've never seen before. I think bad things would happen."
Yes, “bad things.” And if you’ve seen a Trump rally lately, you know just what he’s talking about.
Of course irrespective of whether you believe Trump incites violence among supporters he knows are already riled up, he’s unquestionably correct to say that no cadre of politicians commiserating in a smoke-filled backroom should be allowed to subvert the will of the electorate.
But this is deeper than that for the GOP. This isn't about preserving democracy. This is about making one last stand to preserve the Party itself.
That is, it's an existential crisis. If the Republican brand has already been deeply wounded by Trump's success, it will die altogether with a Trump nomination.
And at the end of the day, that's what it's all about in Washington: survival. Not democracy.
And that simple fact, combined with the fact that after last night, Trump has 621 delegates, is why we fear "bad things" may be more likely to happen than not in the months ahead.