There’s been talk for several months that, should Donald Trump appear to be winning the Republican nomination for president, the “establishment Republicans” will arrange a brokered convention that will deny him the nomination. Someone “sensible,” such as Mr. Rubio, or Mr. Romney, or some dark horse (coo-coo ka choo Susana Martinez, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you) no one has suspected will be the nominee.
That’s not going to happen. Here’s why:
The one thing that I think everyone, including even the Republican establishment, groks is that Donald Trump is pure id. His campaign is all about him. He’s not a career conservative who has labored long and hard to implement a conservative agenda, neither a socially conservative nor a fiscally conservative one. In fact, at times, he’s happily supported liberal causes and criticized conservatives. And he’s the wildest wild cannon anyone in politics has seen since Tricky Dick wandered the White House halls drunk as a lord. It’s difficult to predict what he’ll do next, but it’s almost a dead cinch that if he thinks he was denied “his due,” he’ll run a third party campaign so fast it will whip the brass buckle off your Witch hat. (No, it won’t matter that he promised several times that he wouldn’t do that. This is a man who has promised to pay debts and then declared bankruptcy, several times, when that suited him.)
A Trump third-party bid would split the conservative vote for the White House. (It might actually help the Republicans in the House, the Senate, and local races because it may well energize conservative voters to come out and vote and, while in the booth, they could well pull the Republican lever for down-ticket offices.) That would almost certainly deprive the Republicans of the White House for four and, likely, eight years.
Now some people think that the Republicans don’t really mind not being in the White House, as long as they can control the legislative and, hopefully for them, the judicial branches. But, here’s the problem and here’s the first reason why the Republicans will not have a brokered convention:
Conservative Justices Scalia and Kennedy are 79 years old. The average life expectancy for white men in the United States is just shy of 80 years. Give Justices Scalia and Kennedy a few extra years for being very privileged white men, but it’s still likely that the next occupant of the White House gets to replace at least one and likely both of them.
Justice Breyer ( a conservative vote on, at least, law enforcement and, often, regulation) is 77 years old and Justice Thomas is 67 years old. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that, over 8 years, a Democratic president might get to replace at least one of them.
And, Justice Ginsberg, may the Goddess guard her, is nearly 83 years old and has had breast cancer. The average age of death of white women in the U.S. is just shy of 82 years. Again, spot her a year or so for being privileged, but she’s made rather clear that she’s just hanging on because she doesn’t think that President Obama will appoint anyone as liberal as she is. The next president will almost certainly appoint Justice Ginsberg’s successor and, if the next president is a Democrat, they could pick a young, liberal justice who would carry Justice Ginsberg’s liberal legacy well into the waning years of the 21st Century.
So a brokered convention likely loses the Republicans not only the White House but also the Supreme Court. But there’s a second reason why the Republican establishment won’t risk a brokered convention/Trump third-party run. And that reason involves demographics.
The Republicans can’t risk giving up the White House and SCOTUS for 8 years because, 8 years from now, America’s demographics, and the demographics of some large states, with large numbers of electoral votes, are going to be rather different than they are today. By 2025, (no, not 2525) the American population will be older (and more interested in preserving Social Security and MediCare), more female and more ethnically diverse (both indicators of votes for Democratic candidates), and will have a higher percentage of immigrants, not a good sign for a Republican party perceived as hostile to immigrants. The percentage of Americans who identify as Christians, the group most likely to vote Republican, is going to decline even further. Blacks and Hispanics will outnumber Anglos in Texas, which has a whopping 38 electoral votes — the most electoral votes of any state except reliably Democratic California, which has 55 electoral votes. Those 140 electoral votes are just 130 votes shy of a certain win and there are half a dozen or so ways to put together 130 electoral votes for the Democrats.
So 8 years from now, Republicans will have a much more difficult time reclaiming the White House than they face this year. Out of the White House for 16 years and only diminishing prospects to recapture it. And at some point, even seizure-prone Chief Justice Roberts, who in 2025 will be 70 years old and who, in 2033 will be 78 years old, will be ripe for replacement.
Finally, there’s a third reason why there won’t be a brokered Republican convention and that reason is gerrymandering reform. For some time now, Republicans haven’t been too broken-hearted over losing the White House because, due to some serious dropping-of-the-ball by the Obama administration prior to the last Census, Republicans have been able to gerrymander election districts and remain, in spite of population trends, in charge of Congress, governors’ offices, and local legislatures. But that may very well change as a movement to reform how voting districts are drawn is sweeping states and courts.
So, put it all together: (1) lose control over the White House for at least 8 years and, given population trends, likely many more years; (2) lose control of SCOTUS for a generation or more; (3) lose control of Congress, state legislatures, and governorships for the foreseeable future due to demographic change and gerrymandering reform. If I were the “Republican establishment,” I would just go ahead and let Mr. Trump have the nomination. At best, sexism takes over and he beats That Woman. He’s got no idea how to govern and you can likely stick him with his own, personal, Dick Cheney who will really run things. At worst, you’re no worse off than you’d have been with a brokered convention.
You read it here, first: the Republicans won’t have the balls to stand up to Donald Trump.
Picture found here.