Okay, so what happens after Trump?
What happens if he fades away or decides he’s had enough and drops out? What do his angry, frustrated and fed-up supporters do? Do they also drop out?
Early warning: This column has more questions than answers – usually not a good thing for someone who’s at least attempting to influence the conversation. But when writing or talking about Donald Trump and his run for the presidency, there are few easy, or obvious, answers to the many questions his candidacy raises.
You’ve been warned.
There is a civil war raging in the Republican Party, even if some conservatives don’t think so. It’s a battle between the angry, frustrated and fed-up wing and the more moderate types. At the moment Trump is the standard bearer for the angry wing, voters who may very well sit home on Election Day if Trump or someone they think is not “conservative enough” wins the nomination.
Trump tells us he’ll deport 11 million illegal immigrants. It’s not going to happen and I suspect even he knows it. But so what? It’s what the angry, frustrated and fed-up wing wants to hear.
He tells us he’s going to build a wall to keep illegals from south of the border out of this country – and the Mexicans are going to pay for it. That’s not going to happen, either. But again, so what?
How’s he going to deal with China? Don’t you worry, he will. He’s a good negotiator. Just ask him. And that also is good enough for his the Trump faithful.
When you’re angry, frustrated and fed-up someone like Trump looks like a messiah you’ve been waiting for. They don’t care if Trump is just spouting words that have little substance. They don’t care how impractical he is. His strong suit is that he’s not the others. And for the moment, that’s more than enough.
Here’s another question: If Trump no longer is in the race will his acolytes throw their support to another “real conservative” or say the deck was stacked against their guy and sit it out?
And what if that post-Trump “real conservative” is someone in the Trump mold, but a tad more sophisticated – someone like Ted Cruz? What if he also fails to win the nomination (which is a good bet)? Will the angry, frustrated and fed-up wing support Rubio or Kasich or Fiorina? How about Bush or Christie? Don’t bet on it.
Of course, there’s another possibility – in my view, a very long shot. And that is: Trump actually wins the nomination.
Most GOP voters want anybody but Hillary (or Sanders or Biden), but do they want Donald Trump and his massive ego as the voice and face of America? Do they really want him in charge of the nuclear football? Will they vote for Donald – or sit home?
We all remember that at the top of the GOP debate, Fox News moderator Bret Baier asked all the candidates if they would pledge to support the party’s nominee — whomever it might be. All but Trump said they would. But there’s another important question hovering over the campaign: Will GOP voters support the Republican candidate — whomever it turns out to be.
The answer to that question would tell us a lot about whether the Republicans have a real chance of winning the White House in 2016.