A friend of mine not from the United States said to me the other day, and this is pretty much a direct quote, “Seriously, dude, your country is scaring the shit out of the rest of us with this Donald Trump thing.” To assure him and others, a few points, covered by others to be sure but worth repeating.
1. The election is 15 months away. Relax, lots will happen between now and then.
2. And what’s going to happen is that the GOP primary voters will eventually settle down and vote for Jeb Bush (or maaaaaybe Scott Walker), who will go on to be defeated by Hillary Clinton in the general election. While it’s a quantum physics universe and anything can happen, realistically, this is how it’s going to go down.
3. But in the meantime, why shouldn’t potential GOP voters have their fun with Trump? Rich assholes are amusing, for a while. This is like that time in high school when you ditched your regular friends for a couple of weeks to hang out with that kid whose parents bought him a Camaro and let him take the speedboat out on the lake by himself and have keg parties at his house when they weren’t around. Eventually you figured out that no one at his parties was actually his friend, they were just there for the beer, and the reason he took you out on the speedboat was because he had no one else to hang out with, because he confused having a lot of money with having a bearable personality. And eventually you went back to your old friends and that was that. Which is to say: Jeb Bush, ’16.
4. But what if I’m wrong? What if Trump waltzes away with the GOP nomination? Well, first, that would be hilarious, and second, then he gets squashed by Hillary in the general, by a much wider margin than she would have against Bush or Walker, in part because then 2016 would see the largest Hispanic voter registration drive ever, and having Donald “racist against Hispanics” Trump as the GOP banner carrier would basically set back Republican attempts to court Hispanics by probably thirty or forty years. It would be entirely deserved too, so there’s that. He’d also have at least some mainstream GOP folks holding their noses and voting for Hillary, I expect.
5. All of which is to say that no one, not even potential GOP voters, expect Trump to get the nod, even as they poll him highly and want him to stay in the race. He’ll make trouble, and he’s making the GOP really uncomfortable by gleefully exposing the fact that so many members of their potential voter base lap up dumbed-down racist populism. But with the latter, Trump didn’t create the demand for dumbed-down racist populism, he’s just exploiting it, and with the former, well, again, this is the time in the election schedule where trouble looks kind of fun. But at the end of the day, most GOP voters will line up behind the person they think has the best chance of actually getting into the White House. That ain’t Trump.
6. Last point? What the GOP really hates about Trump is that if they somehow manage to push him out of the GOP voting pool, they know that means Trump isn’t defeated, he’s just pissed off. It’s entirely possible that his response to being punted will be to run as an independent. If he does, there’s a good chance he’ll peel off four or five percent of the presidential vote: Not enough to win, but more than enough to doom the GOP flag bearer, since it’ll be the GOP from which he’s taking votes. This won’t matter much in my estimation because I don’t expect whoever the GOP runs this election to win, but I wouldn’t expect the GOP to be as sanguine about it.
Basically, the GOP is screwed either way, when it comes to Donald Trump. And Donald Trump will never, ever be president. I could be wrong about this. But I really really don’t think I am.