Friday, March 18, 2016

We Probably Can't Avoid Having Trump Supporters Angry At A Lot Of Republicans

There's a common sentiment these days to the effect that we shouldn't deny Trump the Republican presidential nomination if he's the delegate frontrunner going into the convention, since doing so would upset Trump's supporters too much and would be harmful in other ways. I've addressed some of the problems with that line of reasoning in other threads (here and here). In this post, I want to come at the issue from another angle.

If Trump gets the nomination, he'll lose to Clinton. It's doubtful that Trump will take much responsibility for his loss. He and his most committed supporters will engage in a lot of blame-shifting, conspiracy theories, etc. We can expect them to blame the Republican establishment, the Never Trump movement, and other Republicans for Trump's loss. We'll be told that Republican leaders didn't support Trump as much as they should have, that a lot of Republicans who could and should have voted for Trump didn't do so, and so on. It's likely that many of them will tell us that they're leaving the party, can never trust the Republican establishment again, will respond to the Never Trump movement by not voting for future Republican nominees after Trump, etc.

So, what's the point of accommodating them at the convention in an attempt to avoid having them angry at us? They'd probably eventually get angry at us in a similar way a few months after the convention, even if we were to accommodate them. Many of Trump's supporters have some of the same unfortunate character traits as their leader. These aren't the kind of people we should want to accommodate much. There can be some accommodation, but only up to a point. Giving Trump the nomination just because he had the largest minority percentage of delegates, or because he fell short of a majority by only a small margin, is going too far. The anger we'd avoid at the convention would likely erupt a few months later. Even if that weren't to happen, it wouldn't take much to set some of these people off.

The best way forward, including the best way to grow the party over the long run, is to keep Trump from getting the nomination. The more reasonable and persuadable Trump supporters, along with a lot of other people, would be attracted by a Republican president working with a Republican Congress, especially given how bad the alternative is. We'll attract more people over the long term, including some of Trump's supporters, if a Trump presidency is rejected sooner rather than later.


  1. According to a lot of Trump followers, a significant number of his following is coming from "blue collar democrats" and independents that Trump is bringing into the party.

    But maybe we don't want these people to be a part of the party anyway? If they are joining the party just because of Trump then maybe we shouldn't care if these people, who weren't part of the party until recently, leave the party. In fact that's a good thing. Trump should leave and he can take all his blue collar democrats with him. Trump and his blue collar democrats can start a new party: the Nationalist party. Or they can just go back home to the democrats.

    1. Yes, I think a lot of Trump's supporters are former Democrats who are largely or entirely non-conservative. But I suspect that enough of them have been Republicans long enough for their departure from the Republican party to make a significant difference. We could recover from their departure over time, especially if we have candidates like Rubio who are broadly appealing and can expand the party. But the short-term loss from those former Democrats leaving the party would be substantial. At the same time, we have to take into account how much Trump drives people away and how much worse that would get if he were to become the nominee. On balance, we're better off without him as the nominee, even though there are short-term drawbacks to denying him the nomination.

  2. Jason - just out of curiosity, do you think that Trump is a Democrat plant? In other words, do you think he was put there by the Dem establishment in order to ruin the GOP?

    - Vaughn / Mathetes

    1. It's easy to see secondary Democratic involvement. For example, when Trump and Bill Clinton talked on the phone around the time when Trump entered the race (a conversation Trump publicly acknowledged, as I recall), it's easy to imagine Clinton having encouraged Trump to run after he found out that Trump was interested. But I'm not aware of any evidence that would make it probable that Trump is "a Democrat plant" in the sense that one or more Democrats initiated his campaign, the Clintons gave him money to run, or anything else along those lines. I think all we can say is that it's a reasonable possibility, but that it can't be shown to be probable at this point. Even if something like that did occur, it's doubtful that we'll ever come across evidence demonstrating it to a highly probable degree.

      I don't see any need to look to Democratic influence to explain Trump's decision to enter the campaign. He's had interest in running for the presidency, and has been involved in presidential campaigns in some manner, for many years now. And it's easy to see somebody of his character wanting to attain the presidency in order to get the influence, power, and prestige that go along with it.

      As far as "ruining the GOP" is concerned, I doubt that Trump will even come close to doing that, and I doubt that anybody would have expected a Trump campaign to have that effect. I doubt that even Trump expected to get as far as he has. If some Democratic individual or group tried to get Trump into the campaign, I suspect they anticipated that he'd damage the Republican party in a much less significant way than he has. But as significant as what Trump has done is, it falls far short of ruining the Republican party.