Now that Trump is the presumptive conservative nominee, what should conservatives do? In the short term, this story doesn't have a happy ending. We're out of good options for the time being.
1. I'm no expert on the nuts and bolts of the convention. Technically, it may be necessary for Trump to have more than 1237 delegates to win on the first ballot. That's because, as I understand, not all the delegates are bound delegates. In theory, some could bolt. So he might need some extra delegates as a margin for error.
That said, it seems like Trump's nomination is a foregone conclusion. Theoretically, the RNC could change the rules to deny him the nomination, but surely that's not going to happen, even if it should.
2. Assuming he's the nominee, what's the next step for conservatives? Some conservatives believe that given a choice, we should support Trump over Hillary. I disagree, but there are reasonable arguments for that position. We're in a very tough situation.
3. Others don't think Trump is better than Hillary. Or they don't think the reasons for supporting Trump withstand scrutiny. Take three examples:
4. That brings us to the NeverTrump position. But that, by itself, is not a plan of action. Some conservatives think we should actively oppose Trump in the general election. Run a third-party candidate.
Here we need to distinguish between not supporting Trump in the general election, and opposing Trump in the general election. I think it's a mistake to actively oppose him in the general election.
It's one thing not to help Trump win. It's quite another to positively help Hillary win by siphoning votes away from Trump. I don't think conservatives should help either one.
At one level, I think conservatives should get out of the way and let Trump and Hillary duke it out. That way, if Trump loses, the Trumpkins can't blame it on conservatives who sabotaged their candidate. At this point, we need to let it play out so that Trumpkins will find out the hard way how wrong they were. Don't interfere with the downfall of their candidate. Let them see for themselves the dire predictions come true. They need to learn a hard lesson. They need their own idol to disillusion them. Watch him underperform.
That wasn't the case in the primaries, but we've passed the final exit on the freeway.
5. That doesn't mean there's nothing left for conservatives to do:
i) We should educate the American public on conservative ideology. Explain what it is. Explain why it matters.
ii) We should explain what's wrong with Hillary's positions. We should call attention to her scandals.
iii) To the extent that Trump has any stable, detailed policies, we should explain what's wrong with those.
And not just during the campaign, but after the election–whoever wins.
6. Liberal ideology contains the seeds of its own destruction. For instance, if gov't officials aggressively promote transgender policies regarding restrooms, locker rooms, intramural sports, and professional sports, that has the potential to antagonize and mobilize tens of millions of voters, many of whom reflexively vote Democrat.
David French has additional suggestions:
7. The Trump nomination doesn't represent the repudiation of conservative principles. It's not as they were tried and failed. No, they were never put to the test.