LAST LAP IN RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

The presidential campaigns are turning into the last lap for the capture of delegates for the upcoming party conventions. Political pundits are now predicting that California in its late primary polling might be the state that either nominates Donald Trump as a GOP candidate or stops him on his march to the White House. Voters from the Golden State will send 172 delegates to Cleveland, and they may be the ones that define the Republican presidential candidate.

Voting results of recent state Super-Tuesday primaries would predict that Trump and Clinton will both win their party’s nomination unless there is a major late setback in the candidates’ popularity. For the Republican Party, it is a moment of truth for the leadership that waited too long to stop Trump in his triumphant march to D.C. with support from frustrated and anti-establishment voters. Now it may be too late to stop him and come up with an alternate candidate or form a third party.

It is curious that other GOP candidates have had little voter support to place Cruz, Rubio or Kasich in stronger opposition to the leading candidate. Trump is obviously not at all preferred by the Republican Party leadership and perhaps a majority of the registered Republican voters. Typically in a primary election voter attendance is embarrassingly low, estimated this year at less than 20 percent.

The Economist published a chart showing the comparison of voters to nonvoters among registered party members for 18 of the primaries or caucuses to date. Except in Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire, less than 40% Republicans voted for Trump. That indicates that the tremendous lead recorded by Trump still leaves more than 50% of the voters who did not vote for him, and those were only the few who voted in the primaries.

The last round of primaries in the West gave Cruz 69% and 45% in two states dumping Trump to 14% in Utah.

If Republicans stay at home in the final run off in November because they don’t trust Trump, they may give Hillary Clinton the presidency. That’s why a contested Cleveland convention could be ugly but result in an alternate candidate that would appeal to a broader Republican constituency. Unfortunately, Trump has already announced that he will set off the mass protest if he’s denied the nomination on the first ballot. These are the tactics that the Nazis used in Germany to get control of the government.

It is too early to predict the outcome of the Republican Party convention in Cincinnati on June 7, but the options seem to be very slim. If it’s a contested ballot, meaning Donald Trump arrives with less than 50% of the delegates, the closest contender would be Ted Cruz who is just as detested by the GOP leadership. The situation is a direct result of the breakdown of political party control of national elections as a result of the new campaigning techniques available through digital applications.

In prior election years, especially in the early 20th century, any candidate needed the financial and endorsed support of the party to be in the race. The advent of PACs and the removal of political contribution limits has allowed an ambitious candidate, like Donald Trump, to take over his campaign without significant support from the party he represents. Several political journalists in the major US media as well as foreign commentators predict this 2016 election campaign is the end of the traditional American political system. Those who are even more disgusted claim it might even be the decline of the nation’s international status.

It’s not too hard to imagine this happening if Donald Trump becomes president and attempts to deal with the likes of Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and the austere Chinese dictators.

So where did the Republican Party go wrong? Some obvious policies are not attracting support from ethnic groups, younger voters and particularly the disadvantaged middle-class workers who have lost their work under the trade deals crafted by prominent financiers supporting members of Congress. Pressure from the inside minority group of “tea party conservatives” and faith-based groups have splintered leadership in the party and consequently failed to offer a platform of popular values. Too many party insiders refused to step over the line into the 21st century on major social issues.

That could result in the end of GOP representation and the formation of a new conservative party positioned more to the center.

The disarray in the Republican Party leadership has finally brought forward some response to the presidential campaign from a few of the prominent Republicans. Some have endorsed Donald Trump in an effort to jump aboard the express train to Washington DC. A few have gone public expressing their concerns for not only the party but for the nation at large. The most recent prominent Republican to deliver what would be equivalent to a press conference is the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. You can’t get much higher for influence on the political scene then Ryan’s pronouncements.

Without mentioning any names, Ryan’s criticism of the campaign tactics was loud and clear. There was no question who he was talking about. Several correspondence folded him were not being more direct. However, as Speaker of the House and the highest ranking Republican, I don’t fault him for not being on record of openly insulting a potential president.

From where I sit as a centrist Republican, the only Republican Party leaders that I consider to be “presidential” are John Kasich and Paul Ryan. Who knows if either of them might be the compromise nominee if neither Trump or Cruz can gain 50% of the balloting at the Republican convention.

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