After Republican leaders warned Donald Trump to tone down his rhetoric last week, the real estate mogul threatened to take his ball and go home. Knowing that a third party candidate with the kind of support and financial resources of a Donald Trump could seriously hurt Republican chances next year, the brass backed down. And now Trump is backing down as well, assuring Sean Hannity that he does not want to run as an independent candidate.
“Absolutely not,” Trump said when Hannity asked if he would run as a third-party candidate if he failed to get the GOP nod. “I will say so many people want me to run as an independent. I don’t want to do that. Why would I do that? I’m leading by a big margin.”
According to Trump, he’s willing to accept the outcome of the primary election as long as he feels he’s being treated with respect by party leaders. “If I’m treated fairly and I get a good fair shot at this and I’m not, you know, being sabotaged with all sorts of nonsense and a lot of phony ads and they throw a lot of money into it. If I get a good, fair shot, I would have no interest in doing that.”
God, Trump has the Republican leadership shaking in their boots. They must be biting their fingernails down to the quick, worried that this wild card is going to cost them the election. And to be sure, that’s a legitimate fear. It’s entirely possible that a Trump nomination leads directly to a Hillary Clinton landslide next November.
On the other hand, maybe it’s time to take a gamble. We’ve played it safe two straight elections and what did it get us? That’s right, two terms of the worst president in American history. What sense does it make to roll out the same old playbook a third time? At what point does the GOP learn from their mistakes?
It’s time for Reince Priebus and the rest of the GOP brass to stop doing battle with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Donald Trump, and other Republicans who aren’t named Jeb Bush. It’s time to stop pandering to liberals who will never cross party lines no matter how many promises you make about providing immigrants with a path to citizenship. Democrat-Lite is not going to win a single election.
If we have a fair, no-holds-barred election and Bush emerges the winner, so be it. But the people deserve to make this choice themselves. If Republicans on the ground decide that Bush makes for a better Hillary opponent, fine. If they feel he would make a better president, great. But if that decision is made for us by RNC leaders, that’s not great or fine. That’s a travesty.
If Trump runs on a third-party ticket, Republicans may have to worry about more than just losing the next election. His candidacy has exposed the deep division between Republicans in Washington and conservatives everywhere else. If he jumps ship, we could see the start of something bigger than Trump. A true third party that represents everything that the GOP was supposed to stand for.
Come to think of it, that might not be such a bad thing after all.