Let’s say you’re one of Georgia’s 76 delegates to the Republican National Convention, bound soon for Cleveland. You are bombarded with questions about your loyalty to presumptive nominee Donald Trump. What might be going through your head?
Maybe you think about the headlines this past week. They should have been dominated by the FBI’s revelations Hillary Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling classified information as secretary of state. Then you think about Trump’s own antics:
Monday: He explains why a staff member posted an anti-Semitic meme on his Twitter account.
Tuesday: He praises the terrorist-fighting record of Saddam Hussein, who actually paid and harbored them.
Wednesday: He announces he raised $51 million in June, far better than his paltry May figure (yuge!) but still $17 million less than Clinton brought in (sad!).
Thursday: He picks a verbal fight with one senator, bad-mouths others, and butchers a question about the Constitution during a closed-door session with Republicans on Capitol Hill. The New York Times reports he plays coy when asked if he’d actually serve if he were elected.
Perhaps you turn next to the opinion polls and see Trump is about 5 points behind Clinton in the Real Clear Politics average. You see that, since taking a small and short-lived lead over her in late May, Trump has trailed her in 32 of the last 34 national polls.
Then you look at the swing states and, stifling a gasp at seeing Georgia on the list, tally the polls. In the 11 swing states, Trump has led Clinton in 10 polls, trailed her in 24, and been tied in five. That winning percentage, in some states Trump absolutely must win, is .321.
You wonder: Should you and your fellow delegates fire Trump?
You know such a move would alienate many in the party and probably ensure defeat in November. But you feel equally strongly the party is already on its way to defeat in November, because many voters feel alienated.
You tell yourself not every Republican wanted John McCain or Mitt Romney as their nominee, and many held their nose and voted for them anyway. Then you remind yourself many of Trump’s supporters are the ones who sat at home in those elections, putting Barack Obama in the White House both times. And you ask, who are they to decide what it means to be a “loyal Republican” now?
The part about Georgia being a swing state particularly bothers you. You don’t believe Clinton can actually win the state — that would take an epic GOP collapse — but it occurs to you that a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections can’t afford even to come close to ceding ground. You see no state in which the GOP is truly gaining ground in the meantime.
You believe the party is heading toward the kind of loss from which it might never recover. The magnitude of the defeat, the seats sure to be lost in Congress — those are one thing. But what the party is really losing with Trump at the helm is what it means to be a Republican, so long as he redefines it with every poorly conceived, fact-challenged utterance.
Do you resolve to work to nominate someone else, in the hopes that person would at least fight honorably?
I hope you do.