Jim, what happens if Trump quits the race?
What if Trump quits the race?
What if Trump craps out and goes home?
That question in various configurations is currently trending at about 90% of my inbox.
What if he quits?
There's a margin of error on that percentage in that I quit. I quit reading this morning after about 200 messages and went to play with the cat and watch it rain for a while. The number could be more or less, but let's go with 90% for dramatic effect. OK?
What if Trump quits the race?
Okay. Sure. Why not? In a year of goddamned things, what’s one more goddamned thing? Right?
This morning Politico reports more than 70% of Republican leaders want Trump to drop out (but still support him). I have no idea what the percentage of democrats who want Trump to quit is, but it’s likely similar or higher. Maybe a lot higher.
Folks, first, Trump is not going to quit the race.
The man is pathologically incapable of such an act.
If history is any guide to his pathology, Trump honestly doesn’t believe he can lose – not without some kind of flimflam. Confident of victory to the bitter end, he'll go down in flames raging all the way and blame either incompetent minions or some nebulous conspiracy for his defeat. Guys like this, well, the last time one of these people took over a modern country it ended with him blowing his own brains out in a bunker under the burning ruins of his capital city. That guy believed he could win too, right up until the moment he pulled the trigger.
Trump is not going to quit the race.
Democrats (who've been appalled from the start) and Republicans (who are just now realizing the scope of the disaster they face) are likewise both engaged in wishful thinking.
There's more than a bit of Schadenfreude on the part of liberals. Trump is the personification and the natural end result of everything they've been saying about the GOP since Reagan. Watching the monster Republicans themselves created ripping the GOP limb from limb is a pretty sweet I Fucking Told You So indeed.
…the problem with monsters is that they make for lousy revenge.
Monsters by definition are unpredictable and uncontrollable and not particularly discriminating when it comes to victims. They rampage through the village savaging the innocent along with the deserving just as soon as they're done decorating the walls of the castle with their creator's intestines.
Trump's not going to quit the race.
Why should he?
What possible motivation does Trump have to drop out?
That’s what liberals want.
That’s what the GOP establishment wants.
Trump can’t give them that victory, the shame would be unbearable. He’ll blow his own brains out first.
Trump, whatever his other motivations might be, is an attention whore. That is the very core of his being. For all his wealth and fame and success, he’s still just an insecure little teenager who craves popularity and approval. You see it in his every comment, in his every response to even the smallest criticism. If you point out that he never served in the military, he puffs out his chest and says that his prep school experience was even more difficult than actual military service and his toadies all nod, it’s true, it’s true. If you suggest that Trump is “only” a millionaire, he pulls out his wallet and brags about his supposed billions. If you make a joke about his small hands – a joke anybody else would laugh off or ignore because it’s just so utterly idiotic – Trump becomes dangerously enraged in the same manner a high school jock does when somebody questions his sexuality. When Trump is criticized by the father of a fallen soldier – something any other politician would wisely ignore – Trump doesn’t just respond, he attacks, he turns the soldier’s family into terrorists, enemies of America, Fifth Columnists, he attacks their religion, their integrity, their honor, their grief, their patriotism. Trump goes after the fallen soldier himself – a man who gave his life in the service to the country and is no longer able to defend himself – smearing the dead man’s reputation, questioning his service and sacrifice. And his toadies all nod, it’s true, it’s all true! Yeah, you tell ‘em, Mr. Trump! You tell ‘em!
Trump is all the worst aspects of American culture. He’s Super Sized. His entire life is a dick measuring contest. He has to be the smartest, the richest, he has to have the biggest cock, the hottest girl, the best car, the tallest building. Anything less is a personal insult. Anything less makes him feel small and insecure.
This? This presidential race? This was tailor-made for his ego.
If he wins, he gets everything he ever wanted, power, fame, riches, attention, access, the ability to shake the world. If he wins he finally gets the things his money and fame can’t buy.
If he loses, he becomes a martyr, the victim of both liberal and conservative conspiracies brought down by evil unseen forces.
Either way, he’ll bask in the resulting attention for the rest of his life.
But if he quits of his own accord he becomes just another forgotten loser.
Given what you know of Donald Trump, now why would he do that?
Trump is not going to quit the race.
But what if he did?
What if Trump kicks over the board and goes home?
What if one day he suddenly realizes that the path to true political immortality is to be the one guy – the one guy – who in the entire history of the United States becomes the first major party’s candidate to drop out. Screw it. Leaving the Republican Party holding the bag.
He’d throw America into absolute chaos and his place in history would be assured.
He doesn’t care that history would see him as a villain, hell, he’d love it!
What if he wakes up to this idea?
What if Trump quits?
That’s an interesting question.
And there’s no real answer … or rather there is, but you’re not going to like it.
First of all, it won’t be Mike Pence.
At least it won’t automatically be Mike Pence.
A number of folks seem to be under the impression that the Constitution somehow applies here and if Trump drops out then his running mate steps in to replace him. But that’s not how it works. Trump hasn’t been elected to office, he’s just a the GOP candidate. The Constitution doesn’t govern how political parties nominate their candidates and doesn’t dictate order of succession in the event a candidate craps out before the election – in fact the Constitution doesn’t say anything about political parties at all.
It would be up to the Republican National Committee, the party itself, to replace Trump should he drop out. There’s a Republican Party rule for this, Republican National Committee Rule No. 9, Filling Vacancies in Nominations. If Trump were to drop out (or blow his brains out, or otherwise be unable to fulfil his obligation as the Party’s nominee), then the RNC can employ one of two methods to select a new candidate. The RNC can itself vote on a new candidate where each state would be given the same number of votes as they had at the last national convention – or – the party can reconvene the national convention and go through the entire process all over again.
There are obvious problems with both methods, but either way it’s a fairly straightforward process…
…that would likely result in chaos, massive uncontrolled infighting, and an implosion of the party.
The first method would simply toss the ball back into the hands of the very people who nominated Trump in the first place.
In a practical sense, it would be a logistical impossibility.
And why would the establishment RNC, the very people who’ve been fighting Trump, go along with this option? The Ted Cruz supporters think obstruction is a dandy idea and it’s likely the RNC would deadlock just trying to figure out what to do next.
The second method would be not only a logistical nightmare, but a financial disaster as well. The RNC would have to pay for a whole new convention. With no notice. Hell, just renting the convention hall would be damned near impossible given the timeline – they’d end up having it in a cow pasture and be grateful for that.
Imagine throwing together a national political convention with a week’s notice. Go on.
They couldn’t do it. Which means they’d have to go with the first method, the one that elected Trump in the first place. Which nobody would want. Which means they’d want to do the second option, but they can’t, so they go ‘round and ‘round and by the time the infighting stops the GOP as a national force is a footnote in political history.
But that’s the easy part.
The hard part is who?
Who would they nominate? The also-rans would have to relight their campaigns after quitting. Jeb Bush. Ted Cruz. Ben Carson. Mitt Romney. There are legal and political issues. Money. National support. Staffing. They’d hit the ground months behind Clinton’s Juggernaut and never catch up. Not to mention they all lost to Donald Trump. And the candidate has to be approved by a majority vote, which would be almost impossible for an extremist such as Cruz or an unpopular unlikable wishy-washy nebbish like Jeb.
Could they nominate Mike Pence? You mean the guy coupled to Trump, who (in this fantasy) just quit and screwed over the entire Republican Party? That Mike Pence? Sure. I would rate the likelihood of that happening about the same as the RNC nominating Chelsea Clinton, but it could happen.
The obvious choice for the RNC is to draft Paul Ryan – assuming the committee could agree and Ryan was dumb enough to accept a job as pinch-hitter for a nomination that’s almost sure to be a soup sandwich of legendary proportions. And which would throw the House back into chaos. Ryan might be better off crunching his fake tooth and sucking down the cyanide while laughing manically and waving his middle fingers at the entire country. Later, Loooosers!
The bottom line is whatever method the RNC used, the replacement candidate would be a last minute panic selection by a party in utter disarray.
Not exactly a recipe for success.
And the real hard part is when.
If Trump drops out now, right now, then there’s still time to hold a convention and nominate a new candidate and get him (or her, since we’re talking Republican fantasy here) onto the various state ballots.
But only if Trump drops out now.
The closer to November we get, the more impossible it becomes.
Once states start printing ballots – and mailing out absentee ballots – all bets are off. How each state deals with this situation is largely up to the various states and a tangled myriad of obscure, rarely used and in many cases untested state and federal laws. This is how dead people get elected to office. I would guess the resulting legal challenges alone would be enough to throw the entire election – and thus the country – into anarchy.
It’s an appealing fantasy for a lot of people, Trump crapping out.
But at this point, as insane as it may sound, the best thing for the nation’s future is that Trump stick it out to the bitter end.
Then again, you know…
There are those on both sides of the political divide who are desperately hoping Hillary Clinton will soon be indicted for (something something gazpacho!).
Both Clinton and Trump suddenly out of the race at the last minute.
The nation left without a viable major party candidate, Republican or Democratic.
The power of political parties finally broken and a return to a more democratic republic as first envisioned by the Founding Fathers…
As long as we’re playing this game, I mean.
No, I suppose not.