Donald Trump, narcissist in chief, will be the Republican Party nominee for president. Some people will actually be voting for Trump in November. Hillary Clinton has to be feeling pretty good about her chances, although even Clinton's strongest supporters should be worried about Trump's unpredictable rise. Frankly, it's painful to reflect upon the current state of American politics. How have things gotten this bad? What might happen next?
A few days ago, Eliot Cohen -- a prominent conservative -- penned a Washington Post op-ed in which he argued that the time for a third-party candidate has arrived.
Here's part of Cohen's piece:
Even if a third candidacy still yielded a Clinton victory, it would be worthwhile. It would, first, deny the Clinton campaign the illusion of a mandate from American voters who would have, en masse, turned out to reject Trump. If nothing else, a strong third-candidate vote would send her a message to govern from the center, rather than in deference to her party's increasingly powerful left wing.
"A new, center-right party may be necessary -- we cannot yet tell," says Cohen. He goes on to assert that a "vote for Clinton is to sacrifice standards and endorse policies and conduct no conservative should; not to vote at all is an escape, not a civic deed."
Back in March, conservative commentator Reihan Salam argued that Mitt Romney should run for president as a third-party candidate. Salam makes a number of good points.
Here's a paragraph from that Slate piece:
In his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, Romney often seemed to be fighting his own instincts to fit the demands of Republican primary voters. As a third-party candidate, he would have a much freer hand. He could try taking a page from his father, George Romney, who ran for governor of Michigan as a centrist reformer, a race he won by a comfortable margin. The elder Romney devoted his time in office to bettering the lives of Michigan's poorest citizens, including the children and grandchildren of black migrants from the Deep South. During his short-lived 1968 presidential campaign, he promised to spark an economic revival in the inner cities, rural communities, and American Indian reservations that had been left behind by the postwar boom. If Mitt channeled George's inclusive spirit in 2016, he could offer a way forward for the post-Trump right. Just as the death of the Whig Party led to the rise of Abraham Lincoln's Republicans, an independent Romney campaign could pave the way for a new center-right party free of the GOP's baggage.
Salam concludes the article by saying that Romney "would be a formidable candidate if he chose to join the campaign, and he would give anti-Trump conservatives a reason to fight this fall."
Remember the Republican Party post-mortem that followed the 2012 presidential election? There was talk about reforming the party and building a more inclusive platform. There seemed to be an acknowledgement that, across the country, irreversible demographic trends could no longer be ignored. Immigration and more open-mindedness on social issues were supposed to be a big part of that. Unfortunately, instead of a more thoughtful and inclusive message, the GOP seems to be going with a racist, misogynistic strongman who has virtually no knowledge about policy.
Trump's candidacy shouldn't embarrass people just because they are Republicans, though of course his rise is deeply embarrassing for the Republican Party. In a way, Trump's candidacy should embarrass us all -- as Americans.
Whether a center-right third party candidate ends up running -- and such an idea seems to make a lot of sense -- Republicans will still be dealing with the Trump hangover for years to come. It's encouraging to see that many prominent Republicans are already speaking out against Trump's candidacy, but many more have chosen not to do so. Hopefully that changes as the GOP convention draws nearer.