Donald Trump’s Super Tuesday sweep pushed him even closer to the GOP presidential nomination. But many Republicans aren’t exactly celebrating the news. Yes, on Tuesday, Trump effectively pushed the very party he hopes to lead to its breaking point.
Trump may be loud, arrogant and distasteful in his remarks, but he’s rallied disaffected blue-collar voters, and his momentum shows no sign of stopping. He destroyed Cruz’s firewall in the South, and Rubio is barely hanging on. Now, Trump also has the support of former running mate Chris Christie, New Jersey governor.
What started out as a joke, a “that will never happen” campaign, is suddenly spiraling out of control – and establishment Republicans are struggling to preserve what’s left of its party.
To call this election cycle stranger than fiction would be an understatement. But Trump’s movement is proof that the Republican Party we’ve known for decades no longer exists.
Each victory Trump takes home is another blow to the party, and he’s inducing strong emotions from voters who have had simply enough of the status quo. In the aftermath, GOP’s that toe the party line are powerless.
Trump considers himself a unifier. “I know people find it hard to believe, but I’m a unifier,” he said on Tuesday night. “The Republican Party has become more dynamic, more diverse,” he added. The Republican front runner noted that the party has drawn in Democrats and Independents as well.
But Trump’s schoolyard insults hide his complete lack of knowledge about policy. His attacks on elderly Republican voters, moderate stance on Planned Parenthood and seemingly blatant disregard for Republican values has left many party followers feeling completely and utterly at a loss as to whom to vote for in the general election.
“A Trump victory would be catastrophic to the Republican Party,” says Pete Wehner, who served in the George W. Bush administration.
The gap between the Republican Party and its grassroots base and its donor class has been widening for years. But Trump may just destroy any remaining threads that held the establishment together.
A group of high-ranking Republicans are taking action to try and stop a Trump presidency in its tracks with talks of third party candidates. Many are at a loss as to whom they’ll vote for in the general election.
GOP operative Bruce Haynes said, “People don’t know what to do.” He added that voters call him in tears, saying they can’t vote for Trump because “he’s a liar, a cheat and a racist.” Republicans are faced with an impossible choice.
Ben Sasse, Nebraska Senator, said he cannot support Trump. If Trump winds up being the GOP nominee, Sasse said, “Conservatives will need to find a third option.” As many as four House members have joined Sasse’s stance, stating that they will not support Trump no matter the outcome of the primary race.
Rubio may not have fared well in the Super Tuesday primaries against Trump, but the Florida Senator, and the party’s last hope, has vowed to stay in the race.
Rubio noted that no one is calling for his campaign to get behind Trump. He added that the nomination of Trump would mean the “end of the modern conservative movement” and the Republican Party as we know it.