It’s Time To Fire Trump

Getty Images/Ralph Freso

Jim Huffman Dean Emeritus, Lewis & Clark Law School
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Oh my! This was to be a Republican year. With Hillary destined from the start to be the Democrat nominee, regaining the White House was almost a sure thing. She’s a lousy candidate and a worse liar. With her heading the Democrat ticket Republicans were certain to hold the House by a large margin and have a better than even shot at retaining a Senate majority, notwithstanding that far more Republican than Democrat senators are up for reelection. But Republicans have squandered their advantage. Their ship is sinking under the load of Donald Trump’s pending nomination as the party’s standard-bearer.

Some commentators (see Gerald Seib’s recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal) and apparently most Republicans think it’s possible for Trump to right the ship. But short of a Clinton indictment, who are they kidding? Trump was an implausible president from the day he announced his candidacy and he has only made himself even more implausible while sewing up the Republican nomination. What in the world are Republicans thinking? Will anyone other than Mitt Romney sound the alarm?

John Prine sings a song about his carpenter grandpa who “voted for Eisenhower ‘cause Lincoln won the war.” Is that what’s going on with Trump? He says he is a Republican so we’re behind him no matter what? Eisenhower turned out to be a pretty good president, but Trump would be a disaster, not just for the Republican party but for the nation. Most Republicans are appalled at the thought of a Hillary Clinton presidency, but Trump could be worse. Whatever he actually believes on matters of policy (and he’s giving us few clues), he has demonstrated beyond question that he lacks the judgment and temperament to engage in the necessary art of politics or to represent our nation in a dangerous world.

The reality most Republicans seem unwilling to admit is that with Trump as our nominee, Hillary and Bill are virtually guaranteed another four years in the White House. When Republicans meet in Cleveland next month will they march like lemmings off the proverbial cliff? Despite occasional rumblings of a dump Trump movement, the party leadership and the punditry have accepted that it’s Trump no matter what the consequences. He is, we are frequently reminded, the presumptive nominee.

Is that it? Are we doomed to four and maybe eight years of Hillary – a Clinton redux pulled by Bernie Sanders far to the left of her more centrist, if philandering, husband. Are Republicans going to press blindly ahead with Trump as our nominee ‘cause Lincoln won the war?

It is widely assumed that we await only the formal casting of delegate votes at the Republican National Convention to confirm that Trump is our man. But it does not have to be that way. So-called committed delegates are bound only by national and state party rules. Those rules can be changed. Of course Trump and his passionate supporters would object that changing the rules would not be fair. But he would have no legal claim, and the point of a political party is to win elections, not to be fair to those who aspire to be the party’s candidates.

Of all people, Trump the TV celebrity should understand. In his reality television world you fire people who aren’t getting the job done, unfair as it sometimes seems. Republicans should fire him now, while they can. In the highly unlikely event of his election, we would have to wait four long years to fire him (unless he committed an impeachable offense, which is not beyond imagination).

Dumping Trump would take some backbone on the part of Republican leaders, not least of all Congressman Paul Ryan who is chair of the convention. It would also require at least a few hundred “Trump delegates” to face the reality that the nomination of Trump will have disastrous implications for their party, not just in 2016 but for years to come. No doubt it has been satisfying for many legitimately disgruntled voters to join Trump in thumbing their noses at the establishment. But soon it will be too late to avert disaster. Republicans should fire Trump and get serious about nominating someone who has a chance against Hillary and would also be a plausible, even a good, president.