In 1971, President Richard Nixon halfheartedly took to television to inform the American people that he would be implementing various interventionist policies to help pull the economy out of a crisis. Nixon’s economic policy proposals were seen as evidence of the inefficiency of the free market and gave further credence to Milton Friedman’s famous admission: “We are all Keynesians now.” In making such an announcement, Nixon had to swallow his pride, as he responsibly realized that ideology sometimes must take a back seat to practicality.
Now let’s fast-forward to March 15, 2016, where it is very possible that Donald Trump will win Florida and Ohio to secure the GOP nomination. If Trump triumphs on Super Tuesday, you can bet many Nixon-esque endorsement speeches from the GOP establishment will follow. A political avalanche will ensue, with party leaders reluctantly hitting the airwaves to say something along the lines of, “while Donald Trump and I have had our policy differences throughout the course of this campaign, any Republican nominee will be far better for America than Hillary Rodham Clinton.” It will be a time where ideological concerns will have to be put aside for the sake of the party winning in November. Republicans will finally have to admit that Trump is going to be their nominee, and they will be forced to support him.
Due to the fact that such an abrupt reversal from the GOP establishment is a highly probable scenario, it is with great confusion that I look upon the party and its criticism of Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump over the weekend. Party leaders lashed out at Christie for “selling out,” and ruining the establishment’s chance to stand up to Trump. It’s possible, however, that Christie knows exactly what he is doing and is standing up for something after all.
Mainstream Republicans like Christie have only a few options at this point in the race. The first option, which many Republicans seem to think is the only admirable one, is to endorse Marco Rubio or John Kasich, and then take on Trump directly. The second is to recognize that Trump already has the nomination and there is nothing that can be done to stop him. The problem with option one, as Christie realized, is that endorsing Rubio or Kasich cannot substantially change the race. If Rubio and Kasich continue to split the moderate vote they will have no chance at overtaking Trump. And seeing as both candidates will probably stay in the race until March 15, when they will try to win their respective home states, by the time one of them finally drops out it may be too late.
Despite this predicament, establishment Republicans are still intent on making a Custard’s Last Stand for the 2016 nomination. They claim they do this to protect the Party of Lincoln and its policies – but is directly attacking an almost evitable nominee the best way to do so?
When the 2016 race started, Republicans were enthused with their bench. They felt they had more qualified candidates and policy ideas this year than in any time in modern history. But the problem that the real estate mogul Trump has created for the GOP is that the bench and its ideas will now be mostly useless if he wins the nomination. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Nikki Haley are just some of those who will be politically dead in a Trump administration, since they took him on in a way in which they can no longer reconcile to work with him in the future.
When one looks at the race this way, it may be that those like Christie are indeed concerned with protecting the party. Joining Trump’s team and helping to drive his agenda is probably the best play Republicans can make at this point. If all major Republicans try to spend this next month bashing Trump and he still wins, we will end up with either a loss to Hillary Clinton or an administration led by incompetent policy advisors. However, if influential Republicans hop on the Trump bandwagon now, there might be hope to positively steer him from the inside into becoming the candidate and president the party desires.
Many books will be written on how Trump should have been stopped by the GOP earlier, but it seems now that it may be too late. Only by supporting Trump can the party make the best of the situation it now finds itself in. So it’s my suggestion that all major Republicans now put on their “Make America Great Again” hats and channel their inner Richard Nixon, because for better or for worse, “We’re All Trumpians Now.”