The Republican Party is bloodied, but it does not have to be completely bowed. One by one, GOP office-holders are falling into line, defending the indefensible and the inexcusable, hoping against hope that a nominee who is not even civilized, let alone presidential, will somehow “act” presidential.
Yes, the majority of delegates to the 2016 Republican convention may indeed be bound to hold their noses and vote for the interloper Donald Trump, but no rule binds them to vote for whatever pliant stooge he anoints to be his running mate. None whatsoever.
If Republican delegates choose to exercise some discretion in this matter, if they choose to stand on their own feet, and strike a blow for independence, it would be entirely salutary and proper. It may even be necessary to ensure the survival of the Republican Party as a self-respecting organization.
Thus, ladies and gentleman, I nominate Sen. Ben Sasse for vice president.
Nominating someone apart from the anointed choice is not unprecedented. In 1920 Republican Party bosses determined that Wisconsin Sen. Irvine Lenroot would be Warren Harding’s running mate. But when an Oregon delegate by the name of the Judge Wallace McCammant stood up ostensibly to second Lenroot’s nomination, he surprised everyone by instead nominating Gov. Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts. The crowd exploded in excitement and stampeded to reject Lenroot and to nominate the taciturn “Silent Cal.” The Harding-Coolidge team carried 37 of 48 states and a historic 60.3 percent of the popular vote.
Now, some (although not I—I regard it as a qualification) might object that Sasse, having recently and accurately likened Trump to “a dumpster fire,” might not be the best choice for the job—that a ticket divided against itself cannot stand. But, again, let’s look at history. In 1980 George H. W. Bush famously derided Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo economics.” He ended up as Reagan’s running mate, and together they carried 44 states.
In 1928 Kansas Sen. Charles Curtis opposed Herbert Hoover’s presidential ambitions: “The Republican Party cannot afford to nominate Herbert Hoover. It would be apologizing for him from the moment of nomination until the polls close in November.” The convention nominated Curtis to be Hoover’s vice president. Their ticket swept 40 of 48 states.
As they say on TV, “past performance is not indicative of future results.” Do I believe a Trump-Sasse ticket (or a Trump-Romney, a Trump-Fiorina, a Trump-Cruz, etc., ticket) would sweep to victory in November? Not really. But at this stage of a very messy and unsatisfactory game, that is not really the point. William F. Buckley once said that “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”
Conservativism is not an easy path, nor an always popular one. People standing athwart history often find themselves run over. People standing athwart current events almost always do. Anyone standing athwart Trump is guaranteed to find himself or herself insulted, slimed, vilified, and ridiculed by him.
But any party that gently follows his bidding any more than it absolutely must deserves burial in a dumpster fire.