What is Happening to the Republican Party?
Tuesday, March 15th 2016 (or “Super Tuesday 2: Electric Boogaloo” as I like to call it) may go down in history as day one of the collapse of the Republican Party in the United States. While we all lie in shock and awe at how Donald Trump continues to win state after state in the Republican primaries and caucuses, including his win in Florida leading to Marco Rubio dropping out of the race, what’s actually going on is quite a bit more nuanced. Despite what seems to be his overwhelming success, Senator Ted Cruz’s continued second place finishes, as well as John Kasich’s victory in his home state of Iowa, still may be able to prevent Trump from becoming the Republican nominee in the General Election this November.
To understand the reasons behind this, we need to look into how the American system of primary elections and caucuses actually works. When someone says that Trump “won” a state, what they really mean is that he secured the vote of the largest number of delegates from that state, to vote for him as the party’s nominee at the Republican convention this summer in Cleveland. For the majority of states, the number of delegates you win is proportional to the amount votes you receive, so even though Trump has won 20 states to Cruz’s 8, his lead in delegates is only 673 to 411, a gap of just 262. To secure the nomination outright, a candidate needs 1237 delegates, and Trump needs to win 55% of the remaining delegates to reach this number. While this is very possible, the growing anti-Trump campaign within the party establishment could ultimately prevent this from happening.
So what happens if nobody wins 1237 delegates? That’s an excellent question, and it’s why many, including myself, are saying that what happened on Tuesday could lead to the end of the Republican party as we know it. Viewers of the Netflix Original series House of Cards may be familiar with the concept of a “Brokered” or “Open” convention, and they’d know that it’s a circus, absolute mayhem. The delegates that candidates win in the primaries are only obligated to vote for their designated candidate in the first round of voting (And some from certain states aren’t even legally bound to vote for a particular candidate at all), and after that, it’s anyone’s game. It’s extremely doubtful that these now free delegates would elect Trump as their nominee due to the party establishment’s disdain for him, but they aren’t particularly fond of Cruz either. Of candidates currently running, John Kasich would probably be their favoured option, but his poor showing in the primaries, winning only his home state of Ohio, doesn’t bode well for success in the General. This infighting and disagreement within the party is exactly why a brokered convention could end up tearing it apart, not even to mention the thinly veiled threats and encouragement of violence from Trump, should he not win the nomination at a brokered convention.
There is one more possibility however, and it’s one that I think is a lot more realistic than many other people do: an outside candidate, not currently running for the nomination, could end up being the nominee. That candidate? Speaker of the House, and former Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
Now, this is delving a little deep into the dark and shady areas of the Republican party, but there are two men that you probably haven’t heard of who may just be the two most influential men in America outside of the government: Charles and David Koch, the owners of Koch Industries, the second biggest privately owned corporation in the United States. These men have used their wealth and influence to push their ultra-libertarian and conservative agenda throughout the Republican party, and until this election, essentially controlled who ran for what as the Republican candidate. Back in 2012, they had hoped to have Ryan as their candidate for President, but after approaching him about it, he declined, due to he and his wife not wanting to commit to a lengthy campaign. Instead, he preferred to run as the VP candidate, which only requires a few months of campaigning. Lo and behold, when Mitt Romney (The Koch’s second choice for President, not-so-coincidentally) announced his running mate, is was none other than Representative Paul Ryan, of Wyoming’s 1st Congressional District.
Now, Paul Ryan has come out saying that he has no plans to run for President, and that he believes that one of the current candidates should be the nominee, but he made almost the same statements regarding the possibility of him becoming the Speaker of the House. He is currently the Speaker of the House. I think the Koch’s still like Ryan very much, and still believe he would be a strong presidential candidate, and I’d be inclined to agree with them. I’d still always support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee (Looking ever more likely to be Hillary Clinton), but Ryan is certainly more electable than any of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or John Kasich, and would cause the least amount of damage to the country as the President. Really, this is all just speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Trump doesn’t end up as the Republican nominee for President.