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Trump's real risk for the GOP

With Donald Trump still riding high in the polls and primary season set to open, Republican pundits have begun to consider what might happen if Trump won the nomination. Karl Rove described Trump as "the dream opponent for the Democratic Party," predicting an easy victory for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. George Will cautioned that "if Trump is the nominee in 2016, there might not be a conservative party in 2020."

Michael Gerson amplified Will's complaint, describing a Trump nomination as "the worst outcome for the party." Unlike Rove, however, Gerson conceded that Trump might defeat Clinton in a general election—despite musing that those possessing "the humane values of Republicanism" might create a third-party to help her along. Peter Wehner fully endorsed such an effort, proclaiming that given a choice between Trump and Clinton, he "would prefer to vote for a responsible third-party alternative; absent that option, I would simply not cast a ballot for president. A lot of Republicans, I suspect, would do the same."


Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on stage during his event at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on January 7, 2016 in Burlington, Vermont.
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Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on stage during his event at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on January 7, 2016 in Burlington, Vermont.

Of course, there is no mystery as to what would occur if enough Republicans followed Wehner's lead: The Democrats would win their third consecutive Presidential election, precisely as Rove predicted. That victory would make the Democrats three-for-three since their progressive wing completed its takeover of the party roughly a decade ago, and accelerate the progressive transformation of America that President Obama started.

The U.S. military would continue to shrink towards a force capable of defending the homeland from foreign invaders, but incapable of projecting power, aiding allies, or protecting sea lanes. China, Russia, and Iran would continue rewriting the rules for their respective regions, rarely in ways that support either our interests or our values. A stable, assertive Israel would continue to be treated as a problem rather than a solution. We would continue to deny the existence of radical Islam, labeling those who persist in seeing it as racists and fantasists.


Economic policy would consolidate even greater power in the hands of central planners and regulators. Obamacare would become permanent, as would the practice of rewriting it "to make sense" with regulations bearing no relationship to legislative language. The financial sector would come under ever-tighter rules, making life all but impossible for everyone other than a few favored institutions that are too connected, if not too big, to fail. The energy sector, manufacturing, and anything imposing an environmental impact would accommodate itself to global warming. Taxes would rise while trade declined.

Social policy would work its way off campus and into everyday life. Free speech would fade, as micro aggressions against aggrieved groups became actionable. Due process would disappear for those accused of harming a member of some dispossessed group, and constitutional limitations on the power of the Executive – whether separation of powers or the Bill of Rights – would fade into history.

In short, the progressives who already dominate academia, the media, entertainment, various interest groups, and the permanent parts of the government would view their third consecutive presidential victory as a license to remake America in their own preferred image. And since the next President may nominate enough Justices to alter the Supreme Court's ideological balance, that third consecutive victory might give them the final tool they need to make the transformation persist throughout the foreseeable future.


Perhaps there really are Republicans who view such an outcome as preferable to a Republican Party led by a President Trump. We, however, do not share that view. Though we agree that Trump's cultivated persona seems unpresidential, and though our own policy priorities lead us to favor other candidates for whom we continue to harbor hopes of success, we also recognize that we are at a critical point in the battle for America's soul.

We want to see a resurgence of traditional American values push the progressive onslaught into retreat. While we are far from convinced that Donald Trump is the candidate best positioned to carry that banner, we also are very clear that the Republican nominee – any nominee to emerge from the group that took the stage at last week's debate - will be the only viable champion we have.

A Democratic victory will accelerate and entrench every negative trend of the past seven years. Only a Republican victory can halt or reverse the full flowering of a progressive America. No one on the Republican stage—explicitly including Donald Trump—would inflict anywhere near that much damage.

America needs a Republican president. He may not be our top choice, but if Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee…he will deserve the active support of all Republicans.

Commentary by Bruce Abramson, Ph.D., J.D. and Jeff Ballabon. Abramson is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and director of policy at the Iron Dome Alliance. Ballabon is CEO of B2 Strategic where he advises and represents corporate and political clients on interacting with the government and media. He previously headed the communications and public policy departments of major media corporations including CBS News and Court TV. Follow them on Twitter @bdabramson and @ballabon.

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