The conventional wisdom has had it that another terrorist attack along the lines of San Bernardino would put Donald Trump in a strong position to capture the White House. But in the aftermath of the Orlando attack, Trump’s poll numbers continued the slide that began with his attack on a federal judge. (Poll numbers from Real Clear Politics are available at this link).
The collapse of Trump’s heretofore gravity defying poll numbers has sparked an outbreak of panic among the Republican hierarchy—and not a moment too soon. The list of Republicans walking away from Trump heads north as the polls head south. The growing list now includes Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton. Former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has announced he will be voting for Hillary Clinton. And John Kasich has yet to weigh in.
And it isn’t just Trump’s poll numbers that are collapsing—the Party’s poll numbers nationwide are hitting new lows. The good news for Republicans is that their collapsing poll numbers may be just the thing they need to get their act together and deny Trump the Republican nomination. As Samuel Johnson famously said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. And make no mistake; if Trump is the Republican Presidential candidate in November, he will lead the party to a spectacular loss both up and down the ballot.
With that in mind delegates to the Republican convention should consider Edmund Burke’s speech to the Electors of Bristol, delivered on the 3rd of November in 1774. Burke argued that Parliament “…is a deliberative assembly of one nation with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole”. And he said “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”.
There is already a move underfoot to change the rules at the convention to “unbind” the delegates so as to allow them to vote their individual consciences. The delegates claiming to be conservative now have a chance to prove it by heeding Edmund Burke. They should vote to change the convention rules so that it serves its proper function as a deliberative body, and then select a principled Presidential nominee who will fight for limited government and individual liberty.