To say that Donald Trump is an obnoxious nuisance is a trite and perhaps a politically incorrect thing to say. Nevertheless, it is probably true. Donald Trump, in the words of my eighth grade civic teacher Rev. Wilson, is” an obnoxious nuisance.”
Although, Rev. Wilson was referring to an avid young reader who asked probing questions that went beyond the best organized lesson plan, (as they say, it takes one to know one) the term obnoxious nuisance aptly applies to Trump’s bullying persona in a crowded Republican field; a field of contenders jockeying for elbow room in the Republican presidential preseason.
Since joining the GOP sweepstakes to succeed President Barack Obama, Trump has been more than an irritant to party regulars. The obnoxious nuances of Donald Trump have come at a critical time for Republican Party regulars. They have been floundering for several years seeking to contain the surge of the Tea Party within their ranks.
The bombastic Trump gives a loud voice and national persona to discontented Tea Party members who primarily give their votes to Republican politicians. They have been willing to dump overboard veteran GOP stalwarts if they did not adhere to an “all or nothing, take no prisoners” approach to governance.
The United States Congress is practically devoid of any moderate Republican lawmakers, who once wielded enormous political power in Congress on their sheer ability to forge consensus with liberal Democratic lawmakers. This coalition is no more, not because there is not the willingness to cross the aisle and compromise, but because there are simply few moderate Republicans left in the House and Senate.
It is the makeup of congress that may give us the clue to Trump’s seemingly Quixotic run for the White House. There were three Trump themes that stood out in my mind from the first Republican Debate. In the order in which he raised them they are:
(1) Trump did not rule out a third party campaign;
(2) Trump said the goal was that a Republican win the race; and
(3) Trump picked a fight with women.
There has been much ink and airtime given to numbers one and three. I have yet to see any political pundit opine on the second theme Trump enunciated during the debate. They all, except me, missed it; which is why 10,000 people read my blog each month. They count on me to notice the obvious that other journalist stumble over.
For all the criticism leveled at Trump, he is after all, a successful businessman. As such, he knows how to establish goals and he has the willingness to use any tactic allowed by the law to achieve those goals.
His stated goal for entering this contest is that the Republican Party win the White House sweepstakes. Should Trump run as an Independent candidate he most assuredly will win some electoral votes.
In 1968, George Wallace, a segregationist Democrat, bolted from his party and ran on the American Independent Party ticket. He received 46 electoral votes. Had he received 31 additional electoral votes it would have triggered the 12th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which would have required the House of Representatives to decide the election for president.
In 1992 Ross Perot failed to win any electoral votes, but received nearly 20 million votes which equated to 19 percent of the popular vote. This is the highest percentage of any third party candidate in the history of American elections, topping the 12 percent received by Wallace in 1968. He out polled at least one of the two other candidates in two states, Maine, where Perot outpolled George H. W. Bush. The state was won by Bill Clinton and Utah, where Perot outpolled Clinton. The state was won by Bush.
It can be argued that Trump’s popularity could not possibly yield him any electoral votes. Well someone thought that the specter of George Wallace running had to be removed from the 1972 election based upon his strong 1968 showing. Wallace withdrew from the race after an assassination attempt in Maryland left him a paraplegic. I am certainly not suggesting that someone should take Trump out. I raise this point to suggest that it is conceivable that a strong third party contender can upset the applecart, so to speak.
A strong third party run by Trump can not be discounted, as Denise Calaman opined on a Facebook post, “I’m a bit frightened by Trump. If he gets the nomination it seems as if a lot of my conservative friends are drinking his Kool aide. People tend to jump on bandwagons so easily these days and not think for themselves…That’s my biggest fear.”
At first blush, it would appear that any electoral votes won by Trump will weaken Jeb Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee. But not so fast. It takes 270 electoral votes to become president. If any candidate fails to receive at least 270 electoral votes, then the House of Representatives will be required to elect the next president. As it now stands, there are 246 Republicans in the House and only 188 Democrats.
Based upon the rules set forth in the 12th Amendment, each state delegation gets one vote. If there is a tie in a state’s delegation, they forfeit their vote. For instance, in Georgia there are 14 Representatives in congress. Ten are Republicans and four are Democrats. It is unlikely that the Georgia delegation would cast their lone vote for the Democratic nominee, even if that nominee won the popular vote in Georgia due to a split in the conservative vote between, let us say, Bush and Trump.
Under a scenario where none of the candidates received the required 270 electoral votes, it is easy to see how the House could elect Bush as President, even if the Democrat received more electoral votes than the other three candidates in the race.
With such an outcome, Trump, the obnoxious nuisance, who could easily become bored with the minutiae of governance, should he become president, would not have to assume those duties. Mission achieved. Goal accomplished, a Republican in the White House and one mindful of the role “The Donald” played in the political shell game the constitution calls the General Election.
Trump, the “deal maker,” would be in the perfect bargaining position, to ask what he wants of the next president of the U. S. and expect to have it delivered to him on a silver platter; if he so desired it on a silver platter. Just like he commanded the presence of Hillary Clinton at the wedding of his daughter.
In this scenario, Trump is a mere irritant to the GOP. If the Democrats are unable to neutralize Trump’s ability to rouse the populus, then the real victim of the”obnoxious nuisance;” otherwise known as Donald Trump, will be the Democratic Nominee. Perhaps, this is something that Bill Clinton did not contemplate when he urged Trump to enter the GOP contest.
Harold Michael Harvey, is the author of the legal thriller “Paper Puzzle,” and “Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System,” available at Amazon and at haroldmichaelharvey.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org