I don’t remember the context at all, but I once heard someone put forth a theoretical dilemma… “You have a choice: You can save the world, but the person you loathe most in the world would get credit for it and be hailed as the hero of mankind… or, you can yourself be hailed as the hero of all mankind but in reality do nothing and the world is not saved. Which would you choose?”
That is basically where we stand today in the GOP primary. If it is saving the country that they are interested in rather than personal glory, the three guys who come in last in South Carolina tomorrow would drop out of the race and the fourth guy might consider it too if he doesn’t pull at least 10%. Why? Because, unless Donald Trump dies of a heart attack, those guys simply aren’t going to win. The fact of the matter is, in a six man race, a five man race, a four man race, and probably a three man race, Donald Trump will win and become the GOP nominee. It’s simply a game of numbers. Trump is leading in South Carolina and the opposition is divided five ways. This is like that cartoon where the bear is chasing two guys in the woods… one guy says to the other “We can’t outrun him” and the other guy says “I don’t have to out run him, I just have to outrun you!” Donald Trump doesn’t ever have to get above 50% to win the nomination. All he has to do is get more votes than any one of the other five guys most of the time and the nomination is his. Sixty five percent of the GOP don’t want Donald Trump, but as long as the opposition is fractured, he wins.
Sure, you can say we’re only two states into this thing, but the writing is on the wall. In New Hampshire Donald Trump came out as part of the progressive “Bush Lied, Soldiers Died” camp. He came out as a fan of Planned Parenthood. He stood up as a big fan of the abuse of imminent domain. He still won and may have even added to his lead in South Carolina. It appears to be the case that there is this core of around 30% of the GOP who will vote for Trump regardless of what he does or says. As such, the only way to beat him is to have a race where there are two men facing one another so that voters are forced to choose between Trump and a single actual rival rather than some amalgamation of five guys. One on one Cruz (and maybe Rubio IF he can throw off the immigration yoke he saddled himself with) would shine like a conservative rock star against the liberal, big government Trump. When given a distinct choice of contrast, most conservatives will go with the guy they agree with 90% of the time vs. the guy with whom they agree with maybe 50% of the time. But in a six man race that’s not the choice they have to make.
So, while everyone wants to be the hero who saves the country, the reality is, by staying in the race these laggards are going to be doing exactly the opposite. They are empowering Donald Trump and letting him gain momentum and delegates. Politics is about perception, and the more Donald Trump wins the more Donald Trump is going to be seen as the winner and that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If these guys wanted to really help the country rather than dream of themselves as the next “World’s most powerful man”, they’d drop out and become cheerleaders for the guy who comes out of South Carolina as the strongest rival to Donald Trump. At that point they could play kingmakers, they could vie for the VP slot, and would no doubt put themselves on the short list for secretary positions in a Cruz… or Rubio administration. In a two man race Trump would be toast, in a three man race it would be a real competition… anything else we’re looking at Trump being the last man standing in Cleveland.
Come Sunday morning the also-rans in South Carolina really need to look themselves in the mirror and examine their motivations. Is it the good of the country or their ego that is driving them? What they do next will tell us everything we need to know.