...the worst outcome for the party would be the nomination of Donald Trump. It is impossible to predict where the political contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton would end up....But Trump’s nomination would not be the temporary victory of one of the GOP’s ideological factions. It would involve the replacement of the humane ideal at the center of the party and its history. If Trump were the nominee, the GOP would cease to be.You might be surprised to hear that there is a "humane ideal" at the center of the Republican party. Gerson has to reach back a long way in history to find it.
Whatever your view of Republican politicians, the aspiration, the self-conception, of the party was set by Abraham Lincoln: human dignity, honored by human freedom and undergirded by certain moral commitments, including compassion and tolerance. Lincoln described the “promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”As Martin Longman wrote recently, the party that Gerson fantasizes about is dead. To the extent that it survived into the 1960's, it died the moment the Southern Strategy was embraced. But it lives on in his imagination, so it's interesting to take a look at how he defines his options in 2016:
1. Support the candidate in second place. That means Cruz - so no way.
2. Deny Trump a majority of delegates and go for a brokered convention. That possibility is doomed if Trump wins Ohio or Florida (he's leading in both).
3. Support a third party candidate. That means a loss to Clinton.
4. Sit this one out. That could possibly lead to a Trump victory.
Which one does Gerson chose? For the next week, he's going with #2 - a brokered convention. But if/when Trump wins Ohio or Florida, he's advocating #3 - a third party candidate.
What's interesting from there is who he thinks that candidate should be. Gerson acknowledges that it would have to be someone willing to engage in a losing strategy in order to "hold the core message of the party in trust for better days." His choice for that task? Condoleezza Rice.
Most folks will obviously be dismissive of the possibility - including me. But I'm seeing rumblings about this on social media and stranger things have certainly happened in this primary. So I'm not ready to assume that anything as completely off the table.
But Rice is an interesting choice. Gerson refers to the need to find someone who would represent "civil rights Conservatism." Since the GOP is devoid of anyone who has actually championed civil rights for several generations - he's basically saying, "let's pick a Black woman." Tokenism is the best Republicans can do, even when they reject the hate-filled campaign of Donald Trump and go in search of an alternative.