...if he cleans up tomorrow night, you’re going to see an explosion of pieces online like the one Ross Douthat published yesterday urging the RNC to deny Trump the nomination by any means necessary — including a rule change before the convention, if need be, that frees up delegates to vote their conscience. (“A man so transparently unfit for office should not be placed before the American people as a candidate for president under any kind of imprimatur save his own.”) A member of the RNC’s Rules Committee is already circulating a letter suggesting, contra all available evidence, that delegates are not bound on the first ballot and haven’t been in 40 years. The price of stealing the nomination from Trump after he’s supposedly clinched it would be sky high. It would delegitimize the RNC; it would vindicate Trumpists’ criticism that the establishment is corrupt and that the system is rigged; it would certainly doom the GOP’s chances in the general election as millions of Trump fans decide to stay home or vote third-party in protest; and it would effectively disenfranchise the millions of Trumpers who turned out to vote for him throughout the primaries. It very well might destroy the GOP. But hardcore anti-Trumpers have already reached the point where they view that as the lesser of two evils. Better to protect the country by booting him out of the party and into independent never-neverland, even at the cost of an irreparable rupture on the right, than to protect whatever small amount of “integrity” the GOP has left by crowning Trump as the duly elected nominee.Here is my alternative view: Trump winning the GOP nomination and the election does not mean the GOP is surrendering to Trump. It means they are recognizing the sovereignty of the voters. The moral independence of the party as a whole is a reason to think that Trump as President can be contained as a threat in a way that President Obama never can be.
The reason is that impeachment and removal from office by Congress returns as a real potential under a Trump administration. With Democratic loyalty to President Obama being so intense, he has been able to operate lawlessly on immigration, on foreign affairs, in terms of protecting from prosecution criminals in his administration from Lois Lerner to Hillary Clinton, and in unilaterally rewriting the law where he likes.
Trump would not have that luxury. People have expressed concern that a man who suggests he would cover the legal fees of those charged with violence against protesters cannot be trusted with the Constitutional power to pardon. But Trump would come into office facing a House and Senate led by nominal allies who are deeply suspicious of him, and would indeed love to find a way to rid themselves of him without losing the support of his voters. Republican party leaders in Congress will be only too ready to join with Democrats in removing him from office if he makes an egregious overstep.
Thus, one option might be to consent to Trump in the convention in return for a Vice Presidential pick acceptable to the party's Congressional wing. That would make impeachment and removal even easier to contemplate. Indeed, it would make it an attractive option that Trump would have to work hard to avoid them electing to pursue.
Our Constitutional controls on the President have been failing since Clinton because of party loyalty. Political parties are an extra-Constitutional feature of our government, part of the dangers of factionalism warned against in the Federalist Papers. The absence of party loyalty to Trump would allow the Constitutional controls on the President to function as designed for a change.