Trump proved that many of the party’s moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all.This is the Nathan Deal lesson. What I think Douthat gets wrong is the idea that voters didn't notice. Trump's appeal was that he really wasn't one of the party elite. He really is someone they can't control. His wild, outrageous statements serve as proof that he isn't under anybody's control. No handlers would have let him say the things he's said.
Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part.
So the general election is set. If you're wanting a preview, here it is: