Everybody is pretending that the GOP primary is actually a primary, but it’s not. Instead, it is a hostage situation unfolding before our eyes, and nobody is talking about it.
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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley does not seem to know a lot about civil wars. However, if she were to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, Haley would find herself right in the middle of one. Unfortunately for her, it’s a fight she cannot possibly win.
That’s because the battle for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination is not a normal primary.
Sure, at first glance, it looks like one right now… especially when compared to all other primaries in recent memory.
Candidates are holding rallies and town halls, there are debates and lawn signs, lots of polls are telling us who is ahead in which state and by how much. And the press is dutifully doing its part by treating this charade like a regular political contest between former President Donald Trump and a dwindling field of challengers.
It is not, and, with all due respect, anybody who thinks otherwise is a fool who has not been paying attention.
All along, and especially once Trump convincingly won Iowa, it has been clear this “primary” can only end one of two ways: with the former president winning the nomination or with the end of the Republican Party as we know it.
In other words, this “primary” is really a hostage situation.
Now, you might say that this sounds a bit hyperbolic. But does it, once you really think things through?
It does not. And we are saying this as the people who predicted Trump’s insurrection months before it happened.
Let’s begin this thought exercise with a simple question: Considering what you know about the former president, how likely do you think it would be for him to graciously accept defeat in any individual state or the entire primary?
That’s right; it’s as likely as him saying, “You know what, I did take those classified documents and keep them next to my golden toilet, so I’ll plead guilty and head to jail.”
For argument’s sake, let’s assume Haley is declared the winner of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
Then what would happen?
Would Trump hold a speech telling his supporters that his campaign suffered a setback but that he would turn things around? Would he pick up the phone, call Haley, and say: “Well, Nikki, you won this one, but I’m looking forward to a hard-fought race?”
Instead, he would conjure up some reasons why he didn’t actually lose. Maybe because of something benign like too many Democrats and independents voting for Haley. More likely, it will be that — plus something much more sinister.
Perhaps, Trump will blame his loss on faulty equipment, the schemes of “globalist” party bosses who want an “establishment candidate” to run against President Joe Biden in the fall, “illegal” votes being cast by immigrants, or “ballot stuffing.”
And, of course, he will recast his legal troubles as “election interference” and not the law finally catching up with him.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because his base will lap it up.
He could claim that renegade hamsters cast the deciding votes against him (“Hamsters for Haley”), and anybody in a red MAGA hat would nod along enthusiastically and then raid the nearest Petco store.
And (continuing our thought exercise) Republicans, conservative talking heads, and the right-wing media machine will then have a choice to make: They will have to choose between fact and fiction, i.e., the actual results of the primaries or whatever narrative Trump and his acolytes are concocting.
We all know how that will turn out because, time and again, that same crowd of cowardly enablers has helped spread a convenient lie instead of confronting their supporters/viewers with an inconvenient truth.
And this truth would be particularly inconvenient because, if Trump doesn’t get his way, he will burn the Republican Party to the ground without giving it a second thought.
That’s why Haley doesn’t stand a chance and there is no viable path to victory for her. Not only because, as we have said for a long time, she can’t beat the former president at the ballot box, but even if she could, she still wouldn’t be the nominee.
Let’s say she catches a hot streak and wins a bunch of states. The two of them head to the convention with Haley holding a small lead in delegates.
But Trump is disputing every single one of her victories and just keeps lying about them. Or, let’s say she wins a state in which the former president is kept off the ballot because of his violation of the 14th Amendment.
How do you think that convention is going to go, especially once Trump spells out his threat that he will leave the party and take his MAGA cult with him if he doesn’t get his way?
Oh, and let’s not forget the death threats Haley’s delegates will receive.
All of these are tactics we have seen before, and they have worked for Trump. There is no reason to believe he won’t employ them again.
Only this time, it would be an intraparty fight. Still, the outcome would be the same. Just as the former president has polarized and fractured the country, he would destroy the GOP.
Trump is like a cuckoo who hatches in the nest of a smaller bird species and then, when he gets too big, pushes the other hatchlings over the edge to their deaths so he can eat all the worms.
It’s like that with him and the party that gave him a home and nurtured his lies and his insanity. But ultimately, the former president’s appetite for power will be too ravenous and he will devour or destroy anything in his path — such as any semblance of decency left in the GOP.
To be honest, it would be a fitting end for this Republican Party.
It truly would be poetic justice to see it fall victim to the man it cravenly aided and abetted for so many years now.
So, if you are one of the nearly 400,000 unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire and want to have some fun, head to a polling place on Tuesday, say you want to vote in the GOP primary, cast a ballot for Haley, return to your independent status, and then sit back and watch the proverbial $#!+ hit the fan.
The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Nikki Haley caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED), boxer (Web Daytona / Pexels), legs (RDNE Stock project / Pexels), glove (Cliff Booth / Pexels), ring (KoolShooters / Pexels), and Confederate flag (Phroziac / Wikimedia).