So, with less than two months to go until the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are crowned at their respective party conventions, the GOP is uniting around its candidate while the bitter rivalry between the two Democratic camps has many questioning if the party will be back able to come back together.
Few could have foreseen this is where we would be at this stage of the race.
In the beginning, there were 17 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. As the field thinned, speculation grew that a successful run by Donald Trump would rip the GOP asunder. And now? Republicans are falling into line behind Trump, memorably described by conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt as 'the unlikeliest, most unconventional nominee of a major party in modern times'.
Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Reince Priebus is doing his best to reframe the previously unthinkable as the new normal, repeatedly endorsing Trump as his party's presumptive nominee through both actions and tweets.
Others are falling into line, albeit a tad grudgingly. On Thursday RNC member Marsha Coats called for the party to give Trump 'the opportunity to prove himself'. Coats acknowledged Trump had not figured in her 'top two' choices for president but she's moving on, saying:
I fear if we do not unite to support Donald Trump, we will again open the door for at least another four years of Washington implementing a left-wing agenda.
Earlier this month, Alex Roarty wrote on Roll Call that what was 'once a war within the Republican Party' may be all but over.
Trump’s march to the nomination...has divided the loose coalition of Republican and conservative leaders who for months have fought his campaign.
At the heart of their split is whether continued attacks against the New York billionaire will only weaken the party’s inevitable nominee further – or whether Trump’s polarizing candidacy necessitates that his foes continue their fight no matter the long odds.
Increasingly, unity is winning out.
Not everyone is happy about that.
In a much discussed piece, Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan slammed the GOP for attempting to treat Donald Trump 'as a normal political candidate'.
Republican politicians marvel at how he has 'tapped into' a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the 'mobocracy'. Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.
But Kagan and his fellow neoconservatives are increasingly isolated. And while some still push for an alternative to Trump, not many apart from desolate Ted Cruz supporters, really expect this to happen.
There will be plenty more twists and turns before the presidential vote on November 8. But now Donald Trump has won over a large (and growing) portion of his party, only the foolhardy would say he can't make it to the White House.
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