Paul Gigot is the editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. He is an elite’s elite. He graduated from Dartmouth, went to work for the Journal in Chicago and Hong Kong, ran the “Potomac Watch” column, was a White House fellow under Reagan, and now runs the editorial page. Friends who have worked with Paul describe him as rather detached from his roots.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page is today running an editorial that has Gigot’s finger prints all over it. The paper declares that Trump without 1,237 delegates can be deprived of the Republican nomination.
The statement is factually true. But facts have a way of being messy in the face of passions a man like Gigot has worked hard to disassociate himself with.
The Republican Party’s rules say a candidate needs the votes of 1,237 of the 2,472 delegates at the July convention in Cleveland to win the nomination. They don’t say all one needs is a plurality, or to have won the most primaries. There is no moral right to the nomination because a candidate wins 40%, or even 49%, of the delegates. He needs a majority, and the 1,237 number is no secret.
All of these things are factually true, but an angry electorate — anger Gigot is sheltered from in his steel tower on the Avenue of the Americas — understands a different “moral right.” When Trump, a man everyone discounted, gets to Cleveland with the most primary wins and the most delegates, the “moral right” of the Trump voter will determine him the winner, 1,237 delegates be damned.
And those Trump voters will have a legitimate grievance. Trump, after all, will have the most votes going in.
Gigot and I can agree that we will never vote for Trump. But I must disagree that the GOP can deprive Trump of the nomination if he has the most delegates. The party has lost moral authority with its base. It finds itself in the problems it now faces because it has bowed more to the whims of men like Paul Gigot than Paul the mechanic in Cincinnati.
If the Republican Party were to confront a Donald Trump holding more delegates than the other candidates, though not a majority, and then deprive him of the nomination, Paul Gigot and company can claim there is “no moral right to the nomination” and watch Trump supporters pour gasoline across the convention floor then strike a match.
The United States has been a simmering pressure cooker for quite some time. People have descended to tribal grievances as the President has pitted one group of Americans against another and Republicans have broken all their promises. Gigot too has descended to tribal grievances in his columns wherein he routinely excoriates conservatives and Ted Cruz. Gigot just has more starch in his grievances.
If the GOP listens to his editorial this morning, there will be an outbreak of physical violence. It will not be deserved, but it is easily predictable and it will end badly for the Republicans. Gigot will be able to raise his nose as he votes Clinton, but in doing so he’ll need to understand that the smell of smoke his nose senses is the smoldering remains of a Republican Party that went down Gigot’s preferred path of disdain for working class American who have rallied to a strong man against the ideas and heroes of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
The rise of Trump is as much a failure of the the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board’s ideas as it is a failure of the GOP. Both institutions, at some point, stopped relating to those most likely to be their allies and now there is hell to pay.