Ever since Ted Cruz and John Kasich ended their presidential campaigns, much hypothesizing has been done about the unification of the GOP. The main question? Will the various camps that comprise the party eventually rally around the presumptive nominee? It is a circumstance worth contemplating, considering the Republican primary infighting was some of the nastiest stuff any of us have witnessed.
Name-calling, insults, character flogging and conspiracy mongering became daily fare. It was depressing. And it wasn't just among the candidates. Their campaign staffs, families and supporters were drawn — some more willingly than others — into the fray. Now the task is fence-mending. How does a party that subjected itself to intense friendly fire for months get back on the same page?
My suggestion: Let Hillary Clinton help.
In March of last year, I wrote a piece for another outlet titled "Hillary Clinton is the great conservative unifier." In it, I argued:
"The many factions of right-wing America are good at arguing over a litany of issues: foreign policy, immigration, Common Core, marriage equality, etcetera, ad nauseam. But nothing will unify them like Hillary Clinton."
Of course I published that article three months before you-know-who decided to toss his hat into the GOP ring, immediately throwing uppercuts at everyone from Mexican "rapists" to the wives of his primary opponents, all while casually disregarding seemingly countless ideals that conservatives have held dearly for generations.
For a while it seemed that even if the Manhattan billionaire could ride his plurality of support to the nomination, there was no way the remains of his scorched earth tactics could yield the political fruits of reconciliation. Yet, as we've seen over the past couple of weeks, much of the Republican Party is good at letting bygones be bygones.
Indeed there are holdouts. The Never Trump crowd — an informal confederacy of conservative principlists, libertarian-leaners, foreign policy hawks and establishment pouters — is digging their heels in, most vowing they'll abstain from voting for either the Republican or Democratic nominee in November. (Full disclosure: I'm one of them, residing somewhere between the conservative principlist and libertarian crew.) Aside from us, however, it seems the majority of the GOP voter set is warming to their last candidate standing.
So, what more can that fellow and his team do to lure winnable right-wingers into the fold? I say nothing. As I wrote before, Hillary will take care of all that. Yes, even after the most bruising primary imaginable, the sheer thought of President Hillary Clinton in the White House will drive many a stray Republicans back to the herd. Sure, she still has work to do to lock up her own party's nomination, but with the Democratic National Committee's help, she should have a handle on that soon enough. When that happens, most Republicans will coalesce around their new leader, begrudgingly or not.
To win in November, the GOP need not waste time reining in the Never Trump lot — it's a pointless crusade. Instead, they should let Clinton's presence unify the bulk of the party while focusing on flipping working-class Democrats who are put off by her and attracted to Trump's populist messaging. That group probably outnumbers right-leaning holdouts overall, and it can be found in numerous battleground states.
For example, what's more valuable to the GOP, my vote in Tennessee or an unemployed coal miner's ballot in Ohio, where Hillary promised to tank his industry? See what I mean?
A year ago no one saw this exact scenario playing out, but it still remains that Hillary Clinton will likely prove to be the Republican Party's greatest asset.
Contact David Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DMart423.