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The Never Trump dilemma: go ahead with a third party, or risk everything on stopping Trump at Cleveland?

It's becoming increasingly less certain that Donald Trump will be the nominee at Cleveland. Ironically, there's a sense in which that's a problem for the Never Trump movement: if a conservative third party bid is going to be launched, it will have to happen by mid-June at the latest. What happens if it's still not clear by then that Trump will win at Cleveland? And what happens if the third party goes ahead, and Ted Cruz or a dark horse ends up as the Republican nominee?

Bill Kristol continues to agitate for a third party and talked about it today with George Stephanopolous. I agree with Kristol that it's important that those of us who cannot in conscience vote for either Trump or Hillary have a place to stand other than the options of staying home or voting for some crackpot candidate from an existing third party who represents us no better than Trump or Clinton does. But there's another problem. Whoever makes the race will do so in the certain knowledge that he or she is sacrificing their career in order to do so. What even half-way viable candidate is willing to make the gesture without even knowing for sure that it will be necessary/

Carly Fiorina  if I read her right, thinks she can parlay her candidacy earlier this year into a career in GOP politics, perhaps in Congress. She'd give that up if she ran. Besides, she's actively supporting Cruz. I can't see her agreeing to run while Cruz is still in the race, and probably not even then. Lindsey Graham's future in the Republican party is clearly also limited; he himself has pronounced the centrist wing of the party to which he belongs dead. But he's also supporting Cruz, even though he intensely dislikes him. I doubt that he'd make the race in any event, and he certainly wouldn't while Cruz was still viable. His sense of honor wouldn't let him.

So who? Ben Sasse actually does have a bright future in the national GOP; sacrificing it in order to make what will almost certainly be a symbolic gesture is not something even I would want to see, is much in favor as I am of a third party if Trump is nominated. Tom Coburn? The former Oklahoma senator has also been vocally supportive of the Never Trump movement and probably doesn't have much of a future in the GOP. Moreover, he knows it.  He's known to be supportive of the idea of a third party though he's also known to be reluctant to lead one. But he remains a possibility.

Perhaps someone from the business community or the military could be convinced to run, although again a soldier or sailor or Marine or airman would have to prematurely end his or her career in order to make the race. There have been active attempts to convince Condi Rice to make the race. But she is reluctant, and her pro-abortion convictions would be a substantial obstacle to her gathering a following.

As the old adage goes, you can't beat somebody with nobody. Unfortunately, you can't even make a largely symbolic existential gesture against somebody with nobody. Somewhere, the Never Trump movement is going to have to come up with a ticket, And it's going to have to do it before mid-June. Which means that it's going to have to commit to going ahead with the idea probably before it's anything like clear that Trump won't be stopped at Cleveland. And that's a dilemma for everybody concerned.


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