Night of the Long Knives, Redux

From Germany in the 1930s to the Republican Party in 2016

Carolyn Grant

Remember the Meech Lake Accord? The gang of eight? The Night of the Long Knives, as Premier Rene Levesque so eloquently phrased his perception of betrayal by other Canadian Premiers?

It was an exciting moment in Canadian politics, right?

Bueller? Do I hear crickets?

Well, the long knives are out again, dear readers, as Republicans in the U.S. are finally done clutching their pearls in horror at the spectre of President Donald Trump and beginning to actively plan to get rid of him.

It is actually quite appropriate to reference the night of the long knives and Trump in the same sentence. Levesque stole the reference from none other than Adolf Hitler, who dispatched his political rivals in bloody fashion in June of 1934. Trump has on occasion during this campaign been called a fascist and frequently compared to Hitler.

It is unlikely the Republican attempt to stop Trump will be quite so bloodthirsty, but the knives are coming out.

It used to be party loyalty “trumped” everything. Once the nominee was decided through the laborious and complicated primary and caucus season the winter before a presidential election, all the good party members got in line behind he or she. That’s our nominee, the people have spoken.

That’s the way it used to be. But not this year. This year the people of the Republican Party have spoken and what they have said, and produced, is not to the liking of mandarins of the Party. You see the shadowy figures in the back rooms, the money, are finding the thought of Donald Trump as their nominee repugnant. Although they may be no happier with who is falling out as choice number two either. Ted Cruz is considered the most despised man in Washington, hated equally by Democrats and Republicans. It’s a gift he has.

No, the upper party hierarchy had their hearts set on Marco Rubio, or Little Marco, as Donald Trump so disdainfully referred to him at the last debate. How could he lose? He’s young, of Cuban-descent to attract the HIspanic vote, good looking and appealing. A sure thing.

Except he wasn’t. He’s failed miserably, but he’s staying in the race, collecting as many delegates as he can, which is not many. But it’s some.

And if indeed the long knives come out, as many predict they will, there will be some shenanigans at the Republican convention this summer.

The plan is to somehow keep Trump from reaching the required number of delegates necessary to be declared the nominee — that’s 1,237.

If he’s short of that, even by a few dozen, an opponent could mount a challenge at the convention. The idea is that the remaining candidates would have enough votes collectively to stop Trump. Then they would decide who the standard bearer would be and nominate that person.

So say, Rubio takes Florida, Kasich — yes he’s still in the race — takes Ohio, Cruz takes California, or at least gives Trump a run for his money and takes some delegates. You don’t have to have one other clear winner, you just need Trump not to get to the magic 1,237 number.

But the brilliant plan is going to fall apart if Trump keeps racking up delegates as he did in the primaries Tuesday night. He’s already one third of the way to the magic number.

Florida is a big one. It’s a winner gets all the delegates state. It’s Rubio’s home state and he should do well, but he has yet to pick up any major endorsements. In fact four of the state’s largest newspapers took the unprecedented move this week of declining to endorse anyone. We kind of hate all the candidates was the message — there’s no one running we can endorse.

It’s certainly a ticklish situation for the Repubs and they are desperately trying to find any way at all around Trump, the nominee.

But if Trump cleans up in Florida, all bets are likely off. The long knives will have to be put away for another day. It will be all over but the shouting. And who can shout louder than Trump?

Carolyn Grant is the Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin