What can the state's GOP voters tell Trump?

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If Donald Trump, as seems likely after the first few Republican primary polls and caucuses, wins a third consecutive GOP nomination for president and then goes on to win in November, he will likely consider it a mandate for his stated plans. . It is almost certain that he will lose the national popular vote by millions, as had happened twice before.

Those plans include taking revenge on anyone he believes may have treated him unfairly in the past, sending military units to police cities run by elected Democrats and targeting “communists, Marxists, fascists and radicals- Rooting out the leftist thugs who live like insects on “the borders of our country…”

He has not revealed any name yet. But his declaration that “I am your vengeance” looks like a statement that he will act on the resentment of (mostly white) Americans who feel wronged by the advancement or prosperity of some blacks, Latinos, and immigrants.

Trump has also questioned U.S. military aid to Ukraine in Ukraine’s two-year war against Russian invaders, but neither opposed nor supported similar aid to Israel as it fought Hamas militants who On October 7, more than 1,400 Israelis were killed and abducted.

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That surprised no one who saw Trump as president repeatedly bow to Russian President Vladimir Putin and express admiration for other strongmen like North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

While president in early 2021, Trump openly floated the idea of ​​unilaterally imposing martial law on the entire country to keep himself in office despite losing the 2000 election. Then he didn’t actually do it. Might he try this strategy if elected now, as his second and (constitutionally) final term in the White House comes to an end? If so, it would be the most severe test yet for military commanders sworn to obey only lawful orders.

Never before has any presidential candidate made such a specific plan for his term. Never before had a candidate from a major party made revenge a major campaign theme.

With mail ballots for California’s March 5 primary election either already in the hands of millions of voters, or about to arrive in their mailboxes, the fate of Trump’s plans could be decided by the 26 percent of California voters registered as Republicans. Could.

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Trump’s party allies have made rules here that if he gets even one vote more than 50 percent in the primary tally here, he will get the right to all the Republican National Convention delegates from California. By itself, that delegation would be about 15 percent of the amount needed to nominate Trump for a third term.

But what if California’s GOP voters (Republican primaries are the only publicly organized and financed elections in this state that are open not to all voters, but only to party members) voted for him by less than 50 percent?

Because California votes early in this year’s primary season, remaining challenger former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will have time to take advantage of late-voting states like New York, Pennsylvania and several others. This could lead to chaos at the GOP convention and repeated voting.

But that won’t happen unless California Republicans change their views on Trump, who has long enjoyed a huge polling lead among his party colleagues here. As voting approached, there was no sign that this was happening on a large scale.

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If that doesn’t change with ballots in voters’ hands, the California primary will end any serious GOP campaign during the spring.

With the entire California delegation, along with delegates already won in other states, and even a small portion of the delegates on the line, Trump would have effectively clinched the nomination.

It would be the first time in two generations that a major party nomination went to someone who refused to participate in intra-party debate. It would be the first time an American party has nominated a man who is openly bent on using the presidency to take revenge on opponents and is clearly committed to weaponizing the Justice Department against perceived personal enemies.

And if, as polls suggest, California Republicans vote for Trump despite or because of those commitments, what will it say about their views on things like democracy, equal justice and the peaceful transfer of power?

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