GOP unity and Trump's hopes all ride on the party platform
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The current Republican civil war is a brother vs. brother, Speaker vs. nominee, "Duck Dynasty" star vs. "Duck Dynasty" star battle of ideology. Right now, the #NeverTrump establishment hates presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpEx-Trump lawyer Cohen to pen forward for impeachment book Murkowski says it would be 'appropriate' to bar Trump from holding office again Man known as 'QAnon Shaman' asks Trump for pardon after storming Capitol MORE's supporters and the Trump supporters hate the establishment. As things stand today, likely Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCan Biden encompass the opposition he embodied? Disney silent on Trump status in Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom Biden has an opportunity to win over conservative Christians MORE looks like a lock to move back into her old house in D.C. The polls favor her despite the fact that, unlike Trump, she's still locked in a bitter primary battle. At their website (which uses Betfair odds), John Stossel and Maxim Lott show Clinton with a 69.7 percent chance of winning the general election, with Trump at 25.2 percent.

In order to avoid a dark November, the establishment needs the Trump supporters and the Trump supporters need the establishment. The fact is, only a unified Republican Party can beat Clinton in November.


Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform National Review criticizes 'Cruz Eleven': Barbara Boxer shouldn't be conservative role model MORE (R-Wis.) and Trump can release all the joint statements in the world about "great conversations," but those conversations will not be the deciding factor in the unity vs. discord battle. Like the NBA playoffs, it will all come down to what happens at Quicken Loans Arena. That's where the delegates will meet in July to make a deal on the Republican party platform. Both sides better feel like they won and both sides better feel like it's a platform they can champion because if one side leaves feeling alienated, the 2016 election will be decided long before November at the proverbial bargaining table.

Abortion, the Second Amendment, entitlement reform, small government, adherence to the Constitution, et al.: These issues are the foundation of the Republican Party, and Trump's perceived disinterest in them is a major concern. After all, when an issue is not championed by one of the two major parties in this country, that issue disappears into the fringe-party ether.

At the same time, Trump represents things that are no longer championed by the mainstream of either party: a political class not controlled by lobbyists and special interests, an executive who makes deals instead of being so ideologically entrenched that he'll toss the Constitution and its checks and balances in the dumpster just to get his way, and most importantly, Trump isn't sold out to a brand of open borders, free trade and foreign intervention globalism that makes corporations, politicians and foreign governments richer at the expense of American middle-class workers.

Throughout the last year, Trump has touted his ability to make deals. I'd wager he's mentioned his book "The Art of the Deal" more times on the campaign trail than he's mentioned the Constitution. Making deals is so much Trump's brand that he should name Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) as his running mate just so he can print up a billion signs that say "Trump/Deal."

We've already seen him make one amazing deal: the one that carried him to presumptive victory. There's a media myth that's been around for years that the Republican Party is split in two, but that only recently became true with the advent of the #NeverTrump/Always Trump dichotomy. But a year ago, the Republican Party was in pieces. I listed the pieces a year ago as Tea Partyers, evangelical Christians, establishment RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), libertarians, neoconservative foreign policy hawks and moderates. Trump promised the wall on the Mexican border and got a slice of the Tea Party. Trump promised a noninterventionist foreign policy and got a slice of the libertarians. Trump eased off social issues and got a slice of the moderates. Trump got endorsements from Jerry Falwell Jr. and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and took a slice of the evangelicals. Trump even promised to bring back jobs and took himself a slice of Democrats. Trump gave the establishment and the neocons nothing and got another slice from all the other groups for it. In the end, he assembled a motley coalition of Republicans that had pollsters scratching their heads.

Now Trump is the first Republican nominee in recent history who will have to follow up his primary victory by making a deal with conservatives, and that deal will be the party platform. Trump will have to walk the tightrope of moving to the right without alienating his motley coalition.

In 2012, the Democratic Party chair was famously booed when he pretended a two-thirds majority of delegates voted to amend the platform to include God and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The 2016 GOP convention faces this level of contentiousness on myriad Trump vs. establishment issues. If the party fails to make peace with Trump before July and the delegates don't show up to the convention wearing their compromise hats, Trump's chance at the presidency could die in Cleveland.

Zipperer is assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College.