Okay, you Rep leaders don't like Trump but he is winning in the polls. If you try to undermine him and replace him with someone more to your liking, you likely alienate the disgruntled (at you?) majority that keep pulling the large wins in for the Donald, against your supreme political wisdom. What is a misunderstood, under-appreciated, and apparently ineffectual major party apparatus to do?
Some people say to undermine Trump, quietly help Hill, and let the Dems have the win this election cycle so you can build a winning strategy for 2020. Sadly, there are already an uncomfortable number of Reps that would go with Hill anyway just to defeat Trump and they may just stay away for good if this is the Rep Party of the future. Others suggest some trickery to get the coming convention "brokered" and to fight it out in a concentrated battle on live television. That would likely fracture the party permanently and leave the Dems as the sole political "superpower" for the foreseeable future. I am sure other procedural maneuvers are in the works, but it will be hard to convince anyone that it isn't just a bunch of old white operatives (who look strangely like you) trying to eliminate a guy who isn't their favorite flavor of old and white.
You must be kicking yourselves right now as the Dems should be suffering just as badly with an avowed Socialist running decently against the anointed Hillary. However, your prime opponents fixed the problem of a disobedient electorate a while back with those Super-delegates. The "powers" don't like Bernie, but the Super-delegates then swing into action to effect their establishment's will for the Hill. Too bad the Reps didn't pick up that little trick in the past as well. I haven't heard much angst from the disenfranchised Dem voters - that's the way their system works (but not yours).
I will tell you in a minute why none of this matters and the Republican Party, as you control it today, may not last into August, much less through the general election.
In the end, the Republican Party can only front one candidate for President and it is going to be Donald Trump, like it or not. The Donald figured out how to game the primaries, he will bully you into nominating him, and he will obnoxiously and inexplicably carry straight through to a general election win, first woman president and her "governing experience" notwithstanding. He knows what it takes to win and he has the desire to do it at any personal cost, which makes him practically unstoppable. Neither you nor I have any serious doubts that this will indeed happen.
Here comes the terrible truth that will destroy the Republican Party if you don't act fast.
You should know that Trump will offer Hillary Clinton the vice-president side of the ticket in the grandest gesture ever to "unite the country" against the evils of "party politics". They have few authentic political differences to trouble such a partnership. Hill is a political pragmatist - she gave up her bid against Obama in 2008 for the added gravitas of being Secretary of State and a more "experienced" presidential candidate resume in the future. The more you ponder a Trump-Clinton ticket, the more it seems not just "outsider" possible, but nearly inevitable - someone like Donald, the corporate guy who knows the power of merged competitors, would propose it and someone like Hillary, who knows a VP has an easier course to the big chair than anyone else, would take it. It is a complete political "slam-dunk" for both and final curtains for the old GOP, whom both would like to see disappear.
The final question is this: how badly do you of the fading Republican Establishment want to see a different future?
Straight to it -
You need to embrace the Libertarian Party, the #3 political party that no one takes seriously. Trump is stealing and redefining your Rep platform, Hill will continue to dominate the Dems (even as Trump's sidekick), and that means you have to find a new ideology to front your need to win (sorry to be so blunt). As a disaffected yet pitying friend, I suggest you adopt the Libertarian platform. The Republican Establishment has been losing young voters since Reagan, mostly to that detestable Ron Paul and his talk of personal liberty, responsibility, and smaller government. The young people, who haven't taken Bernie's socialist bait, are very attracted to the elder Paul and liberty. For a few years, you tried to woo these kids back with Ron's "liberty-lite" son Rand and a basket of undelivered "artificial-liberty-flavored" promises, so it wouldn't be completely out of character for you to ally with the Libertarians and work to actually deliver the real thing. Libertarians actually have your most high-minded ideals without the baggage of having proven to be liars about it once in office.
Libertarians have been hungry for years to be real contenders for major political offices. They front a presidential candidate every cycle, occasionally a person you may have actually heard of. They became so desperate once that they nominated Bob Barr, congressman from Georgia, who had a shaky "liberty" record. Sometimes, Libertarians are willing to forgo nominating a "true believer" to get a better chance to win, making them willing to "merge" with a group (like you) who are vaguely like-minded and basically compatible. You should probably consider pulling Ron Paul out of retirement and convincing him to be the Libertarian presidential candidate as part of the deal. You do believe in liberty, right?
The two things the Libertarian Party brings to the table of any candidate are:
- ballot access in almost every state, which no other "third" party has,
- a compelling list of platform issues that appeal to young voters, anti-war liberals, abortionists, Christians, atheists, "Conservatives" who will vote as instructed by you (sorry to be blunt again), and people of every persuasion (political, social, sexual) who currently feel disenfranchised or over-regulated (who doesn't feel like this?).
- a bigger organization, and
- a bigger bankroll.
While you still control the Republican Party, re-open the "loopholes" that you closed to kill off Ross Perot and his Reform Party, which also hurt the Libertarians. The Dems will readily agree to the change as it typically damages Rep candidates more than Dems. The Dems will think you are taking the option to throw the 2016 election in favor of being back in 2020, rather than abandoning the Rep Party for the Libertarians. You are going to need those openings in a few months when the conventions are over.
The Dems will be weak and scrambling to replace Hillary when she teams up with Trump. In desperation, they will probably draft Bernie. The Libertarian Party, strengthened by your money, your machinery, and the sincere Ron Paul, can come into the now-opened debates out of left field, steal away the Trump/Clinton thunder, and take back the votes of those who see and will be shown the trickery and hostage-taking being perpetrated by Donald and Hillary. You, Ron, and the Libertarians will be the "knights in shining armor" shedding light on political calculation and subterfuge while bringing LIBERTY to an electorate begging for real change! What a winning combination! (You like to win, don't you?)
In the end, when you are up against the ropes like Rocky Balboa was against Clubber Lang in Rocky III, you finally see the truth, you look for your real friends, and you train for a new kind of fight. Trump is stealing the GOP "champion belt" from you of the Republican Establishment right now and laughing in your face (literally). Are you going to find the new friend in the Libertarian Party, combine forces, and gain the ultimate victory against the common foe? For your survival's sake, I hope so.