With Donald Trump the last candidate standing in the 2016 Republican presidential primary field, conservatives are now assessing both his chances in the general election and the effect of Trump’s ascendance upon the Republican party and the conservative movement. Many conservatives warned against the nomination of Trump, fearing that a landslide general election loss would jeopardize the GOP’s hold on the Senate and House as well.

Thomas Sowell, in his Monday column in Investor’s Business Daily, posited that negative effects from Trump’s nomination on the GOP could last well beyond the 2016 election.

“Trump’s candidacy could be not only a current political setback for Republicans, but an enduring affliction in future elections. For decades after, Republican President Herbert Hoover was demonized because the Great Depression of the 1930s began on his watch. Democrats warned repeatedly, in a series of later presidential elections, that a vote for the Republican candidate was a vote to return to the days of Herbert Hoover. It was 20 years before another Republican was elected president…Hoover was still being used as a bogeyman, more than 40 years after he left office, and nearly two decades after he was dead. Trump’s image could easily play a very similar role.

As far as the immediate consequences of a president with Donald Trump’s temperament, Sowell did not mince words:

“The old World War II phrase “loose lips sink ships” applies on land as well as on the water. And no one has looser lips than Donald Trump, who repeatedly spouts whatever half-baked idea pops into his head. A man in his 60s has life-long habits that are not likely to change. Age brings habits, even if it does not bring maturity.”

With Ted Cruz’s capitulation (and John Kasich’s subsequent and immediate departure), it is clear that the nation’s choice will indeed be Trump vs. Clinton. Sowell argues that “neither …represents the will of the people” based on repeated polling data that shows landmark negative ratings for both that is unlikely to change based on their already high name recognition and presence in the public eye for decades. Based on this, he suggests a once unthinkable alternative for conservative Republican voters:

“A third party candidate for president — may represent the only slim chance for saving this country from a catastrophic administration in an age of proliferating nuclear weapons. If a third party candidate could divide the vote enough to prevent anyone from getting an electoral college majority, that would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where any semblance of sanity could produce a better president than these two.”

It is clear how dramatically Trump’s nomination has upset the balance of American politics when thinkers universally regarded as sagacious and pragmatic such as Mr. Sowell are seriously proposing strategies that would normally be associated with Ron Paul or Gary Johnson supporters.

Read the whole column here.

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