This election cycle hasn't been kind to Republican big shots. Their favorite presidential candidates—Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio—fell short. Their opposition to Donald Trump was ineffectual, and their subsequent submission to him inglorious.
Now they have one last chance to do something that would bring credit to them and benefit to their party and country: Support the effort by hundreds of delegates to free themselves to vote their conscience at the GOP convention.
These delegates have been organizing from the bottom up. Their movement has more momentum than anyone thought possible a few weeks ago. But the delegates are under intense pressure from the Trump campaign and from RNC apparatchiks to buckle under. Republican governors, senators and congressmen—who privately acknowledge what a disaster Trump would be—can do one thing to help. They can provide air cover to delegates risking their careers charging on foot the entrenched batteries of the party establishment.
They don't have to do much. They don't have to attack or oppose Trump publicly. All they have to say is that delegates should vote their conscience, that doing so is in the finest traditions of the party, and that Republicans don't bully other Republicans. Just a few volleys from assorted GOP big guns could even up the odds, and give the brave enlisted men and women willing to do the right thing a chance to prevail.
The weekend of July 4 is a good time to step up. All that Republican leaders have to declare is that the convention delegates "are, and of right ought to be, free and Independent," and "that they are absolved from all allegiance" to a nominee who would sully the name and damage the future of the Republican party.
Does some of the spirit of the Declaration still survive in today's Republican leaders?
By William Kristol, The Weekly Standard