Ornstein and Mann in The Atlantic:
Donald Trump’s emergence as the GOP frontrunner and likely nominee creates an existential crisis for the Republican Party, as the angry populism exploited and incited by Republican leaders in Congress to regain majority control turns inward to consume its host. The potential outcomes are bad for the party and its adherents—but even worse for the rest of America.
After his very good night Tuesday, including a huge victory in Florida, Trump could indeed wrap up the party nomination before July, or be so close to the magic 1,237 delegates that it would be impossible to deny him the nomination. One of the two major parties would then be led by a man noted for his divisive, taunting and dangerous language, his extreme proposals on immigration and trade, his lack of knowledge about even basic public policies—and a set of ideas, on Social Security, Medicare, health reform and Planned Parenthood at odds with the entire Republican Party platform and nearly all of its members of the House and Senate. No doubt, most of those members, along with the other presidential candidates and party nabobs, would dutifully get behind their nominee—the mantra is “Anyone would be better than Hillary Clinton.” But that would mean not only forfeiting a chance to broaden the party base beyond a core of working-class white voters, but also creating irresolvable dissonance between the standard bearer and the party hierarchy, even greater than that between Barry Goldwater and the then-moderate GOP establishment in 1964.
To be sure, American politics are different in many ways than they were in 1964.