"Every time Trump dog-whistles to his nativist base, as he did recently with his refusal to disavow David Duke, establishment conservatives cringe. His willingness to pander in this way has earned him the loyalty of proud bigots everywhere, but it will explode in his – and the party's face – in a general election. I suspect Trump knows this, but what matters a little collateral damage to an arsonist like him?
It's not just traditional Republicans that Trump has alienated. As the The New York Times notes, it's “mainstream Christian activists, who view his angry outlook as antithetical to their faith; centrists, who see him as the most divisive politician in a generation; and national security experts, who have recoiled from his praise for autocrats like Vladimir Putin.”
The question, though, is what to do about it? A third-party candidate, which was likely a last resort, has emerged as a real possibility. William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, has already stated his intention to put forward an “independent Republican” if Trump is indeed the nominee. “That ticket would simply be a one-time, emergency adjustment to the unfortunate circumstance (if it happens) of a Trump nomination,” Kristol wrote. It “would support other Republicans running for Congress and other offices, and would allow voters to correct the temporary mistake (if they make it) of nominating Trump.”