Guy Benson, Townhall:
It is with no small measure of trepidation and hesitation that I wade into these waters, but I feel as though I must. Much is at stake, and time is running perilously short to affect needed change — so I ask you to hear me out, even if you’re inclined to disagree. Over recent weeks and months, I haven’t been shy about voicing my opposition to the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. I fully recognize that this stance instantly alienates a portion of my readership. I’m comfortable with that; we will agree to disagree on this question, which I happen to consider critically important. My intended audience for this piece, therefore, is not committed Trump backers, but rather anyone else who considers him or herself a conservative-leaning voter. In my estimation, Mr. Trump has habitually fallen well short of demonstrating that he can be counted upon to govern as a conservative. His capriciousness, his impulsivity, his incoherence, his mean-spiritedness, his pettiness, his chronic dishonesty and his policy ignorance are unpresidential in the extreme. And based on empirical data, he appears particularly ill-equipped to defeat an otherwise highly-vulnerable Hillary Clinton in the fall. Last night’s flailing debate performance served as a reminder of how wholly unprepared he is, on both temperament and basic knowledge, to be president. All told, a Trump nomination would represent a catastrophic, lasting blow to the principles of conservatism, and to the political party that most closely (if deeply imperfectly) represents them. When he launched his campaign with a rambling, winding, stream-of-consciousness tirade, I instinctively wrote Trump off as a sideshow. Over the many news cycles that followed, I was forcibly disabused of that notion. The realization that the Trump phenomenon was real began to sink in over the summer, as the billionaire celebrity seized and kept the lead in national Republican polling for weeks — then months — on end. In recent days, I’ve begun to sound the alarm on an urgent, distressing reality: Unless something dramatic happens to alter the trajectory of this nominating contest, and soon, Trump will prevail. He will be the nominee.