Will Republicans unite behind Trump or vote Hillary?

I hoped I would never have to write this column.

I hoped somehow Donald Trump would be deflected by another candidate, taken down by his own hateful rhetoric, get bored with the race for president and drop out.

I hoped the #NeverTrump movement would zero him out of the equation.

I hoped a contested convention would bring some less extreme GOP candidate out of the woodwork, even as I knew that would be subverting the will of the voters.

I hoped for something.

The May 3 Indiana primary changed all that. Trump is now officially the Republican nominee for president. Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), tweeted that Trump was now the presumptive nominee and it was time for Republicans to unite to defeat Hillary Clinton.

So it’s official now. Donald Trump is one step–or one woman–away from the White House.

Throughout the mayhem that has been the Republican primary season, with 17 candidates at the outset, Priebus has tried to deflect attention onto the Democrats, claiming they were in disarray.

But on their worst day, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders couldn’t begin to compete with the nightmare that is the GOP right now.

Even President Obama felt compelled to comment at the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 30. His final “roast” of his second term was filled with jabs at everyone, from the press to the various candidates for president.

But for Priebus, the president reserved this jab: “Congratulations on all your success. The Republican party, the nomination process. It’s all going great. Keep it up.”

The audience howled and Priebus smiled, but was clearly pained.

After Trump won Indiana, Ted Cruz, Trump’s only real rival in the GOP primary, withdrew from the race. Only a week earlier he had lost all five states in the Acela Primary to Trump.

The next day Cruz had chosen a running mate–former presidential contender Carly Fiorina. But even the sheer bizarreness factor didn’t propel the Cruz/Carly ticket forward.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is still in the race, but as with Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, it’s hard to understand why. Math is immutable. And the math has been clear for weeks.

Trump and Clinton both have 90 percent of the delegates needed to be the nominees of their party. The only reason the DNC hasn’t called it for Clinton like Priebus did for Trump is because Clinton is trying hard to woo Sanders’ supporters.

Clinton has said repeatedly that she is not asking Sanders to get out of the race. But she has stopped running ads in the few remaining primary states and has focused both her staff and her campaign money on the general election.

On April 28 Hillary hired high-powered Democratic strategist Minyon Moore to focus her campaign for the general election.

Moore worked on the presidential campaigns of Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988 and worked for Bill Clinton as Director of the Office of Public Liaison. To say she’s a powerhouse would be to understate it.

And powerhouses will be required against Trump. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted after Trump won Indiana, “There’s more enthusiasm for Donald Trump among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.”

Warren – who has been floated as a possible VP choice for Hillary Clinton – is not wrong – and that may work in Hillary’s favor. Myriad political reporters covering Indiana tweeted they had been told by various GOP operatives that those people were voting Clinton in November.

And Cruz has been saying for weeks on the campaign trail that a Trump nomination was the same as “handing the keys to the White House and the Supreme Court to Hillary Clinton.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was also a presidential contender, tweeted a similar sentiment prior to the Indiana blowout for Trump.

But the biggest litmus that there would be a wave of Republicans voting Hillary in November was Philip Klein. Managing Editor of the conservative Washington Times newspaper and author of “Overcoming Obamacare,” tweeted he was out of the GOP.

Regardless of whether or not Republicans and the much-vaunted but rarely dependable Independent voters come Clinton’s way, there is still another month of primaries to complete. Sanders won Indiana by a narrow margin that only netted him six delegates because the Democrats don’t have a winner-take-all system like the GOP, but asserted it was reason enough for him to stay in the race. Nevertheless, the math remains immutable for both Clinton and Trump.

Which means everyone needs to focus on keeping Trump from the White House.

Warren, who sent out a flurry of angry tweets after Trump’s win, noted, “What happens next will test the character for all of us – Republican, Democrat, and Independent. It will determine whether we move forward as one nation or splinter at the hands of one man’s narcissism and divisiveness.

I’m going to fight my heart out to make sure Donald Trump’s toxic stew of hatred & insecurity never reaches the White House.”

Clinton had spoken about Trump earlier in the day to Andrea Mitchell. She tweeted out a video from that interview. And also that Donald Trump must not become president.

Sanders did not mention Trump at all. Just sent out a tweet stating “The political revolution wins in Indiana! Thank you.” And a second tweet “Your contribution sends a powerful message that we will continue our fight for progressive values. Chip in $27.”

The contentiousness of the primary season has been felt on both sides, but now that Trump has been given the GOP imprimatur by Priebus, it feels like time to do as Warren suggested and unite the Democrats against him. Clinton has been running against Trump for nearly two months now, since her March 15 wins made the mathematics of the race virtually insurmountable for Sanders.

But Sanders has continued to hammer away at Clinton and last week Trump began using Sanders’ comments in his own attacks on Clinton.

The raw reality is only the privileged can afford a Trump presidency and that is not the LGBT community – Trump has said he’s against same-sex marriage and thinks it should be “overturned.” It’s also not people of color – Trump has vowed to keep all Muslim immigrants out of the country, to deport all undocumented people, who he refers to as “illegal aliens” and he calls Black Lives Matter activists “thugs.”

We know how he feels about women: Trump has been calling women names for decades. He famously referred to Rosie O’Donnell as a “fat pig” and asserted Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly must have been having her period because she’d asked him about his sexism in the first Republican presidential debate.

A few weeks ago Trump said women who have abortions need to be punished. Legally. He’s asserted his anti-abortion stance repeatedly. But it’s not just abortion rights that women need to be concerned about. Trump doesn’t like the idea of women in charge of anything.

He has claimed Hillary is only coasting on “the woman card” – as if female gender isn’t a negative, rather than a positive in politics.

Hillary Clinton has pledged to have half of her Cabinet be women, which would be a game-changer for the country. There have only been 30 women in Cabinet positions in the history of the country and none until FDR. Bill Clinton had the most women in any cabinet.

George Bush and Barack Obama were tied for the next best numbers. But half? That would put women in positions of real power for the first time in American history.

Last week Trump was ecstatic over being endorsed by Bobby Knight, the iconic NCAA basketball coach known for winning 902 games. Knight is also known for attacking people on the court and for saying about rape to then-news anchor Connie Chung, “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

But as awful as Trump is on civil rights issues, he’s terrifying on matters of national security and foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright tweeted last week that his foreign policy speech was “all wrong except where it was inaccurate.”

And Warren noted, “Trump incites supporters to violence, praises Putin, and, according to a columnist who recently interviewed him, is ‘cool with being called an authoritarian’ and doesn’t mind associations with history’s worst dictators. He attacks veterans like John McCain who were captured and puts our service members at risk by cheerleading illegal torture.

In a world with ISIS militants and leaders like North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un conducting nuclear tests, he surrounds himself with a foreign policy team that has been called a ‘collection of charlatans,’ and puts out contradictory and nonsensical national security ideas one expert recently called ‘incoherent’ and ‘truly bizarre.’”

There’s no question that Trump would set the nation back 50 years or more. He would have the opportunity to shift the laws in the country for generations by appointing at least two and possibly four Supreme Court justices. He has pledged to overturn the Affordable Care Act which has given 17 million more people – a majority of them women – access to health care.

The list of damages Trump could do to the nation is long and scary. As Warren said, the time to unite to keep Trump out of the White House is now. And at present it seems there is only one person standing between all of us and a dangerous Trump presidency: Hillary Clinton.