CLEVELAND -- Republican delegates made history last night voting to make a bold, flamboyant political novice named Donald Trump their party's standard-bearer in what promises to be an epic electoral fight this fall against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump, who had flirted with running for president many times before, actually got serious this time and there was no stopping him. He mowed down 16 other candidates vying for the GOP nod, while advancing radical but sensible proposals like deporting millions of illegal aliens and placing a temporary ban on terrorism-prone Muslims entering the United States. He took intense heat from his own party, conservative intellectuals, Democrats, and the media but he never gave in.
Almost no political pundits foresaw the remarkable rise of Trump. Over the course of a year he transformed himself from a billionaire dealmaker and beloved reality TV star into a political lightning rod and serious contender for the highest office in the land.
Trump lives for challenges, his son, Donald Trump Jr., told delegates at the Republican National Convention yesterday.
"I've seen it time and time again, that look in his eyes when someone says it can't be done," he said. "I saw that look a little over a year ago when he was told he couldn't possibly succeed in politics. Yes, he did."
In a speech at the convention, TV director and actor Scott Baio succinctly summed up how many Americans feel in the Obama era of out-of-control spending, stifling political correctness, and social tumult.
Being American "doesn’t mean getting free stuff," said the former teen heartthrob.
"It means sacrificing. Winning. Losing. Failing. Succeeding. And sometimes doing the things you don’t want to do — including the hard work — in order to get where you want to be."
"But folks, our country right now is in a very bad spot. You can feel it. And you can see it everywhere. There’s no stability. Nothing seems right. And all the things that we hold dear are being attacked every single day. We cannot go down this road anymore. We need to stop. We need Donald Trump to fix this."
Trump is no messiah, Baio said. "He’s just a man — a man who wants to give back to his country: America — the country that has given him everything. A country that has also given all of us so much. And now it’s time to give back to her."
A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote "to continue the same policies that are wrecking this country." She "feels she’s entitled to the presidency — that she’s somehow owed it," Baio said.
"Or we can go for Donald Trump, a man doing this from the goodness of his heart and [who] genuinely wants to help," Baio said. "A man who knows how to get things done. A man who says what he means, and means what he says."
But there is still a deep split in the Republican Party and it is unclear how much Trump winning the nomination will help heal the rifts.
On Monday the Never Trump insurgency made its last stand on the convention floor.
Anti-Trump delegates tried to get a change approved that would have allowed delegates to be freed from their obligation to vote for the candidate they were elected to support. The move failed.
Former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli complained that because his side didn't get its way, "this was disenfranchisement, dare I say."
Attorney David Norcross, counsel to the convention's Rules Committee and former chairman of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), thinks the right decision was made.
"Bind, unbind, I don't have any problem philosophically with unbound delegates but as we've evolved into primaries it hardly seems fair to voters to do that and the other thing which I felt pretty strongly [about] is it was giving the anti-Trumpers a fifth quarter."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who ran against Trump but then endorsed him, led the delegates in a kind of mock trial urging the crowd to loudly declare Hillary Clinton "guilty" of misconduct as secretary of state.
Christie made the case that Clinton, not Trump, is the real enemy. Clinton was soft on Muslim terrorism. She created the disastrous Arab Spring that set North Africa and the Middle East on fire.
"She doesn't fight for us," he said. "She doesn't get the real threats America faces. In China, Hillary Clinton praised the Chinese government for buying our debt to finance President Obama's bloated stimulus plan."
She backed the worse-than-useless nuclear nonproliferation pact with the mullahs of Iran and diplomatic recognition of Communist Cuba, bungled the symbolic "reset" with Russia, and allowed foreign intelligence agencies to have access to top secret U.S. documents by emailing them through her insecure private email servers, Christie explained.
"We cannot promote someone to Commander-in-Chief who has made the world a more violent and dangerous place with every bad judgment she has made. We cannot make the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States someone who has risked America's secrets and lied about this to Congress and the American people."
Neurosurgeon and former Trump rival Ben Carson urged all Republicans to come together and support the party's nominee. He also went after the Never Trump crowd in his speech to delegates.
Letting Hillary Clinton seize the White House would be a mistake, possibly one that is fatal to America, he said.
"We must also be wary of the narrative that's being advanced by some in our own party, the notion that a Hillary Clinton administration wouldn't be that bad. The effects would only be temporary, that it would only last for four, and at most eight years."
They're fooling themselves, Carson said.
"They're not using their God-given brain to think about what they're saying because it won't be four or eight years because she will be appointing people who will have an effect on us for generations and America may not recover from that. That's what we have to be thinking about."
Unfortunately, Republican cry-babies and aspiring spoilers are not in short supply.
Just hours after delegates put Trump over the top, an anti-Trump super PAC called Make America Awesome announced in a mass email its leadership's intention to shiv the GOP's newly minted nominee.
"Tonight, the Republican Party nominated Donald J. Trump for President -- something that will probably prove to be one of its dumbest moves in its entire history, and one that will hand Hillary Clinton the presidency," wrote Liz Mair, a former RNC online communications director who founded Make America Awesome.
Mair called Trump "a fundamentally untrustworthy, unethical man with bad policy ideas" and a racist, adding she planned to vote for the Libertarian Party candidate, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, pro-marijuana crusader Gary Johnson.
Mair worked as a digital strategist for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's short-lived presidential campaign last year but left the post after some of her old tweets mocking Iowa and conservative champion Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) surfaced.
Mair wrote that "our TV ad man" Ben Howe plans to make a documentary film soon about Trump and "his possible personality disorder" called The Sociopath.
You may have heard of Howe before. He is the guy who mocked a defenseless female Trump supporter whom left-wingers pelted with eggs, food, and bottles at a San Jose, Calif., Trump rally a few weeks back.
"And all she did was try to make America great again," Howe tweeted.
Coming under fire online, the self-styled conservative then blamed Trump for the assault on his supporter. "I don't condone violence," he tweeted. "But to pretend Trumpists & Trump himself haven't cultivated a sub-culture of hatred & paranoia is delusional."
There are plenty of Republican lawmakers in Congress who want Trump to fail.
One of them is Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a well known open-borders fanatic and supplicant to the illegal alien lobby.
He is skipping the convention and showed his contempt for the GOP grassroots, smearing them as racists because they want secure borders. Flake hopes and believes Trump will lose in November and when that happens he wants Trump supporters to be expelled from the Republican Party.
"You've got to hope that, if this race keeps going the way it looks to be going, that it's enough of a jolt to wake people up and say we don't want to be relegated to second place in every future presidential campaign."
When the New York Times asked Flake about the ideological purge he proposes, he replied, "Those who want a Muslim ban, those who will disparage individuals or groups -- yes we ought to, we need to."
Of course, the New York Times is more than happy to go along with Flake's condescending, despicable attacks on his own party. The July 16 article about Flake by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, seethes with burning contempt for conservatives, lying about what Trump stands for. It is filled with malicious nonsense, claiming Trump is feeding off "racial resentment," that he has an "exclusionary message," and that he is trying to create "a party of white identity politics."
The Left has been slinging such smears against the Tea Party movement since it was created in 2009. The goal has been to discredit the movement because it represents an existential threat to the Left. In a battle between right-wing populism and left-wing populism in America, the smart money is on starboard, not port.
And the Left's war against Donald Trump is only beginning.