By Earle I. Mack (March 23rd, 2016)

For the past several months, we’ve seen story after story detailing secret meetings and strategies emanating from the so-called GOP establishment and its plans to stop Trump.

Last weekend was no different as one group of donors and establishment members retreated to Palm Beach, Fla., in an effort to find ways to block Donald Trump from winning the presidential nomination.

Meanwhile, others met elsewhere to conjure up a third-party candidate whose main purpose would be to deny Trump a chance in the general election, a self-inflicting move that might fracture the Republican Party for decades to come.

As a longtime donor and supporter of Republican candidates and causes, I’ve often wondered who this mythical GOP establishment is, toying with the primary process. The truth is, the notion of a monolithic GOP establishment is every bit as imaginary as Hillary Clinton’s delusion of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

But, ironically, in recent days I’ve come to think that what we desperately need to avoid is the perception of an “establishment conspiracy” against the voters of our own party.

All the hand-wringing about Trump’s negative impact on the GOP ignores the fact that scheming against him will also have lasting impacts on the working-class voters who are the base of our party.

These voters see the American dream slipping away and feel abandoned by their party and their government. They believe the system is rigged, with two sets of rules; and ultimately, these plots to displace Trump reinforce those conceptions, becoming a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Is Trump’s appeal any wonder when even in the face of massive upheaval, the donors and Washington elites are still cavalierly seeking to disregard the voice of the working class? Instead of seeking ways to mollify and address the pent-up fears that are driving these voters, efforts are focused on disenfranchising them.

That’s a big mistake. The Republican Party has never stood against our democratic principles.  Let’s not give our voters a reason to leave our party today by attempting to dictate to them who should be their choice for president.

And for the record, I don’t approve of the campaign Trump is running, and I am especially concerned about what it is doing to the party I’ve known for more than 50 years and the country I have loved for a lifetime. But this is politics, and if you are looking for an angel, go to heaven.

So as much as I am concerned about Trump, what I fear is betraying the principles our country is founded upon. That’s why we cannot support backroom deals and create a perception of some kind of cabal or demagoguery to deny the will of the people.

The rules are the rules, and the will of the people must prevail. Their freedom to choose their representatives comes above all.

If we don’t honor and respect the will of the people, we will undermine the legitimacy of our party, invite chaos and sow the seeds of a major setback that could impinge our party for the next 40 years.

As a lifelong Republican, I will support our nominee. But no matter who that is, that person needs to get 1,237 delegates. If no candidate does, then we have an open convention.

It might be uncomfortable, it might be messy, and the outcome is unsure. But let the democratic process continue.

This is America — the world looks to us as the greatest democratic society in the history of mankind. Let’s not be insincere. When the people speak, they speak.

I, for one, won’t tolerate juggling the rules or the democratic process to try to countermand the will of the people.

Read the full post from Earle I Mack on The Hill: http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/274120-we-the-people