A Look at Republican Principles and Trump at the Convention
by Larry Perrault on May 9, 2016 at 9:02 AM
The other day I posted on Facebook several articles from RedState.com discussing how as a part of a private organization, Republican delegates who comprise and control the Republican National Convention are under no obligation to surrender defining party principles and all semblance of integrity, and nominate Donald Trump with a minority of bound delegates, or even with a slight majority according to state party rules, just because they have made the previous error of first 1) awarding delegates winner-take all in some states, and 2) more importantly having a lot of open primaries with Democrats and Independents voting to select Republican candidates.
The latter was intended to “moderate” the popular choice. But what it achieved this year is a plurality vote for a candidate manifestly unprincipled and buffoonish. Anyway, recently I also posted an article that noted that under a strict interpretation of the current national rules only a candidate with a majority of delegates (bound or otherwise) from eight states declaring their support before the voting even begins, are eligible for placement on the ballot. With respect to those bound by state rules at this point and certainly with respect to what support delegates may declare at the convention, Donald Trump might not even be eligible for the ballot.
Trump has won a plurality in many states, but not a majority. Usually by this point, voters have consolidated around a leader who is racking up large to near 100% majorities in every state, competition having departed. But Trump has not. Is it any wonder? He could get there in the last several states, now that there will finally be no competition. But Curly Haugland and others hope they will and are encouraging people to vote for Ted Cruz or anyone else on the ballot, if they prefer. Cruz, Rubio (still third) and Kasich have suspended their campaigns, which they can still reactivate. Haugland is proposing a rule to make all of the candidates of the cycle eligible on the ballot
So, who is Curly Haugland? Curly Haugland was the subject of one of the articles I posted on Facebook the other day and a few I have posted in the last several weeks. He is an unbound delegate from North Dakota and a longtime member of the Rules Committee at the Republican National Convention. Haugland says that the rules have always given the power to choose the nominee to the party, not to primary voters. Of course it is never presented that way by the pop-culture media during the primary season and media he says this to are always startled.
A CNBC reporter responded to him to the effect, ”So we feel like we live in a democratic society, but it’s really a democratic representation…?” A democratic society gets to vote on options that private entities have been able to get on the ballot. People who care about private parties voluntarily work because they care about the principles they put in the platform and the rules of the party’s operation. Those people elect delegates at each convention level to the next one.
But voters don’t own the party and its process. They are free to present themselves at the precinct convention and explain why, if they would like to be a delegate to the next level. Very simply, if you turn out at a Republican precinct convention and start talking like Bernie Sanders or even Donald Trump, you probably are not going to be elected a district delegate. They will suggest you are at the wrong party convention, if not in the wrong country. Haugland says that after affirming credentials and being seated at national convention, delegates are free to assert their personal preference, even on the first ballot. And before the balloting even, they are free to express their support of who should be on the ballot. According to current rules, ballot access requires a majority of delegates from 8 states.
Liberal Jonathan Alter on his blog wrote in response to Hugland that “Party Bosses…could rig the rules” to deny Trump the nomination. Bosses? That could be more than a little misleading to describe delegates elected at state conventions as “bosses.” It sounds like and in fact many paranoid Trump supporters seem to think that the RNC or even Chairman Priebus himself is ordering delegates how they will proceed. But the delegates themselves are the boss. Only a relative handful and not necessarily any of the delegates will have even met Reince Priebus.
If as most people you are largely television informed, you may be slightly confused. What are the primaries and caucuses for? You may know and the affecting Trump protests that some states have no public vote but only the convention process. Well, some state parties thought it might help their general election prospects to offer to poll voters a primary or caucus vote on which candidates appeal to them. And usually it isn’t a big problem. Candidates generally reasonably approximate the principles of the party platform, and with the exception of those strictly state-nominated, the party delegates concede to comply with voters’ overall expression.
However, this year the process has turned up a vulgarian and far-reaching heretic. Many voters and already some Republican office-holders, personalities and 30-40% of polled Republican voters have declined to declare their support or outright voiced opposition. No organization works against the principles for which it is conceived. Even The United States though we have gotten very lax both among elected representatives governing and in the judiciary, they still have them swear an oath of allegiance to The Constitution Of The United States, which was to be the governing foundation of the nation. So we have not been exactly scrupulous about constitutional principle. That’s rather a lamentable state of affairs to me.
But if private parties are to be held hostage to fuming voters to the point of defying their principles, how about if events provoked general election voters to select a president with admittedly no fidelity to The Constitution he or she would swear an oath to? Should even Bernie Sanders be sworn in as President Of The United States? “Property schmoperty. We can’t let you make (and when I say make I mean make, as in create) that much more than someone else.” How much more? “Well, we’ll have to decide that…” That’s American scandal. Tell the American founding generation: “You plantation owners and inventors can’t make that much more than family farmers and carriage drivers!” No union would have been established…I can tell you that. Set aside that not just incidentally but by definition, people who make less are paid by people or organizations that make more. What we call “jobs” are the operation of someone or something’s invested resources.
But with respect to The Republican Party, what’s to be done in this extraordinary instance? I think the delegates at the convention should pass over Donald Trump for a candidate a majority will better represent the party’s principles and electoral interests, as believe me, the vast majority of them want to happen. And really the most straightforward way of doing that would be to deny him on the first ballot, irrespective of state party rules and whether they are “bound” by them. No, casual voters may not hijack the party and its principles.
Of course, media and voters respond that this amounts to “stealing,” which is nonsense of a rather ironic sort. And people tell me and others that there will be anger, and Trump and his minions have even warned of riots. Personally, I’d say, “Oh, really? Thanks you for perfectly clarifying my inclinations with your threats of extortion.” Alas, many of us know that Republicans have historically been very susceptible to intimidation. But the only ones who really might demonstrate at all are the goons that Trump and his people have summoned to Cleveland who would not be part of the convention, and outside it should be arrested and prosecuted for any harm to people and property.
But any such sentiment and/or action among delegates will be hugely outnumbered. Even the great majority of delegates who are “bound” by their state party’s rules to vote for Trump on at least the first ballot, do not support him. For the most part, Trump’s support is among drive-by voters, not people who have worked in and for the party. If they feel they should commandeer the party and its principles, it is they who are the thieves. If they like, they should run Trump with a 3rd party or as an Independent. Or maybe he should have run in the Democratic Party, more befitting a candidate with his principles and indifference to the U.S. Constitution.