Delegates to Both Conventions Need to Start Over from Scratch

ClintonHugby Jon N. Hall6/25/16
One of the more revolting things in American politics is when our politicians get onstage and allow us to watch them embrace each other. Even male politicians will wrap their arms around each other and hug each other as though they were the best of friends and haven’t seen each other in twenty years. And as they gallivant around the nation campaigning, they pull these stunts at each event. You’d think they’d get tired of the fake emotion. Maybe they just need the attention.

What are we, the American people, supposed to think of such displays; that these politicians are human, just like us, or that they’re celebrities, or what? Particularly disgusting is when politicians publically kiss each other (video). We’re supposed to vote for you because you kiss your husband for all to see; even when we know he’s cheated on you for decades? Gag me with a spoon. Enough already! Just tell us how you’re going to balance the budget.

For more than a year now, America has had to watch these people campaign and listen to them tell us how great they are and how bad the other guy is. Imagine how different the last year would have been if we had no primaries and party nominees were chosen by delegates only. In such an America neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump would have had a chance at being a major party nominee. Also, they wouldn’t have received millions of dollars of free media.

When “outsiders” like Sanders and Trump can take over a major party, you know that the primary system is fundamentally messed up. All eligible Americans should be able to run for any office, including Sanders and Trump. But why do the parties allow anyone to run in their primaries? Indeed, why do we have these stupid primaries? The main reason is, supposedly, delegate selection. But as I reported recently, the parties are sovereign when it comes to seating delegates. Not only that, but all GOP delegates are “unbound.”

Unbound: The Conscience of a Republican Delegate by Curly Haugland and Sean Parnell was published on May 22, 2016, and it posits that GOP delegates are not “bound” to vote for anyone; not Trump, not Cruz, not Rubio. The only way that could change is if the Rules Committee changes the rules. (Unbound was published by Citizens in Charge Foundation, where one can download it as a free PDF.)

If Haugland and Parnell are correct, then the primary system is an expensive and irrelevant sideshow. What have the primaries accomplished this year but produce a bunch of disaffected, het-up, dug-in voters who threaten to stay home on Election Day if their candidate doesn’t get nominated. And because the major parties have already (supposedly) chosen their nominees, there’s the possibility of outside agitators disrupting the conventions in protest over those very “nominees.” Oh, and there’s one other thing the primaries have produced this year: the two presumptive nominees with the highest negatives ever.

Primary voters this year comprised a minority of eligible voters. So we have a minority of voters determining whom all voters get to vote for. Did Democrat primary voters choose wisely this year? Consider what it would mean to elect Mrs. Clinton. Not only is she the subject of an FBI investigation, but she would be dragging back into the White House the only president impeached in 150 years, who lied to us repeatedly, who presided over the Branch Davidian siege, etc., etc. There were about 31 million votes cast in the 2016 GOP primaries and Mr. Trump received less than 45 percent of them, a minority of a minority. Primary voters seem to have quite a knack for choosing divisive, deeply unpopular candidates. In July of last year, I wrote:

Parties exist to save voters from themselves. Convention delegates need to be able to do an “intervention” and override the selections of primary voters. A year from now, delegates to the Republican convention may be facing a hard choice: go down with the primary voters or do something bold.

Pretty prescient, I’d say, (perhaps I’m a precog). The only thing I would change about that is Democrat delegates also need to do an “intervention.” Despite my dissatisfaction with its presumptive nominee, I’ve said that I’ll support the GOP nominee. But there is a remote possibility that I’d support a Democrat nominee. And that’s if the Democrat delegates dump Hillary and draft someone decent. Democrats, however, no longer have a Henry M. Jackson or a Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But what if the Dems took a cue from the GOP in 1952 and drafted a general? If the Dems nominated, say, General “Jack” Keane, and the alternative was Trump, I’d vote Democrat, something I thought I’d never do again.

“Binding” the convention delegates is a progressive thing, and quite undemocratic. The establishment and the media have encouraged the voter to think he has a right to have a say in how private organizations (i.e. parties) are run and who’s in charge of them. Next thing you know, ThinkProgress is going to insist that country clubs start interviewing bag ladies and hobos to get input on whom they think should be the clubs’ presidents.

America’s two major political parties are failing us. Institutions that can be taken over by outsiders can’t be taken very seriously. Delegates to both conventions need to correct this nonsense this year. Delegates need to ignore the primaries, nullify them, so they can enter into nomination new people, the best people, perhaps even America’s “savior.” After eight years of Obama, we’ll need one.


Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (731 views)

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11 Responses to Delegates to Both Conventions Need to Start Over from Scratch

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Forgive the thumbnail graphic, folks. It’s a little inside joke.

    • David Ray says:

      No forgiveness necessary, unless . . .

      Remember many moons ago when Al Gore gave a clumsy oaf kiss to his wife after his convention speech?
      For what it’s worth, Rush Limbaugh and myself were both screaming at this idiot woman on his radio show who declared her vote for that act.
      I quote her: “I have to vote for him. He loves his wife . . .” (She neglected to comment on Gore’s economic or foreign policy values.)

      I didn’t vote for him, but then again, since Gore was cheatin on Tipper, I just couldn’t pull the lever for him.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Primaries do provide evidence of popularity. JFK used them to show that he could win even in heavily Protestant states (he was greatly helped by Hubert Humphrey staying in to contest West Virginia with inadequate resources). And just because 2 members of the RNC say everyone is unbound doesn’t mean it’s true. Note that the Rules Committee for the Republican convention seems to have enough Trump followers that they probably won’t release the delegates from their pledges.

    Of course, the difference between pledges and votes was at the center of the plot of Fletcher Knebel’s Convention. But that was written decades ago.

  3. Rosalys says:

    “Parties exist to save voters from themselves.”

    No they don’t. How very elitist of you. It is instinctive in human nature for like minded people to band together for safety, to push an agenda, to regulate whatever, etc.. The founding fathers feared “factions” and yet within a few short years of the founding, factions appeared. George Washington was the last president ever elected outside of party politics. This is just one way of picking candidates. Maybe it isn’t the best way, but I’m not ready to concede that your noblesse oblige approach is superior.

    The best way to choose worthy candidates is to start with an educated populace. That isn’t a quick fix when what you’ve had over a century of progressivism gradually brainwashing a captive audience, in mandatory government schools.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      James Monroe was re-elected nearly unanimously in 1820, the Federalist Party having disintegrated. (The one dissenter voted for John Quincy Adams, who was Monroe’s Secretary of State.) For a brief moment it may have looked like the end of partisanship, but that soon fell apart.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Agreed – the parties are, or should be, agents of the people who comprise them, existing for the purpose of enacting their political programs into law. Neither party is that, but that just means the people need to assert control (of the Republican Party; the Democratic Party is too far gone) not that the parties are private organizations.

  4. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Name-calling has no place here, so I don’t want to call Jon a Libertarian (a dirty name), but the idea that political parties are strictly private clubs like the Jaycees or the Elks is bizarre, and sounds like the kind of thing only a Libertarian would come up with. It’s an idea that is being promulgated by that faction of the #NeverTrump-ers who desire a putsch to take over the GOP by enticing the elected delegates to a mass dereliction of duty which installs someone they like instead of Trump, the winner under the current rules and laws.

    I suppose a full-length article should be written to refute this “private” idea, but I haven’t time to write one at the moment, so let’s cut right to the heart of the matter: in a democracy, and even in a democratic republic such as America is supposed to be, one of the chief goals has to be to see that the people are able to install in office men of their own choosing. If the people are only allowed to choose between candidates selected by an elite, that is not a democracy, it is social-democratic Europe where the choice is between Left and further Left, or Iran where the Guardian Council sees to it that only approved Islamic candidates can be elected. (The rise of parties such as UKIP in Britain and the recent BREXIT vote are examples of the people pushing back and trying to regain control of their governments. So is the triumph of Trump, by the way, which only goes to show that these movements, valuable as they are, aren’t perfect).

    It follows that the candidates who appear on every general election ballot must be selected by the public, not some private organization. Yes, organization is necessary – because there must be some criteria for selecting who makes it on the general election ballot, such as generating signatures on a petition. That is one reason why people form themselves into political parties. These parties are not for-profit corporations, they are not fraternal organizations, and they are not professional societies. They exist to serve groups of individuals who have banded together to enact their political program.

    Thus the ideal parties would have both a coherent political program and sufficient organizational resources to meet the requirements for getting their candidates on the general election ballot. And one thing more: there must be some mechanism for the people who join these parties to decide who their nominees shall be. (No one in his right mind would join a political party only to allow some elite group to select its candidate, as Jon seems to prefer).

    Now there are in theory a number of ways in which the people could elect their candidates. There could be a mass-convention in which everyone attended and voted – but most countries are too large for that. The obvious solution is to repeat the democratic process on a smaller scale: the people select delegates to a convention whom they expect (justifiably so) to work their will there. How do we select these delegates? Again, there are several possibilities, but in practice this has boiled down to the caucus and the primary.

    We can’t discuss each of these in detail here, but let’s return to the question of whether these caucuses and primaries (let’s call them both “primaries” for brevity) are private or public in character. The people will vote for delegates on the understanding that these delegates will in turn vote for a particular candidate. Since that party’s nominee will be on the general election ballot, it follows that the nominating process cannot be entirely private, since the general election is a public matter of great concern. Public regulation and control is therefore entirely appropriate and indeed necessary, as would not be true of a private business enterprise, to assure that the will of the voters is carried out. Binding the delegates to do what they promised the voters they would is entirely proper and legal, whatever lawyers like David French may think.

    Obviously there are many problems with the way things are being run now: caucuses make no sense, some states allow “open” primaries in which non-party members can vote for a party’s candidates, some delegates are not bound, etc. But political parties are not “private” as long as they have access to public ballots and elections, and the delegates should be (and in most cases are) bound to do the will of the voters.

    For Heaven’s sake, Jon, one of the great problems we face is elected representatives who fail to do or refuse to do as we expected them to (and in many cases as they promised to do). Let’s not make our politics worse by duplicating that problem at the party level, with delegates refusing to exercise the responsibility delegated to them by the voters (remember them?) in the first place: to vote for Candidate X, not to follow their own whims and vote for whomever they please, at least on the first ballot.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One can note that many primaries used to be pure beauty contests, with delegate selection separate (though it might be a separate part of the ballot). Thus, in 1968, Nixon and McCarthy each won 3/4 of the Pennsylvania primary votes, but the delegates mostly voted for Shafer (favorite-son governor) and Humphrey. In New Hampshire, each candidate had a list of delegates to choose from — and if they had too many (LBJ had 43 for 23 slots), most might lose even if the candidate won the primary.

      Note the similarity between delegates and electors. The latter are intended to be free agents, but in practice they’re committed to the party’s candidate. But sometimes one defects (Nixon lost an elector in each of his presidential races — to Byrd in 1960, Wallace in 1968, and Hospers in 1972), and nothing seems to happen regardless of what the law says.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” You can play games with the system, the rules, and the laws all you want, but we’re unlikely to be nominating a George Washington anytime soon (let alone a Ted Cruz).

    I think Trump is so toxic, the delegates should dump him and switch to Cruz, the only candidate other than Trump who would have legitimacy because of the votes cast for him, and particularly because he is a conservative and an anti-establishment candidate…not a mock one like Trump.

    Short of that, I think you should allow me to pick the nominees. I would choose Ted Cruz for the Republican candidate and Chris Christie for the Democrat candidate. Either way, we wouldn’t have a nut or a criminal in the White House.

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Though I’ve never considered myself an optimist, I do see a bright side to the nomination of Trump. What Trump is is less important than what the voters perceived him to be, and he was perceived to be an outsider like Cruz. Note that he and Cruz between them really cleaned the clocks of the Establishment-men like Jeb! and even Rubio. Thus we see that a majority of Republican voters (depending on how great a factor non-Republicans in the open primary states were) thoroughly rejected the GOPe. I believe that today’s Trump voter can be persuaded to vote for a quality Conservative tomorrow.

      As for Cruz, he came up a little short but did pretty well. He made some serious mistakes, notably in failing to understand the importance of demonstrating to voters that he was not just another Establishment hack pretending to be a Conservative, and in blaming Trump for the anti-Trump violence in Chicago. A smarter, more seasoned Cruz could easily run again in the future.

      Nor has Trump divided the GOP – it was already divided and in fact already engaged in an internal civil war. The biggest problem with Trump is that he has managed to divide Conservatives over whether to support him in November, and that division could take some time to heal.

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