Lurching Towards a Contested Convention

RNCconventionby Jon N. Hall    3/16/16
One of the reasons that electing a U.S. president is such a big deal is because once sworn in, there’s little likelihood that he/she could ever be removed from office. Oh, if a president were, let’s say, caught in the Lincoln Bedroom in bed with a dead woman or a live boy, then Congress might rise to the occasion and initiate impeachment, but probably not. If Congress had a pair, they would have impeached and removed Obama for trying to make a recess appointment when Congress wasn’t in recess. Congress has impeached two presidents and both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton survived and served out their terms.

For years now, I’ve held that the primary-caucus system is a godawful way to select a nominee to run for president. But this primary season is illuminating. The rise of Bernie Sanders has shown us that socialism has unfortunately lost its taint; the Left’s long “march through the institutions” (academia, the media, etc.) is now complete, and we’re left with a bunch of young college-educated dummies who think Sanders makes sense. Hillary Clinton shows that some Americans are ready to yet again elect the Leader of the Free World on the basis of genetics, (she has two X chromosomes, you see). Considering the history of the last seven years, one would think that using genetic criteria for selecting a president would be totally discredited. Finally, Donald Trump shows us that Americans are so angry and fed up with the “establishment” that they’ll throw caution to the wind and vote for an “outsider.”

Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primaries and caucuses has been likened to a “hostile takeover” in the business world. It’s amazing that a longtime “liberal” might actually be able to take over the conservative movement’s home: the GOP. But Democrats gleefully looking at the “disarray” in the Republican primaries should consider that Mr. Trump could just as easily have run in their party’s primaries. And what would have stopped him? After all, the Democrats have a quasi-communist running in their primaries. It’s absurd, but it seems that anyone can run in any party’s primaries.

Should America’s political parties have the right and the latitude to tell their prospective candidates that they don’t fit their party’s profile and that they won’t be allowed on the ticket? If they don’t have that right, then our political parties are of limited value; they wouldn’t seem to have any self-determination.

Consider this: what if the head of the New Black Panther Party or the American Nazi Party wanted to run for president in the one of the major political parties? Shouldn’t the parties be able to say no? It’s an extreme example of what Sanders and Trump are doing. Sanders never identified as a Democrat; he prided himself on being a progressive Independent. And Trump? If he’s glommed onto some conservative positions, it’s been only recently.

America’s political parties are not the people who vote in primaries and take part in caucuses. What the parties really are, or should be, are the people who make up the “apparatus”; that is, the organization, the state and national committees, the party “elders.” As far as I’m concerned, the delegates to the nominating conventions should consist only of those people. Moreover, none of the members of a party’s apparatus should be an elected official. And that is what’s especially wrong with the Dems. You see, the DNC is headed by a member of Congress, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And the Dems have “superdelegates” that are often elected officials. That invites corruption and cronyism, and it further entrenches careerists, the professional politicians that the public is so impatient with.

Some Americans may not be able to wrap her heads around the idea that voters shouldn’t have any say in how nominees are chosen. But they should remember that in our republic, most decisions are made by others, especially on the federal level. Prior to 1913 when we got the 17th Amendment (which gave the selection of U.S. senators to the people), the only federal officials that the people directly chose were members of the House of Representatives, “the People’s House.”

We now turn to the Republican establishment’s “Caliban.” First off, I’ve got to confess: I like Donald Trump. But then I like rogues. Hell, America likes rogues. We like potty mouth Howard Stern. Here in western Missouri, many folks think they’re related to Jesse James. I admire Trump’s energy. I like his humor and nimbleness. I’ve even quoted Trump in an article or two. He’s said some things that resonate, like: “We either have a country, or we don’t have a country.”

On March 3, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Michael Gerson that presented four options for Republicans who hate the possibility of a Trump presidency. Gerson’s options include supporting a third-party candidate, as well as sitting out the election. His final sentence: “My inclination? #DraftCondi.” (Last year I myself floated that very idea, and listed other draft possibilities.)

But there’s a fifth option for those whose delicacy is not so exorbitant, and that’s to vote for Caliban. Who knows, Trump is so fixated on greatness and winning that he might surround himself with a brilliant team. He’s demonstrated flexibility; maybe he’ll listen to his crack team; maybe he’s even capable of collegiality. This conservative voter doesn’t dismiss the possibility that Trump might be a good president. So if Trump is the nominee, I’ll vote for Trump. But I’d prefer not to; I’d prefer voting for a “movement conservative.” With the Supreme Court and Senate at stake, this election is too important to gamble on a casino magnate.

Regardless of who becomes the Republican nominee, the conventioneers should have final say on the choice of running mate. That way, if America has a collective Jonah Goldberg-ian “what have I done” moment, then Congress could start impeachment proceedings secure in the knowledge that a suitable replacement is on deck. I’ve always felt that Crazy Uncle Joe was Obama’s insurance policy against impeachment. (Here’s a video of the scene Goldberg refers to; think of it as what we should do to the primary system.)

Just as there have been faithless electors to the Electoral College, there can be “faithless delegates” to a nominating convention. Although The Blaze ran it in Aug. 2012, “Ever Wonder How You Become a Convention Delegate? Here’s a Primer on the Selection Process” by Mytheos Holt is instructive about convention rules and delegate selection. (Not only can anyone vote in any party’s primary, but it seems anyone can be a delegate to any party’s convention.)

With Hillary Clinton all but assured of her party’s nomination, Democrat voters may now feel free to engage in a reverse Operation Chaos. That is, Democrats might vote in Republican primaries for the candidate they feel would be the weakest in the general election. That’s your primary system for you.

It appears that Republicans may be lurching towards a contested convention, and that’s a good thing. Contested (a.k.a. open) conventions are how all nominees should be selected. If the primaries do not produce a clear winner, then the delegates’ choices shouldn’t be limited to just those who ran in the primaries. They should feel free to draft an “outsider,” perhaps with two X chromosomes.

Even if the GOP prevails in November, this tumultuous primary season is telling us that the primary-caucus system needs to be razed and replaced.


Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (720 views)

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28 Responses to Lurching Towards a Contested Convention

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    There’s probably no way a party can prevent anyone registered as a member from running for office. This was a severe problem for Republicans in Louisiana when David Duke became their unwanted nominee in 1990 and 1991, just as it was for Democrats in Illinois when 2 LaRouche supporters were nominated for statewide office in 1986.

    Calvin Coolidge won the VP slot in 1920 because of a delegate uprising. The party leadership had a difference choice in mind, though I don’t recall who.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Contested (a.k.a. open) conventions are how all nominees should be selected. If the primaries do not produce a clear winner, then the delegates’ choices shouldn’t be limited to just those who ran in the primaries.

    I disagree strongly with this sentiment.

    The American election process is known to be particularly grueling. For better or for worse, it weeds out those who make too many mistakes, do not have the energy or the people just don’t like. In today’s America, it would be disastrous to parachute in some person who has not been tempered by this campaign process. For the Republicans, it would be a sure way to lose the popular vote!

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Agreed. As a matter of fact, I believe that under the rules, the delegates do have considerable latitude after the 2nd or 3rd ballot. But we are a democratic republic, which means that we the people must ultimately select our representatives. The delegates should probably be bound to choose from the top 3 vote-getters, just as the House of Representatives is limited to the top 3 if no one gets a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        The College of Cardinals may get to elect anyone they wish to be pope and Catholics will accept it.

        The delegates to a convention ain’t no cardinals and would be well advised to stick with the candidates who the people have passed judgement on.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        A small number of delegates are unbound on the first ballot, and increasing numbers on later ballots. An important point is that in many states, the actual delegates are chosen in state conventions, not in the primaries or caucuses that allocated that votes. This isn’t new; in 1976 Reagan supporters in states such as North Carolina and Ford backers in states such as Indiana worked to make sure that after the first ballot (if it came to that, which it didn’t), they would get all or most of the state delegates regardless of the primary outcome.

    • pst4usa says:

      Not just the popular vote KFZ, but their very existence. If they plug in someone other than one of the people that stuck out the process, I think it will end the party. That may be a good thing, but I am not sure that it is. without another party that can rally the troops, the new and the old Republicans, it would most likely put the socialist in charge for a 100 years of growth, (OK maybe a bit of Hyperbole on the 100 years).

  3. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Lots of stuff here, but basically Jon is pining for the return of what used to be called “King Caucus,” to which I reply, “No thanks”. This is a democratic republic, and we the people should choose our leaders, not the party apparatchiks. (By the way, the Democratic Party stopped representing the people some time ago, and now represents an incipient ruling class: see my The Party of the State, perhaps the most significant thing I ever penned for ST.) It would be an outrage for the GOP delegates to nominate anyone other than Trump or Cruz this time around.

    Should anyone be able to run for office in a political party? I would have to say yes, provided that person is a member of that party. Should the parties be able to control their membership, and excommunicate dissenters? As long as they are going to be on the ballot by law, I think not – the parties are not strictly private organizations such as the Loyal Order of Moose or the Jaycees. What happens if David Duke wants to run as a Republican (of course the Klan was basically Democratic)? You let him – and let him fade away from the lack of support. But we can see here why we Conservatives should not give our money to the GOP but only to individual candidates or Conservative organizations.

    So what should we do? Some necessary reforms would be:

    1. Put an end to caucuses, confusing exercises that in no way reflect the will of the people. Replace them with primary elections.

    2. End open primaries. Only registered party members should be able to vote in that party’s primary. Todd Akin was selected by Missouri Democrats to run against, and we know how well that turned out.

    3. Get rid of super-delegates. They are much less of a problem on the Republican side. I wonder how many people know that Barry Obama did not have a majority of elected delegates in 2008? The people who selected him over Hillary Clinton were not chosen by the voters; they were the un-elected super-delegates.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I have to agree with all your points.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      David Duke ran as a Republican for the Senate in 1990 and Governor in 1991, and was popular enough to become the main challenger to the Democrat each year (Louisiana has a peculiar voting system). The GOP had little choice but to oppose him, as the Democrats did the LaRuoche supporters who won a part of statewide nominations in Illinois in 1986. (Adlai Stevenson, having won the gubernatorial nomination, quit rather than run with them, and ran as a third-party candidate).

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    There have been some interesting developments. John Kasich said he might consider a Democrat as his VP (which is no surprise, but is also irrelevant). Perhaps that’s why he performed the remarkable feat of coming in fourth in a three-man race in Arizona (due to early voting, he trailed Marco Rubio).

    In addition, an anti-Trump PAC run by Liz Mair sent a tweet to Utah voters with a near-pornographic shot of Melania Trump and hinting that Heidi Cruz would be a better First Lady. Trump angrily attacked Cruz (who had nothing to do with it), threatening to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz. He then called Cruz a liar for honestly denying the connection, and tweeted contrasting pictures of Melania and Heidi (for the latter, he found a very unflattering photo somewhere). Cruz noted that a real man doesn’t attack women. As I commented earlier on Town Hall, only Arne Saknussem knows how low Trump will go.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I finally searched for the GQ photo of Trump’s wife.

      There is another first for the Trump campaign, the front-runner’s wife posing nude in bed on the front of an international magazine. Won’t this be edifying if Trump is elected?

      I do believe Trump’s attacking Heidi Cruz is going to do him some damage. After all, regardless of who is responsible for getting this picture out before the Utah caucus, Trump’s wife is responsible for the public dissemination of the photo. And if one makes a living by posing in somewhat sluttish photographs, what does one expect?

      In any case, Trump is known for the public display of his wives and saying everything they do is great. Why would he be disturbed that someone gave his third wife the publicity she clearly desires?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It’s like Muslims who see nothing wrong with Mohammed having taken a child bride — but they’ll complain loudly and violently (in their case, often literally) if you object to it. It’s the opposition that really upsets them, and likewise with Trump. But this gives him another excuse to use gutter politics.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          It’s the opposition that really upsets them, and likewise with Trump

          Ah yes, a little whiff of the tyrannical.

          By the way, we don’t really know how low Trump will go since they still haven’t found Arne. He might still be down there searching.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Should we “slut shame” Trump’s wife? Is this what that is about? Or is it about “New York Values” which have defined deviancy so far down that there is no room for a respectable lady anymore?

      Trump is psychologically deranged. I mean, at this point, if you want him for president — especially with Cruz in the wings as a viable alternative — there is something wrong. I read a piece on American Thinker the other day that was either pro-Cruz or anti-Trump. It hardly matters. I went straight to the comments section and the highest “liked” comments basically said that Cruz was a globalist and/or in the pockets of the GOP Establishment.

      This is serious derangement. Who are these people? We’ve seen the Establishment Republicans hijack the party. Now is it to be hijacked by libertarians, freaks, fakers, and just plain low-information dumb-asses?

      Sorry, Mr. Trump, if you don’t want your wife (or ex-wife…I can’t keep count) criticized for posing nude then don’t facilitate it. And, for goodness sakes, be man enough not to blame Ted Cruz. This man is a disgusting snake.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I went straight to the comments section and the highest “liked” comments basically said that Cruz was a globalist and/or in the pockets of the GOP Establishment.

        I have stopped reading the comment section following any Trump or Cruz article. Like you, I have come to the conclusion that a great portion of Trump’s support comes from nutty libertarians, freaks, fakes and dumb-asses of the first order. Of course, there are also of those who are so dishonest that, like the communists during the early twentieth century, they will follow anything their great leader Donald (Man of Steel) Trump says or even hints at. Why waste one’s time reading the sewage such types’ vomit?

        Most of these dumb-asses purport to believe that what Trump’s wife does or doesn’t do, has no bearing on Trump’s run. But they are quite willing to continue to point out that Heidi works for “Goldman Sachs”. Another dishonest double-standard that these fools don’t seem to be cognizant of. Of course, the media has not picked up on this contradiction.

        I think we are seeing the final fruition of the left’s debasing of education in this country. They wanted a dumbed down, uninformed and misinformed populace in order to lead the people by the nose both culturally and politically. Well, they have it, but unfortunately for the far left, their available candidates are of a very low quality. Instead, a flamboyant charlatan has arisen who better understands how to entertain the electorate which appears to have nothing more in mind that that they are pissed off and somebody must pay. But in the meantime, it’s a type of bread and circuses atmosphere.

        As to Donald, one can only hope that he is a complete cynic playing to the fools. Surely, he can not be the undisciplined, loud-mouthed, vulgar boor which he is presenting to the world. If he is what he appears to be and wins, the country could in for some very bad times.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m listening right now to this nitwit woman talking to Rush. She’s pro-Trump and anti-Cruz in the typical deranged way.

          I don’t get the cult-of-personality regarding Trump. His one issue — illegal immigration — ought to be taken with a grain a salt. There is zero reason to believe he would follow through on it.

          I think we are seeing the final fruition of the left’s debasing of education in this country. They wanted a dumbed down, uninformed and misinformed populace in order to lead the people by the nose both culturally and politically.

          Ditto. I hope you listened to that typical Trump voter on Rush. It was in his first hour. Paranoid. Stupid. Full of double-standards. Clueless. Blame-shifting.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m listening to all these nitwit women callers saying “Cruz should have immediately come out in support of Trump regarding the anti-Trump PAC posting nude photos of Trump’s wife.”

          Geezuz. What planet are these people from? Trump dishes out horrendous dirt on people (comparing Carson to a child molester, for example). For Trump to be considered the victim here shows some very deranged and emotionally befuddled people.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I think some of these people must be plants. That last woman who claimed to be a lawyer must have been one. She sounded much too intelligent to believe the nonsense she was spouting.

            Does it not strike you a bit strange that it is a bunch of woman defending Trump and his wife against Cruz and his?

            Hummm?

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              We need a woman to explain this to us. Assuming these two callers were being honest (and weren’t just plants), why would a woman associate herself with Trump as if he was her husband — to be defended with all the gumption of the wronged woman?

              It’s particularly strange because the theme here with the anti-Trump PAC taking note of nude photos of Trump’s wife is one of the degradation women (which Trump promptly contributed in via Tweeting unflattering photos of Cruz’s wife). And yet if we took an objective view — everything from the Megyn Kelly incidents to Carly Fiorina — Trump is not the innocent party here. And on what planet is is necessary for a candidate (Cruz) to insert himself in someone else’s attack on his opponent?

              These women are either plants or they have “virtually” married Trump as a candidate, much like there are those sick women out there who are attracted to men in prison. Maybe Annie or someone can give us some insights into this.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Rush just hinted to another caller that the woman I referred to as a plant (the lawyer), was a Trump campaign worker.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I have seen reports that Cruz, in addition to his tweet to Trump correctly denying involvement (which Trump ignored, not bothering to look into the matter), did (as indeed he should have) denounce the ad. He certainly didn’t do so immediately — but he probably didn’t know about it until Trump complained.

            There are a few points to make regarding the Trump supporters on Rush. First, the concern that super-PACs can be very convenient for candidates is hardly new. I first observed this over 20 years ago in the Oregon special Senate election after Bob Packwood quit. Ron Wyden was very open in running a positive campaign — even as his union backers ran ads trashing Gordon Smith. Wyden may or may not have been sincere; who knows? But it was awfully convenient to have someone else running those ads. (Wyden won, but Smith came back to win later that year after Mark Hatfield retired.)

            Another, of course, is that just because an anti-Trump ad (produced by a group that has been attacking Trump for months) called for Cruz votes doesn’t mean he had anything to do with it. If Cruz won 50% or more in Utah, he would get all the delegates; if he didn’t, Trump would get some. Perhaps, in other states, they urged votes for other candidates.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Sorry, Mr. Trump, if you don’t want your wife (or ex-wife…I can’t keep count) criticized for posing nude then don’t facilitate it. And, for goodness sakes, be man enough not to blame Ted Cruz. This man is a disgusting snake.

        Trump is again showing has dishonesty.

        The National Enquirer has put out a story that claimed Cruz has had five different mistresses. I understand that the publisher of the Enquirer is an old friend of Trump.

        Cruz has come out very strongly denying the claims of the story. I have also seen one of the so-called accused come out and state the story was a “total fabrication.” I expect more of the same from the other women mentioned.

        The snake Trump has claimed he had nothing to do with the story coming out and has no idea if it is true or not, but notes that the Enquirer was 100% correct on their stories about John Edwards and O.J. Simpson.

        I am now moving to the point that I will not vote for this scum-bag under any conditions.

        And now in addition to blaming Cruz for the picture of Trump’s wife posing in the nude, the Trumpkins are vocally supporting a scurrilous story blackening the name of women in addition to that of Cruz. Already, some names have come out on TV as to who these women are. I would like to hear what the Trump supporters on ST think about this.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One of the accused women is Trump’s spokeswomen, who has emphatically denied the charge (at least regarding her). It seems the Enquierer, in addition to the John Edwards story, also has accused Obama of having 12 mistresses. He evidently gets around even more than Cruz — though the actual evidence seems to be non-existent in both cases.

          ADDENDUM: Hot Air has a nice piece on this, which notes another recent Enquirer claim (that Antonin Scalia was murdered by a Mexican prostitute hired by the CIA). They also note that a Rubio supporter reportedly tried to sell the Cruz mistresses story previously, and no one reported it — not even Breitbart, is in the tank for Trump. Michael Savage, a Trump supporter, says he knows for sure that the rumors are false, and may recant his support of Trump if he doesn’t disavow him. The columnist also points out that Cruz is hated by virtually everyone in the Senate — and they haven’t gotten anything on him. The link is:

          http://hotair.com/archives/2016/03/25/daily-beast-rubio-allies-shopped-cruz-affair-rumors-to-the-media/

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I think the snake Trump may have done himself irreparable harm. His true nature has been on display for all to see for some time. There has never been a question that he is an egotistical scoundrel. But he has gotten away with despicable actions and claims for months now. His fawning supporters have raised nary a complaint.

            As is generally the case with power grasping egomaniacs throughout history, Trump doesn’t know where the line is. I sense he has finally overstepped it.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, it’s merely a suspicion that he gave the story to the Enquirer. Incidentally, Ben Carson said in another story there that he was making Trump more presidential. Can you imagine what Trump would be like if it weren’t for Carson?

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Well, it’s merely a suspicion that he gave the story to the Enquirer

                It is also merely suspicion that Hitler ordered the Final Solution. There is no written proof. But I’ll take the bet that he was behind it.

                In any case, the way the snake handled it made him at least an accessory to the crime. On the one hand he says he doesn’t know if it is true, and he hopes it is not true, but heh the National Enquirer (that beacon of truth, the star by which all newspapers set their course, that paragon of objective reporting) was 100% correct about John Edwards and O.J. Simpson.

                The man is lower that whale excrement.

                As a side note, Katrina Pierson, Trump’s spokeswoman who was accused of having an affair with Cruz, is a Tea Party member from Garland, Texas. She ran in the Republican primary against Congressman Pete Sessions and lost. Cruz’s father was a big supporter of hers. And while Ted did not come out for or against her, he spoke highly of her. I encountered her at the same event where I met Cruz. He was kind enough to introduce her to the audience and praised her work.
                She then decided to become a Trump supporter.

                See where it has gotten her.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Well, that explains why Pearson was linked to Cruz. Note that her work for Trump does give her denials extra credence. No one would believe her if she worked for Cruz. A really suspicious sort (such as a Trumpbot) might believe she went to Trump because she knew it would come out.

                As for the part about Trump not being provably connected to the smear, note that the Trump supporters would say that Cruz supporters are engaging in a double standard, since he theoretically could be linked to the Utah ad. Given that Trump is a good friend of the Enquirer owner, whereas Mair probably has no link to Cruz and has been bashing Trump for months, it’s a weak case, but I do want to be careful.

                Incidentally, your point about the Holocaust is exactly what David Irving argued in Hitler’s War. His view was that Hitler’s notion of the Final Solution involved turning them into serfs at the edge of Siberia, but Himmler and Heydrich chose extermination, kept hidden by the continued use of Final Solution as a code word. Later he at least flirted with outright Holocaust denial.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I understand your inclination to be careful about accusing Trump in regards to the National Enquirer piece. But there is a saying which fits this circumstance.

                If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is probably a duck.

                As I recall, David Irving had to spend some time in a German jail because of his nonsense about the Holocaust.

                Forty years ago, I gave some consideration to the possibility that Hitler was not the driving force behind, and did not order the Holocaust. After looking into the history and learning more about human nature, I do not believe there is any doubt that Hitler was behind it.

                All he would have had to say is something like, “We should consider how to get rid of the Jews. I don’t need to know the details, just do it.”

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