Category Archive 'Republican Party'
05 Jul 2016

No Small Disaster

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Holman W. Jenkins Jr. recognizes that Donald Trump is a shrewdly calculating utilitarian who is in it for himself. What, he wonders, will happen if Trump decides at some point that he cannot win?

Before they gather in Cleveland for their convention, it’s not too soon for Republicans to begin thinking about what exactly a Donald Trump defeat might be like.

As with his now-documented habit of charitable promises that seldom materialize, Mr. Trump never intended to endanger a sizable part of his personal wealth to fund a presidential campaign. That means he’ll continue to campaign on the cheap, by saying incendiary things and having them transmitted by the free media. Expect more speeches like the protectionist-cum-conspiracy theory speeches in suburban Pittsburgh on Tuesday and New Hampshire on Thursday, even if such diatribes frighten major donors and mainstream Republicans and make life harder for down-ticket Republican candidates in the fall. …

Here resides the problem all along for those hoping for a Trump-to-the-middle move. Such moves are expensive. Base-broadening campaigns require lots of paid TV to reach non-engaged voters and Trump skeptics, pummeling them with reassuring images suggesting that a Trump presidency would be OK.

Mr. Trump not only is unwilling or unable to finance such a campaign. He evidently is unwilling to do what’s necessary to entice GOP donors to finance it on his behalf. This means GOP officeholders seeking re-election can expect a constant headwind of inflammatory Trump statements designed to stimulate the free media coverage that his asset-lite campaign requires. Republican candidates up and down the ballot therefore become unwilling sharers of a high-risk Trump electoral wager, a gamble more likely to end in a Hillary landslide than a Trump White House.

The more intriguing question concerns what happens if Mr. Trump decides he can’t win and no longer is willing to throw good money after bad. Unless they were born on a turnip truck yesterday, campaign vendors will be the first to figure it out. Look for them quickly to cut off services rather than get stiffed in the inevitable Trump campaign bankruptcy filing.

Mr. Trump’s harsher Republican critics are kidding themselves to think Mr. Trump is crazy or unstable and will suffer a breakdown. More likely, he will simply and coldbloodedly toss the ball to the GOP, saying, in effect, “If you want to pay for some events or TV, I’m available. Otherwise I’m done.” The GOP would then have to shoulder the dual burden of propping up a minimally respectable Trump campaign while also distancing its down-ballot candidates from Mr. Trump so they might survive.

And that’s the optimistic scenario. Mr. Trump has learned the value of audacity. He might well decide to cover his retreat and preserve his amour propre with a flurry of lawsuits and conspiracy theories about a “rigged” election.

He’s already begun putting narrative flesh on these bones. He speaks of “crooked Hillary” and increasingly of the Clinton Global Initiative, Bill Clinton’s philanthropy, and what he calls the Clintons’ “politics of personal profit and theft.” In his trade speeches, he portrays the Clintons as members of a nefarious global elite that has enriched itself while foisting impoverishing trade deals on the U.S. middle class.

He perhaps will throw in a few suggestions that foreign governments hold hidden leverage over Hillary because of her hacked, illegal email server. He’ll mention Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich.

Republicans can also expect to be a target of his accusations. He doesn’t need to be plausible, just tell a story that justifies his own stance that he didn’t lose, the other side cheated, “Washington elites” conspired against him, etc.

If the Trump endgame is destined to go this way, Republicans should hope it does so early, ideally before the convention is even over. To date, Mr. Trump continues to tease top GOPers and conservatives with the idea that he may yet come their way, turn his formidable talents to advancing conservative causes. This merciless exploiting of Republican romantics has begun to seem like something out of “The Blue Angel” or Lucy with the football.

10 Jun 2016

There Are Really No Bound Delegates

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David French explains that, really, there is no such thing as a bound delegate.

Let’s begin with a simple proposition: As a matter of law and history, there is not a single “bound” delegate to the Republican National Convention. Not one delegate is required to vote for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or any other individual who “won” votes in the primary process. Each delegate will have to make his or her own choice. They — and they alone — will choose the Republican nominee. The paragraph above contradicts much of what you’ve been told about the presidential nominating process, and it even contradicts state law in multiple jurisdictions, but state law does not govern the Republican party. The party governs itself, and according to the rules it has implemented, there is only one convention where the delegates were truly bound: 1976’s, when Gerald Ford fended off a challenge from Ronald Reagan. In every other Republican convention ever held, every delegate has been free to vote their conscience.

Read the whole thing.

He’s right and, if Trump continues screwing up and sinking in the polls, there will be a revolt.

09 Jun 2016

Contemplating The Trump Phenomenon

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Charles R. Kessler does not agree with NeverTrumpers like myself, but he does accurately perceive Trump’s flaws and has interesting thoughts about the rise of Trump in his current essay in Claremont Review of Books.

Trump’s own business record is indistinguishable from his career as a celebrity. He stubbornly defends his crudity, anger, and egotism as integral to the Trump brand, which he promotes incessantly, and as in touch with the working class voters he covets. To conservatives enamored of the gentlemanly manners of Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, this indecency offends.

Yet it hasn’t disqualified Trump as a candidate, because it helps to certify him as a non-politician, a truth-speaker, and an entertainer. Trump seems to know the contemporary working class well, its hardships, moral dislocations, and resentments. Readers familiar with the new working class described by Charles Murray in Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 (reviewed in the Summer 2012 CRB) will have a roadmap to the America that Trump sees and rallies to his side. As the Obama team got a jump on its rivals by exploiting new campaign software and technology in the 2008 race, so Trump got a cultural jump on his rivals in the 2016 primaries. He saw that the older, politer, less straitened America was fading among the working and lower middle classes. Downward mobility, broken families, disability and other forms of welfare support—these were increasingly the new reality for them.

This left them lots of time for TV (as Murray shows), especially for reality TV shows. Trump was more in touch with these developments, and also with the anxieties of the working part of the working class who feared falling into this slough of despond, than any of the other candidates. To put it in business speak, as the New York Times did, Trump “understood the Republican Party’s customers better than its leaders did.” It didn’t help that much of the rank-and-file had lost confidence in those leaders. Trump ran rings around them, and employed new media to do it. Steve Case, the founder of AOL, described that part of the achievement in an email to the Times that had the odd rhythm of one of its subject’s tweets. “Trump leveraged a perfect storm. A combo of social media (big following), brand (celebrity figure), creativity (pithy tweets), speed/timeliness (dominating news cycles).”

Every republic eventually faces what might be called the Weimar problem. Has the national culture, popular and elite, deteriorated so much that the virtues necessary to sustain republican government are no longer viable? America is not there yet, though when 40% of children are born out of wedlock it is not too early to wonder. What about when Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president? Many conservatives think that’s also sufficient reason to worry the end is near.

Whole thing.

30 May 2016


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16 May 2016

Trump Trans

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06 May 2016

Something Alien

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18 Apr 2016

Front-Runners Don’t Always Become the Nominee

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Donald Trump has been vociferously complaining that delegate contests he doesn’t win are undemocratic and unfair, and demanding that the GOP Convention rules be changed to award the nomination to him, if he should be in possession of a plurality of votes on the first ballot. And, as usual, you can find a lot of the dimmer commentators, particularly on television, succumbing to his arguments.

The truth of the matter is that the nomination process was never intended or designed to function as a uniform and monolithic expression of pure and direct democracy.

The contest for the nomination was obviously never meant to be decided entirely and consistently by voting in primaries. Nor was the nomination ever intended necessarily to be decided prior to the convention itself. In recent years, the impact of coverage of the primary contests by the national media has added much greater emphasis to primary voting than was the case in earlier periods, and has encouraged the snowballing of a frontrunner’s success, but 2016 is proving to be an unusual cycle featuring a minority populist groundswell of support for one candidate, who –like some others in the past– is widely unpopular and completely unacceptable to a large portion of the Party.

The Nominating Convention is not simply a rubber stamp process which counts up the results of primary voting. Political parties are private organizations operating on the basis of their own systems of rules, whose rules and processes commonly differ over 50 states. Different states choose their delegates at different times and different states appoint delegates by different processes. Some delegates are bound by the rules to vote (on at least the first ballot) for a particular candidate. Others are unbound.

The essence of the situation is that convention will be composed of delegates representing their state parties, and not by robots mechanically operating in accordance with a direct democracy.

If the nominating process were a pure democracy, one would suppose that, instead of our current system, there would be held a nation-wide primary balloting all on the same day, and no convention would be necessary.

But, actually, the nomination contest is intended to function as a complex process, incorporating local and regional customs, preferences, and eccentricities, and going on over an extended interval of time intentionally in order to expose potential candidates to a diverse geographical collection of constituencies and interests, to test their abilities and personalities, and to expose their records and personal histories to intense scrutiny at length.

The fact that, in recent decades, the American nominating system has grown more predictable, more primary-based, and less reliant on delegate contests at the convention itself does not mean that, in this unusual year featuring a highly-unusual front-runner candidate of controversial character and carrying dubious credentials, we may not see a return to a more old-fashioned convention-based decision-making process.

Donald Trump won’t like it if he loses despite entering the convention with the largest number of first ballot votes, but if that happens to Trump, he won’t be the first GOP front-runner to fall behind in the course of convention balloting. It has not happened recently, not since 1940, but Donald Trump would actually be the 23rd of 22 men who had exactly the same experience (two of them, John Sherman and James G. Blaine, twice).


Thomas Dewey had 36% of the delegate votes on the first ballot of the Republican Convention of 1940, but Wendell Willkie (who started with only 10.5% of the votes) won the nomination on the 6th ballot. Wilkie, of course, lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was breaking tradition by seeking a third term.



Leonard Wood

Frank Lowden

Hiram Johnson

Nicholas Murray Butler

William C. Sproul

Five rival candidates had more delegates on the first ballot in 1920, but Warren G. Harding cinched the nomination on the 10th ballot.



John Sherman

Russell A. Alger

Walter Q. Gresham

Chauncey Depew

Benjamin Harrison, who was initially not among the top four candidates in votes, won the nomination after 8 ballots. He went on to defeat Grover Cleveland in the general election.



Ulysses Grant

James G. Blaine

John Sherman

George F. Edmunds

Elihu Washburne

William Windom

Grant had the most votes on the first ballot, and all these other gentlemen had some, while James Garfield had zero, but after 36 ballots Garfield got the needed majority. Garfield was elected president, but was assassinated a few months after taking office.



James G. Blaine

Oliver P. Morton

Benjamin Bristow

Roscoe Conkling

John F. Hantranft

Dark horse Rutherford Hayes of Ohio rose from an approximate tie for 5th place to win on the 6th ballot. Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden. 20 electoral college votes were disputed, but a special commission (containing a Republican majority) awarded them, and the election to Hayes. Democrats agreed to stop resisting his inauguration after Hayes promised to end Reconstruction.



William Seward

Abraham Lincoln’s floor managers successfully pulled off a deal with the Pennsylvania delegation and got him enough votes by the third ballot to take the nomination away from William Seward.



Nathaniel P. Banks

The American Party actually nominated Banks, but it was understood that he would withdraw in favor of John C. Frémont who expected to be nominated by the newly founded Republican Party. Banks did withdraw and Frémont became the nominee of the merged parties on the 11th ballot. Frémont then went on to lose to the Democrat James Buchanan.

12 Apr 2016

Don’t Let the Screendoor Hit You on the Ass on Your Way Out, Clem

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(via Vanderleun, among many others)

“I will not be forced to vote for somebody I don’t want to.”

I guess Clem here got up off the couch and joined the GOP earlier this year when Donald J. Trump the Savior suddenly appeared on the political event horizon.

Trumpkins like Clem are naturally angry and upset. Donald Trump came in on top in a number of primaries and currently possesses a plurality in the delegate count. That obviously means that he is entitled to keep winning and the Republican Party ought to make him the nominee. But now the tide has begun to turn against him, and that is completely unfair.

Who wouldn’t be upset?

I guess old Clem (in the Cabela’s t-shirt) has never in his long life been previously disappointed in the candidate nominated by the GOP. Unlike myself, Clem must have rejoiced when they put up Nixon in ’68 and ’72. I couldn’t vote in ’68, but in ’72, faced with the nauseating choice of Nixon or (commie) George McGovern, I voted sarcastically for Bircher John Schmitz, who believed in the Illuminati Conspiracy.

Presumably it was OK with Clem when the evil and unconservative Republican Establishment denied the nomination in 1976 to the demigod Ronald Reagan and gave it to the inevitable loser Gerald Ford. I was disappointed, and being of Lithuanian extraction, I was actively angry that Ford clumsily misspoke during a debate with the peanut farmer seemingly denying that the countries of Eastern Europe were “captive nations” under Soviet domination, but I nonetheless grudgingly pulled the lever for Ford.

There was no problem for me, or presumably for Clem (if he actually voted) in 1980, or 1984, or 1988. The Republican choices of Ronald Reagan and then his Vice President George H.W. Bush were not controversial for most of us.

But (obviously led to self-destruction by some Greek god) George H.W. Bush flagrantly broke his campaign promise (“Read my lips: No new taxes!”), and conservatives were incensed. I voted for Pat Buchanan in the GOP Primary, and wrote in “Donald Duck” in the general election. Clearly, though, things were still hunky dory with Clem.

In 1996, I strongly preferred a conservative candidate like Steve Forbes or Phil Gramm. The Party nominated tired old, moderate old Bob Dole, a business-as-usual, Establishment Republican if there ever was one. I voted for him, but we still got hosed.

2000 was shaping up to be a Republican victory. I was still for Forbes, but George W. Bush, if not a shining light, seemed tolerably conservative, and I supported him. I was more enthusiastically behind GWB in 2004, as he was running against the Vietnam War traitor and consummate shit John Kerry.

In the course of my own long lifetime, I’ve only ever twice seen the GOP nominate guys I was in wholehearted support of: Barry Goldwater in 1964, when I was much too young to vote, and Ronald Reagan. I’ve been sufficiently hostile to GOP nominees twice (Nixon in ’72 and George H.W. Bush the oath-breaker in ’92) that I refused to vote for them. But I never gave up on the two-party system or burned my Republican registration card, because I didn’t get my way one particular year.

Personally, I always figured that people intelligent enough to be conservative were more or less bound to find themselves generally in the minority, and I recognized long ago that victories in national elections are not something we can hope to gain with any kind of real assurance. Conservatives have to look at politics the way Addison’s Cato the Elder did:

“’Tis not in mortals to command success, But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it.”

You simply do not have a gifted and principled national figure like Ronald Reagan available to run every four years. And even when you do, the timeservers, functionaries, and trimmers are liable to beat you, the way they beat us in ’76.

So, no, I do not have a lot of respect for Clem’s position or perspective. Screw him.

I will say though that all this Trump business is depressing, because a lot of more significant and talented people than Clem have lost their grip and joined the Trump Movement. There are a lot of conservative bloggers I follow and like dancing along in the wake of Donald the Blue-Suited-and-tied-excessively-long-necktied Piper. I’m making something of an heroic effort these days to restrain myself from saying the cruelest things I can possibly say, because I think they are inevitably going to lose, and I don’t really want to alienate many of them. I don’t think the Conservative Movement or the Conservative Blogosphere can do without them. Unlike Clem there, in the Cabela’s t-shirt. To hell with Clem.



Cabela Clem is really one Larry Wayne Lindsey, and his story is bogus according to folks from Colorado.

It appears that Trump supporters who have rallied behind Larry Wayne Lindsey have been schlonged.

Lindsey became an overnight sensation after the Trump Report Drudge Report highlighted a video of the wannabe Trump delegate burning his Republican party registration after pro-Cruz political insiders cast him aside. The trouble with Larry’s story is that it is a big fat lie.

Larry did not attend the county caucus, which is where he needed to go in order to get elected as a delegate to the state convention. …

NBC News actually reported that Larry was shut out likely due to his own “lack of familiarity with the process.”

    “But a sign-in sheet from his county’s March 19 assembly, the second step of the process where delegates were elected to the statewide assembly, reveals that Lindsey never showed up to that meeting, and an alternate signed in for him instead.”

And when confronted with the fact that he did not attend the correct meeting, Larry Wayne Lindsey, who regularly posts Prntly articles headlining Ted Cruz’s alleged sexual exploits and supposed ineligibility, “admits he may have missed a meeting,” but following in the footsteps of his dear leader, shockingly blames one of the “many Cruz supporters who deliberately tried to mislead him on several occasions, including on dates and times of meetings.”

30 Mar 2016

We’re Screwed

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Jonathan V. Last, of the the Weekly Standard, (via email) observes that we are in a no-win situation here. Whatever happens, Donald Trump is going to split the GOP vote.

With Easter break behind us and a pause before the vote in Wisconsin next week, let’s have a deep breath and take stock of where we stand now in the GOP primary.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Republican party is broken. There’s no putting Humpty Dumpty back together again this cycle-whether the nominee is Trump, Cruz, or [insert White Knight]. The idea that Republicans could rally to Trump in a meaningful way-even if party elites cave in-has basically been invalidated by the exit polling coming out of Florida, Ohio, Utah, and pretty much everywhere else. A giant chunk of Republican voters isn’t going to come to him.

Now maybe it’s not the 40 percent or so who tell pollsters they won’t vote Trump if he’s the nominee. I’m sure some of those people feel that way because they’re in the heat of a primary fight and will reconsider when facing the prospect of a Clinton administration. But some won’t, because Trump isn’t just distasteful. You could argue that the potential downside of Trump (expansive authoritarianism unmoored from ideological commitments) is worse than the potential of downside of Clinton (lawless progressivism run amok) [Good summations –JDZ]. For some GOP voters, Clinton could be the lesser of two evils.

But even if half the Republicans who now say they won’t vote for Trump stay that way, there are a bunch of knife’s-edge states that come off the board. So long Florida. So long Ohio. So long North Carolina and Colorado. My colleague Jay Cost thinks that in a Trump vs. Clinton matchup, Clinton starts with a floor of 400 Electoral votes. He may be right. (By the by, Trump supporters generally place a great deal of faith in poll numbers when they show their guy doing well against Bush, Rubio, Cruz, et al. Yet somehow they totally discount the mountain of polls showing Trump being the weakest Republican-by far- against Clinton. Weird.)

On the other hand, Trump can honestly claim to have brought a bunch of new voters into the primary process. And where are these people going to go if Trump isn’t the nominee? Who knows. But it probably won’t be pretty. Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, so they clearly needed a revamped coalition. Last summer, it looked like Trumpism might be an answer to this problem. Now that Trumpism has devolved from being a semi-coherent nationalist worldview into an ad hoc series of contradictory positions held together by an authoritarian cult of personality … not so much.

Which leaves us where, exactly?

Either Trump gets to 1,237 delegates and wins the nomination outright, or he doesn’t and someone else gets nominated after a floor fight at the Republican national convention.

But let’s be clear: Neither or these options is ‘good’ and neither is likely to result in a Republican victory in November. So when someone says, Yeah, but if you don’t do X, you’re giving aid and comfort to Hillary Clinton, just remember: There’s a good chance that ship has already sailed. The priorities for picking the Republican nominee are a lot more near-term right now.”

30 Mar 2016

Is Anyone Surprised?

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Politico reports that Donald Trump, recognizing that he may well fail to win a majority in the first ballot at the GOP Convention, is welshing on his pledge to support the eventual nominee.

Donald Trump has rescinded his pledge to support the Republican nominee for president.

Asked during a CNN town hall whether he stood by the earlier pledge — which he signed in September after meeting with party chairman Reince Priebus — Trump said: “No, I don’t.”

“We’ll see who it is,” he told moderator Anderson Cooper.

Trump said he had been treated “unfairly” by the Republican National Committee and the GOP establishment. He said he was unsure whether the Republican establishment was plotting to take the nomination away from him during the convention in Cleveland.

They have the wrong guy heading the Republican National Committee. If it were I, instead of Reince Priebus, I’d be holding a press conference this morning, announcing that Donald Trump, having repudiated his own affiliation to the Republican Party, is now ineligible to compete in any subsequent GOP primaries. And I would then just sit back and watch how Trump would like that!

27 Mar 2016

Constitutionalism, Not Post-Constitutional Candidates

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Gerard van der Leun of American Digest (who is normally our most kindred spirit blogger) disagrees with NYM on Trump. Yesterday, he responded indignantly in a comment to our quoting John Hawkins‘s negative opinion of Trump:

The enemy of my enemy is always my friend until he helps me to destroy my enemy. After that he becomes my enemy again.

That or adios supreme court for one or two generations.

I think myself that Mr. van der Leun is not looking properly at the big picture. He ought to consider the historical perspective proposed by National Review’s Avi Snyder, to begin with.

With the GOP looking at the possibility of an open convention — complete with floor fights, riots, and the threat that the party will tear itself in two — the best historical analogue seems clear: Donald Trump is Teddy Roosevelt, and this is 1912 all over again.

The 1912 Republican National Convention was a battle for the soul of the party.

Though President William Howard Taft had been Theodore Roosevelt’s chosen successor in 1908, by 1912, the increasingly radical Roosevelt was dissatisfied with Taft’s relative conservatism in office. In violation of an earlier pledge not to run for a second full term, Roosevelt chose to challenge the president for the Republican nomination.

Much like Donald Trump, the progressive Roosevelt was a post-constitutional candidate. There are parallels between Trump’s defense of eminent domain abuse and Roosevelt’s contempt for property rights, and Trump’s strongman tendencies have antecedents in TR’s impatience with the machinery of constitutional government.

In the early 20th century, only a handful of states held popular primaries to choose presidential nominees, and the results weren’t even binding. But Roosevelt was a popular figure, and he took advantage of these contests, carrying nine out of twelve primaries. President Taft, however, still controlled the machinery of the party, and in states where convention delegates were chosen by party regulars, Taft’s forces dominated.

This didn’t stop Roosevelt from crying foul. “I believe in pure democracy,” he had proclaimed at the Ohio Constitutional Convention in February of that year. As the forces of his era’s Republican establishment stood arrayed against him, Roosevelt, in the words of historian Lewis Gould, remained “firm in his conviction that the nomination was being stolen from him.” One can almost imagine the outrage of Trump boosters, such as Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich and others, at the notion that the “will of the people” could be so successfully thwarted by the party apparatus. Unlike Trump, Roosevelt didn’t promise riots if he failed to secure the nomination, but the convention organizers were prepared for them. A thousand policemen patrolled the aisles of the convention, and barbed wire was hidden beneath the bunting of the speaker’s platform in order to prevent assaults. For Roosevelt had cast his battle for the nomination in apocalyptic language, proclaiming to his followers that: “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”

None of these protests stopped the conservative forces of President Taft from denying Roosevelt the nomination. Taft’s ally Elihu Root defeated Roosevelt’s chosen candidate for convention chairman. Roosevelt’s forces lost important votes on the floor, and the convention awarded contested delegates to Taft. Roosevelt had won more primaries and had entered the convention with a plurality of delegates, but Taft easily wrapped up the nomination on the first ballot.

Taft and Root knew that denying Roosevelt the nomination would likely lead him and his supporters to bolt the convention and run on a third-party ticket, splitting the GOP vote and virtually guaranteeing a Democratic victory in November. Of course, this is precisely what happened. Combined, Roosevelt and Taft won over 50 percent of the popular vote, but Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election with just over 40 percent.

Why was the Republican establishment of the day so intent on denying Roosevelt the nomination? Didn’t they know that their dirty tricks would “hand the election to the Democrats?” Didn’t they know it was time to “come together as a party?” What Taft, Root, and their allies understood was that, as Root would later put it, “worse things can happen to a party than to be defeated.” In fact, as Root understood the situation before the party, “the result of the convention was more important than the question of the election.”

In 1912, America’s very system of constitutional government was under attack. Woodrow Wilson, the man who would become the Democratic candidate, had spent his prior academic career attacking the Constitution as outdated and dismissing the eternal truths of the Declaration of Independence as passé. Roosevelt’s progressivism led him to support a variety of radical measures — such as popular recall elections for judges and judicial decisions — that also threatened America’s constitutional order. Had Roosevelt captured the party in 1912, America would have been without a constitutionalist, conservative party.

Root and Taft insisted that the party of Lincoln should be maintained as “a nucleus about which the conservative people who are in favor of maintaining constitutional government can gather.” And even though they lost the election, ushering in Wilson’s disastrous presidency, history has proven their wisdom. It is hard to imagine a President Coolidge, a candidate Goldwater, or a “Reagan Revolution” had the Republican party become the vehicle for promoting Roosevelt’s proto-welfare state. In the face of defeat, the losers of the election of 1912 could rest in the knowledge that they had ensured constitutionalism would continue to find a home in one of America’s major parties.

The relevance of 1912 to the 2016 GOP primary race should be obvious.


Of course, apart from such grand issues as preserving the alternative of a constitutionalist party, one needs to bear in mind that it likely to be better for the future of the country, and of the conservative cause, to see one’s adversaries elect a failed and disastrous presidency than to elect one of those supposedly representing your own party and your own principles.

I do not believe that Donald Trump shows any reasonable probability at all of winning, making America great, or making good decisions or appointments. I can easily picture Donald nominating his liberal sister and a few random poker buddies to the Supreme Court. I can picture Donald Trump taking a shot at reviving tariffs and Protectionism and instigating a world-wide trade war, dramatically deepening the economic bad times, and shaking the foundations of the world economic order.

I can picture Donald Trump bullying corporations, initiating his own series of New-Deal-style make-work federal programs, and adding some next larger entitlement to the Welfare State.

I think that four years of Donald Trump at the helm will produce results similar to Trump University’s or Trump steaks’, and that electing Donald Trump as a Republican will inevitably result in giving the radical democrat party a “One-Free-Presidency” coupon to be cashed for absolutely anyone.

Beyond these practical considerations, I think that we have a duty as citizens to respect our country and our institutions and to support for the chief magistracy only, in the words of John Adams’ prayer, “wise and honest men.”

It may be, this year, as in 2008 and other disastrous years, that Fate is against us. There is nothing we can do to win. We may not be able to command success, but we can, at least, conduct ourselves, and choose, in such a way as to deserve it.

21 Mar 2016

Close, Donald, But Very Probably No Cigar

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Thomas E. Dewey

S.A. Miller, at the Washington Times, explains that close has very commonly historically proven to be not good enough in nominating convention delegate votes. Donald Trump would by no means be the first candidate to arrive at a GOP convention with more votes than his rival candidates, but short of the necessary majority. It has frequently happened that the front runner then proved unable to attract the necessary extra votes and another man became the nominee. Just ask Thomas E. Dewey.

If Donald Trump finds himself in a contested convention this summer, a looming question for the Republican presidential front-runner will be whether he is a Lincoln or a Dewey.

Mr. Trump obviously would prefer to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, who emerged the nominee from a brokered Republican convention in 1860 and went on to win the White House and become one of America’s most revered presidents.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, the experience of Thomas E. Dewey at contested Republican conventions is more common and far less inspirational. The front-runner heading into a contested Republican convention has never won the White House and most of the time does not even secure the party’s nomination. …

“The notion that you go in with a plurality, therefore you deserve the nomination is just flat wrong,” said Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Dallas-based think tank Institute for Policy Innovation.

“It would not surprise me if we go to a contested convention and Trump ends up losing in that contested convention,” he said. “But I think it is too early to say. We have to see if the voters begin to gravitate toward him, as they typically do in presidential elections, and even if he doesn’t get 1,237, if the momentum is clearly behind him, I think it would be hard to deny him the nomination.”

Still, Mr. Matthews stressed that Mr. Trump will have to close the deal on the convention floor.

“He’s got to make the case to the delegates there,” he said. “He needs to persuade the other delegates that they should change their vote to him.”

Dewey ended up like most candidates who enter the Republican convention with the most delegates but short a majority — a position Mr. Trump could easily find himself in July in Cleveland — either passed over for the nomination or the loser in the general election.

Dewey experienced both outcomes. He was denied the nomination in 1940 and received it in 1948 only to lose that November to Democrat Harry S. Truman, despite the famously erroneous banner headline on the front page of The Chicago Daily Tribune.

In 1940 and eight years later, Dewey had a plurality of delegates when the convention opened.

In the history of the Republican Party, there have been 10 conventions where no candidate arrived with a majority of the delegates needed to clinch the nomination on the first ballot.

At seven of those brokered conventions, the candidate who arrived with the most delegates did not win the nomination. Half the time, the nomination went to the candidate who had the fewest delegates.

Lincoln was one of the candidates with the fewest delegates at the start of the convention. Another was Rep. James A. Garfield of Ohio, who entered the Chicago convention with no delegates but got the nomination after 36 ballots, the longest convention vote in Republican history.

In all three cases, when the candidates with the most delegates at the start of a contested convention emerged as the nominee, that candidate lost in the general election. Dewey shares that dubious distinction with Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes and U.S. Sen. James G. Blaine of Maine.

Read the whole thing.

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