Coming GOP Free for All
Josh Marshall on the coming GOP free-for-all (aka Convention) in Cleveland on Talking Points Memo.
In a sense we’ve seen this before. And quite recently. The 2000 election exposed a series of potentially catastrophic flaws in the presidential election system that just needed a special set of circumstances to be brought to light. All of this is why this is bounding toward a wildly destructive conflagration in Cleveland. Elections of all sorts rest not fundamentally on rules and bylaws but on legitimacy. An RNC national committeeman recently complained that the press had given people the wrong impression that voters decided who the nominee was rather than the party. By the rules, he may be right. But good luck sailing that ship across any body of water.
Over half a century, the national primary process has been enshrined as a national election process. It may be run by party rules and may have all sorts of obscure and nonsensical bylaws. But you vote in the same precinct station as you vote in real elections. For real people that means it’s an election, period. You vote and your vote is supposed to count. Break that understanding and there will be hell to pay. Whatever rules you can cite simply are not going to matter that much.
TPM Readers know, because it’s been one of the site’s core perennial issues for 15 years, that people’s right to their vote gets disregarded all the time. But it is by definition almost always the votes of the marginalized and those lacking power, almost always those most loosely tied to the political system. And usually it either does not or cannot be proven to swing an actual election. It is quite another thing, under the bright lights of intense national press scrutiny to take the win away from the guy who unambiguously won the most votes.
Of course, there’s another explosive element in the mix. You’re not just talking about taking this away from anyone. Trump’s constituency is the part of the electorate which Republican politicians have been marinating in grievance and betrayal politics for decades. It’s a tangible confirmation of every betrayal, wrong and loss since Santa was killed in the first battle of the War on Christmas. Only it’s not coming from Al Sharpton or Hollywood elites or limousine liberals or Feminazis. It will be coming from their supposed protectors, their party.
It won’t go down well. There will be hell to pay.
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center