Even though he hasn’t quite yet got the 1144 delegates necessary to cinch the Republican nomination, since the rest of the candidates having either suspended their campaigns or just run out of money to actively do anything, Mitt Romney is now the presumptive nominee. Indeed, he’s already turned his focus to the campaign against the sitting president. The apparatchiks of the Republican party are looking forward to the national convention being a pro-forma coronation ball, with the message that we must all unite “for the good of the party” to beat Barack Hussein Obama.
That’s certainly the message that’s being communicated throughout the Republican party establishment. Ah, if only it was that easy. From where I sit, there are still a lot of really pissed off people at the lowest levels of the conservative side of America. The most charitable thing that can be said for their relationship with Romney is that they view him with deep suspicion. I doubt they will ever quite get over that, and Romney’s mandate as the Republican candidate is tenuous at best.
One could logically point out that it’s mathematically impossible for any other candidate to get the required delegates, so Mitt is the nominee, get over it. Not so fast. A lot of the delegates that are showing up in Romney’s column aren’t as firm as the party and the media would like you to believe. For example, my State of Washington will send 45 delegates to the national convention. 5 of those are automatic slots for state committee members, 10 of them are delegates at large, and the rest will be made up of delegates selected from the ten congressional districts. Since Romney won the non-binding straw poll, everyone assumes that they can chalk up 45 delegates in his column.
And here’s where politics come in to play. First of all, there are an awful lot of Ron Paul delegates going to the state convention, because the Ron Paul machine is very well oiled up here. Then you have to factor in the delegates who caucused for Santorum and Gingrich. These are basically free agents, capable of tilting the race in either direction if they vote as a bloc. And this is the critical thing. Romney has given them no reason to get behind his campaign, and there’s a lot of reasons - still – to vote against him. The Romney organization was unable to turn the tide at the county conventions, and as of this writing, it's highly likely that 2/3 of the Washington delegates going to the national convention will be other than Romney supporters.
This isn’t sour grapes or a conservative temper tantrum by people who didn’t get their way. Our representative government system is designed to ensure that the minorities aren’t steamrollered by the majority. For the non-Romney people, there’s a very big motive to deny Romney a clear victory going into the national convention in Tampa.
The worry among the rank and file conservatives is that this is going to be a replay of the G.W. Bush administration. Instead of reforming a new government, with fresh new ideas and a new perspective on how things work inside the beltway, Bush 43 loaded his administration from top to bottom with the republican old guard, resurrecting many of his Father’s people and placing them back in top positions to run the country. This wouldn’t have been that much of a problem if his dad had overseen an exemplary administration, but that wasn’t the case. Bush 41’s presidency was mediocre at best, characterized by moderation, and ultimately doomed by disillusioned conservatives who wanted to believe in something besides the status quo, no matter how outrageous it sounded. His son deliberately designed his administration to be more of the same.
Romney is perceived to be a Republican establishment creature, and is expected to load his administration with cronies and establishment insiders. The chatter over his Vice Presidential possibilities is indicative. The short list all revolves around established names in the party machine: Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bob McDonnell, etc. The idea of Allen West is pooh-poohed by the talking heads as being “inexperienced,” “unseasoned,” etc. The fact is that he was put into office by the TEA party and does not toe the party line. Therefore he’s not in consideration.
This kind of attitude does not sit well with the not-Romney majority of the Republican party, and this contingent seems to be reaching critical mass. They’re talking to each other and planning. The Ron Paul and Rick Santorum enthusiasts are realizing they have more in common than they have differences, and that together they may be able to gather enough power in the national convention to squeeze some major concessions from Romney regarding cabinet positions and the makeup of his administration.
There’s a general sentiment from the not-Romney folks that they realize that the nomination is a done deal, but they want to register a protest vote to put the establishment on notice that we’re mad as hell and we’re not taking it any more. But if the power of the minority of delegates who have the ability to swing the vote is focused by thoughtful application and choosing their fights, they might be able to drag the Romney ticket kicking and screaming back to the right.
Some of the things that such a conservative alliance could push for might include appointing Ron Paul as the Secretary of the Treasury, John Bolton as Secretary of State, Newt Gingrich as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense.
Among the faces we don’t want to ever see near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave are Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, John McCain, John Ashcroft, Ben Bernanke, John Beohner or Tom Ridge. This country has been driven into the ditch by the shortsightedness that such people brought to their service, and it need not be repeated. We no longer need Washington insiders who know how the system works and have a vested interest in perpetuating it. We need fresh blood at all levels of the new administration who are inclined to ask “Why the hell are we doing it this way, and where does it say you can do that in the constitution?”
We can have such an administration if conservatives force Mitt Romney to accede to their demands before they agree to nominate him. That will take a lot of coordination and trust among the not-Romney delegates. Deals will have to be made, and everyone will have to understand that they won’t get everything they want, but their piece of the pie can still be substantial.