Monday, April 4, 2016

Myths about the 2016 GOP convention.

The blogosphere and the media are all abuzz about the upcoming 2016 Republican convention. There’s a lot of misconceptions and accusations flying around, and people – even national pundits - obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.

First, a little primer on how the Republican nomination process works.

It starts with a caucus. The caucus is a meeting of people in your voting precinct. This is normally an area with about 2000 households. It’s quite literally the lowest form of grassroots politics there is. The caucus meeting is chaired by the Precinct Committee Officer (PCO), who is a member of the party who is elected by his or her neighbors. You may not recall seeing the PCO on your ballot, which means either that no one ran for the position, or that they ran unopposed. The PCO is a member of your county Republican central committee, and therefore represents you to the party in that capacity. Central committee members may be elected by the county committee to sit on the platform committee or the rules committee, which will draft a platform and convention rules for the party.

Each precinct is allocated a number of seats at the county Republican convention. At the Caucus, attendees elect people from their precinct to represent the precinct at the county convention. The county convention will elect delegates to go to the state convention, and will also vote to pass a county party platform, drafted by the central committee’s rules committee, but subject to amendment on the floor of the county convention.

At the state convention, delegates are divided up by legislative or congressional districts, and they elect delegates from among their number to go to the national convention, where they will cast their votes for the presidential nominee.

Once a state has elected its slate of delegates, they will elect members to sit on the national rules committee, which will draft the rules for the upcoming national election; and the national platform committee, which will draft the platform to be presented to the national convention for adoption.

At the same time, many states also hold a primary, where the general voting populace cast votes for their preferred presidential candidate. Each state’s Republican committee has its own set of rules for how the primary results are to be applied, if they’re to be applied, and in what proportions. Many states have passed laws about the primaries and how they apply to the parties, but these are of questionable legal standing, and have not been challenged in court. The premise is that the Republican party is a private club, and may select its nominee however it chooses. That being said, political parties are legal entities, with bylaws. Bylaws are enforceable by the courts, and may not be violated on a whim.

Here’s what happens at the national convention. Conventions operate under Robert’s Rules of order. This requires a parliamentarian who is well versed in these law to adjudicate when someone questions the actions of the convention under the rules. Failure to follow Robert’s rules of order in a convention can lead to legal action, and the result of the convention being overturned by the courts, which no one wants. For this reason, convention managers scrupulously observe Robert’s rules.
The first order of business at any convention is to elect a chairman. The convention will be called to order by the chairman pro tem, who acts as chairman until a permanent chairman is seated. The chairman is nominated from the floor, and the body of delegates votes for their preferred nominee.  The winner takes charge of the convention.

The convention cannot proceed until the rules are adopted. The rules are drafted before the convention by the rules committee, who are the delegates from each state elected to sit on this committee. The rules are published to the convention delegates prior to the convention, so they are familiar with them. When the motion is made to adopt the rules, motions may be placed before the body to amend the rules, if someone doesn’t like what the committee presented. The amendments are debated, and voted upon. If the amendments pass, they become part of the rules which are then voted on to pass by the body at large. Only when this is complete does the convention get to begin the process of electing the presidential nominee.

Myth: Cruz is stealing delegates.
One does not “steal” delegates. Delegates are selected through a process of caucus and conventions. The bodies that elect these delegates know the delegate’s preferences when they vote on them. The Cruz campaign understands this and has been doing an excellent job of getting their supporters to the caucuses, and promoting their delegates through the system, ahead of the largely uninformed and amateurish efforts of the Trump supporters, many of whom have never been involved in politics and have no idea how the system works.

Myth: The person with the most delegates going into the convention should be the nominee
The Republican rules require that the nominee be selected by a majority vote, which is defined as 50% +1. If no candidate has met this threshold going into the convention, voting will continue until one candidate has met the threshold.

This plays into Cruz’s hands, because if Trump enters the convention with less than 1237, the first round of balloting will be inconclusive. After the first round, delegates are no longer bound by the results of their state primaries. This is critical. They essentially become free agents, and can vote for whoever they want. Many delegates who are bound by their primaries to vote for Trump in the first round are actually Cruz supporters. There are also the delegates for other candidates who will likely break hard for Cruz over Trump when their candidate is no longer viable. Trump is extremely unlikely to pick up additional delegates once the convention begins.

Myth: The “Establishment” chooses the nominee
This isn’t so much a myth as it is non-applicable. The Republican Establishment has a history of supporting candidates in the nomination process well before the primaries begin. This support is behind the scenes, but organizations, PACs, and soft money flowing to these candidates give them a significant edge. By the time the National convention begins, they normally have the majority of delegates by virtue of the advantages they enjoyed by the party support throughout the process, and their delegate base will ratify whatever the party bosses want.

That’s not going to happen this year. Jeb Bush was the establishment favorite, but crashed and burned, because the Establishment just hasn’t figured out that the country will not tolerate another Bush in the White House. This year’s convention will primarily be Trump and Cruz delegates, and neither group has any love for the establishment. Basically, the Establishment party bosses will try to get their way, and the Trump/Cruz delegates will laugh at them and then continue on with their business.

Keep in mind that many Bound Trump delegates are actually Cruz supporters. They may be bound in their vote for the presidential nominee, but in all other votes, like for chairman, for adoption of the rules, etc, they will vote with the Cruz camp. Butter him up, Trump is toast.

Most people haven’t fathomed how huge this is going to be. Who will sit on the rules committees? Trump and Cruz delegates. Who will elect the convention chairman? Trump and Cruz delegates. Any bets on whether the chairman is a Cruz supporter? The role of the establishment in this convention will be to sit on the sidelines and sell concessions.

Myth: Karl Rove will parachute in a white hat like Paul Ryan to be the nominee.
And when he does, as I stated before, the Trump and Cruz delegations will laugh their asses off and tell Rove to piss up a rope. The convention belongs to the delegates.

Myth: Cruz will be ineligible because of rule 40.
In the 2012 convention the qualification rule (rule 40) was amended from the floor to require that a candidate get a majority of delegates from at least eight states to be qualified to be on the ballot. This was done to prevent Ron Paul from speaking at the convention. It was political hardball, and actually completely unnecessary. 

Now the rule is a majority of delegates. Not a majority of the vote, and not a plurality of delegates (where you might have more but didn’t reach 50%+1). Rule 40 applied to the 2012 convention and to the 2014 convention (off year conventions get very little publicity). This rule has absolutely no authority on the 2016 convention until it’s adopted by the body at the beginning of the convention. It must be (re)drafted in the rules committee (which will have a majority of Cruz sympathizers), and it will be subject to amendment from the floor before adoption (From a body that has a majority of Cruz sympathizers and people who just don’t like Trump). This rule as it stands will not make it to the adoption, and will be amended to allow Cruz to qualify – although in all likelihood Kasitch will be shut out.

So let’s review:
No one is going to rewrite the rules to steal the nomination from Trump, since Trump delegates will be seated at the rules committees and may make amendments from the floor.

No one is going to introduce a dark horse candidate at the last minute and sweep the nomination. Not with a bunch of pissed off Cruz and Trump delegates basically running the convention from the chairman on down.

Cruz is not stealing any delegates. He’s pursuing the nomination under the well-published rules of the nomination process. The fact that neither Trump nor his advisors apparently bothered to read and understand these rules is indicative of his lack of qualifications to be president. Last week Republican party chairman took Trump into a closed door meeting and apparently explained the rules to him, and told him to shut up and quit threatening legal action, because it was all fair, square and above board. Trump, properly chastised, came out of the meeting a changed man, and hasn’t made a peep about threatening legal action since then. If you’re going to play the game it helps to know the rules.

The Establishment doesn’t run the convention, the delegates do. It’s always been this way, but it didn’t seem like it because usually the convention is packed with establishment sympathizers.

So, if Trump doesn’t secure 1237 delegates by the end of the primary season, the first round of balloting, where delegates are bound, will be inconclusive. After that, delegates are released. Also-ran delegates will be able to choose between Cruz and Trump, and you bet they’re going to go hard for Cruz. Many Trump delegates will defect to Cruz, because they were selected by conventions, not by primaries. Cruz will win handily on the second ballot, and will go on to beat Hillary like a drum, embarrassing her in debate after debate, and will go down in history as the greatest president the country ever had, pulling us back to the firm footing of the constitution from the brink of social and economic collapse.

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