What we seem to be seeing is something I thought I would never see in my lifetime. Once upon a time presidential nominations were decided not in voting booths but convention stands. 1970’s changes to the system redirected power away from party bosses and towards voters.
But something happened this year that has changed this. While Donald Trump has been dominant in the primaries, he has never pulled far away. As a result, the odds are that no one will get the majority of delegates needed to win on the first ballot, which means that the race will go on to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
What will be the outcome? Well, there’s the possibility that Trump could be denied the nomination despite being the clear choice of the voters. This would happen by way of Ted Cruz and John Kasich (neither of whom like Trump, I might add) pooling their delegates together to nominate someone other than Trump. #NeverTrump, indeed!
Would this be fair? Would this be right? No to both. The aforementioned change to make voters more important was done for a reason. A system run by party bosses is a corrupt one. Please don’t force me to feel bad for a guy who has called Hispanics “rapists,” mocked a war hero’s military service, advocates banning Muslims from entering the country, has a long history of making sexist remarks, and whose past positions reveals a guy whose entire campaign is no more than a vanity project.
Of course, someone has to be nominated. But who? Well, the current buzz is that Paul Ryan, a man who hasn’t even declared for President, will be appointed, an idea that became no less popular by Ryan’s recent uploading of a video that resembles a presidential ad. I see exactly what the Republicans are doing. They’re nominating an extremely conservative guy who has good relations with their base to calm down the far right.
Will it work? Unlikely. It’s true that Ryan would be a strongly conservative candidate… but so were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Rubio was done in by his stance on immigration alone. Cruz was done in by… I don’t know. He’s pretty much ideologically pure. Ryan has an uncertain history on immigration. Moreover, he’s the the leader of a Republican Congress that conservatives are mad at for not ending the Obama agenda with veto overrides. At least, I think that’s their frankly unrealistic demand. Or maybe they’re not aware of the veto because who could actually see hordes of Democrats joining major veto overrides? Point is, Ryan’s association with the failure to stop Obama probably disqualifies him in the eyes of the angry right.
Will Ryan or some other similarly new candidate be nominated? Not necessarily. There are concerns that rioting in the streets will happen if Trump is cheated at the convention. Trump himself has predicted (and, some say, encouraged) this. People are comparing this to the 1968 Democratic Convention, but it could be much worse. Remember, the hippies who protested Hubert Humphrey were pacifists. A lot of the people who would protest in Cleveland are quick-tempered good ‘ol boys who have guns on their person at all times. Things could get real ugly, real fast. And despite my defense of Trump’s right to be the nominee unless Cruz pulls off a ginormous upset, anyone who thinks that Trump wouldn’t ruthlessly use the possibility of riots to get leverage over undecided delegates is living on a desert island.
The Republican National Convention now has a certain suspense to it that no other party convention has for a generation or two. Let’s hope it’s settled peacefully.