Saturday, June 11, 2016

Why Should The Republicans Be Stuck With Trump?

One could, and others have, made the case that Trump is simply the natural result of the lies and vitriol that the Republican Party has been supporting all these years.  From the shameful attack on John Kerry - so nasty that the term 'swift boating' is now part of the political dictionary - to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, to the non-stop attacks on our first Black president, and ruthless attacks on women's rights to obtain an abortion and on immigrants, and their allowing the crazies among the Republicans to act like thugs by playing congressional chicken with the US budget.

But all that aside, suppose they end up with a candidate most of them feel is terrible.  Yes, he followed the rules and got the required number of delegates.  But now they realize that those crazies they cultivated to defeat the Democrats have now saddled them with a man whose election, even just his nomination, is likely to cause the US and the world untold harm.  Whose rhetoric gets no better.  How long can they look the other way?  A man so vain and impulsive that many in the party have withheld their support or given it with obvious distaste.

What if you ordered something at a restaurant and you realize it was a terrible mistake.  You can refuse to eat it.
Or you go to a move that's awful, you can walk out.
Or you're on a date and it's clear you never want to see him again.  You don't have to wait, to end it.
Or the hotel you booked turns out to be above an all night disco.  You don't have to stay.

Is this different?  Well, all those examples were individual choices.  And in all these cases, you'd probably still might have to leave some skin on the table.  So my questions are:

Are the Republicans really obligated to allow this man to be their candidate?
What will they leave on the table if they walk out?

Option 1:  Find some rules in The Rules of The Republican Party that can be used to disqualify Trump.

I've skimmed through the rules and nothing popped out.  Mostly they are about the qualifications of the delegates and how the nominating process is to be run.  I could find nothing about qualities of the nominee.  That's not unreasonable.  The assumption is that candidates as problematic as Trump will never get this close to being nominated.

It might be useful to have something in the rules about the nominee being a registered Republican for a minimum number of years.

The Smoking Gun reports Trump, since 1987, has enrolled as

  • a Republican
  • a member of the  Independence party member
  • a Democrat, 
  • a Republican again, 
  • "I do not wish to enroll in a party", and finally, in 2012, 
  • as a Republican again. 

A five year minimum in the party would make Trump's candidacy moot.  But then someone like Dwight Eisenhower  might not have been eligible to be their candidate in 1952.  (Though I expect a last minute rule change to allow for a popular candidate would be easier than one to eliminate an unpopular candidate.)  Subjective judgments about character make it too easy to disqualify reasonable candidates.

The Democrats have their super-delegates who could be called upon to deny a candidate the nomination.  But after this election there are calls to abolish them.  Maybe after watching Trump and the Republicans, the Democrats will have second thoughts about abolishing them.

The party does have the power to appoint nominees if for some reason there's a vacancy.  Surely Trump isn't going to voluntarily vacate.  (Well, on second thought, nothing is sure with Trump.)

If Trump shoots a reporter who asks a hard question in the next month, I can't imagine that the Republicans couldn't find a way to dump him.  So there must be some line he could cross that would allow dropping him.  But he's crossed so many lines already without him being dropped. . .

The Republicans in the Alaska Legislature have 'unwritten rules.'  One of House Speaker Chenault's staff told me that when I asked to see the rules that were used to strip Rep. Reinbold of her Republican caucus status when she didn't go along with the leadership on the budget.  Perhaps these exist at the national level too and they can use them to stop Trump.

Option 2:  Leave the Republican Party en masse and recreate the party with a new name

This would leave Trump with his supporters in the old GOP, but the rest of the party could reassemble and nominate their own candidate.

I'm not sure what assets - money, property, copyrights/trademarks - they would have to abandon to do this.

Short of this, some could launch an independent run by a Republican alternative to Trump.

I suspect individual Republicans can do this, but getting 'the Party' to agree and do this would be much harder.

Option 3:  Support a third party candidate like the Libertarian Gary Johnson

I saw a letter to the editor in the LA Times that suggested one Republican strategy might be to prevent Clinton from getting enough electoral college votes to win outright and then the election would be decided in the House of Representatives where the Republicans have a big majority.  But, from what I can tell from this League of Women's Voters webpage,
"Results of the mid-December vote in each state are sent to Congress to be counted on January 6, in the presence of the newly elected Senate and House of Representatives."
There's an interesting Atlantic article from October 1980 considering the possibilities that independent candidate John Anderson might get enough electoral college votes to throw the 1980 election into the House of Representatives and what that might look like.

The Washington Post, speculating about the current election, thought that the House of Representatives would be a risky route that would do further damage to legitimacy of the electoral process.

Option 4:  Work with the religious right to have the Apocalypse happen before November.
I don't have an option 4 as you can see, but I'm sure there are other scenarios I haven't thought of.

I'm guessing that if there were rules - written or unwritten - that could get rid of Trump, we'd know about them by now.  It's only because there probably aren't,  that we're hearing talk about third party candidates, not voting for president, or even voting for Clinton.  I suspect that the Sanders' call for getting rid of super delegates, given the Republican situation, is going to have a lot of opposition.

And then there is the issue of what line would Trump have to cross.  Perhaps this is death by a thousand cuts, none of which individually is significant enough to charge him with murder of the Republican Party, and give them an excuse to rescind his nomination.


  1. As a Bernie supporter (who will vote for Hillary), I'm afraid that if an alternate GOP candidate is somehow shoved into place, the 20% of Republicans who were going to sit out the vote in November (because Trump), and the swingable Independents (because they vote for change, any change) WILL gladly vote (in droves) and make the election much more close. As it is Hillary may lose 20% of the Democratic vote (because Bernie's defeat).

    Plus, If Hillary is seen to be leading in the polls come November, how many Democrats will also sit out the vote thinking it's in the bag -- forgetting that in Florida, Wisconsin, Penn, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan, it takes 2-3.5 Democrat votes to cancel out just 1 Repub. vote -- And forgetting the states-wide gerrymandering, voter suppression, rigged machines -- all tilted in GOP favor since 2010 making the downline results as important as the Presidency.

    Let's prove untrue Mark Twain's quip, "If voting changed anything, they wouldn't let us do it." It does and the GOP will try to prevent a fair contest any way they can. They've done it before.

    1. Barbara, thanks for visiting all this time and for your warm and thoughtful comments. They are always welcome. This post was motivated by a question about being able to, morally, back out of a bad decision. What requires us to carry through with something we know was a terrible mistake? How do we balance our values about following agreed on rules and commitments to others with a realization that the rules resulted in a terrible decision. When are you justified in breaking the trust? I was thinking about this as a philosophical question, not a political one, though I was aware of the political aspects.
      My parents lived in Germany during the rise of Hitler. He was dismissed as a clown and a passing distraction, but he fooled both his supporters and opponents. While Trump is not Hitler, he would do his own kind of harm to the world. He already has done harm as a private citizen, leaving many people much worse off for their contact with him.
      The idea that he is this close (the nominee) to becoming president is scary. Getting back from that precipice is important. The fear you raise is that a different Republican could beat Clinton. But Trump winning is much more scary. But then we are stuck with determining the probability of each scenario. But I don't see the Republicans being able to get rid of him. I hope the people who believe he can't win are right, but any time you are this close to the edge, anything can happen. I do have faith in the long run, love is more powerful than hate, and that Americans will not choose Trump. And I’m hoping we’ll all be a bit wiser for this experience.

  2. Option two isn't viable, because the two parties have set up the rules preventing third parties from running. While the Republican and Democrat candidates are automatically put on the ballot, everyone else has to register in each of the 50 states following 50 sets of rules. Only the Libertarian Party manages to do that once every four years. The Green and other smaller parties do not manage to do that.

    It's too late for many of those ballots for a new party.

  3. L, Yes. But that assumes the intent is to win, rather than to separate themselves from Trump, and to siphon votes from Trump. It would allow people to avoid voting for either Trump or Clinton, though, it would, presumably, help Clinton.


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