Over There, I wrote my piece advocating screwing Trump out of the nomination declining to let Trump become a plurality winner:

Sometimes, though, you can’t just get along. It is my own extreme view that even if Trump gets to 1237 delegates, the party should look for ways to stop him. I don’t expect that they will, for a variety of reasons. I believe doing so would be wrong, in the sense that changing the rules midstream typically is, but wrong in a way that two wrongs can make a right. It wouldn’t be for their own benefit (they would be spat upon), or their party’s benefit (the party would be destroyed), or their party faction’s benefit (no party to have a faction of). It would be for the country’s. I would not be comfortable with the means, but the ends would justify them.

But we’re not even talking about that. I am not comfortable with the means above because, while yes there are rules about changing rules, there is nonetheless every reason for a candidate to believe that if they can round up a majority of the delegates that they are the nominee. Depriving them of that would be cheating and would be “stealing” the nomination. However, the 1237 threshold exists very explicitly for a reason. No major rule change is required to deny Trump the nomination if he fails to reach that threshold. When they were revising the rules to solve Yesterday’s Problem, they easily have said “A majority of voting delegates whose votes count” (ie not those voting for people ineligible under Rule 40b), but they didn’t. They said a majority. As badly as the party tried to rig the rules for a plurality candidate, that was a bridge they didn’t cross. And for good reason.

Nowhere has it been written that a plurality winner automatically becomes the winner or that a convention is a formality for the delegate leader. The West Wing had an episode devoted to it, where the candidate who came into the convention with the most delegates lost to the protagonist. Not only has it not been written, it has not historically even been assumed. Every year journalists daydream of a brokered convention or a contested convention. . That these concepts even exist in our vocabulary indicates that, even pre-Trump, it was known that the plurality winner did not have the nomination democratically conferred on them. The only other time in modern history where nobody came into the convention with a prohibitive delegate count, the convention was contested.

I haven’t terribly much to add here. There seems to be a persistent underestimation to how bad a Trump nomination would be for conservatives and Republicans. That it would amount to a score on a scorecard. Even further, there seems to be an odd dynamic that because nominating Trump fits a certain narrative, that the party is obligated to validate the narrative. A couple narratives, actually, first “The guy who gets the most votes should win” which at least has some logic to it, but also “This is what the Republican Party has become.” So become that, dammit.

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2 Responses to Screw Trump (Out Of The Nomination)

  1. RTod says:

    “A couple narratives, actually, first “The guy who gets the most votes should win” which at least has some logic to it, but also “This is what the Republican Party has become.” So become that, dammit.”

    I suspect that I am part or largely the source of the latter narrative here. I also think this misunderstands my point.

    I agree with you that Trump has to be stopped, period. I also agree with you that Trump being stopped by (almost) any means necessary *by the GOP* is the best thing in the long run for the GOP, American conservatism, and the country. After a Trump presidency, I believe the second worst thing that could happen as a result of this election would be him simply getting the nomination, even if he gets shellacked in the general — because too much of those that are firmly on the #nevertrump bandwagon now are going to find a way to shift their hearts and become supporters and bell ringers of Trumpism if he’s the nominee. And that’s just going to make everything for the party that much harder to fix.

    My issue is that I do not see anything happening *alongside this* that gives me hope that anyone has learned any lessons. If you fight Trump on a simple “We Hate Trump” line without at least starting down the road of crafting a cohesive message to hang your party hat on, you might well beat Trump — but you’ll just have to face a new Trump in two or four years. Because narcissists who have no scruples and want to become richer, more powerful and more famous are going to look at what happens this year and say, “That could totally be me.” And they will be right. If you don’t have a cohesive and (largely) agreed upon message and vision for them to have to conform to, those future narcissists are going to have the same impact Trump is having now.

    I think where I disagree with most of the anti-Trump narratives — yours, Dan’s, others’ — is that they seem to me to all assume that Trump is somehow a singular and almost magical figure. But he isn’t. He’s just the guy who happened to be standing on the spot where lightning was going to strike one way or another.

    • trumwill says:

      It was written prior to your comment. The biggest thing that thing is a response to is the notion that the GOP should embrace Trump because he’s not really any substantively different from anyone else, and is in some ways better. Some parts false equivalence (Really, how is Trump different from Rubio?) and mind-reading (The only reason you don’t like Trump is that he exposes what y’all are really thinking and have really been saying all of this time). The truth is… more complicated than that.

      Which is, of course, not to say I agree with you! Though I partially do. I believe Trump is singular in that he cracked the code and ran with it. The vulnerability was always there, but I’m not sure someone else would have discovered it in quite the way that he did. I’m also not sure someone else would have gotten mileage out of it.

      Now, when I say “not sure” I don’t mean that as a hedgy way of saying “I doubt” but… that I’m not sure. Which is to say, there are several factors that have gone into his success and I don’t know which ones play a larger role and which ones play a smaller one. I really don’t think anyone knows. The GOP needs to spend millions of dollars to find out.

      As far as “doing other things”… I get what you’re saying, but the time to contemplate the nature and history of combustion is not when there’s a fire in the living room. Matthew Dowd has been saying for a while now “Maybe instead of attacking Trump, the rest of the GOP should try to understand where they’re coming from.”

      To be absolutely clear, I know that’s not what you’re saying, but my response to him and my response to you are kind of the same. Sure, later. And in both cases, but especially yours, these are things I’ve wanted to see the party address for a really long time. The importance of this, and addressing this sooner rather than later, is definitely clearer now.

      But right now? Fire! Fire! Fire!

      After this is all said and done… I don’t know. After 2012, the party heads did want to address a lot of this, but they did so miserably. After 2012, things were moving in the right direction. But slowly, with some bad pushes and bad pulls. In some ways, I believe Trump is a response to the ways the party was trying to right the ship (in addition to the incompetence of the captains in their attempts at doing so).

      All of which is the say, it’s actually really quite complicated. Doing too much creates blowback. Doing too little doesn’t do much. I’m not even sure what the outside end of this all actually looks like.

      I don’t know the nature of fire.

      I just know that right now there’s a fire in the living room.

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