Presidential Nominees -Who Gets to Choose Them?
What’s a Delegate to Do?
Note: This article was inspired by the work of Curly Haugland on Republican Presidential Candidate selection at Will Republicans Have a Primary Or A Convention, And Who Gets To Decide?
The Problem- “Binding” of Votes
There has been much controversy in recent years over the question of “binding” Republican delegates in presidential primaries and conventions.
What is a delegate? A delegate is a person designated to act for or represent another or others; deputy; representative, as in a political convention.
Binding is a policy that does not allow delegates at a presidential convention to follow their own judgment or to insist on the party platform when voting for a candidate at the convention, but obliges them to vote only for the candidates who were selected in the primary or caucus selection of candidates in their state months previous to the Republican Convention.
So the question becomes how can a delegate best act for or represent others in the Republican convention? Does a delegate represent other Republicans better when the delegate is “bound” to vote for a particular individual, or does the delegate represent other Republicans better when he/she is free to use their own judgement, as other elected officials, like Senators and Representatives in the United States Congress do?
In the Republican Party, binding was forbidden by RNC rules since 1923, and delegates have had the freedom to use personal judgment.
But attempts have been made in recent years to introduce binding into RNC rules, with a great deal of confusion resulting.
Pros and Cons
Those who advocate binding say binding is democratic, represents the will of the people, and should not be overturned at the convention by delegates who do not wish to be bound by the popular vote.
Political donors promote binding because their investments in candidates at the primary level could be wiped out by unexpected votes at the convention if delegates were not bound after the primary.
Those who oppose binding and advocate freedom of conscience for delegates say that outsiders, who are permitted to vote in Republican primaries in 24 States now, have no right to hijack the party at the primaries for an agenda that may even be at odds with the party platform.
These issues become particularly important as we approach the 2016 Presidential Election, which has been labeled the most unique, yet pivotal, nomination process in the entire history of the Republican Party.
Some Crucial Background on Ballot Access
Who is right?
Pro-binding or anti-binding advocates?
What are the rules?
If we start with the question “What are the rules governing nominations for President in the United States?” it helps to understanding the modern dilemma on “binding” of delegates.
Ballotpedia, a respected impartial political news source, explains the ballot access process for presidential candidates:
- The individual can seek the nomination of a political party. Political parties are private organizations in which like-minded individuals with similar goals have banded together to sponsor a nominee for president who upholds their organization’s priorities and agenda or platform.
- They can get on the ballot for President independently. This involves petitioning each state to have their names printed on the general election ballot. Each petition involves complex procedures designed by State lawmakers to prevent non-serious candidates from appearing on the ballot. In 2016, it would also involve the collection of more than 900,000 signatures in support of that candidate.
- The person can run as a write-in candidate. In most states, this involves filing some paperwork in advance of the election. And, of course, it involves persuading millions of people to write the candidate’s name in on the ballot during the general election.
What’s the Easiest Way for a Person to Run for President?
It is pretty clear that the first option, getting a party to nominate you for president, is easier than the other two options. In the first option, the party does much of the work for the candidate. The party offers the unique ability to effectively organize and mobilize voters. The party also contributes a history, a reputation and loyal members who will vote for the candidate.
Two such major parties have dominated the political landscape in the United States for over a hundred years- Democratic and Republican parties. These parties not only help candidates, but they also help voters. Once voters have identified a party whose platform they approve, they do not have to repeat the hard work of gauging each presidential candidate individually on each issue and deciding which one to back for each election. The party they support and trust does this evaluation for them.
In the past, it seemed honest common sense that only individuals who support a party platform would consider running under the umbrella of that party.
The idea that someone who disagrees with the party platform would try to use that party to get elected would clearly represent a form of dishonesty, even of hijacking.
However today, attempts to hijack political parties occur.
Why Would Anyone Want to Hijack a Party?
Someone may want to hijack a political party for a number of reasons.
The reasons include circumventing the tedious application process to numerous individual States, avoiding the collection of nearly a million signatures, and the attractive nature of jumping on a wagon that is already well under way and is well stocked. A deceitful person could even see hijacking of the opposition party as an opportunity to weaken the opposition party from the inside.
The Republican Party’s major opponent, the Democrat Party, has unfortunately demonstrated numerous times their willingness to use an unethical set of tactics called Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Hillary Clinton wrote her undergraduate thesis on Alinsky’s philosophy and was offered a job to work with him in 1968. Barak Obama taught Alinksy Tactics while he was a professor. Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals is dedicated to Lucifer (Satan, the Father of Lies) and promotes the use of any immoral tactics to achieve one’s goals. The behavior of both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during the past 8 years has illustrated time and again the devious unethical tactics used routinely by the Democrat Party.
Democrats seem to be riddled with unscrupulous agendas much more so than other groups of Americans or than Republicans. As an aside, you could read about the circus that went on in Madison, Wisconsin when Democrats decided to recall Republican Governor Walker because they did not like legislation that Republicans were enacting in Wisconsin. I had a front-row seat at that circus, and reported on many unscrupulous behind-the scenes events, including shocking events involving State Supreme Court Judges at the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. Events such as these make President Nixon’s Watergate seem like naughty child’s play, but the media does not even attempt to hold Democrats accountable for their unethical behavior in 2016, and amateur bloggers like me have to do the work of the media.
Dealing With Reality
So reality dictates today that we have to deal with individuals who present themselves to a political party for nomination, while disagreeing with a major portion of that party’s political platform or agenda. The party has to watch out for hijackers, or Trojan horses, or wolves in sheep’s clothing- both among the candidates, and among primary voters.
This is where the supervision of trusted, elected party delegates who have earned the trust of the party through demonstrated volunteer service comes in, helping to identify and eliminate impostors and hijackers. Delegates have been entrusted the job of being the guardian angels of the party’s ethics and of the party’s platform.
Hijacking can occur not only at the candidate level, but at the primary voter level as well. Twenty-four states now allow the general public to vote in primaries for nominees of other parties. So when Democrats and Independents and undeclared voters are permitted to choose the Republican Party’s nominee, clearly the Republican Party no longer has control over its own organization. There is even the potential for organized busloads of opponents, sometimes without proper identification, to vote numerous times in primaries in order to sabotage their opponents’ candidate selection.
Isn’t That a Bit Paranoid?
Unfortunately, the scenarios described above are not imagined, but have already surfaced at the Iowa caucuses in this 2016 election.
Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders has accused his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton of infiltrating the Iowa caucuses with out-of-state paid staffers. A pretty serious accusation, considering that Hillary won the Iowa Caucuses by only 0.29%.
Equivalently shocking, there is video documentary published February 10, 2016, of Out of State Voters and Non-Residents Offered Ballots in New Hampshire Presidential Primary. So apparently, attempts to hijack the Primaries are in full force today.
Back to Binding Delegates- Democratic or Not?
So the binding of delegates is not a simple democratic procedure as many media sources represent it. In fact, binding of delegates can work against democracy in numerous ways:
- Binding of delegates allows outsiders to help choose the Republican nominee at the Primaries.
- Binding of delegates allows candidates who oppose the Party platform to be nominated.
- Binding of delegates misleads voters into thinking a candidate represents something other than they really represent.
- Binding of delegates does not allow delegates to take into account all the events that transpire in the half year between the primaries and the convention.
- Binding of delegates is unfair to those who have built the Republican Party, which is, after all, a private association with freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to associate with politically like-minded individuals.
- Binding of delegates allows the infiltration of political party by opponents.
- Binding encourages money-driven nominations rather than idea-driven or character-driven nominations.
- Binding of delegates has never been permitted by the Rules of the Republican Party.
The above points illustrate that it can very reasonably be argued that the binding of delegates is NOT democratic, but subverts the democratic process and facilitates the hijacking of half of America’s votes.
Hijacking Not Allowed
If a person does not agree with a particular party’s platform, they should not be allowed to represent that party, or to change that party by such devious means.
An outsider cannot join your off-road jeep club and insist that you switch your club’s agenda to knitting.
Your neighbors, no matter how many of them get together and agree, cannot hijack your car from your garage because they do not own it.
So why are so many under the impression that binding was introduced into RNC rules by amendment, and that binding is now obligatory?
The problem is that recent political warfare has included numerous attempts by progressives to alter the political agenda of the Republican Party with amendments and to divert its candidates.
These attempts have been fraudulent, and they cause internal contradictions in the RNC rules, which by definition (governed by Robert’s Rules of Order) nullify the contradictory progressive amendments.
Did You Just Say Progressives in the Republican Party?
Yes, there actually are progressives in the Republican Party.
Let’s clarify something about progressives at this point. Etymologically speaking, one would think that progressives were people who represented progress in society.
Yet today’s progressive has wishfully and somewhat narcissistically labeled his or her own fast-paced, radical social and economic experimentation, which most often ends in economic failure and social disaster, as progressive. Not only have they prematurely declared their experiments to represent progress, but they have also tried to dictate that all others follow their foolhardy misguided example.
One example of misguided progessivism is Michelle Obama’s suggestion last year that discarded school lunches be used to fuel cars. The idea sounds great on the surface- let’s not let anything go to waste!- but when you do the calculations of what it would cost to transform school lunches into fuel for cars, the fuel would end up costing $280 per gallon.
Today’s impulsive and unwise progressive is more aptly named a regressive.
So let’s get to some of the regressive, fraudulent and invalid amendments they tried to introduce into the RNC rules.
Regressive Attempts to Amend RNC Rules
According to Curly Haugland, National Committeeman from the North Dakota Republican State Committee, and member of the RNC Rules Committee, for the past 90 years RNC rules have prohibited the binding of Republican delegates. RNC rules continue to protect the right of each delegate to The Republican National Convention to vote their personal choice on issues coming before the convention, and for the candidate of their choice to receive the party’s nomination.
The Rules of the Republican Party can be changed via prescribed procedures, but changes can occur only once every four years, on the eve of the Republican Convention. Once the rules are established, the convention proceeds according to those rules, and no further changes can be made until the eve of the next convention four years later.
There have been attempts by regressives to change the rules in recent years, and today, the RNC rules actually do state that binding of delegates can occur (Rule 16). But Curly Haugland points out that the binding language was introduced illegitimately by deceit and by trickery, by staff who did not have the authority to change the rules, and furthermore, that the attempted binding rule is actually contradicted by other RNC rules which are still on the books (e.g. Rules 37 and 38). Contradictions are governed by Roberts Rules of Order, which state that any motion that conflicts with other existing rules is null and void.
The struggle between proponents of binding and those defending their rights to vote their conscience led to a serious clash in 2012.
Over 400 Republican delegates filed a Federal lawsuit against the Republican National Committee and Reince Priebus the Chairman, alleging that violence and intimidation were used against delegates in an effort to control how they voted. These delegates refused to be bound and insisted on their right to vote their conscience.
Despite the fact that the court ordered the dispute to be settled via Alternative Dispute Resolution, the exhibits included in the complaint included a copy of a legal opinion offered by Jennifer Sheehan, Associate Counsel to the Republican National Committee, which clearly states that Delegates are allowed to vote for the individual of their choice, regardless of whether that person is officially placed into nomination.
Regressive Rules Can Boomerang
We’ve already mentioned the boomerang path some “progressive” ideas take, like Michelle Obama’s attempt to force children to eat food they don’t like, then to turn their discarded lunches into $280 per gallon fuel for cars.
The thing is, most
progressive regressive ideas fail, and come back to bite the people who initiated them. Any good scientist will tell you that most experiments fail, and it is the failed experiments that ultimately lead you toward figuring out what really does work.
And regressive rule changes in the RNC rules are no exception- they boomerang and come back to bite you.
Changing MORE Rules
Presidential candidates (like Mitt Romney) who are powerful enough to influence the appointment of delegates in the Republican Party, can get their delegates to introduce changes into the RNC rules on the eve of the convention once every 4 years. And guess what they try to introduce? Rules which favor that candidate. And so, on the eve of the 2012 Tampa Republican convention, more rules were changed.
Previous to 2012, in order to go on to the convention, a candidate had to win a plurality of votes in the primaries of 5 states; that is, to receive more votes in 5 states than any of his/her competitors did. But on the eve of the 2012 Tampa Convention, this rule (Rule 40) was changed, in order to make Mitt Romney the Presumptive Nominee and to prevent Ron Paul, who had received a plurality of votes in 5 states, from challenging Mitt Romney. The bar was raised to require a majority of votes (more than 50% instead of just the highest number) in 8 states (instead of in 5 states). This rule change made on the eve of the 2012 Convention succeeded in excluding Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney went on to become the Republican nominee.
Here Comes the Boomerang!
The 2016 Republican field is much larger and more competitive than 2012, so the majority (50%) that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul got in 2012 is much harder to get.
We have a veritable flock of great candidates coming up on stage. So much so that they cannot even fit onto one stage, and Republican debates are split into two sessions.
At the rate things are going, even the front runners do not seem capable of getting 50% of the vote, because the vote is spread over so many candidates.
What will happen?
The very rules that helped Mitt Romney are now getting in the way of many candidates.
So, there will be no “Presumptive Nominee.”
Many candidates may get to the convention, and rule changes are being planned for the eve of the July 1016 Convention.
As a result, this year, the candidate selection process may occur at the convention, and not at the primaries.
Candidates who do not have a majority of delegates are being encouraged to “go the distance” to Cleveland and not to drop out.
Delegates are being encouraged to vote their conscience, and to select a nominee who represents the Party Platform.
When delegates do not feel “bound,” the handlers and influence peddlers will lose control over the convention. The convention will be in the hands of the delegates of the Republican party.
So what worked for progressives in 2012 in getting a much more liberal candidate (Mitt Romney) ushered into the Republican Party, may work against the present most liberal candidate, Donald Trump.
Donald Trumps’s hopes of being the Presumptive Nominee may have been sabotaged by the rule change in 2012 that was designed to help liberal candidates like Mitt Romney, and presumably Donald Trump.
The boomerang has returned.
Anybody Placing Bets?
So who’s placing bets on the mad dash to change the rules again on the eve of this 2016 Cleveland Republican Convention?
Will the rules be changed?
Will there be a repetition of delegate intimidation?
Will Reince Priebus and the National Republican Committee behave and let democracy work, particularly since they were forced to recognize the delegates’ right to conscience after the lawsuit in 2012?
Some have even speculated that this convention could yield wild surprises, such as the nomination of people who had not even declared themselves as candidates for nomination, like Sarah Palin.
What we need at this point is patriotism, courage, strength of character and prayer.
This is an opportunity for Americans to take back the Republican Party, to behave in a way that is faithful to the Constitution and to the Republican Party Platform, which supports the Constitution.
We need power to be returned to the delegates as it was originally designed and intended.
And that power will not return by itself. It has to be taken by courageous men and women.
At the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland.
So What’s a Delegate to Do?
- A Delegate is to act like a patriot.
- A delegate is to help take back America, so that this Judeo-Christian democratic republic can continue to thrive and succeed and does not turn into a regressive experimental Godless socialist state which is the trajectory that Obama and the Democrat Party are following.
- A delegate is to choose candidates of upstanding moral character who are pledged to upholding the platform of the Republican Party.
- A delegate really should read the new guide being prepared for Republican Party delegates which is being spearheaded by North Dakota Republican National Committeeman Curly Haugland, intended to make all delegates aware of the duties and responsibilities they assume as they fulfill their important role in the governance of the Republican Party. The working title of the guide is “Owner’s Manual for 2016 Republican National Convention Delegates. See RNC Delegates Top Priority:Recruiting Conservatives Into Party’s Precinct Committeemen Ranks.