My Prayer for Republicans

Things have not been going very well for Donald Trump ever since he became the presumptive nominee. Starting with his railings against the “Mexican” judge in the civil suit regarding his so-called Trump University, through the Star of David controversy, his berating of Republican senators who are skeptical of his nomination, and his plummeting poll numbers, it’s understandable why there is a growing movement to stop the Republican party from committing suicide at the convention next week.

Make Trump Great Again

You would think Trump would have learned a few lessons along the way on how to get along with people, but that’s not his character. He can be quite charming in person, we’re told, but there’s little evidence of that charm in his public dealings. Narcissists can get along with people if they believe that will work to their advantage, but if rebuffed, they fall back into their self-centered pattern and denigrate anyone who is perceived not to be completely on “their” team.

Giddyup Loser

During the primaries, Trump continually lashed out at the other candidates for taking money from “special interests” and loudly proclaimed he was self-funding. That claim has been pretty well debunked by now as a lot of the money he spent went into his own enterprises, to be reimbursed later.

Now he has done a complete 180, demanding that the GOP get out there and find donors for him. From accounts I’ve read, he is rather inattentive to this himself and expects others to do that job for him.

Self-Fund Me

Perhaps he can get some advice from another candidate who knows how to raise funds—someone who has been the recipient of a lot of Trump money in the past:

Last Million

GOP operatives are also beside themselves when they look at the lack of organization in the Trump camp. Everything seems to be in disarray. Here’s where that narcissism comes into play again:

Trusted Circle

Why doesn’t he at least find some of those great graduates of Trump University to help out?

Trump U Grads

One of my favorite comic strips of all time was Peanuts. Those classic strips are still run daily on the GoComics site. Lately, they have been showcasing some political campaigning strips. They seem so relevant today.

Campaign Strategy

That’s kind of where some Republicans seem to be right now. They don’t really want to vote for Trump but feel like the alternative—Hillary—is so bad they are down to the last person on earth in this election season.

We even have some Trump supporters telling those of us who cannot vote for him that we are ensuring a Hillary victory. Sarah Palin, for instance, has called people like me a traitor. Yes, she used that very word. Mike Huckabee is scolding us and demanding that we get on board with Trump. Ben Carson is a full apologist for him, even though he sometimes has to admit there’s very little “there” there.

I’m no traitor. I won’t be scolded into doing something that goes against what I believe in. I’m sincerely hoping that Republicans will do the right thing next week:

Wide-Open Convention

That is my prayer.

Should Convention Delegates Be Unbound?

The Republican party is getting anxiety attacks from the latest move to deny Donald Trump the nomination at the convention. There is an organized effort to release the delegates at the convention from the restriction that they must vote for whoever won the primary or convention in the individual states.

Is this anarchy? Is it a threat to the voice of the people?

While not an exact comparison, let me offer a history lesson today.

We are so used to referring to our nation as a democracy that we fail to grasp what the Founders actually established. They called it either a federal republic or a constitutional republic. Regardless of the precise wording, the one word they always avoided—actually abhorred—was “democracy.”

Constituitonal Convention

James Madison’s notes at the Constitutional Convention, and the comments made elsewhere throughout this Founding Era, reveal a profound antipathy to anything resembling a direct democracy. They constantly called to mind the ancient Greek city-states that were often democracies. The problem? The citizens were often deluded into following the rantings of popular speakers who would lead them astray by appealing to their emotions. Many Founders referred to democracy as “mobocracy.”

The word that describes those kinds of speakers/politicians is “demagogue.” As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a demagogue is “a political leader who tries to get support by making false claims and promises and using arguments based on emotion rather than reason.”

The Founding generation wanted cooler heads to prevail in political discourse and the decisions to be made by the federal government. That’s why they deliberately chose to divide up the representation in a number of ways.

Constitutional Republic

First, they did give the people a direct say by letting them choose their representatives in the House of Representatives. The Senate, however, was to be chosen by state legislatures, thereby giving state governments representation as well. A lot can be said about how we later changed that—for the worse—but I’ll let that slide for now.

The president, in the Constitution, is not chosen by a direct vote of the people, but by specific “electors” chosen by the state legislatures. The goal was to ensure that popular enthusiasm wouldn’t allow a poor choice. They hoped the electors, who were supposed to be the wisest of statesmen, would choose better. In fact, the first time a direct vote by the people became common was in 1828, three decades after the Constitution was ratified.

Again, that electoral college approach has been altered by states simply allowing the slate of electors for whichever political party wins the popular vote to cast the official votes. Keep in mind that in the disputed election of 2000, the Florida legislature would have been well within its constitutional rights to choose its electors rather than waiting for all those recounts to be completed. They didn’t do that purely for political reasons: they would have been accused of overturning “democracy.”

Unfortunately, that’s where we are today in our understanding of how the system is supposed to work.

One of the big arguments in the decades following the ratification of the Constitution was whether the congressmen elected by the people in the House could vote their conscience or whether they were bound to vote according to what the majority of their constituents wanted.

Andrew JacksonThe ones pushing for the latter position were primarily the Democrats who, with the advent of Andrew Jackson, began to believe that congressmen were mere ciphers who cast the official votes for whatever their constituents desired. The feeling began to grow that the people are always right.

But the overwhelming view of the Founders was just the opposite. They knew that people could be misled and congressmen had a responsibility to consider seriously every proposed bill that came before them and vote according to what they believed was best for the nation, regardless of what their constituents wanted.

If they went against the wishes of those who elected them, they then went back to the people to explain why they did so. If they could convince the voters that they did the right thing, they were reelected; if they were unsuccessful in convincing them, they resigned themselves to the results of the next election.

That’s called living by principle and following one’s conscience. That means a representative is exactly that—a representative—which differs from a public functionary who must do whatever the people demand, even if it goes against sound logic and good policy.

Why even have congressmen if they are mere functionaries robbed of their own minds? Just take a nationwide vote on everything and do whatever the people want at a given moment? Sorry, but that sounds very scary to me. Public opinion is anything but stable and principled.

So how does this relate to the upcoming Republican convention?

Republican voters in the states made their decision on who they thought the nominee should be. They send delegates to the convention to make it official. What are those delegates? Are they thinking people who should have an opportunity to evaluate the voters’ decision or are they mere ciphers who are forced to vote a certain way even if they believe it would be to the detriment of their party and the nation?

I’ve read quite a bit about whether these delegates are truly free to vote as they wish. I think the evidence comes down in favor of that overall. Yes, some states have told them they have to vote according to the results of the primary. One Virginia delegate has now challenged that in court.

In other states, the Republican party itself has dictated they have to vote according to the results on the first ballot, at least, or in some cases, beyond that. But party rules can be changed at the convention.

A hypothetical: suppose the presumed nominee, prior to this convention, should do something particularly outrageous, along the order, let’s say, of advocating a lifetime tenure for the president, or giving the president the authority to dismiss federal judges whenever he disagrees with a court decision. If such a presumed nominee were to do something like that, do you think it would be wise to force the delegates to vote for that person regardless? Or would the party then rethink its rules?

Donald TrumpThe nomination of Donald Trump has divided the Republican party in a way no previous nomination ever has. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates 52% of Republicans are not satisfied with Trump as the nominee. That is unprecedented in the lead-in to the national convention.

Trump won only 44% of the vote in the primaries, and that figure is only as high as it is because he added to the percentage once his remaining opponents dropped out and the voters were resigned to having no other choice. Other polls indicate that up to 70% of the general electorate can’t stand this man.

Trump’s antics—whether one focuses on his character, his lack of policy knowledge, or his highly disorganized campaign—have not changed since his pledge to become more presidential in his bearing and manner.

Most political prognosticators (I know, they can be massively wrong at times) see an electoral disaster looming for Republicans.

Why, then, is the party establishment circling the wagons around Trump? They argue, with some discernment, that a circus at the convention would doom the party for sure in November. It might.

I would argue that going forward with Trump is the surest path to a Hillary Clinton presidency. Anyone else nominated would stand a better chance of beating her than Donald Trump.

So if the delegates were unbound, yes, there would be some instability introduced into this election even if Trump were to win the nomination anyway. And he would be an even more damaged candidate afterward.

If Trump were to lose the nomination at the convention, who would be nominated in his place? I don’t know. Perhaps that would be an even bigger tumult and the eventual nominee would be trounced in the general election.

However, it is also conceivable that someone might get the nomination who could unite the party in a way that Trump never can. If that should occur, and this nominee is a good communicator of Republican principles, there is a chance that the most despised Democrat nominee in history could be kept out of the White House.

I’m often accused of helping Hillary Clinton become president by not supporting Trump. I firmly believe, however, that those who are in Trump’s corner are the ones who are assuring a Clinton victory. He is electoral poison. Trump as the Republican nominee will put Clinton in the presidency.

So I do understand the anxiety over a contested convention, and I know there could be disastrous results, but I think we already have a disastrous result in a Trump nomination.

Free the delegates to be true representatives, not mere ciphers.

The Presidential Contest: An Update

Do you know how tiring it is to write about Donald Trump all the time? I mean, how often can one repeat the same things with respect to his character, policies, and complete unfitness for the office of president?

So, in case you were wondering if I can think about anyone else on the political scene, here’s a reminder that I can be an equal-opportunity critic.

Take John Kasich, for instance. He used to be a solid conservative, or at least I thought he was. During this campaign, he has come out as a candidate who seems to have no problem with same-sex marriage or forcing Christian businesses to participate in them. He also thinks North Carolina went too far in ensuring that men don’t go into women’s restrooms. All while using the name of Jesus as the reason for his views.

John Kasich is a no-go for me. Of course, he’s a no-go in this election cycle anyway; he just doesn’t realize it yet.

Best Chance

On the Democrat side—a side that can never earn my vote at any time due to its blatant anti-Christian policies—we have Bernie Sanders challenging Hillary Clinton, winning state after state while she continues to pull away because of so-called “super delegates” who have lined up for her.

Not that I want Sanders to get any traction, mind you. The fact that an outspoken socialist who sounds more like Karl Marx than anyone else can get such an adoring following is a chilling portent for our future as a nation.

Rare Portrait

Hillary, of course, is no better; she’s just a disguised socialist who tries to appear to be something else. It’s actually kind of funny, in one sense, to see Sanders and Clinton criticize each other when they are virtually identical in ideology. At least Sanders is honest about his beliefs and past actions; Hillary has to do her best to hide both:

Misrepresenting

From the start of this campaign, she has felt as if it is “her turn,” and that no one else should even be considered for the nomination:

More Inevitable

We’ve also been told by the highest authority in the land that she will be a great president:

Clinton Jeopardy

Well, that should seal the deal.

And then there’s that small matter of a possible indictment for criminal activities . . . but we’re not supposed to think about that.

Speaking of a sense of entitlement, I must return briefly to Donald Trump, who has become an expert at whining. Everyone is just so unfair to him. Why, all those delegates going over to Cruz in places like North Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming is theft, total corruption. Never mind that Cruz played by the rules to win those delegates; Trump doesn’t like rules.

Art of Delegate

Yes, Trump will have what the media will call a “good week” or two with primaries in the east, but Cruz’s victories in the west (more are probably coming) and his ability to line up delegates to vote for him on a second ballot at the convention may keep Trump from the nomination after all.

Never in presidential campaign history have I seen two presumed frontrunners in worse shape.

The Front-Runners

Getting back to the prospect of a contested convention on the Republican side, I have no qualms about that. I have a sense of history, and I know what contested conventions can produce:

Contested Convention

In fact, a contested convention this year is the only hope for keeping the Republican party on track because it’s the only path right now that can deny Trump the nomination. And denying him the nomination is paramount for the health of the party and the nation.

Republican Primaries Going Forward

Ted Cruz WisconsinTed Cruz’s victory in Wisconsin last night was by 13% over Donald Trump, a gap no poll predicted would be so wide. Cruz has a tendency to outperform the polls, and it showed again in this primary. John Kasich was an also-ran—again.

Cruz won 36 of the state’s 42 delegates. This was a state that many had called “perfect” for Trump. That was a premature call.

Over the past couple of weeks, Cruz has won Utah with 69% of the vote, North Dakota by getting 18 of the 25 delegates there (Trump has only one outspoken supporter among those delegates), and as Colorado began its drawn-out process of choosing delegates, Cruz picked up the first 6; more will be chosen later this week, and he is expected to dominate the rest of the selections.

Normally, when someone wins, the loser comes out with a statement of congratulations, while pledging to win the next time. Not so Trump and his campaign. What issued from the Trump camp had to be the most graceless, whiniest response yet. I won’t bother you with the entire statement; you can find it online easily. But here are some highlights:

  • Trump continued his theme by referring to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted”
  • He said the result was based on false advertising
  • Cruz, the statement asserted, was “attempting to steal the nomination”
  • Cruz was being “used” by the party bosses
  • And, to top everything, the statement said Cruz “was coordinating with his own Super PAC’s (which is illegal)”

What was the proof offered for that last accusation? Nothing. Nothing at all. Just believe us. It had to be the reason why we lost.

Donald TrumpYou see, in Trump World, there is no such thing as an honest win for the other guy. Trump, you understand, is a winner, never a loser. So if it appears that he lost, it had to be due to some kind of chicanery and fraud.

That’s the Trump theme, and he will be sticking to it, regardless.

What should we expect in the coming primaries?

Already, everyone is saying New York, which is next, will be Trump’s crowning achievement, as if winning one’s home state is not to be expected. Here’s what to watch for in New York. Will the huge lead Trump currently enjoys in the polls there start to come down as Republicans ponder what has taken place in Wisconsin and in those other states I mentioned where Cruz is ascending?

New York also is not a solid winner-take-all state if Trump can be pulled down below 50% of the vote. Watch the polls carefully over the next two weeks; Trump’s numbers may begin to slide; Cruz’s may start rising. And if Cruz once again outperforms those polls, Trump may win, but not with nearly as many delegates as he thinks.

Pennsylvania, we’re told, is not good for Cruz. Pay attention. Pennsylvania’s primary is different than most. None of the delegates going to the convention from that state are bound by the election results. What, you say? Is this another “dirty trick” to deny Trump the nomination? Hardly. This is the way Pennsylvania always has done it, long before anyone ever heard of Donald Trump. The Cruz people are very organized, unlike the Trump campaign’s fly-by-night approach. You can be sure they are currently helping line up a slate of delegates more amenable to a Cruz nomination.

It’s too hard to predict beyond that, simply because what transpires from now until those elections will make a difference. Will Trump continue his headlong plunge into baseless accusations and bizarre behavior? What outrageous statement will he make next that will turn off voters?

States like Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana are all Cruz territory. This is not over.

What do I predict? No one will get the 1237 delegates necessary for nomination prior to the convention. The decision will be made there, and the Cruz team is at the top of its game right now—not playing tricks, but doing what all good campaigns do, preparing for that convention vote. If Trump doesn’t get the magic number after the first ballot, he’s never going to get it.

At this point, I think the possibility of a Cruz nomination is greater than a Trump nomination. And no, Mr. Trump, it won’t be because the nomination was stolen from you; it will have been won by the rules, fair and square.

Please note that I’m not saying Cruz will win, but I’m far more optimistic than I was before. We’ll just have to see how this rolls out over the next two months.