On Political Courage

Here’s a thought. What if, at the Republican convention next week, the powers-that-be allowed a secret ballot to choose the nominee? What if the delegates truly had the freedom to vote according to what they believed best for the party and the country instead of being pressured by their political leaders to fall in line with Donald Trump?

Would that secret ballot vote be different than the public one? If so, what would that say about those delegates? What would it say about their adherence to principle? What would it say about their personal character? Where are the spines? Where is courage when it is needed?

History affords us examples of courage in voting. One comes readily to mind for me. President Andrew Johnson was brought to the Senate for an impeachment trial in 1868. The Republican party at that time, which controlled the Senate, sought to remove him from office over disagreements in policy.

Edmund RossIt would take a two-thirds vote for that removal. Everyone knew the vote would be close, and one Republican senator, Edmund Ross of Kansas, would not commit to voting for removal. No one knew exactly what he might do.

Two days before the first vote, Ross had received a telegram from his home state that read, “Kansas has heard the evidence, and demands the conviction of the President.” It was signed by “D. R. Anthony, and 1,000 others.” Ross responded,

I do not recognize your right to demand that I shall vote either for or against conviction. I have taken an oath to do impartial justice . . . and I trust I shall have the courage and honesty to vote according to the dictates of my judgment and for the highest good of my country.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Anthony and his “1,000 others” retaliated. “Your telegram received. . . . Kansas repudiates you as she does all perjurers and skunks.”

The roll call began. Ross had been warned by fellow Radical Republicans that a “no” vote would end his political career. When his name was called, Ross stood and quietly cast his vote—for acquittal. His vote effectively ended the impeachment proceedings.

Some newspaper editorialists decided that Ross could best be compared to Benedict Arnold, Jefferson Davis, or Judas Iscariot. As predicted, his political career did end swiftly; he lost his reelection bid.

In a letter to his wife one week after his momentous vote, Ross declared,

This storm of passion will soon pass away, and the people, the whole people, will thank and bless me for having saved the country by my single vote from the greatest peril through which it has ever passed, though none but God can ever know the struggle it has cost me.

Where are the Edmund Rosses in the current Republican party? Where is the courage needed to stop the most foolish nomination in the party’s history?

Donald & Hobbes 1

Donald & Hobbes 2

We need to be looking out for the nation instead. It’s time for real principle to come to the forefront.

Trump’s New Math

Donald Trump apparently has been scoring in the polls by constantly claiming the rules for winning have been rigged. Some have pointed out that it is true: Trump has won 37% of the vote but has more than 40% of the delegates.

That’s probably not what he means. But it’s the truth.

He’s also come up with a new type of math. He declares that even if he doesn’t get to 1,237 delegates, he should be given the nomination anyway because he is ahead. Although the rules—you know, that unfair, rigged system—say a candidate must have a majority, not merely a plurality, of the delegates.

Special Ed

You know what else is unfair? You have to win by two points in tennis.

Win By Two

I remember, from my youth, one tennis pro who always complained, whined, and threw tantrums. His name was John McEnroe. I’m getting those same vibes as I watch Trump play the political game today:

Trumpenroe

Some people are all uptight over a contested convention. They seem not to realize that contested conventions used to be the norm. And they produced some good nominees.

10 Contested

The only thing that makes a contested convention this year a potential problem is that if Trump loses, he and his followers may create havoc, thereby making it a very difficult path for the one who eventually gets the nomination.

When Ted Cruz calls Trump’s outbursts Trumpertantrums, he is speaking more truth than has emanated from the Trump camp this entire campaign season. Frankly, Trump is an embarrassment, morally and politically.

Please don’t fall for this walking unreality show. Take this election seriously.

Trump’s Difficult Path Unchanged by NY

Donald Trump and his media allies (Fox, because they are blinded by the Trump persona, and the others, because they know he will lose in a landslide to Hillary) are attempting to turn his New York primary win into some kind of final judgment on the Republican nomination.

NY Loves Me

If you, like me, believe in a Ted Cruz nomination, let me offer some down-to-earth reassurance: New York didn’t change the difficult path Trump faces toward getting 1,237 delegates.

First of all, everyone—Cruz included—knew Trump was going to walk away from the New York primary with a big win. That was no surprise. There’s a reason why politics in the state of New York includes a conservative party that can’t stand the Republicans: New York Republicans, by and large, are some of the squishiest in the nation. Cruz’s oft-despised comment about New York values is actually pretty accurate.

NY Values

More New Yorkers voted in the Democrat primary than they did in the Republican, and Cruz tellingly noted that he got more votes in his home state of Texas than Trump did in his home state of New York. In the general election, New York is a lost cause for Republicans no matter whom they nominate.

Next week will be another boasting time for Trump and his media, as he will take the majority of delegates in other East Coast primaries, but after that, his momentum will come to a screeching halt. The Pennsylvania primary, even if Trump wins overall, may not yield the majority of delegates because 54 of that state’s 71 are unbound and can vote for whomever they wish at the convention. Cruz’s team says they have locked up the majority of those.

What we witnessed in Wisconsin and Colorado will come back into play as the Cruz ground game pulls out all the stops. Trump’s ground game is virtually non-existent, and where it does have a semblance of some organization, it has proven woefully and embarrassingly incompetent.

Not In Colorado

May 3 is the Indiana primary. Cruz already has been lining up sympathetic delegates for a second ballot at the convention (as he has been doing in all the upcoming states). The Cruz campaign is bringing in all the people and strategy it used in Wisconsin, and although there are some differences between those two states, there is more in common with Indiana than there are differences. If Indiana governor Mike Pence—who truly can’t stand Trump—comes on board with a Cruz endorsement, everything shifts in Cruz’s direction there.

Then there are many states after that where Cruz is expected to win outright: Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and possibly even New Mexico.

One statistician has predicted that even if Trump should get up to 120 delegates of the 172 available in California, he will still fall short of that magic 1,237.

No Republican convention, on a second ballot where delegates are free to choose whomever they wish, is going to nominate Donald Trump.

Of course, that is why he complains so much now, as he looks forward.

Game Rigged

He says the game is rigged, but in reality, he’s not even playing the same game. He depends completely on personality and large rallies, ignoring the “real reality” of how a nomination is won.

Trump and his people have issued threats of all kinds that if the party doesn’t treat him nicely, there will be consequences:

Elephant Gets It

All of that is perfectly in line with the thuggish Trump persona and the type of “best people” he has hired to orchestrate his campaign.

This man as the Republican presidential nominee would be a total disaster. Thankfully, he’s not the lock on the nomination that the media narrative would have you believe.