There’s a dangerous misconception brewing that could take the GOP primary to another level. Some want you to believe it will trigger the End Times.
This idea, being pitched by Trump-friendly public figures including Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, and even some left-leaning outfits is that a contested convention would be a subversion of the people’s will and would represent an attempt by the elite to control the outcome of the 2016 GOP primary. These messengers are poking the coals of an obviously angry Trump base and setting the stage for chaos and violence in July. The problem is, those conveying this message either do not understand the process, or they are intentionally misleading their respective audiences.
The mere occurrence of a contested convention is not evidence of an establishment ploy. It is very plainly the necessary consequence of a primary nomination process that fails to identify a candidate with a majority of delegates.
Let’s establish a few fundamental points concerning the primary process:
- Both parties seek candidates that will ensure the maximum number of voters turn out in the general election, to defeat the candidate from the opposing party.
- With this goal in mind, no prudent party would award the nomination to a candidate who has only proven the support of one third of the party.
- This does not mean a plurality is not indicative of support. It clearly is. It simply means it is not sufficient, standing alone, to earn the nomination without a final contest.
- The primary objective is to identify a candidate that is able to garner a majority of support of the party members. (1237 out of 2472 delegates).
A contested convention is not some new idea dreamed up by party overlords to defeat Trump. The convention is, by its nature, a contest. It just so happens that the primary process usually narrows down the field early enough that voters rally around a leading candidate. When that candidate achieves the majority of delegates prior to the convention, no further contest is necessary. The convention becomes more of a ceremonial roll call, a celebration and a grand send-off to the nominee.
In a marathon in which runner A drops out at 24 miles, Runner B drops out at 25 miles, and Runner C drops out at 25.8 miles, no one gets a finisher medal. The finish line is measured to be exactly the distance between Marathon and Athens in Greece (26.2 miles). The number is not arbitrary. If runners A, B and C want to establish marathon running dominance, they need to arrange a final contest.
Fact: There is currently no consensus candidate. If the remainder of the primaries do not reveal a candidate who can earn a majority of delegates, The primary process has failed.
A final contest is the only proper response. There will be plenty of time to argue over the rules, who the delegates are and how much deference will be given to the popular vote.
In the meantime, Donald Trump should not be thinking about riots. He should be thinking about reaching the finish line before the convention. There is one prize the party elders cannot take from him, and that is 1237 delegates.
If, on the off chance he does not reach the required number, then he should focus on negotiating one of those great deals he’s been telling us about at the convention. He will have immense leverage with his impressive plurality of delegates. Should be a cinch for the guy who wrote the “Art of the Deal.”
To listen to Trump and his surrogates, if he arrives at the convention with a plurality, he should simply be awarded the nomination. This is pure nonsense. It would require the entire rulebook to be rewritten and would completely fail the primary objective of the process, to amass a majority of support behind the eventual nominee.
But Trump controls the message, and his supporters are hearing: “They are going to screw you over again!”
Before anyone starts stuffing oily rags into glass bottles, do your best to get your candidate past the finish line.