The convention could be a runaway train...
Open Convention? Don't Fight It, Embrace It
For months the fools have talked about a "brokered convention" in Cleveland.
These words suggest, of course, those odious smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear. That's when the corrupt party bosses met. They cut deals that compromised the public trust. All this was in search of power and conjures up contemporary images. Once the resulting party nominee was a mere puppet of the railroad barons or Standard Oil, or the tobacco interests. Today it would be the Wall Street bankers, the insurance companies, Big Oil or, as Bernie Sanders would say, the upper one percent, of the upper one percent.
Not too many people smoke anymore at political conventions, even Republican conventions. Phillip Morris is a relic of the past. And there are no power brokers who can deliver delegates or tell them how to vote. And in the age of cellphones and satellite television, the Internet and web reporting, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, and so much more, there are no secrets.
A century ago, news traveled slowly. There was a time, long ago, when it took the nation awhile to learn who the party nominee was. The internal machinations of the convention never were revealed.
Today everything will be out in the open.
It has been a long time since there was a contested convention. If there is one this time, make the best of it.
On the Republican side, the closest thing to suspense was four decades ago, with Ronald Reagan challenging President Gerald Ford. In contrast, in the decades since, the Establishment has repeatedly modified the process, to encourage the selection of a presumptive nominee before the convention. The idea was to give that person more time to unify the party and prepare for a general convention.
If that won't happen this time, so be it.
With metaphysical certainty in mind, the Republican National Committee adopted convention rules four years ago for the 2012 convention. The RNC claimed these rules were temporary, but The Establishment hoped these rules and the primary calendar would insure a nominee acceptable to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the crony capitalists who comprise the older, white and largely secular Country Club Republicans. These were Donald Trump's friends and business partners, until he divorced, for the third time, not from his current wife, but from them, and became an improbable insurgent.
Much to their dismay, Jeb Bush crashed, and so did Chris Christie, and others. Without reviewing the entire list of seventeen candidates, know this: Donald Trump was the Party Establishment's wildest nightmare. But Ted Cruz is not exactly their dream candidate. And while they might hope for John Kasich, the convention could be a runaway train, and no one knows where it would stop... Trump, Cruz, Kasich, who knows?
And then, who would be vice president? Let's throw the dice. If the nominee is still up for grabs going into Cleveland, that makes the choice of vice president truly dramatic. But "The Art of the Deal," whether it's Trump's deal or someone else, is likely to be a public spectacle, not a backroom maneuver.
Disregard the convention rules that prevailed last time. Even the people who wrote them are unsure, even if they were unchanged, what their impact might be in July. Some provisions are incomplete or ambiguous. It will be a whole new ball game in Cleveland.
The idea for an Establishment candidate was a series of primaries with proportional primary votes to weed out the candidates unacceptable to the party elite, followed by a series of winner take all primaries that would produce, say, a Jeb Bush or someone else predictable. For too long, the Republican Party has been the party of Wall Street, not Main Street, and that dichotomy is what made Trump's ascent so rapid.
Now, unless Trump wins on the first ballot, the convention will be contested or, from a marketing standpoint, I would say an "open convention." And unless Trump comes very close on the first ballot, he could be denied the nomination on the second ballot. If so, it becomes likely that he will not be the party nominee.
No one at this point can predict the outcome. But if it will be an open convention, let the Republican Party make the most of it, and use those words. Instead of talking about how awful a Trump nomination would be, or talking about a conspiracy to "steal" the nomination from Donald Trump, the various partisans and pundits should be celebrating the transparency of an open convention. Such an enterprise truly would be the apex of democracy, a genuine representation of the will of the people. This could be in sharp contrast to the likely coronation of Hillary Clinton, engineered in part by Super Delegates who really do, as Bernie Sanders says, represent the special interests and Wall Street.
Let's hope the delegates will not be the usual Republicans from Central Casting. It would be wonderful to go beyond the token constituencies, because this is not your father's Republican party. Perhaps an open convention would avoid the endless disputes over arcane provisions in the party platform, differences that are exploited endlessly by hostile media to hurt the party's chances in November.
In recent times the party platform has not drawn voters to the Republican Party. Rather, sentences and paragraphs have been used to drive a wedge against the nominee, to siphon off some disaffected Republicans, compromise changes among independent voters, and erode the hope of defections among disenchanted Democrats. What good is the platform, anyway, if the nominee - once elected - will not honor it?
Past Republican conventions have been dull. If Reince Priebus and Company want to win in 2016, they would crave the excitement. Let's hope the convention goes a few days longer. Use the drama and suspense to stir interest, around the world.
Let's look for ratings that will make the record books. The idiots in charge are worried about getting fat cats and large corporations to pay for convention parties and fun and games. They should plan for a Grand Show in Cleveland and sell advertising.
Let's make this Reality Show the Olympic Games of politics.