Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Suppose a Brokered Convention Can Happen Even If It Doesn't Make Sense

I previously argued that the Republican Party would grudgingly accede to a Trump candidacy and not hold a brokered convention.  The basic reason behind my argument was that a brokered convention was completely irrational.  No matter what the Republican Party wanted to achieve -- whether winning the Presidency, winning as many down-ballot offices as possible, damage control, or living to fight another day -- transforming itself into a circular firing squad would harm, rather than enhance, its chances.  Even a willingness for the party to harm itself in the interest of ideological purity or personal grudge seemed like a poor way to advance its goals.  Only a willingness to destroy itself for the good of the nation made sense, but that showed a degree of statesmanship that seemed most unlikely.

Well, speculation on how to find an establishment nominee who is neither Trump nor Cruz, or even to nominate Cruz despite his having fewer delegates than Trump, continues.  I still think the Republican Establishment will end up coming to its senses (though rather late in the game) and supporting Trump or at least Cruz.  At the same time, I have to admit that, irrational as a brokered convention is, previous convention deadlocks have been irrational, too.  The party knew, or should have known, that its behavior was self-destructive and could only lead to defeat, but it just couldn't resist the urge to clean house.

I still think that earlier convention deadlocks were different, not merely in degree, but in kind from a brokered convention today.  Appalling though the slow-motion train wreck could be, at least back in the day of contested conventions it was the accepted, indeed, expected, practice for the convention to choose the nominee.  If the power brokers chose a dark horse who was not particularly popular won, his nomination was nonetheless accepted as legitimate and the party faithful voters were expected to rally behind him.  These days it is the well-established practice that the nominee is chosen by voters and the power brokers are expected to recognize the people's choice as legitimate and rally behind him.  For the power brokers to defy the people's will and choose someone else is quite simply seen as illegitimate and far worse than even the worst convention deadlock back when conventions were expected to do the actual nomination.

But if the Republican Establishment refused to come to its senses and insists on denying the nomination to the people's choice, I can think of at least two possible reasons for their action that I overlooked last time.

The Republican donor class sees the Republican Party as its personal fief and is ready to destroy it rather than lose control.  That one is just a little to plausible for comfort, actually.

The Republican donor class still doesn't recognize how destructive such a course of action would be.  That sounds hard to believe, given that basically everyone else has been shouting such a warning at the tops of their lungs.  But then again, I have commented before on how breathtakingly dense elites can be and how skilled at confusing their own power and privilege with the common good.  So maybe the Republican donor class really is so stupid as not to realize that trying to impose their own candidate against the wishes of the voters amounts to political suicide.

If so, I really do need to start a new blogging category -- Why Are Our Elites So Stupid?

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