A lot of nasty things have been dumped into the body politic about the current delegate fight taking place for the Republican nomination. The talking heads, Trump surrogates, and the nominee himself have been denouncing the nomination process because of the candidate’s shortcomings in that process. The central argument centers around a slanderous assertion that the state-run process is in their words” fundamentally corrupt”. They’re acting as if they want to enact pure democracy. This, of course, runs contrary to the framers guiding principle of states running and setting up their elections. Even after a major win in New York by 60% the Trump candidacy is vigorously rejected by a majority of the voting public.
The major theme of their delegate argument is a rejection of federalism concocted after numerous delegate beatdowns with another beat down in Wyoming last Saturday. The most notable Trump surrogate, Ben Carson, came out swinging equating the delegate rules to Jim Crow saying:
“MITCHELL: The Republican party, as is the Democratic party, is a private organization and so what their rules are, are set by them. Sean Spicer, the communications director for the RNC, wrote in his message, “The rules surrounding the delegate selection have been clearly laid out in every state and territory and while each state is different, each process is easy to understand for those willing to learn it.” Donald Trump as a P.S. is unspoken.
CARSON: Yeah, well, you know during the Jim Crow era those were the rules, too. They were written and everybody knew about them. Didn’t make them right. But I’m not saying this is the same. But, you know, I think you get the point. Just because rules are there, just because they’re written by somebody, doesn’t mean they are right, doesn’t mean you can’t review the system.”
If that wasn’t enough, Donald Trump came out slamming the process in a recent WSJ story saying:
“What we are seeing now is not a proper use of the rules, but a flagrant abuse of the rules. Delegates are supposed to reflect the decisions of voters, but the system is being rigged by party operatives with “double-agent” delegates who reject the decision of voters.”
When the framers meet in Philadelphia, their intent was the decentralization of government. They knew that the best government is the one that governs least. The one that governs closest to the people was likely to be the least corruptible. In Federalist 10, James Madison wrote about the perils of majoritarianism saying.
“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.”
The framers rejected direct democracy for the republican form of government we currently have. These things were put in to prevent mobocracy. The framers also created the electoral college for much of the same reason. In Federalist 10 James Madison wrote:
“The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.
Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,–is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it.”
The delegate / electoral college methods were designed in part to help smaller states have a voice in the election process. This also helped mitigate the power of large population centers from dominating national political elections. The talking points of the Trump message bare a stark resemblance to the NPV (National Popular Vote) advocated for by the left. Hans A von Spakovsky, (Senior Legal Fellow) at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, a conservative think tank wrote about NPV saying:
“The latest scheme, the National Popular Vote (NPV) plan, is bad public policy. The NPV plan would:
- Diminish the influence of smaller states and rural areas of the country;
- Lead to more recounts and contentious conflicts about the results of presidential elections; and
- Encourage voter fraud.
The NPV plan also strikes at the Founders’ view of federalism and a representative republic—one in which popular sovereignty is balanced by structural protections for state governments and minority interests.”
The delegate argument also undercuts Trump’s own delegate total because he’s received more delegates than the share he’s received in votes himself. So by this very fact, Trump ought to give those voters a voice by giving back his share of delegates. He’s benefitted from this so called corrupt process more than anyone else. Trump has gotten 46% of the delegates when he’s only received 37% of the actual vote. In New York, Trump will receive the lion’s share of delegates, probably well over the 60% of votes he accrued on Tuesday. Nate Silver editor at the fivethirtyeight.com blog wrote on the matter saying:
“Unless something radically changes, Trump will finish the primary season with the lowest percentage of the primary vote and the lowest share of delegates of any Republican presidential primary vote leader since caucuses and primaries became the main method for selecting nominees.”
We’re a constitutional republic. If you disagree with the voting process in your state, you need to make the case in your state. The Trump philosophy is a centralized so-called “fair” process that would stamp out another aspect of our republican form of government. The constitution always takes a back seat to progressives.
When you have majoritarianism, this breeds factionalism that inherently produces more nationalism. Balkanization would be the rule of the day. This backward notion was rejected by the framers because they understood this would rip a country this size to shreds. We have a vast country, and the natural trajectory of large countries is toward big central governments.
The Trump argument for this is two-fold: they reject what they call the “Jim Crow” delegate process for a pure vote, yet, in the same vain they support “winner take all” when they win even if they win only 45% of the ballot like in Florida. They also won North Carolina’s winner take all with only 40% of the vote. With such a multifaceted view it’s easy to get confused. Because of our republican form of government parties at the state level can choose any method of nomination whether it be open, closed primary, caucuses, mixed systems, proportional systems, and winner take all. I find it hard to believe in this tapestry of decentralization that there would be big party elites running the show in every state party. This assertion is improbable to anyone with half a brain.
The question we must ask ourselves as conservatives are we still the party that believes in federalism? Do we even understand that this is more than a platitude? These beliefs lend themselves to certain bedrock principles. The real corruption may be in the coercion between Trump and the only mainstream conservative media outlet. I for one reject this populist, progressive, nationalist movement.