Donald Trump

Yes, the GOP Can Change Its Trump-Helping "Eight-State" Rule. But It Missed a Chance to Do So Without Obviously Slapping Trump in Face.


The Republican Party had a chance to change its rules in a way that would help them stop Trump back in January, and neglected to do so. This could make any attempt to do so later more dangerous, argues longtime Party hand and rules fanatic Morton Blackwell.

As I learned when trying to report on the pre-convention shenanigans involving the GOP and Ron Paul's fans back in 2012, Party rules are often opaque to the outsider and indeed often deliberately so.

When I wrote last month about a Ron-Paul-kneecapping rule put in place in 2012 requiring a candidate to have won eight states to even have votes for them counted at the convention and how that might kneecap any anti-Trump candidate, many correspondents assured me this was a meaningless thing to think or worry about.

Why? Because the Party Rules Committee or convention assembled can just change the rules before votes happen in 2016. Quite true.

But how that happens is at least somewhat important for the Party's future, and Blackwell worries that the chance to take care of it outside a context of "we are trying to help or harm a specific candidate" have slipped away.

Blackwell explains how at a January meeting of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules, he tried to amend the rules such that all candidate votes from credentialed delegates that follow their own state rules for allocation should be officially counted, with the more stringent rules only keeping candidates from getting to make nominating speeches and floor demonstrations. (The way it used to be, to keep "favorite sons" from eating up valuable convention floor time and attention.)

He says he found a lot of support for the idea, until he claims a Reince Priebus-associated lawyer turned things around and what Blackwell calls the "Romney power grab" from 2012 still remains in place for now.

If it stays in place until the 2016 floor, as Blackwell has been complaining a lot, that could lead to a deadlocked convention since:

so many legitimate Delegates' votes couldn't be counted that no one could assemble the required 1,237 delegate votes. Or after a deadlock, a majority of the Delegates might be ready to nominate someone they couldn't vote for because that preferred candidate didn't meet the required threshold before the first ballot.

This is because in the rules as written as Blackwell interprets them, even on second ballots, no magic candidate from outside the scrum could sweep in and win in a so-called "brokered convention."

As Blackwell explains the current rule's implication:

Only candidates who meet the eight-state threshold required to receive votes that count on the first ballot can receive votes that count on subsequent ballots.

Under the current rules, therefore, it's nonsense to talk about any candidate coming from behind to win the nomination unless that candidate meets the eight-state threshold before the first ballot, much less to talk about breaking a possible convention deadlock by nominating anyone who is not right now a candidate for the nomination.

There are plenty of opportunities for the Party to still turn around on this, all of which Blackwell details. But the politics of it are more complicated after his failure to turn it around in January, he insists:

Unfortunately, the January RNC meeting in South Carolina was the last time it was likely to be possible to make changes dispassionately based on what is fair and best for our Party in the rules governing the nomination process at the coming convention. Now every proposed rule change will be evaluated by the effect it would have on the respective candidates still in the nomination contest.

So while the Party could change the rules to make it easier to stop Trump, at this point it will be dead obvious that the reason they are doing it is to stop Trump. That will likely lead to a fair amount of potential GOP voters feeling pretty disenfranchised and dare I say it, angry.

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  1. …the chance to take care of it outside a context of “we are trying to help or harm a specific candidate” have slipped away.

    Has the GOP establishment been going for subtle up until now?

    1. I honestly don’t understand why they are not joining him and trying to co-opt him. I am sorry but I don’t believe for a moment those assholes actually care about the country or are in any way concerned about Trump being as bad as they say he is. No way. If they thought they could make a buck off of a candidate being President, they would support anyone. So that is not it.

      The sensible thing to do is bow to the inevitable and hope you can co-opt him. It is not like he has any strong ideology. He is exactly the kind of guy who could be lead astray by a group of well placed advisers. A co-opted Trump sounds a lot better of an option than the party splitting in half and them being totally out of power. Yet, they won’t do it. It just astounds me.

      1. It’ll be the Stu Party and the Pid Party.

      2. I honestly don’t understand why they are not joining him and trying to co-opt him.

        That’s what baffles me. Cut a fucking deal with him, already. Geez.

        1. Because he won’t stay bought!

          Do you really think Trump would honor any deal he made with those guys?

          Before you answer, I suggest you phone up a bunch of construction companies in the New York area that were active in the 80’s and 90’s and ask them what Trump’s record of honoring agreements is after he gets what he wants.

      3. Hell, I saw the same thing in LPNY with Howard Stern. Even in a diddlyshit organiz’n like the LP, which has nothing at stake outside their own heads, it was like, oh, you can’t come in here & represent us unless you’re our type, i.e. a nerdy inward-looking mutual admir’n society.

        1. Give that Howard dropped out of the race shortly after winning the nomination, it would appear the LP membership was correct to think that he wasn’t the right candidate for them.

          1. Even for that short a campaign and his pick for lt. gov., Stan Dworkin, who should’ve gotten more respect too, it was worthwhile. It was worthwhile even for litigating the financial disclosure requirement as applied to candidates, which was Stern’s reason for quitting. But had the party treated him better, he might’ve endorsed his own substitute rather than D’Amato.

      4. I honestly don’t understand why they are not joining him and trying to co-opt him.

        Because 44% of *Republicans* think he’s a douchebag?

  2. He is going to win the nomination. There is no way to stop it, without just telling the voters “fuck you the party belongs to the politicians not you”. They might be retarded enough to do that. I wouldn’t put it past them. If they do, the Republican Party is over. I would say at least one fourth of their supporters would then refuse to vote for them at any level.

    If that happens, the Democrats take complete control of everything. The would of course proceed to massively fuck up and the country would immediately kick them out of office. But I think they would do so with another party and not the Republican party.

    1. “fuck you the party belongs to the politicians not you”

      You *are* aware of this, right?

      The GOP is over anyway.

      1. I wish them luck with that. Something has to change. If doing that requires suffering through four years of Hillary but coming out with a new and better party that leaves those assholes out in the cold at the end, I think that is a price worth paying. Putting those people back in charge just to keep the Dems out is not the answer.

        1. I think if the Repubs block Trump from the nom (assuming he wins the primaries), Hillary will crush the establishment choice, and the Repub party as we know it will be finished. Best case is a total purge of current leadership, elected and otherwise, essentially pouring new wine into an old bottle. Not to be ruled out is the rapid cannibalization of the Repub party by a new party, with the Repubs being reduced to a crank third party.

          1. I think you are right. It would have effects all the way down the ticket. Millions of voters would refuse to vote for any Republican Candidate at any level. The brand would be completely finished.

            When I read people at places like National Review arguing for screwing Trump out of the nomination I, I wonder if they have lost their fucking minds. Trump as the nominee means at most a single lost Presidential election and maybe losing the Senate. Fucking him out of the nomination means the end of the party at every level. How can they not realize that?

            1. How can they not realize that?

              They are as delusional about their own intelligence as the equivalents on the left.

              1. No, they realize that 2016 is not the last election this country will ever have.

                Telling Trump supporters to go fuck themselves would probably cost them the 2016 election, sure. But Trump’s supporters really, really need to go fuck themselves. Note that this is not the same as telling “people sick of the GOPe to go fuck themselves”. The vast majority of people sick of the establishment never supported Trump in the first place. Trump appeals to people who are sick of the establishment and, in addition, have shit for brains.

            2. Some of us remember 1964. All these scenarios for screwing Goldwater out of the nomination were in play and the establishment GOP ran from Rocky to Scranton to no avail. So they simply sat it out and let Goldwater try to run a campaign with his mostly amateurs. I think, at the end of the day, they will let Trump win and concentrate their efforts on keeping control of the Senate without lifting a finger to help Trump. Whether Trump bests Goldwater’s 39% remains to be seen.

            3. Is that a bad thing?

              1. I was responding to John.

                1. I resent elected delegates being referred to as the “politicians.” You have thousands of activists across the country who are elected to do a job. They are not elected by the voters who show up on primary day and consider their job done. They are elected at a convention by state delegates, and they represent those people who bothered to become precinct committeeman for the Republican Party. If 1% of the population bothered to be involved — and we’re literally talking 1% — then this would be academic. But the Trump supporters don’t want to follow the rules. They don’t want to do the hard work of becoming delegates. They want to show up at the polls one day and then go back to watching their hero on his latest reality show. But if he loses this particular reality show, they are going to throw an enormous tantrum over how they were “screwed” out of the election, because they didn’t bother to read the rules beforehand.

                  1. Are you saying there aren’t many Trump people among the candidates for nat’l con delegates? And that the identified Trump delegates are imputed to be Trump delegates only on the basis of party rules committing those delegates to vote on the 1st ballot for the candidate they’ve been instructed to? If that’s true, then Trump could get very few votes if it goes to a 2nd ballot!

          2. The scariest scenario is if Trump doesn’t have the votes for the nomination on the 1st ballot, but is close?say 47% Trump, 32% Cruz?& they can’t get enough delegates to put either Trump or Cruz over the top on ballot 2. If they even try to nominate someone else, the GOP instantly explodes. Fucking Cleveland explodes!

            Of course it used to be “like this” all the time, but that was at a time before voters at large were given such an ostensible stake in almost-directly nominating presidential candidates. A bait-&-switch of going thru these months of public campaigning only to reject the results won’t be tolerated.

            1. With that starting scenario, even if Cruz does win on the 2nd or a subsequent ballot, the GOP may not instantly explode, but they’ll be mortally wounded. If Trump is close to a majority, far ahead of anyone else, and does get the nomination, a lot of normal GOP voters may not vote for president, but they’ll be made up for by Trump Democrats & independents, and the GOP won’t be hurt much down-ticket. If Trump is not nominated, it’ll be hell to pay, and if neither Trump nor Cruz gets the nod, then the state Republican parties might as well leave their presidential line on the ballot blank, or list only the VP candidate as representing their electors.

    2. I think the problem with your scenario is the ‘kick the Democrats out’ afterwards bit.

      Their competition would be a Republican Party that no one trusts at all plus a dozen splinter groups. All fighting each other for the scraps left over after the current R party blows up.

      We’d more likely end up a de facto single party state with no single other party ever being able to get enough votes to have any national influence.

      Its right about then that a lot of people are going to start screaming about switching over to a parliamentary style legislature.

      1. That is a possibility and a scary one. I would, however, point out that the conservative party in Canada completely melted down a few years ago. And a new party did arise and kick the liberals out. So it is possible.

        But I don’t know what you do. A one party is state is horrible. But the alternative of just shuffling the deck with these assholes every four years is untenable. The country won’t stand for it.

        1. The answer is we all join the “Reform Democrats” and start contesting every primary.

        2. It happened before. Wasnt it the year that Quincy won that all 4 presidential candidates were from the D-R party?

          1. Election of 1824. Both Adams and Jackson had Calhoun as veep running mate.

            1. That Calhoun must have been quite a fella.

              1. He sure was! Did you never watch Amos & Andy?

        3. It wasn’t a completely new party…but then, they never really are. In practice a new party never forms from people completely new to politics and w/o the scaffolding of some single or combination of pre-existing organiz’ns.

    3. Not only that, but all the pent up resentment that Trump has tapped into isn’t going away, it will only get worse if they deny Trump the nomination. Trump isn’t Hitler he isn’t Putin, but let these hate and resentment continue to fester and that is exactly the type of person that these voters will end up electing.

      1. No it is not Bard. And I think all of the pants shitting on the right about how “unfit” Trump is, is mostly conservatives not wanting to face that fact. Saying Trump is horrible and unfit allows them to avoid the bigger and more uncomfortable issue of their movement being unable to address that resentment in any meaningful way.

        1. The thing is politically Trump is a moderate. He’s probably more to the left the Romney, the only issue they have with him are what? The way he talks, and he’s opposed to illegal immigration.

          It’s just like in Europe any politician thats critical of immigration or Islam gets labeled a Nazi, and racist, even if they agree 100% with everything else that the more mainstream politicians believe in.

          1. he’s opposed to illegal immigration.

            This week, anyway.

    4. Isn’t “let Democrats massively fuck things up and then replace them with a new, non-Republican party” obviously a better idea than “let Trump and his supporters massively fuck things up and then replace them with Democrats”? The former at least offers the hope that things will start improving in 2021. The latter postpones improvement indefinitely.

      I don’t see any reason to elect the worst Republican candidate in history just because the dumbest one-third of GOP voters are feeling butthurt.

  3. So while the Party could change the rules to make it easier to stop Trump, at this point it will be dead obvious that the reason they are doing it is to stop Trump.

    Just do what the Dems do, and cite “intentions”.

  4. This rule change will only be helpful if Trump doesn’t fly into Cleveland with a majority of the delegates.

    Talk of him not having 1237 delegates is, at this point, wishful thinking with a divided field. There are very few states with true proportional allocation of delegates left; proportional allocation would likely deny him a majority. But most of the rest of the states are winner-take-all or winner-take-most.

    Look at Illinois as an example of a winner-take-most: Trump won by ~8% and didn’t break 40%, but is walking away with 51 of the 69 delegates; Cruz, the second-place finisher, has 9 delegates. It looks like Trump won Missouri by only 0.2% but will likely walk away with a vast majority of that state’s delegates, too.

    1. And these assholes set it up that way because they wanted to shut out outsider candidates and ensure the candidate the party elite picked always won. Sometimes justice really is served.

      1. It’s amazing to think the elites believed that Marco Rubio was their man this cycle. There are so many things wrong with him as a candidate.

        1. I think Marco and Jeb split the GOPe wish list.

  5. Anyone notice the games the GOP are playing to try to stop Trump, and see similarities with the games the French establishment played to try to stop Le Pen?

    The thing is Le Pen didn’t just go away, and neither are the millions of voters that supported her.

    1. The Le Pen granddaughter, Marion Mar?chal-Le Pen, is smoking. I don’t care if she is a fascist.

        1. She is a true Gallic beauty.

      1. She doesn’t care that you don’t care.

        1. She can care about whatever she likes. She is beautiful.

      2. Then she should switch to vape.

        1. She’d be a vape Pen.

  6. Yes, the GOP Can Change Its Trump-Helping “Eight-State” Rule. But It Missed a Chance to Do So Without Obviously Slapping Trump in Face.

    As a great man once said, “Do we care? Is that something we’re caring about now?”

  7. Ya know, maybe the Republican party should let primary voters pick the nominee?

    Crazy, I know. But it might worth a go.

    1. Republican voters are vile. They are drug addicted welfare queens with persecution complexes. Letting them choose the nominee is an immoral lie. Kevin D. Williamson told me so.

      They are just doing what’s best RC. Those rubes voting need someone to act in their best interests.

    2. That would be a legitimate opinion if TEAM BE RULED actually cared about democracy.

    3. A majority are saying “not Trump”. So they kinda are.

      Proportional representation and something like runoff voting at convention would have solved this.

  8. I, for one, am looking forward to the spectacle of the GOP either swallowing Trumpcock, or telling its peasants to get fucked at a brokered convention.

  9. That is a huge slap in the ole pie hole!

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