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Do the right thing

By Bradley R. Gitz

This article was published June 27, 2016 at 2:30 a.m.

The Republican Convention Rules Committee will begin its work in 12 days. Upon its 112 members falls the burden of deciding whether the GOP remains a meaningful political party.

Conventional wisdom (that again!) suggests that its task will be quite a bit more perfunctory--to codify the arrangements by which Donald Trump completes his hostile takeover of the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan.

The voters have spoken, so the argument goes, and their will must be respected (even if only 45 percent of GOP voters actually chose Trump); otherwise democracy will have been subverted. Rules are rules and they can't be changed, even when they produce The Donald.

Republicans, naturally law-abiding and tradition-respecting folks, tend to be receptive to such claims. And it's also true that there isn't much point in holding primaries if delegates aren't in some way "bound" to who wins them. But in the end there is the long view to consider, meaning what will happen to the GOP if it goes ahead and nominates Trump as planned.

America needs a party that stands for those things that the Democrats (and Trump) don't--limited government, individual liberty, and free enterprise; in other words, the "classical liberal" values of the American founders.

The GOP has not always upheld those values to the extent or as effectively as it should have, but a useful mental exercise is to speculate on what would have occurred over the past eight years under Barack Obama if the Republicans hadn't been there (think of the straight-party vote that gave us Obamacare, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, for starters).

There is bad, and then there is worse, much worse, and no small credit should go to those who prevent the much worse from happening. In politics, consistent with conservative beliefs, stopping the bad is often more urgent than enacting the good.

There are also worse things than losing an election, worse things even than Hillary Clinton as president, among them the destruction of the only viable, organized force for resisting what she, Obama and the Democrats represent (which is, more or less, creeping socialism, enforced by an ever-tightening political correctness and the jackboot tactics of the social justice warriors, our updated versions of Comrade Mao's Red Guards).

Thus, if one believes that America needs a responsible two-party system in which at least one of the two parties stands for individual liberty under the rule of law, then the most urgent task at this point should be saving the GOP, regardless of the cost when the votes are counted in November.

Above all, the worst-case scenario must be avoided: Republicans selling their souls, defined as abandoning everything their party believes in, to make a pact with the devil.

Whether Trump wins or loses, under those circumstances the GOP will have become an empty shell of a party, with no clear reason to exist and no idea of what it represents (except the craven pursuit of power). The idea of Trump unbound in the Oval Office with control over the nuclear launch codes, FBI, and IRS is terrifying, but so too is President Hillary Clinton without a Republican Party worth its name to oppose her.

During the Civil War, the greatest statesman of the 19th century, Abraham Lincoln, consented to actions that were constitutionally suspect (such as suspension of habeas corpus), allegedly by essentially arguing that the Constitution isn't a suicide pact.

During World War II, the greatest statesman of the 20th century, Winston Churchill, responded to accusations that various British tactics violated international law by noting that his country was fighting for its survival, and that survival was not subject to legal adjudication.

The delegates at Cleveland won't be fighting to abolish slavery or defeat the Third Reich, but it is still necessary to recognize that rules sometimes push in one direction, moral imperatives in the other. And lest we forget, there is nothing nearly as majestic as the law which commands Trump, merely the internal decision-making processes of a political party.

The members of the Rules Committee thus face a difficult but clear choice: they can play by the rules and possibly destroy their party, or play a fast one with the rules and save it.

The latter course is not without risks--there will be outrage, and yes, Trump will likely go third party and take along a good chunk of the 13 million who voted for him in the primaries. And Hillary's chances of winning the White House will go up accordingly.

But as National Review's Jim Geraghty accurately put it, "Say this for a ticket out of any two other Republican lawmakers: That ticket will not destroy the party."

Republican leaders should therefore encourage their Rules Committee to recommend a "vote your conscience" policy for delegates on the first ballot. Tell them to do what they believe is right, even if it provokes condemnation when they do it. As Geraghty asks, "what are delegates for if not to avert a disaster like this?"

And thereby give that huge "never Trump, never Hillary" share of the electorate something to vote for. Maybe Condoleezza Rice-Ben Sasse, or Sasse-Susana Martinez?

And also save the Republican Party from self-immolation in the process.


Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.

Editorial on 06/27/2016

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BOLTAR says... June 27, 2016 at 8:02 a.m.

Even this wingnut flamethrower acknowledges Trump, the legitimate Republican nominee, is worse for the country than "creeping socialism, enforced by an ever-tightening political correctness and the jackboot tactics of the social justice warriors, our updated versions of Comrade Mao's Red Guards," so he advocates ignoring the clear will of the Republican voters. Where is the much touted "faith in the wisdom of the American people?" It lies buried under the wreckage of financial devastation after the British equivalent of Trump supporters won an election. Americans have the benefit of a clear warning, and even some Republicans are starting to hear it.

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Torquodal says... June 27, 2016 at 9:27 a.m.

The GOP isn't solving the main problem, nor do the leaders have any good ideas to, of why so many members or new voters of the Republican party voted for Trump. And, this lib knows it's not ultimately about race and immigrant hating or political correctness even though it's palpable. It's that many see Trump as not being bought and paid for by Koch, the NRA, anti-abortion, etc. special interests. A lot of them don't care about the guns and the anti-choice agenda. They might be even pro union, pro-life, and pro minimum wage and don't care about LGBTs.
They want someone that they think might actually make their lives better and at the least, they are pretty sure he won't be bought and paid for by the special interests and Republican establishment and big donors. It's too bad they are just now beginning to realize Trump is the type to screw them over if they had ever gone to work for him as an employee or contractor or going back to school worker trying to better themselves.

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