We are a bit puzzled – and annoyed if truth to tell – with our colleagues in the media and their reporting and analysis of the election procedures.
They seem to have been dazzled by the emergence of the charismatic figure of Donald Trump. He not only gets maximum coverage, but much of it when it is on a one for one basis, is obsequious. At times he is permitted to rattle on, often without substance, for long periods without interruption. Granted that he is a popular figure, an an unusual one, and an important one, the disproportionate coverage appears to cover a lack of knowledge of the history of our electrion process – and the profitability of ratings and advertising revenue.
The analysts – many of whom obviously do not know the specifics of elections at their crucial ward level – keep talking about the resentment and hostility of a large number of voters expressed in the Trump candidacy. But we rarely get a look at any of these people or hear their complaints in person. Nor is there any technical examination of an obvious element in the Trump success, the movement of traditional nonvoters, Democrats and independents, into the Trump campaign what have until now been largely open primaries” in which one could cross over with minimum difficulty. That takes the kind of depth of understanding of the local scene, again, which many of our freewheeling analysts do not have.
There has been a tendency, too, of the mainstream media to call for a winnowing out of candidates among the Republicans to give us a more pointed contest between one or two candidates. That is not, to say the least, the role of the media. It may well be that that winnowing out won’t come until the convention. And that would neither be a disaster nor a malfunctioning of the system. The “concern” expressed over the possibility of a decision of the Republican candidate in a convention is misplaced.. Muddleheads talk without distinction of “a brokered convention:” and “a contested convention” They are not the same.
Leaving the choice of a candidate to a convention is, after all, the way we chose candidates for some 150 years until the last few decades.
If the candidates approach the convention without the necessary number of votes for a plurality, it is not stealing it from the highest bidder if delegates are then asked to vote. GOP convention rules have been changed somewhat, as they have been in the past. But the old rule of committing delegates to their promised candidate in the first round of voting, but then turning them loose to vote for whomever they want if that first round does not produce a candidate with the majority, is an old and honored procedure.
The talk of a “brokered convention” is totally bogus. The old days when there were political machines in cities and states, in which large blocks of votes were held by individual political leaders is long since gone. There is no possibility of a small group of politicians retiring to smoke-filled backrooms to choose the nominee. The new digital world of internet with its easy and cheap access to promotion has changed the whole dynamic. Then there is the Supreme Court’s decision that constitutional requirements for freedom of speech permit anonymous contributions to campaigns has changed the role of money. Nor is it likely that a well-oiled PR camp[aign which saw the balconies organized to overwhelm the floor and nominate a utilities executive, Wendell Wilkie, until then a Democrat, as in the 1940 GOP convention could take place.
There can be a contested convention for the Republicans in which no one comes forward initially with the required votes. And that, as we say, is in an old and honored tradition. In fact, we think it would not only be a useful and deliberate way of choosing the candidate, but it would be an exciting one. It would restore some of the old enthusiasm for politics that has gone astray in recent times. It might well become the kind of spectator sport that would draw young voters into the arena, in recent times so reluctant or simply bored with participation.
So back off, colleagues!
It’s a free for all in an old style, And as far as we are concerned, it is a welcomed one. Americans have every right to choose their rulers in combat. That’s what we seem to be getting. Let’s get on with it on those terms.