Now that Donald Trump has won his big victory in the New York primary, the crucial conflict on the Republican side is The People versus The Delegates. (On the Democratic side, that’s not a problem. The Delegates won long ago.)
Trump has been in the middle of this debate — isn’t he always — taking the position that The People have primacy over The Delegates (or party elites). In New York at least, the people seem to agree with him. About seventy percent of the state’s Republican voters, in an exit poll, said that the candidate with the most votes in the primaries should be the party nominee. Results were only slightly lower in Wisconsin.
Trump’s position is clearly the small-d democratic one, but he can be faulted for not knowing, or at least not caring, about the delegate rules in advance (states like Colorado and Wyoming not needing a primary or even a caucus before nominating delegates, etc.) and then complaining. This does not speak well of his preparation for the presidency.
But truth and the American way is on Donald’s side in this debate, if I may be so bold. Yes, we are a republic, but it is in the best tradition of a republic that the citizens of each state get to choose their state’s favorite democratically, preferably by secret ballot. They do in the general election.
That Ted Cruz did so poorly in the New York primary, coming in a distant third to Kasich, can be ascribed to his ill-conceived remarks about “New York values,” but also to a reaction to his backroom delegate hunting approach to the nomination.
That may not be fair to Cruz, who is following the rules, such as they are. But the rules do not look good. Few of us were aware of them, because it has been so long since they were even remotely at play in the nominating process. They are now and they look in sore need of changing.
Both our political parties seem to have a tinge of Iran in their political structures, only in reverse. In the Islamic Republic, the supreme leader gets to choose the panel of candidates in advance (so only our mainstream media could take their electoral process seriously). Our Republican and Democratic Party leaders get to vet their party’s candidates ex post facto, revising the will of their rank and file if necessary to make sure the “right” person actually runs.
The ayatollah would be particularly proud of the state of Pennsylvania that will have only 17 delegates committed, 54 uncommitted, after its upcoming Republican primary. It’s a perfect example of political manipulation, Iranian-style.
Perfect, especially, if you wish to disenfranchise the people, which many, alas, do. Believe it or not, I empathize. I’m not proud of it, but I’m something of an elitist myself. Our kind is used to running things because, after all, we know best. We’ve been to the best schools and we’ve read the right books. I too despise demagogues like Will Jennings Bryan.
But is that what is really going on here? I’m not so sure. I have written before that the real ideological separation between the Republican candidates is closer to what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences.” In other words, not a lot.
The #NeverTrump crowd and the #NeverCruz crowd should take a breather. Besides doing the right thing and democratizing Republican Party rules for future generations, they should keep their eyes on the ball in this one.
The real enemies are not each other or even the the evil establishment (give Karl Rove and his white board a break). It is that other winner of Tuesday night’s primary — Hillary Rodham Clinton — now the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, health and legal issues permitting. She is the one who will extend and expand the policies of Barack Obama that are changing the essence of our country. If you want that, keep fighting with each other.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His net book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.
(Artwork created using a modified Shutterstock.com image.)