Conventional Fairness

I’ve brought people into this party by the millions. You understand that. They voted by the millions more. It’s one of the biggest stories in all of politics.

And what do I have? I have a guy going around trying to steal people’s delegates.

This is supposed to be America, a free America.

This is supposed to be a system of votes.

Donald Trump, March 27, 2016,    interviewed on ABC

It is a familiar argument. The candidate who has earned it in rallies and voting booths may lose the political nomination he is seeking. Backroom deals and shady maneuvers are taking a toll.

I think back to the famous political riots in Chicago in 1968, what George Will called God’s gift to conservatives. The protests against the Vietnam war focused on the candidate who was seen as supporting that war. Hubert Humphrey had not campaigned in even one primary. He had not won a single vote.

Divergence from the democratic ideal probably goes to the beginnings of representative government. The rise of Julius Caesar was due, at least in part, to popular reaction against the Roman oligarchy that called itself a republic.

In Democratic Party politics, 1972 was the offspring of 1968. Democracy would rule in the Democratic Party. Backroom deals would be diminished. Primaries would determine which candidates had delegates, and how many. George McGovern knew the rules. He and his staff worked to help make them fair. And that knowledge paid off. Senator McGovern and his growing band of true believers worked the streets and got the votes.

But the McGovern convention of 1972 was not without controversy. He had won the California primary without winning a majority. The opposition was divided among other candidates. The rules said California was winner-take-all, even if that winner did not win a majority. Other candidates said the rules were wrong. They tried to get the rules changed. The leader of the winning delegation, Willie Brown, was for McGovern.

Like Donald Trump decades later, he did not want to be cheated out of the delegates he deserved.

I deserve no less. Give me back my delegation!

Willie Brown, July 10, 1972

After George McGovern lost spectacularly to Richard Nixon that November, party officials spoke up. The McGovern process of primary victories and popular democracy had kept many loyalists out of the convention. Excluding those who had served the party for years was inherently unfair.

And the result had been horrific. George McGovern had won two places. It was a curious sort of bellwether. As Massachusetts goes, so goes the District of Columbia. He had lost everywhere else. Everywhere.

And so the path of history was paved with efforts to be fair, to win. Vietnam begat 1968. 1968 begat 1972. 1972 begat super delegates.

44 years later, we have controversy that spans party lines.

Bernie Sanders defended by, of all people, conservative Joe Scarborough:

Bernie Sanders wins 56 to 44 percent in Wyoming. The delegates rewarded – Hillary Clinton elevin, Bernie Sanders seven.

Why does the Democratic Party even have voting booths? This system is so rigged.

Joe Scarborough, April 11, 2016

Steve Griffin of Tulane University Law School discusses with New Orleans WDSU News the Republican delegate system that may watch as Donald Trump wins solidly in Louisiana and then award most of Louisiana’s delegates to Ted Cruz.

As a candidate, he’s got rights. And if for some reason, the Louisiana Republican Party hasn’t been conforming with its own rules, then he might — I stress the word might — he might have a basis for a lawsuit.

Louisiana GOP Secretary Louis S. Gurvich explains basic fairness to WDSU. Rules are rules.

Those are uncommitted delegates. Mr. Trump is as free to reach out to them as is anyone else.

Ted Cruz responds to the Trump outrage.

I’m always amused when Donald doesn’t know what to do and so threatens lawsuits.

Political pundits are not without opinions.

This is really pathetic. The guy who promised us he’d give us winning until we were tired of winning is, as I noted earlier in the week, being out hustled and out organized by Ted Cruz. The problem isn’t a broken system. The system was well known to everyone before the primary started.

streiff writing for Red State, March 27, 2016

By convention time, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. She will have the delegates, and will have won the popular vote. It is likely that Donald Trump will have won the popular vote and will be the Republican nominee.

And so the arguments about electoral fairness will fade until the next election year.

Trying to steal people’s delegates

This system is so rigged

The tenuous tie between the primary votes and the results of the two conventions carries with it a deeper, more profound, injustice than that experienced by any candidate

As a candidate he has rights

or any delegate.

I deserve no less

The neglected issue is not what is fair to political parties or to those who would seek their nominations.

The issue is, and should always have been, what is fair to voters. The greatest number of votes will influence, but will not with certainty determine, who wins.

Those who showed up at the polls may have expected, reasonably expected, that their ballots would have an effect that would be more than coincidence.


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