By John F. Di Leo -
While Albert Einstein’s greatest scientific achievement is the very complicated General Theory of Relativity, his most famous quotation is a very simple one. It’s his common-sense definition of Insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
We can apply that definition to the current battle for the Republican nomination for the presidency. The candidates will likely all go to Cleveland with some number of delegates shy of the required 50% mark of 1237. Perhaps Trump walks in with 1150, Cruz with 910, etc., or something along those lines.
On the first vote, nobody gets to 1237. So they have more votes, and gradually delegates become unbound over the successive ballots. Under the normal, traditional way that conventions work, unbound delegates either stay with their original candidate, or coalesce around another candidate in the running who’s both winnable and generally in line with their district’s desires, or they start looking for a dark horse to arise who is both winnable and similarly in line.
This is normal, and proper, as it’s the party itself that has the right and responsibility to select its champion for the fall campaign against the opposition party’s champion. All the candidates accept this process, and always have… except for Donald Trump, who has been screaming that it is a “corrupt process” for months now.
But what is the alternative? Try to follow the logic of Donald Trump’s argument that “the votes he won” are his forever.
Ballot after ballot, it’s 1150-to-910, again and again. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s now August 25th, and we’ve just tabulated the 2500th ballot, and it’s 1150-to-910 again. Better extend your hotel rooms another day, folks…”
Does that make sense? No, of course not. It’s patently ludicrous. Donald Trump’s idea that the delegates must all be bound forever is the very definition of insanity.
With each successive vote, more delegates (depending on their respective states) become unbound. Donald Trump hopes to pick up his opponents’ delegates as they free up, just as his opponents hope to pick up Trump delegates as they free up.
But in claiming that the system is rigged, Mr. Trump expects us to believe the nonsensical: that his opponents’ delegates should be free to support him, but that his own delegates should never be free to support his opponents!
We simply have to have an unbinding of delegates in order to ever get to a majority vote. There is no other answer, unless we want our convention to last throughout the entire next four-year presidential term of office.
The job of a convention is to pick a consensus candidate. If a majority cannot agree to willfully, happily unite around a frontrunner, then that party naturally can’t nominate that candidate in the fall. So, we look to the guy who came in second, or third, or fourth, or even to people who didn’t run in the primaries, but who everyone wished had run.
Newsflash: Just because candidates raised and spent money in the primaries does not guarantee that one of them will be the nominee. In the end, the party must choose what they believe is best for them in the long run, taking “as big a picture view” as possible… over the long-term as well as the short-term.
(The Democrats are still identified with, and blamed for, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and George McGovern, after all. A convention owns its choice for eternity.)
Consistency at Last
This issue is typical of so many of Donald Trump’s issues. In this case, he objects to a normal, established process, dreaming of an alternate world in which his opponents’ delegates are free to support him, but his delegates are not free to support others. He paints an image that can look unfair for a split-second in a sound-bite, but his argument collapses upon even the briefest analysis.
His has always been a campaign of sound bites. That’s not fatal in itself, if the sound bites hold up upon analysis, but Trump’s don’t. Amazingly, they virtually never do.
Consider his stance on trade. He shouts that free trade deals have caused us to lose our manufacturing base. We all know there are 95 million Americans out of work; this argument has a visceral appeal. It sounds logical on the face of it.
But let’s analyze it:
To whom are we losing those jobs, and with whom do we have trade deals?
Well, we have Free Trade Agreements with Canada, Mexico, Australia, Israel, Chile, and 15 other countries. But who are we losing jobs to? China and India, for the most part. And we don’t have Free Trade Agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA with them! Clearly, it can’t be the trade deals that are killing our manufacturing!
And what’s Candidate Trump’s proposed solution for losing manufacturing jobs? Raising taxes on the American consumer!
He proposes threats of massive new import duties – against the goods of specific countries, or against the American countries who move plants abroad, or against Mexicans in order to fund his wall.
Who pays these import duties, after all? Well, as we know of all taxes, new taxes only increase the price of the product to their consumers… and at the levels he’s been proposing, these increases would vastly depress the standard of living of the American middle class.
Yes, Donald Trump – presumably because he simply doesn’t understand trade or economics at all – is proposing to solve the problem of job losses by jacking up the tax burden on middle America and driving down our standard of living.
The real cause of our loss of manufacturing is well known, and has been a conservative rallying cry for decades: Our high tax and regulatory climate drives manufacturers out of the United States every day. We need to reduce the high taxes and crippling regulations that drive them out. Reduce them enough, and it will invite manufacturers back in again, and encourage new startups again!
The problem Trump discusses is real; the solution he proposes is exactly wrong.
Fortunately, Ted Cruz (and every other conservative who might be considered by the convention instead of Trump) understands, and would work for the right solutions.
Donald Trump has rightly targeted immigration, especially illegal immigration, as among our most severe policy challenges. We need to close our borders, and we need to return to sane, measured, slow immigration, at a level that enables assimilation.
But again, when we get to the details, we find that Donald Trump has supported broad amnesties in the past – he’s even a continuous serial abuser of import worker visa programs, even today!
Even now, Donald Trump supports a costly revolving door proposal wherein we would deport illegals to show that we mean business, then allow them to reapply! Trump has rightly attacked the Obama administration for mass releases of illegal immigrant criminals, but has rejected the legal reforms necessary to convict and imprison all criminals (both immigrant and citizen). And Trump is a lifelong supporter of almost all forms of gun control, the biggest single gift to the criminal element that he claims to want to thwart.
The solutions to our immigration crisis are complex, requiring the appointment of tough judges… the return to the original correct interpretation of the 14th Amendment (it was never meant to enable anchor baby citizenship or to grant citizenship to the children of people here illegally)… a return to the practice of welfare reform… a federal crackdown on sanctuary cities… empowerment of law enforcement to go after gangs… and yes, as just a part of all this, a wall on the border.
Donald Trump simply doesn’t have the policy chops to address these issues, or to appoint the right people to do so for him. Fortunately, Ted Cruz (and most other conservatives whom an open convention would consider) does.
The Republican Party
Donald Trump has spent months – arguably, in fact, the entire campaign – attacking the Republican Party. As frustrated as the Republican base has been in recent years, such attacks begin by striking a welcome chord. “He’s angry at McConnell? Great, so am I!” and “He’s angry at Boehner? Great, so am I!”
But over the course of these months, as we’ve listened more closely to him, we have begun to notice something about Donald Trump:
While we are all frustrated with the Republican national leadership, but we all love the great Republican leaders like Governors Walker, Jindal, Pence, and Perry at the state level, Donald Trump makes no such distinction between the two!
In fact, Donald Trump’s attacks aren’t against the leadership at all; they’re aimed at all of us. When Trump attacks “the Republicans,” if you’ll forgive the cliché, he’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
In a year like 2016, a sane Republican nominee should be charging into Washington, shouting “We Republicans KNOW how to fix this mess. I will bring the policies of Governor Walker, Governor Pence, Governor Jindal, and Governor Perry into the White House! You can count on me to reform the federal bureaucracy as these great Republican leaders have reformed their states!”
This isn’t just a small difference of tactics in a presidential race. It’s critical for the party because of downballot races.
The Republican Party is a mixed bag – made up of great conservatives, failed liberals, well-intentioned moderates, and a broad range of variations on these themes. As weak as the party may be in Washington today, it is stronger in the states than it’s been since before the depression.
A strong presidential nominee might even improve on this wonderful position… a weak presidential nominee might not hurt it too much… but a presidential nominee who has spent a year attacking not just the GOP establishment but the entire GOP itself will be fatal to the party from coast to coast.
A party convention isn’t just concerned with the White House, you know… it MUST be concerned with the downballot races.
Donald Trump spells death to the downballot; his nomination to be the head of the ticket could cause the loss of half the legislatures and governorships that we currently hold… or even more. It would be a bloodbath downballot, nationwide.
Fortunately, the convention will be made up of people who understand this, people who recognize the need to present a unity ticket, perhaps led by someone who has rightly attacked the Washington establishment, but one who has shown solidarity, courage and leadership with the great Republican majorities in the states.
Again, we consider Ted Cruz. Before he served as a US Senator, Ted Cruz served as Solicitor General of Texas. In that role, again and again, he assembled coalitions of state governments to take unconstitutional federal policy to court. Again and again, Ted Cruz argued these cases before the Supreme Court. And again and again, he won.
On issue after issue, we see consistency: Donald Trump may touch on an important hot-button, but in the details, he is invariably wrong; a Trump presidency would invariably make things worse.
On the contrary, Senator Ted Cruz can get into the details, and will champion the right policy direction for the country.
Ted Cruz doesn’t paint Scott Walker and Mitch McConnell with the same broad brush. Ted Cruz doesn’t turn to massive 45% tax increases in a fit of pique over imports, or replace a revolving door at the jail with a revolving door at the immigration office.
Ted Cruz understands the difference between failed Washington leadership and successful, proven state leadership in the heartland and the west.
More and more, we see people who voted in the early states for Donald Trump, regretting their votes, and praying that voters in the upcoming states will see through his con in time.
This convention is capable of doing the right thing for our country, but we must send the right delegates to Cleveland, and empower them to apply their judgment, unbound by commitments that were born of whipped-up anger rather than the thoughtful, principled reasoning for which the Grand Old Party should be known.
Copyright 2016 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based writer, international trade lecturer, and actor. A former County Chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for nineteen years. His columns are found frequently in Illinois Review.
Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.