April 12, 2016

"There’s nothing that special or even good about the government-run primary process."

"The delegates have been going to conventions for years and treating them like Super Bowl parties because there was nothing else to do... But this year they have the opportunity to practice a great national tradition, to exercise their legal, historical right to defeat a man who opposes most of what they believe in, and instead nominate a candidate who represents them.... I’m interested in self-governance, in having people learn what it is that they own, and then exercising that power. Our citizens have been turned into spectators—it’s what the left wants.... This is about taking back the private party system... it is a voluntary organization and it sets its own rules... [Picture the delegates] in Cleveland, grasping their legal and historical right to nominate the most powerful person in the world....The delegates may not know it, but they will not only be saving the Republican Party and the country—they’ll be reviving a tradition of self-governance."

Says Eric O’Keefe, quoted by Kimberley A. Strassel in the WSJ in "The Case for a Really Open GOP Convention/The man who defeated Wisconsin prosecutors now says party delegates have the right to choose any nominee they want, and they should use it."

You can get to that without a subscription, and it's worth clicking if only to see the nice caricature of O'Keefe. Strassel provides a lot of background on the recent history of Wisconsin politics, including the John Doe investigation:
The left-leaning permanent government in Wisconsin was furious about how things [Scott Walker, Act 10, etc.] turned out. In particular, the Democrat-infused state prosecutor’s office wanted payback. John Chisholm, the state district attorney in Milwaukee County, launched a secret grand jury-like probe known as a “John Doe” against Mr. O’Keefe, the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and 29 other conservative groups in an attempt to pin a crime on somebody, anybody, for violating campaign-finance laws.... District Attorney Chisholm picked the wrong guy to try to gag...

Mr. O’Keefe still gets teary when he recalls the worst moments of the probe, but it left him with some lessons. “One is that no one should ever underestimate how easy it is for government to slip into terrifying abuse,” he says. “If they did this in Wisconsin, there are literally hundreds of government employees around the country ready and willing to attack their citizens too.”...

Make no mistake: Mr. O’Keefe isn’t a fan of campaign-finance laws, which he regards as attempts to muzzle speech. Laws limiting political contributions “are created by the politicians, to cripple challengers, who are the equivalent of startup companies,” he says. “Imagine if IBM was the only company in the country, and you had a limit of $1,000 of venture capital to any competitor. You’d never have another business.”...


Brando said...

It would definitely make this the most interesting convention since 1976, or maybe 1968. Since then, these things have been boring affairs which networks grudgingly cover despite the dropping viewership because everyone knows who the nominees are. The supporting speeches are usually boring, and often insipid (remember Christie's gushing about how great Christie and New Jersey was?). The most memorable are the off the rails ones, like Eastwood's chair thing. The roll calls have all the anticipation of watching a melting icicle.

Back in the old days, things were really decided there--delegates traded, deadlocks, competing speeches supporting opposing candidates (rather than cherry picked for the nominee). This is shaping up to be the closest to that.

mccullough said...

Exalted bullshit. Political parties inhibit self governance. If people were into self governance the GOP and Dems would be gone within a year.

TreeJoe said...

Man, those are some nice quotes by O'Keefe.

I think money in politics is one of the most inaccurately understood concepts in the general electorate. Money doesn't buy elections, as is proven over and over. Money is used by the well-connected to buy access, and used to fund operations. It is a gateway for special interests. At the same time, campaign finance reform has for the most part helped shift spending into hard-to-track and less transparent modes of political spending. There is no less spending than there ever was, it simply becomes harder to trace and connect to individual candidates.

The irony with campaign finance reform to me is captured when very wealthy run for office and contribute unlimited amounts to fund themselves. If money buys elections, then why permit that?

bagoh20 said...

Just make it transparent. The parties have a right to choose who they want. The Primary voting is just people expressing their preference. So far Trump has the most votes for him, but also a majority against him. It seems to me that situation demands an open contested convention, and that's what the rules provide. It's far from purely democratic, but so is the nation's constitution (small c and large). There is a reason and wisdom to that, which seems American to me. We are democratic, but republican. We are designed to choose democratically but with controls to prevent the mob from driving the bus. We take our time and choose the best driver after a little reflection and negotiation, rather than letting brute force take over.

rehajm said...

So much pretzel logic.

Why should Republicans bow down, for instance, to the results of state-mandated open primaries that allow liberal and independent voters to bum-rush what is supposed to be a private poll?

Because it's possible those primaries weren't a bum-rush by Democrats but a valid gauge of the sentiment of Republicans?

(Also, he does know a number of WI Republicans used their vote to help guys like him game the system, right?)

There’s nothing that special or even good about the government-run primary process

At the very least: free advertising? How about it gets voters engaged in the process?

Trump means institutionalized bullying. Tyranny grows from ambitious people grabbing whatever levers of power are available.

Like him or not Trump's the underdog arguing from a place of weakness. Strong language used to counter a leftist media is not bullying.

Voters are angry today, he adds, because they feel disenfranchised. A contested convention invites engagement.

What? Denying votes and relegating voters to watching others choose the candidate on TV invites engagement?

bridgecross said...

"Government run primary process"? Am I missing something here? These are the parties deciding on their nominees. The party decides on the process. It may be done by party members who are also elected officials, but that's beside the point. The parties themselves are private entities entitled to set up any process they want. Don't like it; form a new party.

bagoh20 said...

There are inherent dangers in both pure democracy and our system, but our system does allow the majority to take control if that majority is large enough. This primary is running right at the boundary of that. I have no problem if Trump gets it according to rules by getting an overpowering majority or if he loses it by failing at the negotiated alternative, but the rules should not change now mid-game. There are two ways to win, and every candidate has both options to go for. May the best man win one way or the other.

Brando said...

""Government run primary process"? Am I missing something here? These are the parties deciding on their nominees. The party decides on the process. It may be done by party members who are also elected officials, but that's beside the point. The parties themselves are private entities entitled to set up any process they want. Don't like it; form a new party."

It's sort of both--primaries are run by states and governed by state laws. It is the party's decision how to allot delegates and determine the weight of each state's primary.

Michael K said...

The next president is going to inherit a poisoned chalice as the economy and the world situation collapses.

Victor Davis Hanson notes that the next president is going to get all the blowback from Obama's feckless policies.

A great power’s deterrence—acquired with difficulty over years—can be easily lost in months. And it is often only restored through danger commensurate to what was paid during its original acquisition. When Ronald Reagan inherited a wrecked foreign policy in January 1981—invasions of Afghanistan and Vietnam, communist insurrections in Latin America, Iran in chaos, American hostages in Tehran, an ascendant Soviet Union—it took him three years to reestablish U.S. credibility.

Reagan was roundly despised for his supposedly cowboy manner in reinstating deterrence.

Add to this the economic collapse that is coming.

To be sure, the economy was still shaky, but the recession that had started in December 2007 was all but over, ending in a natural fashion about five months after Obama took office. The so-called bailouts and TARP rescue measures were already in place to stop the panic of four months prior. Bush’s nearly $5 trillion profligate increase in the national debt would be doubled by Obama, despite an increase in income taxes, a fortuitous fracking bonanza, and near-constant zero interest rates. Obama shattered the old Clinton-Gingrich formula of balancing the budget by raising income tax rates and curbing spending. The bipartisan Simpson-Bowles committee recommendations to address the debt were ignored.

Obama's revenge on Hillary might be to help her inherit this mess.

The GOPe seems to be oblivious. I doubt Trump could change things much but he would probably not be Hoover.

Gusty Winds said...

So then what about Congressional Primaries? Votes don't matter. Why even have them?

Eric Cantor was removed from office by a primary challenger. Should the Party be allowed to say, thanks for participating, but no way; he stays.

Paul Ryan will face a primary challenger this fall. WTF for?

Bob Boyd said...

"to exercise their legal, historical right to defeat a man who opposes most of what they believe in, and instead nominate a candidate who represents them"

But are not they themselves also representatives?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Before the Wisconsin primary he could only whisper this, now he can say it out loud. He could also be thinking there is nothing special about government-run general elections, but he'll probably keep that to himself.

traditionalguy said...

We Bonapartistes will still give Trump our support when an election is finally held that allows the vote winner to win an office. Exile to Elba will not hold him down long.

The Russian Judge of gymnastics at the Olympics in the old days never saw an American win anything by the Rules. They also played by fixing the rules on who appoints the judges that decides wins. But The Miracle On Ice still happened. Probably because TV was watching and our goalie was a real winner.

It remains to be seen whether the RNC representing Billionaires are corrupt enough to call off all of the elections that still have Trump on the ballot. Stay tuned. They did that in Colorado. But that move could turn out to be the Pearl Harbor sneak attack mistake made by this Global Monetary Empire now in total control of the RNC.

mccullough said...

A smart national party would have open primaries in swing states GOP lost in last election and let the local and state parties in all the other states pick the delegates.

Here are potential swing states (margin of victory under 6 percent) based on 2012: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Do hybrid primaries where if someone gets over 50% of the vote, they get all delgates in that state. If not, then do it by apportionment with a 10% minimum vote needed to get any delegates. Let the candidates pick their delegates and make these the total delegates awarded in these states make up half of all delegates.

Gusty Winds said...

What a shame. Starting with Trump's trip to the border, and then the First Fox News debate, we have had a fully engaged electorate. Even crazy ass young people with their Feel the Bern socialism.

Ratings have been high giving candidates full exposure, and voting participation in this primary season has been through the roof. And when the Party bosses didn't like the results, the maneuvers to push it all aside began.

So let's cut the "Rock the Vote" bullshit. Save the paper and quit printing the juvenile "I voted" stickers. Stop with the false Facebook "Don't Forget to Vote" encouragement.

What we are learning is, is doesn't matter. There are 'powers that be'. Maybe it's the Freemasons.

Gusty Winds said...

Bob Boyd said...

But are not they themselves also representatives?

Right on the money Bob. You have to walk a long way around that point to write the linked article.

The Godfather said...

The biggest problem with this year's GOP race was the debates. They turned the process of selecting a presidential nominee into a reality show -- and BIG SURPRISE a reality show TV personality got the most votes, and current and former governors with real records of achievement were wiped out, mostly early on in the process (Kasich is still in, but he's running for VP). How about next time each candidate tries whatever approach he/she prefers to make her/his case to the voters in each State? The news media can cover that process as news, not as prime-time entertainment.

The problem on the Democratic side is different: They don't have any decent candidates.

Bob Boyd said...

a person sent or authorized to represent others, in particular an elected representative sent to a conference.

Bob Boyd said...

Guy running shell game: "You lose again"

The mark: "I think you're cheating."

Guy running shell game: "That's because you don't understand the game."

PB said...

Yes, parties are private organizations and can set their own rules. Unfortunately, the two party systems has largely been institutionalized in our country and thus should better reflect the democratic principles embedded in a republican form of government. I think popularly elected delegates along with a set of party leadership selected delegates is aligned well with this. The one area where I would suggest we better align is via the elimination of open primaries. People should formally register in advance with a party in order to vote in the primary and not just be free to request a republican or democrat ballot at primary voting time.

mikeyes said...

Wisconsin did have a place for those who want to be self-governed in the primary (there was an uncommitted check box for the GOP - basically none of the above) but I don't think very many people wanted to self govern in this election as it is too much fun watching the candidates kill each other off and they'd rather be a part of that.
Under our Constitutional system being self governing means that your legislature gets to choose how the candidates are elected. Parties have nothing to do with the system even though they have hijacked it and, since 1834, convinced states that the popular vote sort of elects Presidents (the popular vote elects Electors who then elect the President unless Congress objects due to ineligibility, etc. I'm still not sure how SCOTUS can do that) and party candidates in most states, but not all.
I doubt that most voters want to be "self governed" in our system, whatever that means.

tim maguire said...

So this charade of a 50-state primary, how much money, how much effort did how many people put into it?

amielalune said...

Mark Twain said about voting, "If it were really important, they wouldn't let us do it." We are now seeing that is absolutely true. The two parties might as well just meet and choose someone and tell us who our choices are. This "primary season" is a huge waste of time and money.

The party system needs to be abolished.

mikeyes said...

That's exactly what the parties do (choose someone and present them to the public) ever since they convinced the states to allow the parties to control the system. Because the legislatures are also controlled by the parties (in the US the laws and tradition make a third party moot although the second place party can change as it has in the past) there is no incentive to change how they work, just incentive to gerrymander and diminish the power of the other party.
The parties are small and beholding to no one. How many card carrying party members do you know? They will all be at the conventions if that is a clue.