August 18, 2022

Some reflections on the 2016 Republican National Convention

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conventionBy Tiberiu Dianu From Caribbean News Now

It was rumored that the GOP would not be in a partying mood for Cleveland, Ohio, between July 18 and 21.

1. The Kasich Non-Factor

There will be ups and downs at a GOP convention in a city where a candidate won the state, but lost his party’s nomination. Come to think of it, the very governor of the Buckeye State, John Kasich, the big loser (together with Ted Cruz) in the race for the party’s presidential nomination against Donald Trump, and a long-and-irritating-time champion of a “contested convention” — but supposedly the main organizer of this important event — said he would be, pretty much, invisible.

In his own words, he will “very unlikely” appear or speak at the convention, or, for that matter, endorse Trump (remember the pledge you signed to endorse the party nominee, Mr Governor? Or you changed your mind because it was not about you?!). Oh, but this does not, in any way, mean he would not be “involved” in the Republican Party’s most important event before the general elections in November.

After all, with some demonstrations and clashes expected to happen during the convention, Kasich, as a governor of the state, remains very much responsible for the state-level reaction of the agencies involved in security (police patrols, local troops, and the state National Guard), plus in their coordination with the federal law enforcement agencies. So, and I quote him again, “It is odd, isn’t it? […] It’s going to be strange.” Not because of Donald Trump, Mr Governor! You did it to yourself! You still have some time to reconsider your attitude.

2. The GOP Establishment “Super” Factor

This could play well or not so well on various fronts.

2.1. Party’s moral support. It is, indeed, odd (to quote again Kasich) to mention this as a factor, when all the other RNC party nominees, up to this year, would take the party’s moral support for granted, like a fait accompli. After all, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were NOT the “number one” choice for many conservative supporters (myself included), but they still supported them in the end, as party nominees.

Why would Donald Trump be offered a different treatment? Only because he is not “establishment” or a personal friend of the Bush family? Or maybe because he might actually win, putting Dole, McCain, Romney and Jeb Bush under an abyss of irrelevance?

In fact, Dole announced he would attend the Convention and support Trump. I think his example should be immediately followed by the other former contenders, in order to show to the nation that their party is united and not secretively nostalgic for a Hillary Clinton’s possible win. In all fairness, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reinhold Richard “Reince” Priebus, and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Davis Ryan, have made appeals to the party members to support Donald Trump.

In the end, the Convention will show us how down-to-earth or out-of-touch can the GOP, as a party, be.

2.2. Party’s financial support. With practically hours before the Convention, many donors and fundraisers still feel uneasy and do not know how to relate to Trump’s persona, his unorthodox way of being, and his blunt practices to solve things. It is also true that the Trump campaign did little to attract them. But if you play conventional in a totally unconventional year, you may end up losing big!

There are some major corporations that, due to oppositions from Hispanic, Muslim and women’s groups, would not sponsor the Cleveland convention, like they did in 2012 with Mitt Romney (among them, Ford, JP Morgan Chase, Motorola, UPS, Wells Fargo). No association with Trump now might translate in operating like a free-lancer after November!

Others decided not to participate, due to pressure from various activist groups (like Apple and HP). However, as sponsors, they are playing a dangerous game with their own customers! Some other companies will come, but will keep a low profile (AT&T, Facebook, Microsoft). Again, by the end of the day, if you choose to be out now, you could end up staying out later!

It will be fun to see if eventually Donald Trump ends up like Phil Silvers’ Sgt. Bilko, who recovered his lost gambled money from his winning (and initially happy) poker game partners by making them beg him on their knees to take the money back.

2.3. Party’s political support. There are two aspects here. First, the party members who are shunning the event like the Amish practice with their excommunicated members. The typical examples include Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Lindsey Graham, who did not bother to elaborate why they would not show up (for obvious reasons!), while others (like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, John McCain of Arizona, and Marco Rubio of Florida) motivated that they would campaign in their states for re-elections (good luck!).

Some others, like Tom Davis of Virginia will simply attend the Dodgers game in Washington, DC, while the bon vivant Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will indulge himself by eating shrimps on the Eastern Shore.

Second, the party delegates who still hope to be able to nominate somebody other than Trump. This is especially true for the #Never Trump movement. On the July 14 session, the Republican National Convention Rules Committee passed an 87-to-12 measure to keep delegates bound, denying the “NeverTrumpers” a proposal to unbind convention delegates and allow them to vote their conscience against Trump, even if they were bound to him by primary election results. In theory, this minority camp could still obtain a vote permitting a minority report to be debated on the convention floor, but in practical terms this would be an almost impossible mission, since it requires an improbable change in voting patterns on the RNC Rules Committee.

3. The Mike Pence (Supposedly) “Surging” Factor

Personally, I would have preferred to see as a vice-presidential pick somebody having Sarah Palin’s energetic and charismatic persona, pretty much like Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich. She was extremely refreshing during the summer 2008 presidential campaign, and had moments when she totally eclipsed the low-energy (to quote Trump) John McCain.

But maybe there were other factors weighing in for Mike Pence’s selection, or rather against Pence’s competitors. Chris Christie put Ivanka’s father-in-law in prison for white-collar crimes, while Newt Gingrich’s strong personality could have turned a powerful team into a “combustible” one.

Mike Pence suggests prima facie, both in appearance and conservatism, a second Jack Kemp. Both vice-presidential candidates have had anti-abortion and low-taxes stances, although related to immigration, Pence opposed the US jus soli (that all persons born on US soil are citizens), while Kemp advocated immigration reform from more libertarian stances.

Using Donald Trump’s rationale, Pence was selected in order to maintain party unity, and commitment to the basic Republican principles, like the qualities of traditional family, religion, fiscal restraint, and assertive foreign policy.

Judging from Pence’s personality, again prima facie, he does not appear to be the conventional candidate in order to generate a “surge” in voters’ enthusiasm (so Trump will have to continue to rely on himself at this chapter), but rather to help the presumptive presidential candidate to maintain the Republican majority in Congress and advise him on how to implement his “Make America Great Again!” agenda. And here, Pence’s 12-year experience in the US Congress can help.

In the end, it will be less important if Pence is less charismatic than the assertive “mama grizzly” Sarah Palin or the tenacious “Eddie Munster” Paul “RINO” Ryan – both of whom eventually lost the elections as vice-presidents, than if Pence is as “charismatic” as the taciturn “Darth Vader” Dick Cheney – who won the elections (in silence, “in an undisclosed location”) and ended up being a two-term vice-president.

IMAGE: tiberiu_dianu.jpg
Tiberiu Dianu is a legal scholar, book author, graduate of the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC, the University of Manchester Faculty of Law in Manchester, UK, and an exchange scholar of the Oxford University in Oxford, UK. He currently lives in Washington, DC and works for various government and private agencies.

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  1. Marcela Descultu says

    The article is very complex. It examines several aspects of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The article contains many arguments explaining that Trump is not supported by many Establishment Republicans, while those who are supported by the party are not able to win the race for the presidency . Kasich has an awkward position. He is placed in a delicate situation. All in all, the 2016 RNC is an interesting event to watch.

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