CAN THE GOP REDEFINE ITS MISSION?
I intended to wait for the June California primary before posting this commentary. However, with the results of the Indiana primary and the principal contender to challenge Donald Trump dropping out of the race, there’s no point in waiting. I was hoping that the California choice by voters would result in a contested convention in Cleveland and the possibility of an alternate nominee for the GOP.
It appears that this is not going to happen. If Trump is nominated on the first ballot, the leadership of the Republican Party needs to do a major re-examination of its electorate.
My favorite political commentator, David Brooks of The New York Times, proposed an interesting plan to take back control of the party’s nomination for president. He called it the Lincoln Caucus consisting of a group of delegates to the convention who are committed to vote for Trump on the first ballot. Brooks believed many of these delegates in Cleveland would be released after the first ballot if Trump fails the nomination and could be recruited to support an alternative candidate.
Since Donald Trump has his own financing and limited support from Republican leaders, he is not beholden to the GOP insiders and has virtually ignored them up to now. According to David Brooks, there was a possibility that if enough concerned delegates formed a Lincoln Caucus, Trump could be stopped. Only a miracle and the California primary can do that now.
What exactly is a Lincoln Caucus, so aptly named after one of the GOP presidential greats? Here’s how it would works.
First the delegates who comprise the Lincoln Caucus would make a pledge to work and vote together at the convention as a block. “The first thing the Lincoln Caucus would do is plant a flag for different style of Republicanism,” Brooks recommends. That’s because there are Republicans who believe in prudent globalization, reforms and conservative ideas to lift up the working class, he continues. The result would be enough united delegates to resist any effort to nominate an unacceptable presidential candidate. That puts the power back into the hands of the public and away from the back room dealing among party leaders who have their own personal political agenda.
Next the caucus must work with the rules committee to get rid of any party bylaws to inhibit delegate flexibility at the convention. That could open the door for the possibility of John Kasich or Paul Ryan being alternative candidates. The political power of a Lincoln Caucus could take control of the convention and extract concessions from many of the splinter groups within the party. It would be a messy affair, but maybe it’s necessary to redirect the goals of the Republican Party.
This proposal, although theoretical and optimistic, could put the remaining months of the presidential campaign on a better level of civility. The host of the popular TV show Jeopardy, Alex Trebek, was interviewed recently on KPBS. His critical comment about the current status of the presidential campaign concluded that the candidates stood more for prejudices than principles. How true.