COLORADO SPRINGS, April 17, 2016 – Ted Cruz won Wyoming’s 14 at-large delegates at that state’s Republican convention Saturday, bringing his Wyoming total to 23 of the 26 pledged delegates. Yet the news is all about Trump.
The headline at NBC.com was “Ted Cruz Wins All 14 Wyoming Delegates at State Convention.” The graphic immediately underneath it was “Donald Trump looking to win big in New York.” Further into the story is another picture of Trump’s endorsement by the New York Post.
To say that the media is in the tank for Trump would be an understatement.
This week Trump didn’t even have to whine about how unfair a caucus system is. Even social media has gotten the hint: Cruz’ Wyoming victory was headlined “Another voterless victory for Cruz” by The Gateway Pundit. In the text, he reported that Cruz “claimed” Wyoming was a grassroots victory. No bias there.
What Trump and his associates mean by “voterless” is in reality a caucus system rather than a primary.
As RNC Chair Reince Priebus said this week, the states are free to choose delegates any way they wish. Seventeen states have some sort of caucus process.
Colorado’s caucus process included a straw poll in 2008. In 2012, there were informal straw polls not reported to the state party nor tabulated statewide. This cycle the state party did away with the straw poll entirely.
In none of the above instances were the polls binding in any way.
The irony is that the caucus system was an early 20th century Progressive reform designed to take delegate selection out of the backrooms and to the people of the party. Colorado adopted the caucus in 1912.
“The caucus system is the best way to empower individual citizens with the authority to select candidates for the Republican Party….When it is all decided in a single primary election, citizens get one shot with a very limited number of candidates on the ballot. With the caucus system, citizens have several opportunities to guide the selection process.” –Sen. Kevin Lundberg
Now Trump—who has not done well in caucus states, starting with Iowa—says that a caucus system isn’t “fair.”
A caucus system is tougher on candidates. Politically active and interested people, who pay attention to the issues, meet with neighbors and elect like-minded delegates to state nominating conventions. It’s easier to talk generalities like “Hope and Change” and “Build a wall” than it is to debate issues.
Demagogues do better at making speeches than at answering tough questions.
What about the participants? Do Trump supporters really believe that they have been “disenfranchised” because they were asked to go to a 2-hour meeting on a Tuesday night instead of filling in an oval on a piece of paper?
Those people are why we’re in the mess we’re in. The responsibilities of self-government don’t begin and end with showing up once every four years to cast a ballot in a primary election. Listening to glittery candidate forums called debates isn’t enough either.
Politicians like it though: they are free to operate in quiet, unbothered by pesky citizens.
“And I’ve got to say it ain’t rocket science. If anyone is running an effective and competent presidential campaign they ought to be able to figure out how to go and win an election.” — Ted Cruz.
But what if, as Judge Napolitano might say, The Donald really did know what was going on? What if he really understood the process?
What if he paid a political consultant in Colorado to organize his delegates—but there just weren’t enough to win?
What if, knowing he didn’t have the support in Colorado, he canceled his visit to the convention at the last minute (like he did at CPAC)?
What if Ted Cruz actually did visit the state convention in Colorado—and Wyoming?
All of these hypotheticals happened.
This might mean that Trump is cynically setting this up so he has an excuse to go third party if he loses the nomination.
As for his supporters, will they follow him or sit at home and sulk? Odds are, they won’t be seen at the next caucus two years from now.
“It [a primary] is not an election. It is not run by the government. And these private clubs can do the nominations however they see fit.” — Judge Napolitano