Strange Bedfellows: How Trump and #NeverTrump Defeated Long Overdue Reform Of The RNC

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Written by the staff of Conservative HQ.

The most misunderstood and misreported story of the 2016 Republican National Convention is undoubtedly the Monday floor fight over whether or not there would be a roll call vote on the new Rules for the Republican National Committee.

Most of the media, and many if not most Trump delegates, seem convinced that the fight was all about “unbinding” delegates bound to vote for Trump by virtue of his primary vote.

The reality is that the impetus behind the efforts of Virginia’s National Committeeman Morton Blackwell and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli had nothing to do with the #NeverTrump effort to “unbind” delegates bound to Donald Trump – it was all about reforms to the Rules to return control of the RNC back to the state party organizations and grassroots Republican precinct officials that Blackwell has been working on for years.

And perhaps most importantly it was about rolling back anti-grassroots amendments to the Rules that incumbent RNC Chairman Reince Priebus championed that would all but institutionalize him and his cronies as the unaccountable masters of the national infrastructure of the GOP.

Among the Rules changes voted in without a roll call was one that allows the Chairman of the RNC to appoint members to committees and keep their names and contact information secret.

Much needed financial accountability was also defeated as were proposals to incentivize state GOP organizations to build the Party by granting, in the future, bonus delegate allocations to states with closed primaries.

None of these proposals had anything to do with unbinding Trump delegates.

Blackwell also championed proposals to rollback undemocratic Rules put in place by the Romney organization at the 2012 convention, Rules that allow presidential campaigns to, in essence, “fire” duly elected delegates they don’t like and replace them with individuals of their own choosing; allow changes to the Republican Party Rules between Conventions, without a vote of delegates elected by the grassroots of the Party; and undo the rules regarding the primary calendar that were designed to stop the trend toward front-loading the primary season and preserve the opportunity for Republicans across the country to have a say in who their presidential candidate would be.

None of those sensible proposals had anything to do with “unbinding” Trump delegates to the 2016 Republican National Committee – indeed it arguable that those Rules were major impediments to the on the ground state-by-state success of the grassroots populist rebellion that power the Trump campaign.

And they are matters that Blackwell had been working on for four years – during and after the 2012 Republican National Convention.

These proposals were intended to forestall a repeat of 2012 where the RNC and some state GOP Committees unilaterally changed or disregarded the Rules to award Mitt Romney disproportionate shares of their delegates.

However, in a move that was an entirely predictable tactic, the #NeverTrump cabal tried to piggyback onto Blackwell’s reform package their plan to disrupt Trump’s nomination – and the professional political class insiders at the RNC were only too happy to encourage that and use it to convince Trump delegates that a roll call on any Rules package beside the one proposed by Chairman Priebus could open the door to “unbinding” Trump’s delegates.

And so practically every picture of Morton Blackwell or Ken Cuccinelli pressing the case for reform of the RNC had a vocal #NeverTrumper in the background or lined-up at the mike demanding a roll call for entirely different and mutually exclusive reasons.

And the insiders at the RNC were only too happy to stall (by hiding behind armed guards according to some reports) and according to others on the receiving end, lie and threaten delegates to get them to pull their signatures from the petitions necessary to force a roll call vote on the reform package. (a majority of 7 states was required, at one point the reform forces claimed a majority in 9).

The reality is that by defeating Blackwell’s reform package the Trump delegates made the Republican National Committee and the state party organizations considerably less democratic, open and transparent and made the rise of another populist candidate like Trump that much more difficult – if not impossible.

It is understandable why the leadership level of the Trump campaign wanted the whole reform issue to go away – their goal is a smooth convention that showcases their message. The problem is, the Republican National Convention Rules process is the traditional and most democratic way to formulate the Party Rules and in the past, such as in 1980, where there were also deep divisions in the GOP wise men and women met behind closed doors to try to work out a way to build the Republican coalition.

That wisdom no longer exists in the professional political class of the GOP where it is now all about the money and the power – electing the candidate and governing America according to Republican principles is merely incidental since they get paid win or lose.

As the 2016 presidential campaign proceeds one issue – the Rules of the Republican Party – that might very well have considerable impact on the future of our constitutional republic will never be debated between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

However, as the campaign proceeds one can only hope that part of Donald Trump’s commitment to end the rigged system in Washington includes a complete reform of the Republican National Committee and a complete housecleaning of its corrupt and self-serving leadership.

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