Dane Waters Op-Ed in The Hill: After the balloons have fallen

Donald J. Trump is the Republican nominee for President. But the path to his nomination exposed the depth of dysfunction of the Republican party, the unbridled collusion of the party and the Trump campaign, and was a textbook case in the exercise of dictatorial powers of a party leader, Reince Priebus.

The Republican National Committee, just like the Democratic National Committee, are private associations and like every private association, have the right to choose the person who will best represent them. This is one of the greatest misunderstandings in our country – that the voters have the right to choose the nominee of a political party.  The reality is that only delegates to the parties’ convention have that right.

The primary system is not guaranteed in the Constitution or by federal law. No one is being elected to any office. It is simply an opportunity for the voters to show their preference for whom they would like to see as the party nominee. The voters do have the constitutional right to elect the President, but not the nominee of a political party. However, since primaries do exist, it is important that the results not be ignored. Delegates take into consideration the opinions of the voter but also evaluate if the candidate represents the values of the party and is electable in November.

How the primary results are represented at the convention is at the sole discretion of each party. Only once in the entire history of Republican conventions have delegates been bound to a specific candidate. In 1976, Ronald Reagan was denied the nomination because the party chose to bind the delegates to ensure that Ford would lead the party into November. Many agree that it was a rigged convention. Priebus and the RNC staff, working with the Trump campaign, orchestrated the binding of the delegates so they were forced to vote for Trump. Only the second time in convention history.

Not only are the delegates responsible for choosing the nominee, they also affirm the rules under which the RNC and the convention will operate. Rarely is there controversy. But during this year’s convention the delegates were not only denied their right to vote their conscience for the nominee for president, but also on the very rules that govern the convention. It was with great sadness that I watched unfold an attack on the delegates that I have only witnessed in countries where democracy is as foreign as freedom. The blatant display of dictatorial power by Priebus loyalist Congressman Steve Womack as he gaveled down the unquestionable sentiments of the delegates when they made it clear that they did not want the rules package presented to them, was an affront to the core values of the Republican party – freedom, democracy, and individual liberty. If that weren’t enough, Womack then left the podium and returned only to announce that the petitions demanding a roll call vote submitted by the delegates were insufficient because delegates removed their signatures from the petitions – which, by the RNC’s own admission, was being orchestrated as Womack was taking an obviously awkward break from his duties as presiding chair. In fact, the RNC coerced delegates to remove their signatures using a process that doesn’t exist. In short, they created a mechanism outside the rules in order to silence the delegates.

This debacle falls on one man, Preibus, and is just another example of how he has bastardized the Republican party. He allowed Trump to hijack the party and he clearly lacked the courage to stop him. And instead of owning that mistake, he orchestrated a convention coup to silence the only people who could hold him accountable.  Just like Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the Democratic side, the debacle of this election cycle also falls on Preibus. For once the Republican and Democratic parties have something in common – the need for change.

The sad reality is that Preibus could have unified the party by not interfering with the delegates right to follow their conscience, both in voting for the nominee, and voting on the rules that govern the party. The party is divided not because the delegates wanted to be heard, but because Preibus silenced them. Trump could have left Cleveland touting that he was freely chosen by the delegates and the standard bearer of a unified party. Instead, Trump left Cleveland just as he arrived – the creation of a man who cares more about the party than the country. And for that, it is time for Reince Preibus to resign.

The balloons have fallen in Cleveland signaling the end to one of the most controversial conventions in 100 years. But the reality is that unless Reince Preibus is removed as the RNC chair, what is left of this party and this country will fall as well.

RNC Rules Fight Proves GOP Establishment Belongs to Trump

CLEVELAND – The big news out of the Republican National Convention Monday is that the GOP establishment summarily quashed an effort by grassroots conservatives to force a roll call vote on the convention rules—a last ditch effort to assert some control over a party that now unquestionably belongs to its nominee, Donald Trump.


Chaos erupts on GOP convention floor after vote shuts down Never Trump forces

CLEVELAND — The Republican party came within a whisker of reaching the unity it had long sought Monday. What it got instead was convention floor chaos.

After mounting for weeks, tension exploded into a high-profile fight pitting the Donald Trump campaign and Republican National Committee leadership against a coalition of conservative activists and delegates from the "never Trump” movement.


This Year's Delegates Control This Year's Convention

There have been a number of inaccurate and even spurious arguments made in recent months pushing the idea that delegates to the Republican National Convention were bound to vote for candidates according to primary and caucus results. The counter-argument, repeatedly vindicated by the plain text, history, and precedents of the convention rules as well as several court decisions, was that neither state party rules or state laws could bind delegates.

How we know Priebus is bluffing and Dump Trump is winning

For weeks now, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and his flack Sean Spicer have denigrated the #NeverTrump movement, claiming it is nonexistent, a figment of the imagination. His actions tell us the opposite is true.

Mike Lee, tea party senator, may help decide Trump's fate at convention

CLEVELAND — This week, watch Mike Lee.

The mild-mannered first-term U.S. senator from Utah will arrive here Wednesday night or Thursday morning to cast a significant vote in the long-odds battle being waged by some Republican delegates to snatch the party’s presidential nomination from Donald Trump.

Sasse makes pitch to 'conscience voters' ahead of RNC

Sen. Ben Sasse on Monday -- a week before the Republican National Convention begins -- lamented the lack of trustworthiness in the two likely presidential front-runners, and urged voters to follow their conscience, not pick between the lesser of two evils.

Former Republican senator: Kasich must step forward as an alternative to Trump

Some who oppose Donald Trump nevertheless note that he won the Republican primaries and, therefore, that next week will be his convention in Cleveland. Delegates should formalize his nomination and move on, they suggest.

Donald Trump Said Hillary Clinton Would 'Make a Good President' in 2008

Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton these days, but eight years ago, in the midst of the 2008 Democratic primary race, he said she would “make a good president” and a lot of people thought pairing her with Barack Obama would be a “dream ticket.”

All delegates are unbound

As the Republican National Convention prepares to kick off next week in Cleveland, there is a lot of confusion and controversy over the question of whether delegates to the convention are “bound” to vote for any particular candidate as a result of primary or caucus results, or state party directions.

AZ GOP delegate to break from Trump vote at national convention next week

PHOENIX - One of Arizona's 58 delegates to the Republican National Convention says she will not vote for Donald Trump next week in Cleveland.

Arizona is a winner-take-all state for party delegates, meaning all 58 are compelled to vote for Trump, who won the Arizona presidential preference election in March.

Arizona Delegate Proclaims Independence from GOP Chairman--Refuses to be bound to Trump

(Washington, D.C.) - Arizona delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Lori Hack today notified the state's GOP Chairman she will defy his requirement that delegates from the state proclaim their loyalty to Donald Trump.

What's Next for the Never Trump Camp?

Just as with Britain’s Brexit vote, the smart money has decided that the Never Trump movement among Republican delegates has no chance of succeeding. The Donald has won 1,542 delegates, well above the 1,237 needed to nominate. No major alternative candidate has publicly said he wants to challenge Trump. Many delegates are party regulars who want a quiet life in Cleveland instead of a pitched battle played out on national TV.


As Convention Approaches, Will Romney or Kasich Step Up?

Any serious student of the theory and history of the Republican National Convention knows the delegates to that convention are unbound and free to exercise their judgment. If this were not the case, why did the Gerald Ford forces think it necessary in 1976 to move to explicitly bind the delegates for that year (and that year only)? The presumption is and has always been that delegates are free to use their judgment. Normally, when there is a respectable and consensus nominee, they do little more than ratify a judgment reached in state primaries and caucuses.