BY HOWARD BARBANEL
In what very likely may look like a derivation of the Miss Universe Pageant (a former Trump Production) the Republican Party convenes from July 18-21st in Cleveland, home of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. The upcoming event portends the antithesis of dull and formal conventions past. Look (metaphorically) for a fusion of a glam rock/heavy metal concert with dollops of The Apprentice, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, WWE and Baywatch covered with a light dusting of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, or the will of Trump wherein the GOP “Establishment” will be formally “fired.”
In what can be termed “The Great Leap Backward,” Donald Trump will be leading the GOP into a pre-Eisenhower policy mélange of isolationism, tariffs and economic protectionism (rejection of international free trade) mixed with a noxious whiff of nativism which manifests itself in draconian restrictions on travel and immigration, particularly for ethnic groups that are non-white and non-Christian. It’s no small wonder then that neither Bush the Elder or Bush the Younger will be in attendance. Neither will the “losers” John McCain and Mitt Romney. Trump just doesn’t throw their kind of a party.
In 1963 Leslie Gore had a number one hit with “It’s My Party (and I’ll cry if I want to)” The great Quincy Jones produced it. In this famous single, Gore asserts that “you would cry too if it happened to you,” especially because “Judy’s smile is so mean.” There’s a lot of weeping and bawling in both mainstream and even Tea Party Republican circles because Trump and Trumpism are so antithetical to GOP ideology, ethos and even style that many of us feel dumped after a lifetime of going steady and this is a cause of great vexation, consternation and lamentation – so much so that I’ll probably not watch much of the convention and may not even vote for a presidential candidate in November for the first time in my adult life.
The Party of Lincoln and Reagan arrives at Cleveland with a presidential nominee that most Republicans don’t want and in fact that a solid plurality loathe. Trump got the nod from an invasion of the party snatchers – those open primary voters who crashed the Republican Party by either legitimately crossing party lines, becoming a Republican at the polling station or were allowed to vote Republican even as Independents. A lot of key states permitted this. Trump touts all the millions he brought into the Party – what he really did was bring them in to vote for Trump. The ridiculously fractured field of 17 wannabees, enabled by a debate practically every week allowed Trump to trump the professional politicians with a brew of outrageousness and insults that most media enabled in a shameless pandering for ratings.
Unlike the Democrats who have a “Super Delegate” mechanism to keep the party from getting too wild and out of hand (and which gives some say to party leaders and activists), the Republicans have no “great wall” to fend off the invading wildlings and figurative Mongol hordes. The Democratic Party got tired of nominating implausible candidates and taking a drubbing on election day so they made it virtually impossible for a total outsider to snatch their nomination unless that person swept every primary, much to Bernie Sanders’ dismay.
Both parties need to revise their primary and party membership criteria. It’s not enough to just say you’re a Democrat or Republican and then be able to select the nominee for the highest office in the land and leader of the free world on a whim in whatever party even if you don’t belong to one.
First, the GOP needs to abolish open primaries – they’re a Trojan horse that will always portend danger to viable mainstream candidates because populists like Trump can bring in the wackadoo crowd or Democratic activists can torpedo a candidacy by driving a lot of their members to the polls to vote Republican as spoilers. This can also happen to Democrats too in reverse in an open primary. To vote in a party primary one should be a member of that party for at least 45 days prior and more significantly, there should be a membership fee so that there is some level of serious commitment to the party and skin in the game. I recommend a charge of $10 to join a party with the proceeds being split down the middle between the state and national party organizations. That way the parties pick-up some important revenue (and not from special interests) and voters can’t drop in on a whim. This would seriously limit “spam voters” and “malware candidacies.”
Next, the Republicans have to catch their tongues – no weekly debates for a year with 17 people. There should be a total of six debates, one per month prior to the California primary in June and to participate in the debates a candidate should be polling at least 15 percent, not one percent.
But this is all looking to the future. Meanwhile I, along with millions of other Republicans will absolutely be crying over all the spilled milk and wasted opportunities that a Trump nomination brings and the very real dangers looming for the country if he wins because of his immaturity, irrationality, bellicosity, belligerence and braggadocio.
Howard Barbanel is Editor of InauguralClock.com. More of his work can be found at www.howardbarbanel.net and also at The Huffington Post.