The Two Words That Will Split The Republican Party Apart: Brokered Convention

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scha·den·freu·de (noun): pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune


There is a horrible, terrifying reality staring the Republican Party in the face: Donald Trump is going to win the nomination and be the Republican candidate running for the White House. The only solution to this impending disaster is to lie, cheat and steal the nomination away from Trump. This can only be done with a “brokered convention.”

Before we get to the boring bit about what a brokered convention is, it’s important to understand just how utterly screwed the GOP will be if Trump wins. Unlike every other Republican nominee that panders to the far right in the primaries, Trump will not tack back to the center in a general election. There’s no center for him to move to. His entire campaign so far has been about white resentment. The Mexicans are taking your jobs and raping your women! The blacks are demanding equal treatment! The Muslims are gonna blow you up! Trump is here to make America White again!

A Trump nomination will drive the racist base into a frenzy and they will surely come out to vote their hate but the large number of moderate Republican voters (yes, they still exist) will either vote against Trump or hang their head in shame and stay home. On the other hand, the Democratic base will flock to the voting booth in abject horror to keep Trump as far away from the White House as possible.

The combination of low conservative votes combined with potentially historic liberal turnout would not only result in the Republican Party losing the White House in a landslide, but also losing races all down the ballot, even ones that should not have been seriously contested. The Senate would be a total write off. A handful of critical Governorships would be at risk. Several state legislatures would be seriously at risk. Even the House would be in play despite the extreme gerrymandering Republicans have done.

It would make the “Red Wave” of 2010 look like a drop in the bucket.

So how to stop it? By rigging the convention after the primaries, with a “brokered convention” that almost certainly shouldn’t be needed.

Here’s the boring stuff in a nutshell:

The Republican party will assign 2,472 delegates through a state-by-state series of caucuses and primaries between February and June. To win the nomination, a given candidate requires a simple majority, or 1,237, of the total. The states holding their contests before March 15 are required by party rules to dole out their delegates proportionately, meaning 51% of the vote translates to the same percentage of the state’s allotted delegates.

If none of the gazillion candidates running has a majority, then the convention will be “brokered,” meaning there will be backroom deals to appoint a winner. Since this will be done almost completely by the GOP establishment, Trump has zero chance of influencing this process and will have the nomination rather obviously taken from him.

And this is when the Republican Party implodes

Trump will not go quietly into that good night. He will scream at the top of his considerable lungs and the media will be there to eat up every second of it. There will be a million articles (like this one!) written about how the Republican Party told its base to sit down and STFU, essentially telling them that they should leave the big decisions to the grown ups.

The base, Trump’s rabidly racist and anti-establishment followers, will not just shuffle their feet in disappointment. If they don’t outright quit the party and form their own, they will run primary challenges against any Republican that does not join Trump in condemning the party. They certainly won’t vote for the hand-picked nominee no matter how much they promise to be like Trump.

After that, the schism in the party will be irreparable. The base will never support the establishment again and without that support, Republicans will have to appeal to moderates, something Republicans are laughably bad at doing and which will only further alienate their base. The best move for the party would be for them to let Trump run, lose spectacularly and then use that loss to discredit the extremism that led to Trump in the first place. But that would require long-term thinking and Republicans sacrificed their ability to do that when they embraced the Tea Party back in 2009.

This is truly a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t scenario for Republicans and it is 100% of their own creation.

Now pass the popcorn!


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress