"Never Trump" and the Bible
- July 19 update: this morning's email from David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project which treats hundreds of pastors at a time to free food and hotel lodging while they listen to conservative speakers: "Many of Trump's Advisory Committee have not endorsed Donald Trump for President. You might ask, "Why then put them on an Advisory Committee?" That's the perfect question. "I don't know any evangelicals who are wild with enthusiasm for Donald Trump or for whom Donald Trump was their first choice, or their second choice, or their third choice," said Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews. "But the situation now is: The next president of the United States is going to be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. That tends to focus one's attention." Richard Land
- This helps explain the glowing endorsements from evangelical leaders after they met with Trump a month ago. Trump was one of them.
- Now that the rules discussion is all over and no better alternative to Trump is available that most Americans can imagine being viable, it is time for those whose endorsement is less than glowing to follow the Biblical example which I describe in the last section of this article: go ahead and vote for Trump unless you really think Hillary will be better, but don't stop warning the American majority about the urgency of revival in the wake of Trump being the most righteous candidate that the majority will accept. As John 3 explains, that is evidence of the level of darkness that has poisoned the majority of our culture, since darkness will not tolerate too much light.
- Hand-wringing over the choice given us by the majority need not translate into votes for Hillary. The message should be that Hillary must be stopped, but the alternative was chosen poorly. We need to elect him, but then restrain him, because he is no angel who is going to solve all our problems for us without being restrained a lot. He doesn't understand what ever made America great, or what greatness requires now, but We The People still have our hands on the steering wheel until we take them off to watch TV and let autopilot take over.
- As far as blaming Democrats' crossover votes for Trump's victories in "open primary" states, (according to one of the links in the updates below), RNC chairman Priebus deserves even more blame since he squelched a motion last Thursday to require those states to close Republican primaries to Democrats (according to another link below), a move which should have been supported by the two Supreme Court decisions giving the national convention authority over states to decide who gets to be delegates at the national. As I explain below, the convention would at least have the legal authority to unbind delegates from those states so that the votes of Democrats do not determine the Republican choice for President.
Do delegates to the July 18-21 Republican Convention, who are “bound” to vote for Trump, have the legal right to vote differently from the first ballot?
If they do, will it be politically smart for delegates to vote differently than the majority of voters sending them to Cleveland?
Does God have an opinion about any of this? How should conservatives and Christians respond to a candidate who has Trumped everything everyone not so long ago thought was intelligent, sensible, and in the best interests of America, not to mention conservative and Christian? What does the Bible say about a "pure" candidate?
(I personally am unsure whether Trump will actually prove as dangerous a president as some of his statements indicate, because his stated positions are such a moving target. Some of his more recent statements, and promised appointments, are quite encouraging.)
But first, a quick review of some of the options in the news.
This article was also published July 6, 2016 at ipatriot and CafeConLecheRepublicans.
The Legal Question
CNBC reported on April 6 that according to Republican Convention Rule 37B and 38, delegate votes are counted individually and are “unbound” even if the rules of their home states say otherwise. This conflicts with Rule 16(a) which says state rules can bind delegates, but Rule 16 is not part of the block of rules which govern national conventions! Meanwhile the Supreme Court has ruled that national rules trump state rules.
Constitution.com reported May 17 that “The rules committee has the power to unbound delegates to deny Trump”, but asked, “Do they have the will? There really isn’t a consensus third party candidate for any of the anti-Trump forces to unite behind....The majority of the delegates are Cruz delegates....it seems Cruz is more focused on returning to fight in the Senate and work on his re-election campaign.”
National delegate Stefani Williams wrote an open letter June 24 that “GOP delegates are not bound to vote for any particular candidate at the convention; they are free to vote their conscience – according to Rules 37 and 38. (Rule 37 has been in place for over 130 years....) This principle of delegate freedom has been recognized and protected by every GOP convention since the founding of the Republican Party.”
The Huffington Post reported June 30: “On June 17, Trump said in a statement: ‘Any such move would not only be totally illegal but also a rebuke of the millions of people who feel so strongly about what I am saying.’ On June 19, he told NBC News: ‘They can’t do it legally.’ ....But the [anonymous] RNC [Rules Committee] member said the Supreme Court cases — one from 1975, the other from 1981 — dealt precisely with that issue. Delegates may face political retribution from local or state party officials, but given the case law, lawsuits or prosecution are highly unlikely to succeed, he said.'" My own reading of Rule 37 and 38 is that they flatly negate state “winner take all” rules, but might be interpreted as consistent both with state proportional rules and with rule 16. However, new rules to be written before the convention will certainly clarify these points. We won’t be certain of our legal rights before then.
- Update: Jeff Kaufman, chair of the Iowa Republican Party, told the Westside Conservative Club July 13 that the Supreme Court is not a factor because the Court has never decided a case relevant to whether national rules about delegate "freedom of conscience" trump state rules. Did he say that because he had not heard of the two cases linked above, or because he was commenting on the differences between the facts of those cases and the current question?
- In the 1981 case, the summary at the link above explains that the Supreme Court said the Democrat party has the "freedom of association" to seat only Democrats at its national convention, even though Wisconsin laws had allowed non-Democrats in its caucuses, some of whom became national delegates! The 1975 case was also about whether a state or the national convention gets to be a delegate. The court said "In the selection of candidates for national office, a National Party Convention serves the pervasive national interest, which is paramount to any interest of a State in protecting the integrity of its electoral process...."
- So if national rules trump state rules regarding seating of delegates, does that translate to national trumping state regarding binding of delegates to vote differently than an individual delegate would rather vote? If national trumps state for the sake of "the integrity of its electoral process", wouldn't that cover how delegates are required to vote?
- Of course, whatever the Supreme Court says does not address any ambiguity in the national rules themselves, which will surely be made less ambiguous before the convention starts.Dave Leach R-IA Bible Lover-musician-grandpa (talk) 14:07, 13 July 2016 (EDT)
Update July 13, evening: A week ago, Michael Harrington, writing for Redstate, makes a case that of the 14 million votes cast for Trump, eight to nine million were cast by Democrats in states with "open primaries", meaning primaries where voters could vote for a Republican even if they weren't registered as Republicans. He writes, "Since there was 31,153,000 (rounded) Republican votes cast, this means 38.5% of our votes were cast by intruders...." He says Trump didn't do nearly so well in states where only registered Republicans could vote for Republicans. He estimates that 2/3 to 3/4 of Democrat votes were for Trump, based on a comparison of votes in closed and open primary states. He also argues that Democrat votes for Trump in the primaries will not translate to Democrat votes for him in November, which adds up to a huge loss for Republicans. To the extent that is true, it could be a persuasive, court-endorsed convention rule that delegates from states with open primaries cannot bind their delegates to vote for the popular vote winner, because the national party has the "freedom of association" to minimize the influence of Democrat voters over selection of a Republican presidential candidate. Dave Leach R-IA Bible Lover-musician-grandpa (talk) 21:28, 13 July 2016 (EDT)
But would it be ethical, or politically smart, to veer from the popular vote?
Delegates are chosen to represent voters for the same reason our government is managed by elected representatives instead of by direct popular vote, which is why our form of government meets the definition of “Republic”. We elect representatives whom we expect to be better informed than average voters because we give them time to study complex details which few of us have the time or interest to study.
The Courageous Conservatives PAC runs ads in Iowa saying “We elect delegates to nominate presidential candidates not as rubber stamps, but as real people to make real decisions in the best interests of our party and our conservative values. Normally our delegates would ratify the primary winner, but this is one of those times when delegates need to be free to vote their conscience.”
Therefore it would not be unethical for delegates to function as delegates. Especially when many have the opposite concern: that it would be unethical for delegates not to veer from the popular vote when necessary to rescue Freedom.
Newt Gingrich doesn’t think that is a good enough reason. He warns, "Don't think you can safely get away with imposing your values, your judgment, your wisdom on the people of the United States. That era's over, and in fact, you're going to look very foolish arguing that the voters — your voters — back home don't count because you're so much smarter."
Gingrich seems unmindful of his own past as an elected representative doing things that weren’t always popular, which he got away with because he was able to explain his reasons very well, earning respect for his intelligence.
Yet his warning will certainly come to pass, unless average voters hear such clear reasons for any veering that they will be glad their votes were trumped.
Therefore, the success of any veering will depend on the success of the public education accompanying it. It hasn’t succeeded yet, or Trump wouldn’t be our nominee.
However, there should always be public education about any dangers in any coming presidential term. Public understanding of dangers always helps awaken enough Americans to prevent them.
Trump really isn’t the problem, to the extent there is a problem: it is the feelings, beliefs, and attitudes permeating a majority of voters, that blind them to problems. To the extent a majority holds ignorant, dangerous views, no politician can achieve much good; while successful education will restrain any president from doing wrong, and help him do right.
The fact is our voting majority has become just corrupt enough to be uncomfortable with a more principled, more disciplined, more politically intelligent, less prejudiced candidate. As long as that mindset dominates we can't expect better candidates. Activists use presidential campaigns to educate and inspire that mindset, because that voting majority is the foundation of good government.
The other root problem is the lack of political involvement needed to steer whoever wins. That is one benefit of a dangerous candidate: the more he alarms voters, the more they step up to restrain him. The more satisfied voters are, the more they figure they can just watch TV and let their hero handle it, which he can't, without their support.
- Update: Jeff Kaufman, chair of the Iowa Republican Party, gave the Westside Conservative Club July 13 more reasons to resist a rebellion against the popular vote. He said the Iowa delegation, in the Tampa convention four years ago, cast their vote not for Romney, and not even for the second place winner. He said the shock within the party over that nearly cost Iowa its first place spot on the presidential caucus/primary calendar. Iowa's "First In The Nation" spot was preserved by assurances that future delegations would follow the rules. Using a baseball analogy, he said when two men are out in the bottom of the ninth inning, that is not the time to change the rules of the game.
- (Of course the real issue is, what are the rules of the convention game at this point? Since the rules are destined for clarification, we should distinguish between the letter of the rules, and the general understanding of them, as they have been practiced over the years. So what if the "unit rule" has been in place a century and a half? How has it been practiced? In other words, suppose the rules committee decides delegates have "freedom of conscience" to vote how the choose on the first ballot. Will that count as a clarification of a century of policy, or as a radical departure from a century of policy?)
- Kaufman said current practice is that on the first ballot, delegates are bound to vote for the nominee, if only one candidate is nominated; if there are more than one, delegates are bound to vote, as a state, in the same proportion that their state voted. However, this interpretation contrasts with the "Unit Rule", quoted above.
- Kaufman said the duty to give voters who they want trumps any duty to give yourself who you want. He said he never would have guessed, a year ago, that Trump would become the nominee, and his very ignorance of that future event is the proof that our system listens to the grass roots rather than elevating the favorites of "smoke filled back rooms". In contrast, he pointed out that the Democrat Party delegates are dominated by "super delegates" who are party insiders generally willing to vote however Nancy Pelosi tells them to.
- Kaufman also addressed the basic concern that Trump would prove a poor president. He assured us we will like 95% of his appointments, and they are the people who will run our government. He also reminded us of the alternative, as if we needed a reminder. He said the alternative is not Gary Johnson, who will never reach the 15% in polls [which Johnson needs to qualify as a participant in the presidential debates].Dave Leach R-IA Bible Lover-musician-grandpa (talk) 14:07, 13 July 2016 (EDT)
Update July 15: "NeverTrumpers" were crushed in the rules committee according to the National Review. Senator Mike Lee argued that voting by conscience would actually help Trump: "“I hope whoever our nominee is this time will win over the delegates,” he said. “I say to Mr. Trump and those aligned to him — make the case to those delegates to support you. Don’t make the case that their voices should be silenced. It won’t help elect him president or help our party in the long run.” Apparently physical threats are part of the argument for binding delegates to vote for Trump.
A Bible Story.
A situation once arose in the Bible where the popular vote was tragically ignorant.
Until King Saul, Israelites elected their leaders, according to Deuteronomy 1:13. But by 1 Samuel 8, Israelites wanted their own dictator (king) like other nations. God told Samuel to warn the people how foolish their choice was, but once their choice was informed, to give them the tyranny they demanded.
God won’t force good on us. He wants it to be our choice.
But God used His waning influence with the people to minimize the harm by subjecting the new king to law higher than himself – like a Constitution. 1 Samuel 10:25.
- 1 Samuel 10:25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.
Similarly, we ought to use our influence, however challenged it has become, to educate the majority about what they have chosen, and to find ways to minimize the harm, if Trump remains their informed choice.
- Update July 15: The closer it comes to the convention, with no scandals or shifting poll results dramatic enough to suggest the vote of the people's choice has changed, the harder it is to imagine any other candidate but Trump able to hold significant popular support. From "The Affluent Investor: "Of course the #NeverTrump forces can do this thing, assuming they can get enough delegates to go along. Of course it is technically correct. But the Stamp Act was technically correct. The quartering of soldiers was technically correct. The sovereignty of the King was technically correct. And yet government is by the consent of the governed. And the American people, however many indignities they have willingly suffered, will not gladly suffer this one." It's over, NPR reports. Only 12 of the 112 members of the Rules Committee stuck it out; had 28 survived, they could have at least forced a vote on the rules before the full convention. Dave Leach R-IA Bible Lover-musician-grandpa (talk) 16:14, 15 July 2016 (EDT)