This is part of my letter to American Conservatives.
In California Democratic Party v. Jones Scalia wrote “Proposition 198 forces political parties to associate with—to have their nominees, and hence their positions, determined by—those who, at best, have refused to affiliate with the party, and, at worst, have expressly affiliated with a rival,” These words apply not just to the strange primaries California tried at the time, but to all.
The goal of the GOP is not to simply do whatever half of America wants it to do. The goal of the GOP must be to get elected and control legislation, so as to enact policies it cares about. A sensible conservative platform. Not fringe lunacy of the Trump or Tea Party varieties. The primary process for this year’s presidential election has forced the GOP to associate with a man what hates it. With a man who has openly insulted its ideals, its leaders, its platform.
Scalia, with sad prescience, continues “A single election in which the party nominee is selected by nonparty members could be enough to destroy the party.” I hope this election will not destroy the GOP. But I fear it may come close. Conservatives must work hard right now to see that doesn’t happen.
America is such that all things are decided by public elections. This is hardly the greatest failing of a nation. But when unrepresentative elections get hijacked by the fringes we have problems. I’ve suggested in other times that primaries really ought to have less power and the party system more. But it’s unrealistic to change America in this way.
What is realistic is to step in ahead of time. To step up before things get out of hand. To stop bad people being on the ballot paper, to have a punishment to hand out for the worst offenders.
As Trump shows anyone, no really anyone, can get into a Republican Primary ballot paper. No matter that he used to be a Democrat, that his policy platform is closer to the Dixiecrats than anything the GOP put forward, or that he brings the entire party into disrepute by offensive statements and allegedly by illegal acts.
The RNC rulebook must change. There must be a code of conduct, very explicit, with legal language that can survive a court challenge (because it’ll need to). It must be very clear that the Republican National Committee has the right to determine who is bringing the party into disrepute, who does not endorse its platform (or in the case of various congressmen who has voted against that platform). It must be drafted in such a way as to make clear that such a determination is not an political dispute to be decided by a primary election. It must be clear that this is a disciplinary action taken by the party in its corporate capacity, against which there can be no appeal save for that of due process as with any other disciplinary matter within a private organisation.
Once this is done then people like Trump simply lack the right to stand on the ballot. This is not disenfranchisement, it’s not vote-rigging. Trump can stand as a third party. It might even cost the GOP the presidency if he does. But it will not cost this party its soul.
At every single level of this party from the grassroots up it must be clear that being involved with the party means agreeing with the platform, not rigidly and dogmatically, but agreeing with it all the same. The GOP exists to promote a view of the world, it is not to be hijacked by outsiders.
This means that county conventions to consider the nominee for ward 3 on the town council of Boondock Tennessee should only consider candidates who are publicly pledged to endorse the candidates, policies, and organisational hierarchy of the GOP. If not then someone at a level above needs to be empowered to bar them from stranding.
It means that when a senator who has publicly and repeatedly defied the GOP whip stands for re-election the RNC informs him he must stand as he truly is, as a third party. If the voters want to back him anyway good for him. The GOP won’t have to give him their stamp of approval.
The Republicans better than anyone should know that there are things in the world that matter more than how one publicly identifies, and identifying as a Republican is no different.
We need to respect the traditions of the nation. That means public elections for everything. But the GOP cannot allow its stamp to be attached to candidates who are opposed to its platform, to candidates who are openly opposed to the traditions and values of the party of Lincoln.