Ever since the ancient Greeks, and long after Attica and Pericles, we arrived, by fits and starts, at an understanding that democracy, and the right of the people to vote, is how we overthrow kings, dictators, and corrupt political elites.
Many suffered and died when resisting those who opposed the popular vote.
We are engaged in a struggle over what the franchise means in this presidential election year.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
What is especially “good” about America is that “we the people” can say directly or indirectly how we are governed by whom we may elect with our votes.
Thomas Jefferson believed that, “[s]hould things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.”
Republican voters are asking this year whether their “elective rights” have anything like the bang per vote they thought they enjoyed.
In the Republican primaries, we have seen how the votes of one man may be reduced to a fraction, or be treated unequal to another man’s vote, or may even wither until a nullity, void and of no effect whatever.
Harry Enten studied the variance in the recent Republican primaries and caucuses, focusing on how many voters it took to elect a delegate.
Mr. Enten found a range, how it took 52 votes to elect a Republican delegate in the Northern Mariana Islands, but 2,516 votes in Nevada; the insider caucuses, he concluded, invited outsized elite influence, requiring fewer votes to elect more delegates.
The orange canary in the Republican presidential primaries has been Billionaire Developer Donald Trump.
“The Donald” preferred blunt plain and abusive talk, over the Republican dog whistle that sent about the same message, but Trump spoke plainly to angry and frustrated voters in dark places who felt they’d been had by the Republican “establishment.”
The Republican “establishment” responded by setting out to destroy the political monster that they made possible, rather than seek any accommodation.
One member of the Republican rules committee, Curly Haughland, of Bismark, North Dakota, reportedly said, that the primary vote doesn’t matter, and the convention will do whatever it wants.
Curly cited, “a longstanding tradition,” his words, “in the Republican party that began in 1880 or earlier.” Curly insisted, “that all delegates to the national convention are free to vote their conscience.”
This “conscience,” as arbitrary an invocation as one might imagine, really means disregarding the rules and election laws by which citizens have already voted for Trump.
Nor do you have to go far to find evidence that the campaign to stop Trump is on the move.
This past Saturday, in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, although Trump bested Cruz in the congressional district two to one, and beat him statewide also by about two to one, the local Republican convention elected Cruz delegates, rather than Trump Delegates, to go to the Republican National Convention.
The Republicans had open primary voting across the nation but, despite the vote, it’s clear the Republican “establishment” intends to disregard the actual returns in favor of Cruz.
If the Republican Party stays this course, and follows its unmoored, undemocratic and arbitrary “conscience,” what was formerly considered the Grand Old Party, will not just lose the presidential election, but leave a sorry legacy of what understandably happens to a political party that disenfranchises its own partisans to force upon them a presidential candidate they had rejected by preferring another, Donald Trump.