The presumptive Republican presidential nominee now leads the charge to suspend the Second Amendment — while promising to save “your” Second Amendment. Welcome to my nightmare.
Why use the word “presumptive”? Because Donald J. Trump is. Not. Quite. Yet.
The Republican Party’s standard-bearer.
Should the main response to a horrific terrorist attack committed by a radical Islamic jihadist be to disarm innocent, law-abiding American citizens? Mr. Trump proposes allowing the federal government to use a secret list of “suspects” compiled by federal alphabet soup security agencies, without due process of law, without charge or trial or conviction, to deny our Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Not to mention shredding our Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights in the process.
With a choice between Mr. Trump, what with his scary (and frighteningly erratic) policy prescriptions to go along with his mean-spirited vulgarity, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, the worst half of the congenitally crooked Clinton duo, well . . . there’s no choice.
Democrats seem settled in with Mrs. Clinton; Republicans seem anything but settled.
Two Michigan GOP delegates, Barbara Bookout and Wendy Day, announced last week that they were “joining a new grassroots coalition of party activists plotting to dump presumptive nominee Donald Trump at next month’s convention in Cleveland,” the Detroit News reported.
“We’re engaged to Trump, but we’re not married,” said delegate Day. “If you found out your fiancé was a habitual liar, adulterer and owns casinos and an escort service, you may not want to get married at that point. We want to give people a chance to not get married to Donald Trump.”
“There are pockets of resistance [to Trump] all over the country,” Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate told Politico. Unruh claims to have communication with more than 300 convention delegates “privately committed to opposing Trump at the convention.” Her goal is to change convention rules to allow delegates, supposedly “bound” to Trump on the first ballot, to instead vote their consciences.
According to the Detroit News, “The movement among grassroots activists to pick a different candidate is being fueled, in part, by a new book called, Unbound: The Conscience of a Republican Delegate.”
In full disclosure, that book by Curly Haugland and Sean Parnell is published by Citizens in Charge Foundation, where I serve as president.
Yet, the manuscript doesn’t take any position on Mr. Trump or any other candidate. It merely points out that, historically — and as the rules now stand — delegates are not bound and can, indeed, vote their conscience.
Even on the first ballot.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, conservative activist Eric O’Keefe and renown attorney David Rifkin, Jr. argued that state statutes attempting to bind delegates “can’t be legally enforced,” adding, “When Republican delegates arrive in Cleveland to select their party’s nominee, they should recognize that they are bound only by their consciences.”
“A candidate who cannot win the support of a majority of Republican delegates voting their consciences does not deserve to be the nominee and certainly has no legal right to be,” they concluded.
Dane Waters, a Florida political strategist, has formed a group called Delegates Unbound. “It’s a very, very serious effort,” Waters told the media. “At the convention, we believe the delegates should be able to vote their conscience and not be restricted by some theoretical rule that doesn’t actually exist.”
CNN informed its audience that, “[T]he RNC is taking this effort to dump Trump seriously.”
In fact, Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s communications director and chief strategist, felt the need to issue the following statement: “Donald Trump bested 16 highly qualified candidates and received more primary votes than any candidate in Republican Party history. All of the discussion about the RNC Rules Committee acting to undermine the presumptive nominee is silly. There is no organized effort, strategy or leader of this so-called movement. It is nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets.”
Such a dismissal in this sort of year makes it almost a sure thing.
And, as a Republican friend countered, “In fact, there is no organized Trump campaign. It is nothing more than a media creation and a series of tweets.”
The so-called Republican establishment has largely fallen in line with the party’s presumptive nominee. But not the grassroots.
Republican natives remain restless.
It’s not merely Trump’s slump in the polls after his comments regarding the judge from Indiana — widely criticized as racist, even by sworn supporters — or his 70 percent unfavorable rating in one recent voter survey. Neither is it his retreat on core issues such as gun rights and taxes. It is also that sinking realization that Hillary Clinton in eminently beatable this November.
Just not by Donald Trump.
But if not Trump, who? Grassroots Republicans sure have a lot weighing on their minds this summer.
Paul Jacob, June 19, 2016
This column first graced the pages of Townhall.com.