Consider this a follow-up to yesterday’s post.
If we’re serious about the #NeverTrump movement, then we need to consider that it may go all the way through the convention before we can succeed. Any plan does not survive first encounter with the enemy, and Cruz’s “beat him at the ballot box” is no different.
Cruz needs roughly 80% of the remaining delegates to beat Trump outright. However, a mere 41% (or so) would stop Trump from walking in to Cleveland as the nominee. This is a hard, but achievable goal.
But what happens once we get to convention? This is where “Phase II” comes in and it starts now. The “shadow campaign” for delegates is real, and it’s ongoing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate. If #NeverTrump is to succeed, we need to be sure that the delegates we send to Cleveland are on the same page. Otherwise, Trump wraps them up with deal making and it’s all over on the second ballot.
How do you do this? Well it will vary by state. In some cases (such as IL, which voted for delegates on primary day) it’s probably too late (unless you want to go into the bowels of party politics trying to win over hearts and minds.) In other states such as my state of MO, there’s still plenty of time. I’ll try to lay out a rough strategy that you will need to adjust to fit your state.
- Determine how your state chooses delegates (i.e. the actual people.) This is likely different that how your state allocates delegates on the first convention ballot. If you’re lucky your state GOP website will explain this. For example MO’s procedure is located here. Briefly there are congressional district conventions to elect 3 national delegates per district and the rest will be chosen at the state convention. You can find your state party’s website here.
- Familiarize yourself with basics of the rules. After the Ron Paul insurgency, based partly on manipulating caucus procedures, many rules were standardized. You could read the entirety of the RNC rules. But all you really need to know is the basics of parliamentary procedure. 5 minutes on Wikipedia can help you there. Again, most state parties are posting shortened rules on their webpage, like MO. My understanding is that Local Rules outrank RNC rules, outrank Roberts Rules. So in my case nominating a delegate requires no second. However, in certain places (voting on more than 10 delegates) full slates will be required. I don’t have the resources to put together a slate, so I’ll have to hope the campaigns are doing their job there. This is where candidate ground game could make the difference in a contested convention.
- Show up. Seriously, half the battle here will be showing up. If you have a friend eligible to caucus with you bring them. You have an automatic second for any motions you need to make. Familiarize yourself with who is there, what are their goals, who do they support. Which brings us to…
- Figure out your strategy. Depending on the way your state chooses delegates you may have a few places to make choices. Now is the time to figure that out (or alter the plan you already had.) Are you just there to vote? Do you want to give a speech (if possible?) What’s the feel of the room? In a room full of Trump supporters, a #NeverTrump speech won’t go over as well as it would in a room full of the old guard “establishment” types.
Let’s return to my situation. I need to be looking at slates for the state convention that are likely to push #NeverTrump delegates (probably a Cruz proposed slate). If you’re interested you may consider trying to put yourself on one of these slates (or if allowed running individually.) I don’t have the time or money (or will to survive Branson) to go to my (multiday) state convention. BUT, congressional district conventions are held in the district, in an afternoon. So I may consider running to be a delegate there and having a direct hand in choosing national delegates.
If you want to go to Cleveland as a delegate now is the time to start making that push. Make friends, get on slates that have a hand in choosing delegates. Or find out if anyone is putting together a national delegate slate. Just be aware you will have to pay your own way, and it may all be for nothing if Trump gets 1237 on the first ballot.
- Decide if you have any other things to do. MO’s caucuses also serve as a place to collect proposed changes to the state party platform. For me, I have several. My state party is a mess, and I aim to try to rehabilitate it. If you brought a friend, this is where that automatic second comes in handy. If not, you might want to make a friend during the pre-caucus mingling. Also pay attention. MO’s rules require significant pre-work for this sort of thing (I have to bring a typed version of my amendments signed with name, address and phone number.)
- Don’t despair. Yes, unless you fight your way to Cleveland this strategy puts a lot of faith in other people to do the right thing and not be corrupted by the process. It’s a wing and a prayer to say the least. But at the very least you can say you went down fighting. That you exercised the full power of democracy to make your voice heard. Which is more than most people will get to say.
If #NeverTrump is more than just angry foot stomping, then it needs to keep going even after the polls close. The window may be closing but there’s still time to stop this trainwreck.