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“What The RNC’s Pathetic Loyalty Pledge Says About The GOP”: They’d All Endorse Charles Manson If He Were Running Against Hillary Clinton

Some news outlets are reporting that Donald Trump will sign the loyalty pledge that the Republican National Committee has demanded of its candidates, in an apparent effort to foreclose the possibility that Trump will run as a third-party candidate if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination. Trump has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon where he’ll make his announcement.

Something tells me that Trump figures that by the time the party gets its nominee, either it’ll be him, or he’ll be bored of running for president by then and won’t want to bother running a long-shot third party candidacy almost sure to fail. On the other hand, if he really wanted to break the pledge because America so desperately needs his super-classy, gold-plated leadership, then he would do it in an instant.

But beyond the question of whether Trump will honor the pledge, this whole affair is an excellent demonstration of just how limited the modern political party’s power is.

Back in the good old days, parties picked their presidential nominees in the proverbial smoke-filled room, where the bigwigs would get together and make whatever choice they thought was best. There was plenty of factional maneuvering, infighting and intrigue, but the voters were only a tangential part of the process. Then between the 1968 and 1972 elections, both parties reformed their nomination processes to ensure that convention delegates would be selected by primaries and caucuses, which delivered power into the voters’ hands. That meant that anybody could run and potentially win, whether he had the support of the party establishment or not. When the 2010 Citizens United decision created a wide-open campaign finance system, the ability of the establishment to guide and shape the nominating contest was reduced even further, because now anyone with a billionaire buddy or two can wage a strong campaign whether they have the support of party leaders or not.

That doesn’t mean that those party leaders have no more influence. They can still deliver key endorsements, raise money, and help candidates move voters to the polls. But in the face of a phenomenon like Donald Trump, none of the tools at their disposal seem to mean very much. Just look at how that establishment helped Jeb Bush raised $100 million, a “shock and awe” campaign that was supposed to drive other candidates from the race and make Jeb the obvious nominee. It’s not exactly working out as planned; in the current pollster.com average, Jeb is in third place behind Trump and Ben Carson, with an underwhelming eight percent support.

Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t need anyone else’s money, doesn’t care about who endorses him, and gets more free media attention than pretty much everyone else combined every time he opens his mouth. If this race comes down to a contest between someone like Bush and someone like Carson, the establishment could help tilt the field in Bush’s favor. But against Trump they’re almost powerless.

The loyalty pledge was sent to all the candidates, and as of yet none of them have said they won’t sign. And why would they? It isn’t as though Marco Rubio or Scott Walker is going to wage an independent campaign for president if they fail to get the party’s nomination. Of course, that means that they’ll be promising to support Trump if he’s the nominee, which might be a little distasteful, but all of them would endorse Charles Manson if he were running against Hillary Clinton.

Since the pledge would be happily violated by the only candidate who it was designed to constrain in the first place, it has little practical significance. But it does make the Republican Party look pathetic. They’re so scared of the guy leading their primary race (as well they should be) that they have to beg him to pinkie-swear that he won’t turn around and screw them over in the general election if they’re lucky enough for him not to be their nominee. But their real problem may be that by the time they get there, he will have already done enough damage that it’ll be too late.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 3, 2015

September 8, 2015 - Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, RNC Loyalty Pledge | , , , , , , ,

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