What is a ‘brokered convention’? Here is a (kind of) simple explanation

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ben Carson Threatens to Leave the G.O.P. if Convention Is Brokered.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what would be a nightmare scenario for the GOP, presidential candidate Ben Carson threatened Friday to leave the Republican Party amid reports of deepening concerns from GOP officials about the splintered 2016 electorate. In response to a Washington Post article reporting that G.O.P. leaders have begun laying the groundwork for a brokered convention to choose their presidential nominee, an angry Dr. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

I won’t stand for it,” Carson said in a Thursday statement. “I assure you Donald Trump won’t be the only one leaving the party.” “I am prepared to lose fair and square, as I am sure is Donald,” Carson said. “But I will not sit by and watch a theft. The report in question revealed that R.N.C. chairman Reince Priebus held a dinner with several party figures—the quintessential backroom meeting, to the dismay of the Republican base—where they discussed ways to block Donald Trump, whose inflammatory rhetoric has somehow cemented his position as the G.O.P. front-runner, from becoming the nominee. I won’t stand for it.” Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer responded, “His prayers have been answered,” adding that it’s ultimately the voters who will decide on the Republican nominee. Spokesman Doug Watts said Carson was appalled at reports suggesting that Republican leaders were trying to manipulate the party’s presidential nominating process.

The politics of racial exclusion, long banished from mainstream North American politics, had burst into the forefront of one of the world’s largest and most influential political parties. At least one attendee at the private dinner, which is a regular gathering of leading Republicans in Washington, told The Associated Press that suggestions of manipulation by party leaders were dramatically exaggerated. A Bloomberg poll, taken on Tuesday, showed that of those who are likely to vote in the 2016 Republican primaries, 35 per cent approve of his proposal, and a similar number say they are therefore “more likely to vote for him.” As pollster Frank Luntz, looking at similar numbers, concluded on Wednesday, “You actually have to consider the possibility of Trump winning the Republican nomination” – that is, if the party is unable to expel or marginalize him, something its leaders were wary of considering this week.

In the 2012 primaries, at least three candidates repeated a conspiracy theory about a secret plot by ordinary Muslim Americans to impose Sharia law by stealth. Carson, who has previously traded places with Trump as the Republican front-runner, is likely aware that his threat holds weight: should he and Trump drop out, taking their voters with them, they would essentially be handing the election to Hillary Clinton. (We can only imagine the Clintons’ glee at watching a real-life re-enactment of their 1992 campaign.) It’s unclear whether Carson would consider a third-party candidacy, as Trump has hinted he’d do. Trump’s competitors have offered less radical versions of his fearmongering (such as denying citizenship to undocumented Latinos, or accepting only those Syrian refugees who are Christian). But no mainstream candidate in recent history has used discrimination and racial fear not as a means to power but as an end in itself, as a chief policy goal. In other words, Americans have learned that they have something in common with most countries in Europe, where a third-place opposition party devoted almost entirely to opposing racial and religious minorities has become a growing fixture.

Trump’s rise to political fame, his positions, his public style, his singular focus on immigration and ethnicity and, most importantly, his supporters are strikingly similar to those of Europe’s latest extreme-right firebrands: Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, Nigel Farage of Britain’s UK Independence Party, Jimmie Akesson of the Sweden Democrats, Heinz-Christian Strache of Austria’s Freedom Party and Geert Wilders of PVV in the Netherlands (who heartily endorsed the Muslim-banning proposal of his near-lookalike Mr. Most of these parties have been slowly growing in size and popularity as the big social-democratic and Christian-democratic parties have withered, and while their supporters are nowhere near a majority in any country, in some places – notably Austria and France – they are edging into second-place territory.

Trump has plunged his country deep into this terrain, while simultaneously going further, with his Monday announcement, than almost any of these leaders have. “The most amazing thing about Trump’s latest statement, of not allowing any Muslims in, was that almost none of the European far-right parties would go that far,” says Cas Mudde, a Dutch political scientist at the University of Georgia who analyzes anti-immigration political movements. “The only other party leader who’s ever said that was Geert Wilders. Trump went, within two months, from being a little bit critical of Islam to being among the most Islamophobic politicians in the world.” This poses two big challenges. And one is for the wider U.S. political system, which needs to figure out how a large proportion of voters – possibly 15 or 20 per cent – became so angry and alienated that they would support the darkest form of intolerance, and whether it can find a way to direct those voters’ anxieties into more moderate politics.

Republican activists have frequently noted that the core Trump supporters aren’t coming from the GOP base; rather, they’re part of a “wild card” constituency, often alienated from mainstream politics, that votes Democratic or Republican – or, often, not at all. Trump’s politics), overwhelmingly white, and especially lacking in education: 7 in 10 of them have no postsecondary education, compared to 49 per cent nationwide. As Pew’s original, 2005 definition of the group read: “Disaffecteds are only moderate supporters of government welfare and assistance to the poor.

Strongly oppose immigration as well as regulatory and environmental policies on the grounds that government is ineffective and such measures cost jobs.” Eighty per cent of them said immigrants “are a burden on our country” nearly double the rate of the general American public. Indeed, some observers say that the surprisingly strong turnout for overtly socialist Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders is coming from exactly the same constituency that’s backing Mr.

As the conservative writer Yuval Levin wrote in the National Review, “Both Trump and Sanders are calling attention to those political debates in which the inherent cosmopolitanism of modern capitalism is most deeply in tension with the inherent populism of modern democracy – especially, but by no means exclusively, immigration and trade.” It is perhaps easiest to understand the Disaffecteds as a case of failed integration. They have not literally immigrated into America but rather have landed in a postindustrial, cosmopolitan economy, and resisted any effort to assimilate, instead choosing to turn against more successfully integrated American newcomers. The big parties of the centre-left and the centre-right saw educated elites as their crucial constituency, and aimed for aspirational groups such as young university graduates and suburban soccer moms, who increasingly drove election outcomes.

The lost low-education white voters simmered in the background. “Immigration came up as a salient issue that cuts across that traditional party dividing line, and it became more important to working-class voters than the old left-right ideology,” Dr. Goodwin says. “And the parties failed to respond to that quickly enough because they were fixated on middle-class university graduates who were numerous enough that they decided the fate of elections. And the old working class, who used to decide elections in the sixties and seventies, became smaller in size, increasingly disenchanted and open to the appeals of the radical right.” Donald Trump, after countless false attempts to run for president (he has launched bids in almost every election), finally stumbled upon this group, and its singular obsession with immigrants and minorities, and seemed instinctively to see that they were unclaimed in American politics.

His angry appeal to ethnic fear and white identity politics galvanized them, and turned them into what is, at the moment, the Republican Party’s biggest problem. Republican officials fear that a wider revulsion caused by his foray into the fringes of ethnic-resentment politics will drive larger numbers of people – notably religious and racial minorities – away from their party. Now, half a century later, there are a lot more minority voters, racial tolerance is vastly higher, and liberal Democrats are the fastest-growing political constituency. Trump (and only about 12 per cent were “very positive” about him) – and that almost 65 per cent have a “very favourable” or “mostly favourable” view of Muslims in their country. The cheeky headline the Washington Post put on the poll, “Americans like Muslims more than they like Donald Trump,” spells out the difficult decision faced by Mr.

Trump is allowed to prevail in the primaries, the Republicans’ bid for the presidency is doomed – as, quite possibly, is the future of their party. Trump is notoriously immune to influence or advice – then there’s a good chance he will run as an independent, possibly taking his supporters and a good chunk of other Republicans with him.

Priebus dug himself deeper in August, when he forced all the party’s candidates to sign a “loyalty pledge,” in which they promise to support whichever candidate wins the primaries – and not to drop out and run a third-party campaign. Trump’s noxious proposal this week, his words were mild and passive. “I don’t agree,” he said, “We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terorrism but not at the expense of our American values.” And then, nothing. That prospect, in any imaginable scenario, would be utterly undone by the very things that make him appeal to a certain angry, ignored, white group of voters.

His popularity among these excluded men is exactly what will prevent the much larger, more multihued, more moderate mainstream American electorate from considering him a viable presidential candidate. Both moderate Republicans and Democrats are now searching for a new language with which to speak to this group – to appeal to its sense of exclusion and anxiety, with real economic solutions rather than myths of brown-skinned invaders – in hopes that their parties will never get trumped again.

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