No, the convention was a failure before it even began. Because most of us have only known political conventions as stage-managed infomercials, we’ve come to think that’s their actual purpose: to throw a grand party for the candidate who won the most delegates. But conventions predate that function by more than a century.
The goal wasn’t to pick a candidate whom a bare majority or slim plurality of delegates loved and a large minority couldn’t stand. It was to find the candidate most acceptable to the most people.
That’s the original purpose of conventions: to find the candidate the party could unify around. Since the rise of the modern primary system, we switched to the practice of putting it all up for a vote. Whoever gets a majority of delegates in primary elections is the nominee. This wasn’t a problem most years because all of the candidates were ultimately acceptable to the party. People grumbled about this or that candidate (I certainly did), but there was no #NeverDole or #NeverRomney movement.
This time is different. Countless leading Republicans skipped this convention, including all of the living previous nominees, save for Bob Dole. Most delegates in attendance have made their peace with Donald Trump, but a very large number have not. The Trump boosters think this is all sour grapes, and that’s an understandable reaction. What they can’t (or won’t) see is that Trump is viewed by many conservatives as an imposter and hijacker.
The TV cameras may show a lot of excited delegates cheering Trump on the floor. What the cameras can’t show is the discontent represented by those who refused to attend in the first place.
Ideas matter, and supporting Trump means advancing ideas I find not just wrong, but destructive. I’ve defended the unborn my entire career; he praises Planned Parenthood. I believe that marriage is a sacred covenant between husband and wife; he’s a serial adulterer. I believe America should lead the world in defense not just of its territorial integrity but also of civilization itself; he would retreat into glorified isolationism. I believe that free trade has made America more prosperous and enriched the lives of its citizens; he threatens to start ruinous economic conflicts. I believe that a core American value is that we can and must judge our citizens by the content of their character, not the color of their skin or their families’ roots; he attacks a federal judge because of his parents’ Mexican heritage.
Character matters, too, and supporting Trump means elevating a man of low morals, which is the last thing our nation needs. I believe men should strive to be honest; Trump lies habitually. I believe men should treat women with respect; he mocks any woman who opposes him or challenges him. I believe in treating opponents fairly; he calls them names and spreads the most vile rumors about their families. I believe that public officials should be intellectually curious, striving to know more about the world; Trump is aggressively ignorant, paying far more attention to poll numbers and press clippings than to the issues he’d confront in the Oval Office.
The conservative movement is invested in the long game — our own “long march” through American cultural institutions. It is not worth throwing away years of influence for the sake of four months of intraparty peace. When Trump crashes and burns — and he will, either on the trail or in the Oval Office — Americans won’t look to his partisans and defenders to rebuild from the wreckage. They’ll seek other voices. For the sake of the nation, it’s vital that those other voices are both conservative and untainted by alliance or association with the newly minted Republican nominee for president.
Much better than one of my I shouldn't be posting angry posts when it comes to this election cycle.