Vacate the Nomination

Dump Trump: Save the Party of Lincoln.
Lincoln never stopped hoping, and neither should you.

This post was updated on 9 October 2016. Updates are at the bottom.

Since winning the nomination, Donald J. Trump has done all of the following: insulted the family of a man who died in service of his country; kicked a baby out of a rally; failed to rebut evidence that he was a draft dodger; embraced the opponent of the sitting Republican Speaker of the House while refusing to endorse the 2008 GOP nominee for president; attacked fire marshals at his rallies as “political” for enforcing occupancy limits; driven his staff and the RNC to despair; and denied the (very real) Russian conquest of Crimea.

I’m sorry, did I say, “since winning the nomination”?  Actually, that was just the past 36 hours (as of this writing). By the time you read this, no doubt Trump will have disqualified himself from the nuclear suitcase many more times – and it’s not like Trump was an angel before August, either.  Trump should not be the Republican nominee for president.  He should not even be the Republican nominee for Secretary of Transportation – 13th in the line of succession is far too close for a man of his low character.

Fortunately, he doesn’t need to be.

The More You Tighten Your Grip…

Just a few weeks ago, at the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee crushed an attempt to stop Trump and reform the rules of the RNC.  As a result, the RNC was able to pass a renewal of Rule 12, the infamous power-grab that seized control of the party from the grassroots.

Historically, the Republican Party was governed by the delegates to the national convention, who would debate and pass rules for the party organization. The RNC existed and operated at the pleasure of the delegates. Rule 12 turned that on its head: yes, the convention still meets every four years, but Rule 12 allows the RNC to amend the rules of the Republican Party between conventions without input from the delegates.  As was pointed out at the time, this permits the RNC to completely disregard the results of national conventions: if the convention passes a measure the RNC doesn’t like, the RNC can simply pass a new rule at the next meeting to undo the convention’s decisions.

There was hope this year that Rule 12 would be removed as part of a conservative reform package spearheaded by Morton Blackwell and Sen. Mike Lee.  However, the Trump campaign closely coordinated with the RNC to destroy that package, bragging about their victory afterward on Twitter.

It would be poetic justice if the Trump campaign were hoisted on its own petard.

…The More Star Systems Will Slip Through Your Fingers.

No presidential nominee has ever died on the campaign trail before, but it could happen.  William Henry Harrison could have caught pnuemonia in October.  In 1912, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, James Sherman, actually did die less than a week before the election.  Both major parties have rules governing what to do if that happens.  The Republican version is called “Rule 9: Filling Vacancies in Nominations”.  It has not changed during the 2016 cycle.  This is what it says:

(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

(b) In voting under this rule, the Republican National Committee members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.

(c) In the event that the members of the Republican National Committee from any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally, including fractional votes, among the members of the Republican National Committee present or voting by proxy.

(d) No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election.

Many commentators are hoping that Mr. Trump will drop out of the race, creating a vacancy for the RNC to fill.

Some rather more daring commentators believe that the RNC is already empowered, by simple majority vote, to declare Donald Trump’s candidacy vacated by “death, declination, or otherwise” (strong emphasis on the “otherwise”) thanks to his shameful misbehavior on the campaign trail. Personally, I don’t believe that a unilateral declaration of vacancy by the Republican National Committee qualifies as a “vacancy” within the ordinary English meaning of the word.  Of course, the RNC and the Trump campaign have never allowed the actual text of the rules to stop them from doing whatever they want, rules of order be damned, so maybe the RNC will do it anyway.  However, I don’t believe that Donald Trump should be stripped of the nomination by cheating. That would be unfair to Mr. Trump and his many enthusiastic supporters.

Instead, Trump should be stripped of the nomination fair and square, by a clear action under Rule 12 – the very same Rule 12 Mr. Trump himself has so fiercely defended.  Rule 12 provides:

The Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, amend Rule Nos. 1-11 and 13-25. Any such amendment shall be considered by the Republican National Committee only if it was passed by a majority vote of the Standing Committee on Rules after having been submitted in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of its consideration by the Republican National Committee and shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption. No such amendment shall be adopted after September 30, 2018.

This sets out a clear, incontrovertibly legal mechanism for stripping Trump of the nomination:

  1. Any member may propose an amendment to Rule 9 and submit it in writing to the Standing Committee on Rules. It would contain a simple morals clause, like that contained in many employee contracts. It could read something like this:

Rule 9 is amended by the addition of a section (e), which reads as follows:

(e) If the Republican nominee for President or Vice-President commits an act of moral turpitude which is shocking to the nation’s sense of decency, the full Republican National Committee may, by three-fourths (3/4) vote of its entire membership, vacate that nomination.

  1. After waiting ten days, the Standing Committee on Rules must vote to approve the amendment by a majority vote.
  1. The Republican National Committee may then immediately vote to approve the amendment by a three-fourths supermajority.
  1. Thirty days later, the new clause goes into effect. The Republican National Committee may meet at that time. and, by a three-fourths supermajority, terminate the misbegotten candidacy of Donald J. Trump for his many acts of moral turpitude – his fight with the Khan family being only the most prominent.
  1. The RNC would then be free to immediately select a new candidate under the terms of Rule 9.
  1. The new Republican nominee, whoever it is, would easily defeat Hillary Clinton, the least popular nominee in history (except for Donald Trump). That’s not wishful thinking: almost any Republican, from John Kasich to Marco Rubio to Ted Cruz — or even David French! — could beat Mrs. Clinton. This is the most winnable election in history, and Trump is doing the impossible by losing it.

Just Crazy Enough to Work

By the time the new nominee is selected, forty days after the initial submission of the amendment, many states will have locked in their ballots for the November election.  Trump’s name will still appear on those ballots.  However, this is hardly the first time in American history such a thing has happened. In Minnesota’s 2002 Senate race, Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane accident less than two weeks before the election. He was replaced by Walter Mondale, and, although the ballots all said “Wellstone,” Mondale would have gone to Washington had he won.  More notoriously, in 2000, Sen. John Ashcroft actually lost an election to his deceased opponent, Mel Carnahan. (Carnahan’s widow, Jean, served in his place.)

Trump, for his part, will be unable to mount an independent “spoiler” campaign, precisely because those ballot deadlines would have passed him by. Though he could mount a court challenge or write-in campaign, he would have little time and no help from the RNC apparatus that he depends on for his ground game. Meanwhile, the Republican electorate has already demonstrated that it will unify behind literally anyone in order to stop Hillary – after all, Republican voters were willing to unify behind Trump.  The Republican nominee would thus enjoy a clear path to a November 8th victory.

Presidents, of course, are actually elected by the members of the electoral college.  The members of the electoral college are selected by the winning political party in each state. Generally speaking, they are both pledged by their party and bound by state law to cast their electoral vote for the candidate of the party that appointed them – regardless of which candidate technically appeared on the ballot.  (A few states appear to legally bind them to the candidate on the ballot, but all such laws are likely unconstitutional.)  Since electors are well-vetted partisan loyalists anyway, they can generally be counted on to support the party’s nominee, regardless of pledge or legal constraint.  Certainly no Republican elector would ever vote for Hillary Clinton, and many of them already disdain Mr. Trump.  Therefore, we could reasonably expect all Republican electors to vote for the party’s new nominee, whomever that may be.

Even if some faithless electors still cast their votes for Trump, this would not change the final outcome of the election: even if there were enough faithless electors to deny the new nominee a majority in the electoral college, all this would do is throw the election to the House of Representatives, where the entrenched GOP majority would easily put the new nominee into the Oval Office.

Indeed, thanks to the electoral college, it would seem that the Republicans do not even need to complete the entire re-nomination process by Election Day.  As long as the Republican nominee has been formally changed by the time the electoral college meets (December 19, 2016), Republican electors can be relied upon to vote for the new Republican nominee.  That means the deadline for starting this process is technically November 9th… although, if Trump is still the nominee on election day, it is highly probable that Hillary Clinton will be elected and this will all be moot.  The sooner we start the process of vacating the nomination, the better.

In short: despite some minor complications, if we replace Trump, our new nominee will be the next President of the United States.

The Fallout

This is hardly the ideal mechanism for defeating Hillary Clinton. It would have been much better to nominate a good candidate back at the convention. A last-minute switch like this would make the primaries a farce (though they already are), shatter the Republican Party (though this has already happened), and create a major political hubbub.  These are very bad things.

But the election of Hillary Clinton would, without serious question, destroy the American experiment forever with a single appointment to the Supreme Court. The election of Donald Trump, the misogynist draft-dodging anti-veteran Russian pawn, would not be much better for America – and is appearing less and less likely anyway, as Americans wake up to Trump’s moral turpitude.

The Republican National Committee, then, has the power to stop Trump. They now face a simple choice: save their party, or save their country.

Guess which one they’re going to pick.


UPDATE 9 October 2016:

The idea of vacating the Republican nomination has suddenly picked up steam in the wake of Trump’s favorable comments about sexual assault, and that has led to some extra traffic to this blog.  I want to add three thoughts to what I said above back in August:

1. If only we’d done this ten days ago…

The process I sketched out above takes forty days to complete. November 8th — the day when voters in each state cast ballots to elect a partisan slate of electors to the electoral college — is only thirty days away.  This means that, even if the appropriate motion were filed with the Rules Committee right this moment, it would still take until ten days after Election Day for Donald Trump to be formally stripped of the nomination.  It would have been much, much easier to vacate the nomination if Pussygate had happened on, say, September 26th.

This doesn’t mean the process to vacate the nomination is impossible. Heck, given Trump’s free-fall in the polls since the first debate (he is on track for a landslide defeat), forcibly replacing him is still probably the RNC’s last, best hope for winning this election. But the late timing does make the process a lot trickier: you would, first and foremost, have to convince voters to cast ballots for Trump with nothing but a promise that Trump will soon stop being the nominee.

This may be a bridge too far.  Voters have a hard time remembering who the vice-presidential nominee is, still less how their vote connects to the electoral college. It is for this reason that, when I spoke to Gwynn Guilford for her article this morning, I was fairly pessimistic. I still think this is a possible path to a Republican in the White House, not just a symbolic repudiation, but, as I told her, it is… tricky.

2. Can we speed this up by suspending the rules?

Late in the day, Politico reported that the RNC is actively looking into this option. Well, guys, welcome aboard.  Better late than never, right?

Politico’s piece also contained this juicy tidbit, which caused my jaw to drop:

One option might be invoking Rule 12 — which gives the party the authority to amend its own rules — but that would also be problematic because it requires at least 40 days to take effect. However, the committee — which operates under Roberts Rules of Order — also appears to have the authority to suspend those restrictions with a two-thirds vote.

Well, heavens to Betsy, I think they might just be onto something!

Let’s go back to our trusty copy of the Republican Party Rules.  Rule 7(a) provides:

(a) The current authorized edition of Robert’s Rules of Order: Newly Revised (“Robert’s Rules of Order”) shall govern in all meetings of the Republican National Committee and its committees insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with these rules.

I’m a little surprised I never thought of this myself! Robert’s Rules of Order allows a body, such as the RNC, to “suspend the rules” by a supermajority vote.  Suspending the rules allows the RNC to clear procedural obstacles that are getting in the way of doing business.  If you’ve ever been at a political convention at any level, you have almost certainly participated in a parliamentary action to suspend the rules. You can’t use rules suspension to grant yourself additional powers or violate your organizational constitution and by-laws, so the RNC couldn’t just vote to suspend the rules and declare that Mike Pence is the new GOP nominee.

However, you can use rules suspension to clear procedural roadblocks.  And what’s the biggest obstacle to replacing Trump right now?  That darned thirty-day waiting period mandated by Rule 12 before any rules changes passed by the RNC can take effect.

It may be possible, under Robert’s Rules, for the RNC to suspend that waiting period.  As I read Robert’s, it would require a two-thirds majority vote — which is actually easier than changing the rules in the first place (which requires a three-quarters majority).

If this is correct, then the RNC could meet as soon as October 19th, vote to amend Rule 12 as I described in my original post, and then attempt to proceed immediately to a vote on vacating the nomination. This would be ruled out-of-order, thanks to the 30-day waiting period. Any RNC member could then put forward a motion to suspend the rules and proceed directly to the vote on vacating the nomination. With two-thirds support, the motion would carry, the vote to vacate would be held… and Donald Trump would cease to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States by the morning of October 20th.

However, it might not be correct.  I am not up-to-speed on the vagaries of rules-suspension motions, and am seeking the advice of an experienced parliamentarian as to whether the waiting period is considered a parliamentary rule suspendable under Robert’s Rules.  (It could be seen as a by-law, thus not suspendable.)  I will keep you readers posted.

3. Trust nothing you hear.

Jim Bopp, a noted RNC lawyer, is running around telling everyone who will listen that this whole thing is impossible.  Jim Bopp is a warrior for life and free speech, whose credentials, experience, and genuinely wonderful accomplishments eclipse my own.

He is also completely out to lunch.  Cozy with Trump since Day One, Bopp is editing his own reality to only see the parts that support Trump.

Does that sound familiar?  It should: Jim Bopp was the star of my 2010 blog series, Why Personhood is Right for Wisconsin, and, as I showed at great length there, Bopp twists and sometimes outright lies about the law in order to bolster his own sheerly political conclusions. He didn’t think Personhood was an electoral winner, so he invented a reality in which Personhood endangered other pro-life achievements in Wisconsin, regardless of the actual law of Wisconsin.  He thinks Trump is an electoral winner, so he’s inventing a reality in which Trump is the only possible GOP nominee, regardless of the Rules of the Republican Party he himself helped craft.


EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to see this happen, you should share this article on social media.  I love each and every one of you, my readers, but none of you are voting members of the Republican National Committee.  Nobody who has the power to vacate the nomination will consider it unless they see it, through social sharing.  And they probably won’t anyway.  But we should still try.

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  • Nick Bieter


    You have to accept that the Trump phenomenon is permanent. This attempt at a purge is at best temporary; like George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller stabbing Barry Goldwater in the back in 1964. Sure, it prevented Goldwater from becoming President but it paved the way for Nixon and then Reagan. If you strike Trump down; he be replaced by another national socialist because in this economic and demographic atmosphere; the most potent electoral opposition to multi-ethnic international socialism is mono-ethnic national socialism.

    This is a bigger issue than you think. There are serious issues with how Reaganism can even survive in today’s world. It has about as much relevance as Federalism did after the election of 1800. It is exiting the realm of electoral viability. Trump is trying to assemble a new coalition to replace it and if you don’t like the makeup of it, you either need to find a new coalition you do like or abandon democracy altogether. I prefer the latter personally, but its a choice one needs to make.

    • BCSWowbagger

      The Trump phenomenon is almost certainly a permanent feature in national politics; you are right about this. Reaganism is indeed dead; my recent piece in The Federalist said as much. Trump is indeed assembling a new coalition, and I have, repeatedly, in clear, firm, public voice, repudiated that coalition. I have called for the formation of a new party reflecting that new coalition (after this fall’s elections), on the presumption that the machinery of the Republican Party will no longer be available.

      But, rather than conceding the Republican Party to a man and a movement that are alien to Republican ideals, it would be better to fight for the soul of the party, to the bitter end. If Mr. Trump and his followers want to form their own party, very well; this is clearly a realigning era. But there is no need to surrender ours to him. I no longer have any power in that fight, and have resigned my membership in the GOP accordingly. The RNC does still have power, and should fight.

      I also still want to win the 2016 election; Mrs. Clinton’s presidency would be terribly damaging to the nation. I believe we have a far better chance of winning without Trump than with him.

      • NicholasFrankovich

        The lesson that the GOP should take from Trumpism is to heed Levin, Ponnuru, and Douthat and get serious about reform conservatism. Trump speaks to the demand for what reform conservatives offer, though his gestures to the white working class look like bait. Some form of magnified statism appears to be his intended switch.

      • Enopoletus Harding

        “I have called for the formation of a new party reflecting that new
        coalition (after this fall’s elections), on the presumption that the
        machinery of the Republican Party will no longer be available.”

        -Two-party system; man.

        “But, rather than conceding the Republican Party to a man and a movement
        that are alien to Republican ideals, it would be better to fight for the soul of the party, to the bitter end.”

        -Don’t you get it? Donald J. Trump, the best GOP nominee since Reagan, IS the soul of the GOP!

        “I believe we have a far better chance of winning without Trump than with him.”

        -As you’ve made clear in your “conservatism is dead” article, you’re wrong.

        • BCSWowbagger

          “Two-party system; man.”

          True. The only way for a third party to succeed is to disembowel one of the current two major parties and seize its place. The last time this happened was the collapse of the Whigs and the rise and consolidation of the Republicans in 1848-1858.

          I think we should do that.

          “Don’t you get it? Donald J. Trump, the best GOP nominee since Reagan, IS the soul of the GOP!”

          Trump has done the impossible: he makes Romney look Reaganesque by comparison. If Trump represents the soul of today’s GOP, then the GOP of 1984 and 1994 has lost its soul entirely. The degree of detachment from reality in the current GOP is so extreme I genuinely can’t tell whether you’re being sarcastic or not here.

          “As you’ve made clear in your “conservatism is dead” article, you’re wrong.”

          I’m not entirely sure what this means. Can you elaborate?

          • Enopoletus Harding

            “I think we should do that.”

            -‘K. What will the third party’s central cross-party issues be? Slavery? Name even a single bill this party will unanimously agree on. Fact is, there are no major cross-party issues you can form a party around anymore. Trump is not just the true leader of the Republican Party, but the only alternative to Democratic domination.

            I’m not even being remotely sarcastic. Trump is much better than Romney and certainly much better than McCain or Bush.

            “I’m not entirely sure what this means. Can you elaborate?”

            -Sure. Your article states (correctly) there is no conservative movement anymore as a result of contradictions between various factions. But Trump is the perfect (temporary) unifier of them. You said:

            But polls showed that, even if the nominee were someone else—Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, or Bush—Republican dissatisfaction with any one of them would have been at a historic high.

            -So no candidate would have been more acceptable at uniting all sections of the Republican Party behind him than the actual nominee. Trump rejects the pro-amnesty leftism of John Kasich (but keeps the fiscal conservatism), the disastrous neoconservatism of Marco Rubio (but keeps the emphasis on rebuilding the military) as well as the religious preachiness of Ted Cruz (but keeps the emphasis on religious liberty). I don’t think most Cruz people would like Kasich’s policies, or most Kasich people would like Cruz’s policies. But the vast majority of Republicans (as well as some former Democrats) can find Trump’s policy preferences to be an acceptable compromise.

            What don’t you like about Trump, anyway? Khizr Khan was and is an absolutely disgusting corpse-eating Islamist bloodsucker without a conscience, and I was surprised Trump was so ridiculously soft on him. And Trump should not have endorsed either Ryan or McSame -they didn’t endorse him during the primary, and neither should have Trump.

            Also, Krim is Russia, just in case you weren’t aware. Every poll has confirmed that the overwhelming majority of Krimeans have wanted to join Russia ever since the 1990s.

            And since when was complaining about partisan mistreatment from the fire department a disqualification for holding the nuclear button, as I hope Trump does in January? One has nothing to do with the other.

            • BCSWowbagger

              “‘K. What will the third party’s central cross-party issues be? Slavery? Name even a single bill this party will unanimously agree on. Fact is, there are no major cross-party issues you can form a party around anymore.”

              Well, that’s just a silly claim. I’ve written more about this here, but I can think of half a dozen popular cross-party proposals off the top of my head:

              1. A 20-week abortion ban
              2. Paid parental leave
              3. First Amendment Defense Act
              4. Minimum wage hike
              5. Upper-income tax increase
              6. Border enforcement plus amnesty

              There. Six ideas in ten seconds. I agree with some, I disagree with others, but the idea that there’s no shared basis for the formation of a new party only betrays your ignorance of the rank-and-file of BOTH parties. All those proposals are supported by the vast majority of one major party and a majority or unusually large minority in the other. We could no doubt add further to this list.

              “Khizr Khan was and is an absolutely disgusting corpse-eating Islamist bloodsucker without a conscience, and I was surprised Trump was so ridiculously soft on him.”

              Well, for one thing, I don’t like that so many of Trump’s supporters believe complete garbage like this. I thought epistemic closure this strong was limited to the New York Times editorial board.

              “But the vast majority of Republicans (as well as some former Democrats) can find Trump’s policy preferences to be an acceptable compromise.”

              So why is he losing by 7 points? Before the end of the primary, polling showed Trump losing to Clinton by 7 points, which is exactly what he is doing now. Kasich and Rubio both handily beat Clinton in those same polls; Cruz was close at Clinton’s heels. Trump performed worse than any other candidate against Clinton, and by a wide margin.

              In other words, the evidence shows that, yes, Republicans are unable to unite today, but Trump is a uniquely unacceptable candidate who alienates far too many people to win. We would have a better chance with literally anyone else in the field.

              We would also have a better chance of enacting a conservative agenda, since Trump has given no evidence of conservatism besides his (current) word, and we know that he lies constantly, far more than typical politicians.

              • Enopoletus Harding

                “So why is he losing by 7 points?”

                -Mostly people valuing style over substance and the biased media. But the North Carolina speech showed that Trump can overcome the “style” part of it, and, to some extent, even the biased media.

                Only Kasich was winning in all the polls, and that was because he wasn’t the frontrunner and gave off a cuddly appearance (which is not how he actually is), so the media wasn’t biased against him as it was against the GOP frontrunner. Rubio was a disaster of a candidate, and, again, because he wasn’t the frontrunner, he faced less media scrutiny. There was a clear inverse correlation between primary vote performance and general election matchup poll performance during the recent primaries, despite Sanders being basically a McGovernite and Trump being less of an extremist than Cruz on fiscal policy and Rubio on foreign policy.

                “We would have a better chance with literally anyone else in the field.”

                -You are discounting the fact stronger primary performance led to greater media scrutiny for the frontrunners. I believe only Trump and Kasich had realistic chances to win against Clinton, Kasich due to his winning over many urban Democrats as well as being a lock in his crucial home state, Trump due to his strong primary wins in key swing states like Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, as well as being the only Republican other than Kasich to get more primary votes than Her in Ohio. Rubio didn’t even win the primary in his home state, or, for that matter, the swing state of Virginia! He only won such long-time bastions of the Republican Party as Puerto Rico, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia! And even in the longtime Republican bastion of Virginia, he did best in counties where Obama won the overwhelming majority of the White vote! Simply put, Rubio was incapable of getting out the Republican vote, something that hurt Mitt dearly in 2012. He was a pro-WWIII, pro-Amnesty, anti-American Bought Robot, like Mitt Romney, but less popular, more boyish in appearance, less capable of managing money, and more dangerous to the world. He was not fit to be President of the United States.

                What would be evidence of a person’s conservatism other than his word? All politicians lie.

                “A 20-week abortion ban”

                -This is a partisan issue, with support being strongly concentrated among Republicans.

                “Paid parental leave”

                -Another partisan issue, with support being strongly concentrated among Democrats.

                “First Amendment Defense Act”

                -This is a partisan issue, with support being strongly concentrated among Republicans.

                “Minimum wage hike”

                -Another partisan issue, with support being strongly concentrated among Democrats. It’s also really unpopular among Mormons.

                “Upper-income tax increase”

                -Another partisan issue, with support being strongly concentrated among Democrats.

                “Border enforcement plus amnesty”

                -This part is reasonably popular (at least, in the Senate), but most Americans just want to send them back. And all Democrats supported it; the most conservative Republicans did not.

                Also, I can see Donald Trump supporting all but the bottom two issues.

                And with people supporting all these issues, you simply don’t have a party of any size, but a weakly bound faction constituting ~10% of both parties. Slavery was an inclusive, bipartisan issue, unlike these issues, each of which serve to narrow your proposed third party further. Here, let me show you:


                Free-soilers constituted former members of both 2nd Party System political parties, with their positions on traditional partisan issues being entirely inside the usual range of the Whig Party -but theirs was not a traditional partisan issue. Likewise, compare this:


                with this:


                Yes, free-soilers took in almost all of the Northern Whig Party, but notice they made zero headway among either southern Whigs or southern Democrats, as well as made significant headway among Northern Democrats, especially in such key states as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

                You can’t create a new party by simply picking out several partisan issues and putting them into a mixing bowl. If you do that, you end up with some kind of independent, like Angus King. These guys can win elections, but they’re not a party. On the second dimension in DW-NOMINATE (cross-party issues), King stands in precisely the same spot as the Senator Ted Cruz -and I just can’t see any political party containing both Cruz and King. Slavery really was a cross-party issue in the 1840s, as was segregation in the 1940s-1960s (thus, the George Wallace Party):


                Notice that the segregationists in the Senate disagreed with each other massively on economic issues, being from the far left to the far right on them. But they were all a coherent faction in the Democratic Party, one that could, as in 1948, form a party winning less than 3% of the nationwide popular vote, but winning four out of the five states of the Deep South.

                There were also other third parties which got elected to Congress that relied on cross-party issues, like the Nullifiers, the Socialist Party, the Farmer-Labor Party, the Greenback Party, the Progressive Party, and the Populist Party. All these third parties (except the Progressive) had clear cross-partisan issue stances that could be readily discerned on the DW-NOMINATE second dimension. That’s not what you have. You have a grab-bag of policies suitable for a centrist independent like King.

                For comparison, today’s party system. See if you can find any room for a third party (the Walter Jones Party? the Collins and Murkowski Party?):


                Now, if you could create a conflict between pro-abortion anti-amnesty Kasich types (?)/ pro-border-enforcement Gary Johnson types (?) and a party campaigning on your proposed issues, thus creating new meaning on the DW-NOMINATE second dimension, then that would be something. But that’s not what we have now. And you have yet to show otherwise. Meanwhile, the 1950s Democratic Party and the 1840s Whig Party did have deep divisions that required the formation of third parties to be addressed. And cheap money was an important cross-party issue in the 1880s, as was socialism/progressivism/farmer-laborism in the 1920s. I’m just not seeing anything like that today.

                “Well, for one thing, I don’t like that so many of Trump’s supporters believe complete garbage like this.”

                -It’s not garbage. It’s true. Khan is a disgusting person who holds the Quran above the Constitution while holding up the Constitution, campaigns for a person who helped kill his son while making a completely irrelevant argument from emotion to hurt Trump’s proposal for a Muslim ban in order to kill more American citizens, as it is well known that fewer Muslim Americans have died in the military than non-Muslim Americans have been killed by Muslim Americans.

              • Enopoletus Harding

                BTW, historically, when a third-party-creating cross-party issue comes up (nullification, greenbackery, agrarian populism, socialism/progressivism/Farmer-Laborism), the third party cause becomes absorbed into the Democratic Party. The one exception is opposition to forced integration, a cause which was taken up by Goldwater in 1964 and resulted in the decades-long and now complete process of expulsion of the segregationists from the Democratic Party.

                • PatH

                  Its worth noting, however, that the Progressives arose in the GOP and actually split the party into two for two Presidential cycles. The Democrats did absorb Progressivism of course, as you note.

          • Nick Bieter

            The number of times that has failed and it helped the Democrats is enormous. Mugwumps, Bull Moose, Rockefeller and Perot all tried to do this and the only people it helped was the Democrats. In each case we see the electoral infighting by the Republicans have allowed left wing policies (in order by group; Civil Service Professionalization; Union created Labor Laws and Prohibitions, Great Society etc) to become the law of the land despite a large coalition of Republicans theoretically having a majority.

            Rightist political parties don’t have souls. They are diverse groups of people with different goals and different views about what conservatism looks like. Its why Mormons and Trumpites and Evagneicals and Libertarians hate each-other more then they hate the left. The Left on the other hand has the same goal; equality and fraternity. Their differences are based on how fast they should get there. Its why Bernie fans might be mad but few, if any, are going to try to tear the democrats apart with it. They realize that this election cycle, they decided to go slow rather than fast. They just need to bide their time until they can go fast again.

            Its a fundamental asymmetry in American Politics which is why the left has been winning for all this time. To fight against it is to misunderstand just what is going on in our electoral system.

        • PatH

          As we have a first past the post system, it cannot be said that Trump is really the “soul of the GOP”. If we didn’t have first past the post system, he may very well not be the nominee, although he might be.

          A very high percentage of Republicans find Trump repugnant, but are left with disagreeable choices otherwise. The same is true of Clinton and the Democrats. All of which shows the insanity of the acceptance of a two party system that isn’t a system at all, simply a habit.

      • PatH

        Trumpism, in near retrospect, may have been with us longer than Trump.

        This may be true in two ways. First of all, the GOP laid the groundwork for this by some rather cynical pitching it’s done since (and during Clinton I). So Trump is the fruit of that tree, it’s just that the GOP never thought the fruit would ripen.

        Secondly, extreme populism has been with us for well over a century. It waxes and wanes, but from time to time it nearly takes the Oval office. We haven’t seen this for a very long time, but the nation has seen things like it before, albeit never anything identical to what we’re currently seeing.

    • PatH

      I don’t know that Goldwater is really comparable to Nixon and Reagan, or Nixon and Reagan to each other. Goldwater was a different sort of conservatism than Reagan was, and Nixon wasn’t a conservative as we know think of them. That being the case, It isn’t necessarily in the case that the Trump phenomenon is permanent. Indeed, I think it likely the opposite is true if he goes down in flames, which appears likely.

      If that does occur, however, and it appears likely to, it’ll be a long four years for conservatives, and in fact the fundamental alterations to the county will be at least partially permanent.

  • PatH

    This article might be more appropriate and possible now, if less likely (and it was never likely), than when it was written.

    • BCSWowbagger

      How about now? 😀

      • PatH

        I still hold out increasingly delusional hope that, with a week to go, both of these horrible choices will back out. Maybe Clinton will go due to her email. . . maybe Trump will go due to his business interests.

        I know that this won’t happen, but I wish it would. Then we’d get two new candidates on a crash basis and I could laugh at all the people who insisted on voting early.

        • BCSWowbagger

          From your keyboard to God’s ears!

  • David

    Don’t know if you were going to make a new post about the survey, but figured you wouldn’t mind too much if I left a comment here.

    It’s interesting looking at the previous answers, the few there. I find it hilarious that your graph colors for question 4 are inverted. I seem to be your poorest respondent.

    I’ve become more politically active since the last comment I’ve left. I’ve done some campaigning for a Senator and joined a couple of political groups. So, if the Citizen’s Party takes off, I’ll have some experience I can offer.

  • answertolosers

    Heaney, you’re a damn lier and libeler. WTF are you, loser? If I wanted to waste my precious Saturday, i would refuse everyone of your libelous lies. However, I will have the pleasure to see you and your hateful ilk eat your heart out the morning after the election, after Hillary has conceded.

    • BCSWowbagger

      Honestly, I’m too charmed you spelled my name correctly to be mad about the rest. So few do! Thank you!

      Unfortunately, if we do not change something very quickly — preferably by dumping Trump — Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president. If that happens, I will be very sad indeed.

      We want the same thing: to stop Hillary. You just believe, in defiance of all available evidence, that Trump is the best man to achieve that goal. ~James