The closer we get to the Republican Convention, the fewer chances the desperately anti-Trump have to oppose the Donald. However, there continue to be ways to stop the presumptive nominee for the GOP, and the likeliest of them hinge on political maneuvering in Cleveland next month.
A few delegates seem to have already begun the coup. On Friday, Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, formerly tied to Sen. Ted Cruz, released a letter that suggested a rules change–or rather, clarification–that would let people unbind themselves from their pledged candidate (for example: Trump, who is never mentioned) if their conscience dictates it.
The letter includes excuses for delegates to not support the candidate they came in with, and they are:
“include the public disclosure of one or more any grievous acts of personal conduct by a nominee candidate, including but not limited to, criminally actionable acts, acts of moral turpitude or extreme prejudice, and/or notorious public statements of support for positions that clearly oppose or contradict the policies embodied in the Republican Party’s platform as established at the national convention.”
Emphasis added. If he’s not known for “notorious public statements,” he’s not known for much.
Unruh’s letter goes on to say that, basically, there’s never been an explicit Republican National Convention rule that says you have to bite the bullet and stay with your person, so:
“The proposed rule makes explicit this right that has been repeatedly affirmed in past conventions, but of which not all delegates may otherwise be aware or may be uncomfortable asserting without specific supporting language.”
She then goes into a long history lesson on past conventions, which is worth taking a look at if you like that sort of thing.
The key bit is when she notes that in 1976 the Supreme Court even chimed in on the issue and ruled that governments at any level have no say in the matter. The important thing to remember is that convention rules are notoriously slippery and are really up to nobody except for the people present. A rule to keep delegates bound to their chosen candidate lasted only from 1976-80. So are they bound now? Depends on who you ask.
Reportedly, Unruh and around 29 other delegates are busy trying to unseat Trump, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is more momentum than we’ve seen in some time. So some kind of revolt will happen in Cleveland, it just remains to be seen how effective it will be. On the other hand, though, the road to a Trump overthrow seems daunting. Unruh is making the classic argument that no, we don’t need to change anything, fellow delegates, the power has been inside you all along. Let’s just, you know, make that power overt.
On the other hand, the Rules Committee makes the power at the conventions, and it may take issue with Unruh’s analysis of delegate powers. Still, if a quarter of the Rules Committee votes to put the issue to a larger vote, we could see either all the delegates freed or Unruh’s “conscience clause” put into the official rules.
This convention is going to get rowdy, but Trump may still end up as Jon Snow on top of a pile of battlefield corpses. Because, hell, who else is there to nominate?