The Chairman of the RNC was on State of the Union today, where Dana Bash was filling in for Jake Tapper. He’s no doubt heard the cries from the wilderness regarding the meeting of the rules committee this summer prior to the GOP convention and apparently wanted to straighten a few things out. As to what the rules might be and what would be changing, Reince Priebus couldn’t say. But he was clear on who would be making the decisions. (Very short video followed by transcript)
There is always risks to every decision that you make. But there will always be a perception problem if people continue to miss — to not explain the process properly. So, the 2012 rules committee writes the rules for the 2012 convention. The 2016 rules committee writes the rules for the 2016 convention. Are you trying to say that the rules committee that was made up of Romney delegates should write — should enforce the rules for the 26 convention which will largely be made up of trump/cruz delegates? I mean, that wouldn’t make any sense, would it? I mean, that’s what I don’t understand. This is very simple. The delegates get elected. The delegates fill the slots on these different committees, and there’s many committees – there’s platform rules, credentials. Those delegates make the decisions on the governance of the convention that they’re a part of. That’s really simple to me.
I went over most of this the other day when I discussed the prospective rules changes at this year’s convention. While Priebus is stating his case plainly, it doesn’t do much to justify the actual “why” of the matter. Most importantly, why are we getting a new set of rules every four years which are supported by one candidate’s delegates or some coalition of hopefuls. And why are these rules only finalized and announced on the eve of the campaign when everyone else has been running for office for more than a year thinking they knew what the rules would be going into it? We’ve been told what the process is, but not why this is how we should be doing it.
The number of problems with this system are too great to list here, but we’ve been down this path before. I happened to be in the hall at the 2012 convention in Tampa when this same system generated something approaching a revolt among grassroots conservatives. (The irony in the fact that it’s the same movement conservatives who now seem to be cheering for tampering with the rules to defeat Trump is not lost on me, I assure you.) At that time there were changes to the rules which “spit in the face of the grassroots” according to some observers. John Boehner was chairing the event and called for a voice vote on one set of changes, announcing that it had passed over the objections of many, including those who had pushed hard for a roll call vote to confirm the results. The GOP did itself no favors when video leaked out showing that the result of the vote was already loaded into the teleprompter before Boehner even announced it.
It’s clearly too late to change course now, but this is something for the party to look at for 2020. And I mean seriously look at. The party is teetering on a knife edge of splintering at the moment and the last thing the various tribes need is another excuse to call foul play and walk off the field. This could be avoided with a bit more advance planning and some consistency in the rules from year to year.