Come on, man. It’s the holidays before the primaries. Aren’t we supposed to play out the worst possible scenarios as if they have any significant chance of coming to fruition? The estimable and seasoned analyst Michael Barone instead drops lumps of coal in bloggers’ stockings with just nine days to go before Christmas to tell us that Santa Brokered-Convention is just a myth that your grandparents told you to make you behave, or something:
I have bad news for those looking forward to a deadlocked convention. It. Isn’t. Going. To. Happen.
That’s because it’s impossible for party national conventions to serve the same function they did for more than a century after the first Democratic National Convention assembled in Baltimore in May 1832.
The reason why the chances of another brokered convention have become increasingly remote, Barone argues, is because travel and communications have become a much lower barrier to organization. The last truly brokered convention that produced a winning general-election candidate took place in 1932, when Franklin Roosevelt won the nomination and the first of four presidential elections. The most recent brokered convention came twenty years later, when Adlai Stevenson won the first of two losing Democratic nominations.
The closest either party has come since was 32 years ago, when Walter Mondale narrowly missed a majority of delegates before the convention, but how he resolved the issue reflects those technological and cultural changes:
Back then, the national convention was a unique communications medium, the only place where politicians from across the nation could meet face-to-face, conduct confidential negotiations and reach agreement. …
In 1984, Walter Mondale, just short of a majority after the last primary, relayed the names and phone numbers of additional committed delegates to Associated Press delegate counter David Lawsky, so he could claim the nomination at a mid-day press conference the next day.
Now it’s even easier. The leading candidate can rally uncommitteds through e-mail, teleconferencing, or quick trips to key locations. That’s equally true if two candidates come up within striking distance, although it might be trickier to resolve ahead of the convention. Where Barone’s reasoning might come up short is if we end up with a three- or four-person race all the way down to June, where the practical aspects of dealmaking might make it necessary to have everyone in one place at one time … which is what the convention allows. But we’re not going to have three or four viable candidates for that long in the race, are we? Are we?
Short of that, Barone notes that brokerists do have one path to the political equivalent of the Red Ryder BB Gun:
The answer is yes — if you do a few other things first. Like ban long-distance phone calls, jet travel, and media delegate counts and of course shut down the Internet. Then the national convention can function again as national conventions did up through the 1950s.
Suddenly, a second look at Trump’s suggestion to shut down “certain parts of the Internet”* sounds pretty good, right?
* No, that’s not what Trump meant…