If there is one basic tenet of representative democracy, it is that a vote not cast for somebody or something should not, cannot be counted as if it had been cast for that person or proposition.

But the Republican National Committee, in its infinite ethical confusion, threatens at the party’s national convention this month to count delegate abstentions as if they are votes for Donald Trump.

This is not just bizarre, but utterly fraudulent, wholly unethical and, were the party not technically a private organization, would be criminally punishable.

Now comes conservative stalwart Clint Cline, writing at The Pulse, to defend the right of delegates to vote their consciences or, as conscientious objectors, to abstain from voting.

“How can a Party so invested in protecting conscience rights in virtually every area of its platform deny those rights to duly elected delegates to its own convention?” Cline asks. “The message this sends clearly is that the RNC does not, in fact, respect those rights when conscience is inconvenient for its goal of crushing dissent.”