The #NeverTrump people truly seem to have a tough time going quietly into that good night and even the prospect of achieving their desired result if Hillary Clinton is the next president doesn’t appear to be providing much of a salve to their wounds. It’s not so much a matter of who next occupies the White House, but how things managed to go so “wrong” during the primary. (This despite the fact that the system actually functioned precisely as designed.) Over at National Review, John Noonan has thought long and hard about this problem and believes that he’s come up with a fix. In the future, the RNC needs to “slam the gates shut” and keep unacceptable candidates out of the primary. (Nope… it’s not April Fools Day.)
I’ll be the jerk and say it. Post 2017, the RNC needs to slam the gate shut. I’ve tried to understand the rules on running for the Republican nomination, but my limited understanding is that if you have a pulse and can book a TV hit, you’re in. To hell with that nonsense. Let’s make running for the Republican nomination a truly conservative affair. You want it? Earn it. Raise $5 million for the RNC in the years before the nomination and only then do you qualify to run. Since their very presence will dilute the field and weaken the party, aspiring candidates must ante up and spend a few years helping other down-ballot Republicans get elected first.
For the uninitiated in local and state party politics and all the games buried therein, allow me to translate Mr. Noonan for you. I’m unhappy that the outsider who won this time was Trump, so let’s establish rules which bar anyone but long time party hacks from having a chance at the nomination.
I understand that the #NeverTrump crowd is still stewing in a toxic soup of disappointment, but there are too many things wrong with this suggestion to touch on without starting an entirely new wiki to catalog them all. First of all, plenty of Republicans and conservatives around the country were excited about a variety of outsiders getting into the primary precisely because the results produced by relying on only established party regulars to form the pool of candidates have been sub-par to put it kindly. I’m not just talking about Trump supporters here either. We saw some highly energized backing for Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson as well, though the former never rose to a consistently strong position in the polls. You’ll recall that Carson was actually at the center podium for at least one of the debates. Ted Cruz wasn’t exactly near and dear to the party regulars either, and most of the respected Republicans who have met Noonan’s qualifications wouldn’t touch him with a ten meter cattle prod.
Also, in terms of Noonan’s $5M price of admission to the race, we should note that fundraising is an important function for the overall sustainability of the party but it’s hardly an indicator of presidential timbre. And even for those who might fit the mold, the ability to raise money in those sums is generally only found hand in hand with those local and state party approved sycophants who have already built a name that the folks who write the big checks recognize and have the stamp of approval from the local bosses.
None of this is what those looking for fresh blood in the Republican ecosystem are hoping for. A fresh, inspirational voice with bold ideas and the ability to convey them well could arise from anywhere, and he or she probably didn’t spend the last decade being a toady for the county or state committee chair. Their ability to pry large checks out of reluctant donors has no bearing on the possibility that they might be able to tap into a fountain of conservative enthusiasm across the nation.
I’m old enough to remember when conservative stalwarts who would be invited to share their thoughts at outlets like National Review were rather disgusted with the party establishment and the status quo. This is certainly a different tune being sung now. React negatively to Trump’s nomination if you wish. If you see some positive message to carry forward, let us all know and we’ll kick it around at the water cooler. But trying to “slam shut the gates” just to produce a smaller field of party establishment favorites is just about the quickest way to finish digging the grave of the GOP that I could imagine.