After the balloons have fallen

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Donald J. Trump is the Republican nominee for President. But the path to his nomination exposed the depth of dysfunction of the Republican party, the unbridled collusion of the party and the Trump campaign, and was a textbook case in the exercise of dictatorial powers of a party leader, Reince Priebus.

The Republican National Committee, just like the Democratic National Committee, are private associations and like every private association, have the right to choose the person who will best represent them. This is one of the greatest misunderstandings in our country – that the voters have the right to choose the nominee of a political party.  The reality is that only delegates to the parties’ convention have that right.

{mosads}The primary system is not guaranteed in the Constitution or by federal law. No one is being elected to any office. It is simply an opportunity for the voters to show their preference for whom they would like to see as the party nominee. The voters do have the constitutional right to elect the President, but not the nominee of a political party. However, since primaries do exist, it is important that the results not be ignored. Delegates take into consideration the opinions of the voter but also evaluate if the candidate represents the values of the party and is electable in November.

How the primary results are represented at the convention is at the sole discretion of each party. Only once in the entire history of Republican conventions have delegates been bound to a specific candidate. In 1976, Ronald Reagan was denied the nomination because the party chose to bind the delegates to ensure that Ford would lead the party into November. Many agree that it was a rigged convention. Priebus and the RNC staff, working with the Trump campaign, orchestrated the binding of the delegates so they were forced to vote for Trump. Only the second time in convention history.

Not only are the delegates responsible for choosing the nominee, they also affirm the rules under which the RNC and the convention will operate. Rarely is there controversy. But during this year’s convention the delegates were not only denied their right to vote their conscience for the nominee for president, but also on the very rules that govern the convention. It was with great sadness that I watched unfold an attack on the delegates that I have only witnessed in countries where democracy is as foreign as freedom. The blatant display of dictatorial power by Priebus loyalist Congressman Steve Womack as he gaveled down the unquestionable sentiments of the delegates when they made it clear that they did not want the rules package presented to them, was an affront to the core values of the Republican party – freedom, democracy, and individual liberty. If that weren’t enough, Womack then left the podium and returned only to announce that the petitions demanding a roll call vote submitted by the delegates were insufficient because delegates removed their signatures from the petitions – which, by the RNC’s own admission, was being orchestrated as Womack was taking an obviously awkward break from his duties as presiding chair. In fact, the RNC coerced delegates to remove their signatures using a process that doesn’t exist. In short, they created a mechanism outside the rules in order to silence the delegates.

This debacle falls on one man, Preibus, and is just another example of how he has bastardized the Republican party. He allowed Trump to hijack the party and he clearly lacked the courage to stop him. And instead of owning that mistake, he orchestrated a convention coup to silence the only people who could hold him accountable.  Just like Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the Democratic side, the debacle of this election cycle also falls on Preibus. For once the Republican and Democratic parties have something in common – the need for change.

The sad reality is that Preibus could have unified the party by not interfering with the delegates right to follow their conscience, both in voting for the nominee, and voting on the rules that govern the party. The party is divided not because the delegates wanted to be heard, but because Preibus silenced them. Trump could have left Cleveland touting that he was freely chosen by the delegates and the standard bearer of a unified party. Instead, Trump left Cleveland just as he arrived – the creation of a man who cares more about the party than the country. And for that, it is time for Reince Preibus to resign.

The balloons have fallen in Cleveland signaling the end to one of the most controversial conventions in 100 years. But the reality is that unless Reince Preibus is removed as the RNC chair, what is left of this party and this country will fall as well.

Dane Waters is co-founder of Delegates Unbound.

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