One delegate's jaded impression of the Cleveland convention
© Greg Nash

I’m a delegate to the Republican National Convention. I was initially excited about the prospect of going to Cleveland for the convention and being part of the election process, but based on my first few days here, I’ve concluded that the entire convention process is a major farce.  

We have no voice here, we have no say. It’s all for show so the Republican Party can dishonestly paint a picture that they represent the democratic process of balance and fairness. I’m totally disgusted.

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What I witnessed Monday on the convention floor was one of the most blatant acts of dishonesty and corruption I’ve ever seen. 

To quote Utah Senator Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Cawthorn, Lee introduce bills banning interstate travel vaccine mandate Retreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 MORE, "I have never in all my life, certainly going on six years in the United States Senate, prior to that as a lifelong Republican, never seen anything like this. There is no precedent for this in parliamentary procedure. There is no precedent for this in the rules of the Republican National Convention. We are now in uncharted territory. Somebody owes us an explanation.”

What Lee was referring to was a transaction that occurred at Monday's convention in which the RNC flat out lied and completely ignored the majority of delegates from 11 states who demanded a roll call vote on the adoption of the rules of the convention.  

These states have major reservations about the rules package adopted by the Convention Rules Committee the previous week that gave increased power to the RNC and stripped power from the GOP state delegations (per Rule 12). Some in the media, though, have wrongly reported that our aim was to strip Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE of the nomination, but this is simply not the case.  

Among the objectionable rules submitted by the Rules Committee was the addition of binding language to Rule 38 of the Standing Rules of the Convention for only the second time since the creation of the Republican Party. The first time was in 1976, but the Ronald Reagan convention of 1980 removed this language.  

If we had been successful in forcing a vote on the rules, it is true that this would have opened the door for delegates to vote their conscience (something delegates in the past have been free to do for over 130 years) — but this was just one issue among many.  

To force a roll call vote, we had to have a majority of signatures from 7 states per Rules 37-39.  As mentioned above, we were successful in gathering sufficient signatures from 11 states: Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, Maine, Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Utah, and North Dakota.  

After ignoring us when we initially called for a point of order (and had to then yell since the chair wouldn’t turn on our microphones), and then after the chair walked off the stage for several minutes (something unheard of), he then returned and finally let us make a motion for a roll call vote.  

He called for a voice vote and allowed the entire convention hall to participate — not just the delegates — and subsequently determined the motion had failed. He then stated that only 9 states had submitted signatures, but that several delegates from three or four states withdrew their support.  

He claimed that two additional states had submitted  signatures but they didn’t meet some supposed deadline — which is an outright lie since there is nothing in the rules that mentions such a deadline for roll call votes (only for nominations via Rule 40).  

We have no way of verifying the claim that delegates withdrew their signatures, or determining from which states this supposedly occurred. We only have the RNC’s word, despite our requests for proof. If three or four states withdrew, that would still leave 7 or 8 states, which was sufficient to require a vote from the entire delegation.  

Additionally, the RNC tried to hide the Convention Secretary from us in a nondescript hallway with armed guards standing at the entrance, in an effort to prevent us from delivering the signatures. After two or more hours of trying, we were finally successful in delivering the petitions.  

After the RNC and the Trump campaign received the petitions, they tried to intimate and strong-arm delegates who had signed to withdraw their names for the sake of “Party unity.” After the “vote,” we were again harassed and bullied. One delegate from my delegation was even cornered in the women’s’ bathroom by two female Trump supporters who told her she and the entire Utah delegation “should all die.”      

Is this a glimpse of what a Trump presidency will look like? The nickname many conservatives have for Trump supporters is the “Brownshirts” — in reference to the Nazi regime’s gangsters who threatened and even killed those who wouldn’t fall in line behind Hitler.

There’s not a consensus among conservatives or delegates in support of Trump, and bullying tactics and threats by the Trump campaign or the RNC aren’t going to win over the support of principled conservatives.  

To quote Alexander Hamilton: “For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution” (The Federalist Papers #1).

If Trump wishes to win us over, he should start by showing us that he has a principled vision for this country beyond meaningless clichés or hype; that he will defend the Constitution (as written); and that he will embrace and implement the principles of Ronald Reagan in a Trump administration.   

Reagan was the last president to truly unite the Republican Party (and the nation). He did so by persuasion, not by force or intimidation. We will see over the remaining few days of the convention if Trump intends to try to follow Reagan’s example. 

Stefani Stone Williams is a Republican national delegate.  She is a former deputy chief of staff to Alan Keyes, and she and her husband, a former law enforcement officer and retired Lt. Col. in the USAF, have five children.


 

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