I was fortunate enough in 2016 to play a small role in the unprecedented political juggernaut that was the Trump campaign. Against a crowded field of senators, governors and names that Americans had known for decades, then-candidate Donald Trump emerged as a force outside the GOP establishment that none of the Washington types — the Republicans’ political geniuses — could have ever seen coming.
Primary after primary, caucus after caucus, Trump just kept winning. Before the Republican National Convention in July, he exceed the number of delegates needed to clinch the party’s nomination by more than 200.
Becoming the nominee was inevitable — even as some in the party didn’t want to accept it.
Professional losers at the convention, more concerned with tone than taxpayers, worked the few remaining country club Republicans to try to force a floor fight. If you don’t remember this, that’s OK: It lasted all of an hour and went basically nowhere.
The Republican base voted for Donald Trump to be the nominee. The party understood this, and that was final. It is, after all, the will of the people that matters in a democracy, right?
Ask the Democrats.
It was a very simple question that NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddThe press ever-so-politely turns on Biden, as troubles mount NBC's Chuck Todd: Biden currently battling 'pretty big credibility crisis' 'Highest priority' is to vaccinate the unvaccinated, Fauci says MORE posed to the candidates in Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas: Should the candidate with the most delegates at the end of the primary season be the nominee, even if they are short of a majority? Simple. Fair. Topical.
For the first time in many years, we are very likely heading toward a brokered convention for the Democrats. So in a world where there’s no clear winner according to the rules of the game, would it be fair to award the nomination to the person who came closest to victory?
In essence, should the winner of the popular vote be the nominee?
Listen to what they said.
Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida Without drastic changes, Democrats are on track to lose big in 2022 Bidens, former presidents mark 9/11 anniversary MORE: “Whatever the rules of the Democratic Party are, they should be followed.” Chuck Todd clarifies, “So you want the convention to work its will?” and Bloomberg replies, “Yes.”
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn Washington, the road almost never taken Senate poised to battle over Biden's pick of big bank critic Treasury says more rental aid is reaching tenants, preventing evictions MORE (D-Mass.): “The convention working its will means people have the delegates that are pledged to them and they keep those delegates until you come to the convention, all of the people.”
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE: “No, let the process work its way out.”
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDOJ sues to block JetBlue-American Airlines partnership On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership MORE: “Not necessarily, not till there’s a majority.”
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook This week: Democrats face mounting headaches MORE (D-Minn.): “Let the process work.”
And finally, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn Washington, the road almost never taken Don't let partisan politics impede Texas' economic recovery The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (I-Vt.): “Well, the process includes 500 superdelegates on the second ballot. So I think that the will of the people should prevail. Yes, the person who has the most votes should be the nominee.”
This was actually astounding. Mayor Pete, whose platform includes a proposal to eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a nationwide popular vote, stood onstage, stared down on the American people and argued that the Democratic nominee should not necessarily be chosen by a popular vote.
Warren, in her very lawyerly way of hiding behind allusions to intricacies of convention rules and delegate counts, avoided the simple form of her answer: No, the will of the Democratic voters is irrelevant unless it ends up in a delegate majority.
Bernie, whose 2016 campaign actually inspired the changes to the nominating process that have given the Democratic Party this new, perilous-looking system, was the only one to show any consistency between what’s in his platform and what he believes.
And the thing about Bernie is, even if he weren’t the new front-runner of the race, a fair characterization to make given his lead in delegate counts and enthusiasm to match, I believe he still would have answered the same way. And that’s precisely why the Democratic National Committee (DNC) can’t stand him.
Make no mistake — in a world where Sanders falls short of the majority of delegates, he will have the nomination stolen from him again. And each of the candidates who advocates for the dissolution of the Electoral College will just sit back and say, “Sorry, that’s how the nominating process works.”
Principle doesn’t matter here. If it did, every party figure would have been outraged by the candidates’ insistence that the will of the people expressed by a popular vote is meaningful only if it puts them over the delegate threshold.
This is about winning — about letting the DNC establishment choose its ideal candidate to face off against President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE. It knows it’s going to be a fight; it knows it’s going to be tough to win. And for some reason, all these facts add up to the conclusion among party leaders — the Democrats’ geniuses — that they can’t afford to trust the will of their own voters.
Maybe they’re right, for the sake of the general election, as far as they see it. Maybe not. But what I do know is that the desperate rallying cry among Democrats to “vote blue no matter who” implies that, at the end of the day, you are responsible to your voters.
If I were the DNC, I’d treat them with respect. Thinking they’re incompetent usually isn’t a good look.
But hey, trust the geniuses, right?
Corey R. Lewandowski is President Trump’s former campaign manager and a senior adviser to the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign. He is a senior adviser to the Great America Committee, Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence says he hopes conservative majority on Supreme Court will restrict abortion access Federal judge to hear case of Proud Boy alleged Jan. 6 rioter seeking release from jail The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE's political action committee. He is co-author with David Bossie of the new book, “Trump’s Enemies,” and of “Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of His Rise to the Presidency.” Follow him on Twitter @CLewandowski_.