The Democratic nominee won’t be democratically chosen
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 Todd 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 Bloomberg: “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 Warren (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 Biden: “No, let the process work its way out.”
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Not necessarily, not till there’s a majority.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.): “Let the process work.”
And finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders (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 Trump. 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 Pence‘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_.