Why all the angst in Colorado?
By John D. Turner
13 Apr 2016

The headlines on the DrudgeReport this week said it all: “Republicans cancel Presidential election in CO…”; “Voters burn registrations in protest…”; “1 MILLION REPUBLICANS SIDELINED…”; “Protest Planned…”; “PAPER: GOP made big mistake…”; “Fury as Colorado has no primary or caucus”, and of course, “Cruz Celebrates Voterless Victory”. Because as everyone knows by now, Cruz is the ultimate insider conspiring to snatch victory from Donald Trump by any means, fair or foul. “Lyin’ Ted”, as he is referred to in the comments sections of all these articles, undoubtedly engineered all this at the last minute to pull the rug right out from under the Trump campaign.

That’s what Trump thinks anyway. As Trump posted on Twitter: “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!” Or, rather, that is what he is saying now, after Cruz snagged all 34 state delegates this weekend. I wonder if he would have been so “upset” on behalf of the citizens of Colorado had he been the one to run the table instead.

It is true that Colorado did not have a primary or caucus this year; all the delegates were awarded at seven state congressional district meetings this month, and at the state party convention this past weekend. Despite the DrudgeLine “Republicans cancel Presidential election in CO”, Republicans did no such thing; nor could they. On the first Tuesday of November, all citizens of the United States, including those in Colorado, will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote for their choice for President. No one has been disenfranchised.

What did happen, is that the Republican Party in Colorado changed the way they select the delegates that vote at the Republican National Convention for the Republican Party’s nominee for President; the person who will go toe to toe with the person the Democrats pick for the head of their ticket. And despite the blustering by Trump, this is a decision that was made last August; not in some smoke-filled room, but out front and public, as you will notice from this article in the Denver Post, dated 25 August 2015.

If Trump didn’t know about it he has no one to blame but himself and his campaign.

So why did the Republican Party in Colorado do this? Was this some sort of nefarious scheme, thought up back in August of last year to deny the nomination to Donald Trump? Was the purpose to deliberately disenfranchise the voters of Colorado and ensure that the “establishment” candidate was selected instead of an “outsider?”

According to the state Republican Party chairman, the intent was to “give Colorado delegates the freedom to support any candidate eligible at the Cleveland convention in July.” The vote to do so was taken by the 24-member executive committee and was unanimous.

The party in Colorado did this after the national Republican Party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate who wins the caucus vote. According to the article, “Republicans still will hold precinct caucus meetings (the congressional district meetings) early in 2016 to begin the process of selecting delegates for the national convention – but the 34 delegates are not pledged to any specific candidate.” Meaning that although Cruz “won” all 34 delegates, they are not bound by the rules to vote for him if it comes to a floor fight, like the other delegates. Doesn’t mean that they will defect, since at the convention they were voted on based on who they intended to vote for – but by the rules, they could.

This brings up a number of interesting questions. First, why was this not “news” back in August when it happened? Instead of being all over the front page as it is now, with all the angst and blustering and name calling, why was it just a curious footnote back in August? If the good people of Colorado are so incensed now, why weren’t they back in August when perhaps they could have petitioned Party leadership, protested, and perhaps changed the outcome?

Does the guy on YouTube who burned his voter registration, who claims to have been a Republican for 45 years, who is now incensed with the party only wake up when it’s time to vote in national elections? Where was he last August when this was announced? Does he even attend state caucuses and/or congressional district conventions? Is he really even a Republican?

The claim on YouTube is that he was a Republican Party State Delegate in Colorado and was removed from his position because he voted for Trump. Proof? Me thinks there is a lot that is not being said here; all the facts are not being laid on the table. Of course, facts are inconvenient things, and many times the explanations don’t fit nicely into a 15 second sound bite. Sometimes they require one to think things through in a rational manner instead of popping off like the little red guy in Inside Out. While sometimes that may feel more satisfying in the moment, it is probably not the best way to go about selecting the next leader of our country.

Maybe people in Colorado should lay off the bong and take note of what is going on in the world around them?

Perhaps a bigger question is how can it be that Trump and his campaign seem to have just become aware of how Colorado is conducting its party business this year?

This is not the first time Trump has been blindsided by differences in how the various states allocate their delegates. Trump appears to have thought that all the states did it the same – probably the way it is done in New York, where he comes from. After all, isn’t the way New York does things the way everyone ought to do things? That seems to be a prevailing thought pattern from people in New York City.

But even if Trump thought that way, his campaign should not have. Their job is to get their guy elected. It is their job to know how the various states do their business, and to position their candidate accordingly. The members of his campaign staff weren’t randomly selected from a New York phone book, or appointed to their positions by the federal government; they were hired. By Trump.

So if they prove incompetent to do their primary job (if they truly didn’t know, I don’t know what else to call it), what does that say about Trump’s ability to pick people to support him? A president has a lot of jobs to fill, jobs that need to be filled by people competent to fill them. Secretary of State, for example. Trump’s staff doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job with knowing the ins and outs of the various state delegate assignment rules. In fact, Trump’s campaign doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders at all. What does that say about Trump himself and his ability to pick the experts needed to do the job?

According to reports, Trump’s campaign didn’t even have a visible paid staffer in Colorado until last week. There was a distinct lack of energy on the part of the Trump campaign. Prior to the convention, a Trump campaign strategist commented that a strategic decision was made to not compete in Colorado because “the caucus system favored party insiders.” On Saturday, the campaign did prepare a list of preferred national delegates for circulation at the state convention, but the list contained many errors and misspellings and did not present the appearance of a serious, professional attempt to nominate a candidate for the highest office in the land.

And to top it off, Trump skipped out on the state convention itself and Cruz did not. Instead, Cruz gave a rousing speech that no doubt helped clinch the victory.

Trump’s campaign manager should be getting a big pink slip over this; instead we have Trump inciting riots over Twitter and complaining how he is being treated “unfairly”.

On the other hand, the Cruz campaign was very aware of the rules change from last August, and exploited the changes adroitly. They have been on the ground in an effort to win delegates for months. How does this somehow make Cruz “sleazy” or “lying”? You know, I want a person in the Oval Office who knows how to pick people who know what is going on. I want someone who knows the rules of the game, how the game is played, and can use that knowledge to further the conservative agenda. We are after all hiring a president, not a king. Haven’t we had enough of the “Imperial Presidency” we ended up with for the past 7 years?

Whomever we elect in November is going to have to actually work in Washington DC. They are going to have to work with the Congress, and the career civil service force or else they will get nothing accomplished. They are going to have to know the rules and not only abide by them, but use them to their advantage to get things done. That is what we want, right? Or are we just looking for our version of Barack Obama?

Then again, perhaps The Donald did know what was going on. Perhaps that campaign strategist’s comment was accurate. Perhaps they did decide not to compete because the format was “not favorable” to their candidate. That would be in keeping with other decisions “The Donald” has made, like ending the debate schedule when he perceived that it no longer benefitted him to continue. He wants the game played his way or he will pick up his marbles and go home.

Then again, perhaps instead of incompetence maybe we have shrewdness on display instead. Maybe he deliberately sabotaged (or sacrificed, if you prefer) his chances to win a handful of delegates in order to further increase standing in the on-going information warfare game that is the current main thrust of his campaign. This way he gets to rail some more at the party, and the “establishment”, which is like throwing red meat at his follower’s. He gets the opportunity to tell people they are being disenfranchised; to make them feel like victims – but he will fix all that, because he is Trump and he is a winner, despite anything that “Lying Ted” and the “establishment” can do.

In some respects, it almost seems like he is positioning himself for a third-party candidacy instead of the Republican nomination. It is almost like he wants to have a contested convention, so that he can point fingers at the “Republican establishment” and claim he was treated unfairly when he loses. That would give him the “out” he needs to either exit a race that he never intended to win in the first place (but might actually get stuck with), or the excuse to be a spoiler; to run interference as it were for Hillary Clinton in the same way that Ross Perot did for her husband, and thereby ensuring she wins the election.

He did invite her to his wedding and he has contributed money to her campaigns and causes – the only Republican candidate to do so I might add.

Trump does best when he can get a large number of people all riled up with his bombastic generalizations that promise much but say little. He reminds me a lot of another candidate for President, Barack Obama; albeit a bit brasher, less couth, and certainly saltier.

That so many so-called “Republicans” believe Cruz is now, somehow, the “establishment” candidate is so unreal to me as to border on the plotline for an alternate reality science fiction novel. Are that many Americans now so ADD stricken and stuck in the “now” that they can’t seem to remember anything that happened before today? The so-called Republican “establishment” dislikes Cruz at least as much as they dislike Trump. If this turns into a floor fight at the convention, Trump may not win, but you can guarantee that the “establishment” will not be supporting Cruz. He is about as palatable to them as a fish bone stuck crosswise in their throat.

A lot of people are upset at the way the Colorado Republican Party did things this year. I get it. I understand what they were trying to do, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions; it didn’t work. Not only did it not work, but it presented a bad image at a time when such an image was particularly damaging to the Republican brand. I believe that was to a certain extent engineered, but no matter. It’s done.

What I don’t understand is why this is somehow Ted Cruz’s fault. His campaign did what it was supposed to do. It won. It played by the rules as they were drawn up in Colorado by the Colorado Republican Party. What was he supposed to do? Deliberately lose? Stay home?

And you can’t really blame the Republican Party either. The party is not run by the government. For the most part, it is not regulated by the government either. It is a private entity, run by its membership – at least that part of its membership that cares enough about what is going on to actually show up and do things. You can make the argument that the “moneyed interests” are really the ones that run things, and you do have a case that they at least have the ability to make their views known at the national level. But mostly, they have power because everyone else abdicates theirs.

Each state does things differently because each state party is independent of the other state parties and the national party as whole, except for some general, overarching guidelines put forth by the national level of the party. It is sort of like the relationship between the federal government and the state governments – at least like that relationship is supposed to be, under the U.S. Constitution. If you don’t like what one state is doing, too bad, unless of course you live in that state. In that case, get off your duff and try to do something about it. The time to do something about what the Colorado Republican Party did with regard to the election of delegates to the National Convention was last year when they made the change. If you lived in Colorado, that is when you should have made your voice heard. Enough pressure would have forced them to go back and change their mind.

But of course, that didn’t happen.

I think it is funny that people who are usually all up in arms about “state’s rights” (like Sean Hannity) and telling the federal government to butt out, seem to have no problem at all in wanting to make the state political parties to do business uniformly in a manner that they think it should be done. It should be ok, for example, for an individual state to decide its own abortion laws, or to ban the practice entirely, but somehow it is not ok for a political party in that same state to decide how it is going to send its own delegates to the national convention?

It is bad for the Supreme Court to redefine marriage by judicial fiat, to take that decision away from the individual states, but it is a fine idea to take away from the state parties their right to select their delegates when and however they choose and instead establish a national primary day where everyone in each state goes into a polling booth and votes for their choice for the nomination, just like we do for national elections? Why? Why is it “the right thing” for states to be able to determine the one but not the other? Could this be situational ethics at work on the Republican side?

On the one hand, we say “let the people in the individual states decide”. On the other hand, we want to take that decision away because we don’t like the outcome? The people of Colorado decided. They decided by not paying attention. They decided by deciding that other things in their life were more important. They decided by willful ignorance. Maybe next time they will pay attention and the outcome will be different. Maybe people in other states will learn from this experience and pay attention in their own states. Maybe...

In Colorado, we got to see in microcosm what happens when people don’t pay attention, and lose that “right to vote”. We should take this as a wakeup call for the entire country as to what happens when we don’t pay attention. That is one of the reasons why the states can do things independently, isn’t it? To act as an independent laboratory as it were, or “canary in the coal mine” if you like that analogy better?

If you want to lay blame, lay it at the feet of the Republican Party in Colorado, who, reacting to something the national party did, made a change without thinking it through. Blame the media for not waving the red flag at the time it happened. Blame the people of Colorado for being asleep at the switch.

Blame the Trump campaign for incompetence.

But don’t blame the Cruz campaign and Cruz supporters at the convention for winning. That is after all, what they are supposed to be doing for their candidate.