I am a delegate from Smith County Texas to the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) State Convention. This year I will also serve on the Temporary Rules Committee that will meet the three days prior to the beginning of the full convention. Since becoming aware of my appointment I have made an effort to do my homework and analyze the General Rules for All Conventions and Meetings (rules) of the RPT. What I have come to realize is that the RPT and the Republican Party in many other states do not operate as a republic should, in defiance of its namesake. And this may be at the heart of what ails us politically.
What is a republic one may ask? A republic is a representative form of government. The people elect others to represent them and make decisions. It is my belief that the whim of the majority of the people, a democracy, is not akin to freedom. This is one of the reasons that I cringe when I hear our leaders state that we are “spreading democracy”. Shouldn’t our leaders be stating that we are “spreading the ideals of our republic”? It seems like those in our government love the idea of democracy when it is a gigantic sample which is spread far and wide and difficult to audit, but not when the polling can be limited to those in a closed room. Possibly because this is where those in power would be utterly powerless.
In analyzing the rules, I have become very intrigued by the binding of delegates to the Republican National Convention to a statewide democratically chosen victor in the primary election for the office of President of the United States. When did this “binding” begin and why? (I prefer to think of binding as castrating because it essentially makes a delegate an impotent being who attends a conference only to be a cheerleader.) Reading Rule No. 38 Section 1 of the RPT: “A Presidential Primary election shall be conducted…in the year 1980…for the purpose of permitting the…voters…to express their …preferences…” Given the persistence of that date in our current rules, I contacted RPT headquarters in Austin with the hopes of finding archived rules from before 1980. Unfortunately their records only go back to 1982. No one there was able to assist me further.
I continued to search and found out the following. The frontrunner of the nationwide primary was the Democratic party (should not be surprising). Their first nationwide primary was 1972. What saddened me is that the Republican Party began instituting primaries only four years later in 1976. But 1976 did not go as smooth as many would have liked it to go in the Republican party. Gerald Ford was the incumbent and the darling of the people (here I mean delegates) was Ronald Reagan. Even with the primary process Reagan was close to achieving the nomination but ultimately he lost the nomination because of his vice presidential pick upsetting one state, Mississippi. The nomination thus went the way of the primaries and the rest was history.
But I cannot help but wonder what happened in the late 1960’s and 1970’s for the delegates to give up their power? And who is it that benefits from the delegates not being free to choose the nominee to run for president from the party? I may never discover the answers to these questions. But I am confident that a reversal back toward a republic, where delegates and electors are sovereign, would help solve some of the problems that plague our out-of-control federal government.
What amazes me is the uphill battle that would have to be fought even if many delegates in Fort Worth and nationally did agree with me. The national Republican Party rules would still call for Texan delegates to be bound to a primary result as can be read in its plethora of rules governing this situation. When I wonder about a solution to this, my first thought is “We can dismantle the primary.” I am sure this would cause an uproar. The media would state that the evil delegates are striving to take away Republican voters democratic rights. All while never once educating voters that they could get more involved and actually become delegates themselves. Another thought that has been floated has been to try and make Texas a caucus state. I think this is a great idea because a caucus by its nature demands more than just pulling a ballot lever by its participants and it is practiced in other states. However, the size of Texas would be a hindrance to a caucus running smoothly.
Which leads me to another thought, maybe Texas is too big (I know that many people will gasp at that comment). When Texas was originally annexed, there was talk about splitting the state into five smaller states. Although at that time the population was small and Texas barely met the criteria for single state entry, modern times with a healthy economy and air conditioning have helped balloon the population of Texas to where this should surely be considered.
Texas is second only to California with regard to the number of delegates that are sent to the national convention. Both states have primaries and both states have all except 2-3 delegates bound to this primary result. And this to me lies at the bottom of many of the problems which we now endure. I have come to believe that Americans are not truly free unless their delegates are free. The hoopla about “grassroots desires here, and grassroots desires there”, would be alleviated if the ORIGINAL grassroots, the DELEGATES, were able to unbind from their chains and sound their voice when called to do business at their respective conventions.