GOP should embrace brokered-convention idea as a golden opportunity

There was a time, not too long ago, when all major political conventions were “brokered,” when you didn’t know who would emerge as the party’s nominee for president — or even vice president  —  until the final day and several ballots were cast among the delegates.

What’s amusing to me is that recent party conventions have been maligned for years as too predictable, as meaningless, as boring, and mere “coronations” of the chosen nominee. There has been no mystery, no intrigue, and certainly no “gavel-to-gavel” coverage by all major networks.

But 2016 is a different story, isn’t it? We now have the very real possibility of reaching this summer’s Republican convention with no candidate possessing enough delegates to secure the nomination. And it’s a good thing.

Personally, I miss watching conventions that actually mean something, that are more than mere propaganda for a particular candidate and political philosophy. I miss floor fights over the party platform. I miss multiple ballots and the mystery of who will be named the candidate for vice president.

So here’s my advice for the Republicans.

Rather than resist a brokered convention, the Republican Party should embrace it with open arms as a golden opportunity to generate more interest and awareness of what it believes before a huge audience.

By encouraging debate, discussion and dialogue on live television and streaming online, the Republicans would arguably win converts and attract more voters to their side of the aisle. Entering the convention with the nominee still in question, the GOP would have prime-time TV viewers for at least three straight nights. They could set up 1-800 numbers for people to call in and share their viewpoints on issues and the convention as it unfolds (as well as donate). They could generate unprecedented social media attention and website traffic. They could showcase their state and congressional candidates via interviews both online and on TV. The list goes on.

And when it’s all over, you’ll have created a consensus ticket that America has already seen up close and personal, you’ll have aired the equivalent of a three-day Republican infomercial, and you’ll have the email addresses and phone numbers of additional supporters.

I’m not holding my breath that this will happen, of course, but I think it would be an ingenious way for the Republicans to put a new coat of paint on their party and undo much of the negative press they have generated during this campaign.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 03/17/2016 - 04:57 pm.

    There Are No Brokers

    A convention cannot be brokered if there are no brokers. The convention may well see a contested endorsement, but nothing will be brokered.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/17/2016 - 08:46 pm.

    Everything that you’ve described …

    the “debate, discussion and dialogue on live television,” winning converts and attracting more voters to their side, has already happened during the primary season. After 12 nationally televised debates everyone should have a good understanding of the policy positions and qualifications of the candidates.

    They’d have a better idea if the debates hadn’t been moderated by such incompetent moderators who had their own agendas, but according to press interviews I’ve seen, thousands, Trump would say millions, of people have changed political parties or have registered to vote for the first time, presumably inspired by what they’ve seen during the primary season.

    I agree that having an open convention would be fun, entertaining and instructive. I remember the 1976 convention where the incumbent and party favorite Gerald Ford fought off a heated challenge from the insurgent Ronald Reagan to get the party’s nomination.

    But since we’ve already had a series of state primary elections, to ignore the voice of those voters, who came out on cold winter nights to vote, by awarding the party’s nomination to anyone other the candidate who did the best in those primary elections would simply be unfair. To both the candidates and the voters.

    • Submitted by Walt Cygan on 03/18/2016 - 07:28 am.


      This is one of the few times I agree with Mr. Tester. Nullifying the primary and caucus results would be an even bigger disaster for the GOP than selecting Trump. (Of course that means that I hope they do it.)

      The party needs to take a deep breath, and tell the primary and caucus participants, “You broke it, you bought it.” They may not like the outcome, but playing games at the convention would be an enormous slap in the face to the people who invested time, energy, and money in the process. If the Democratic Party did that, it would take a long time before I would trust them again.

  3. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 03/18/2016 - 12:51 pm.

    Paint doesn’t cover-let alone repair–rust & corrosion

    Mr. Bullington:

    Paint doesn’t cover–let alone repair–rust & corrosion.

    And I don’t pay a lot of money to my service provider for umpteen tv channels to watch an incessant REP party infomercial made up of incompetent, unqualified, rude, crass, bombastic, puffed up blowhards who act like immature schoolyard bullies, are an embarrassment to the country and pose real danger to the world.

    I expect all presidential applicants to be eminently qualified, professional, thoughtful & well-informed.

    And I especially want the USA to go back to a much shorter–say 8 weeks–campaign period where each candidate, regardless of party affiliation, is allocated the exact same amount of public funding and given the exact same amount of media coverage.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 03/18/2016 - 01:50 pm.

    If nobody gets a solid majority of the primary delegates and thus wins the first ballot–the only one delegates are bound to vote for a specific candidate for, I’m told–there will be a contested convention. That’s why everybody in the Republican party is betting even on John Kasich to save them from disaster. Contested means brokered, because there will be wheeling and dealing, the “fun” part of political conventions, as any Democrat will tell you.

    Of course, if Trump’s promise of violence in the streets comes true, there could be something like the unfortunate 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.

    Trump has not been a political player at all before this run at the presidential candidacy and is completely untested as a candidate for any office, even dogcatcher, so he probably doesn’t know much about political parties: they can do what they want in selecting who runs under their banner, with their support. Primary and caucus winners are not “elected” to an office; they are chosen to present preferences within a party. The party itself–which is private, not a public entity–can broker anything it wants, dicker and deal however it wants, give or withhold support both financial and organizational. Does anyone think the GOP will really be behind a Trump candidacy, nationally?

    And maybe the media will tire of giving Trump all that astonishingly free advertising!

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 03/18/2016 - 02:13 pm.

      If it smells, it sells…

      That is an old newspaper adage, more appropriate to current digital dissemination.

      I’m afraid Trump will lose coverage only if and when some other significant political focus is created by someone else, taking Trump off the “front page,” as it were.

      In the meantime, we can all watch old movies. Some have wonderful depictions of the truly smoke-filled room era. Our earliest gatherings were far more raucous and belligerent, even lethal, probably. Back then, people had to read about them…and many people could not read, truly. Only the inside players smelled the smoke and raised the ruckus. Most constituents received news days later, and often by horseback. Ah, for simplicity and humility of daily life…

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