It’s been a couple of weeks since we turned our gaze southward to look at the Trump campaign. Time to rectify that, just in case you are suffering from Trump withdrawal.
Maybe the novelty has faded, but we in Canada aren’t hearing much about Donald Trump these days. Or maybe it is just that our media has a low whine tolerance.
All I’ve heard from Trump the past couple of weeks is how his nomination is being stolen from him. Apparently the man has a sense of entitlement. The primary season is not yet over, the Republican Party has not yet chosen its presidential candidate, but Trump is already upset at what he sees as the outcome. It’s looking like the man doesn’t think he can win. And it is his own fault.
He’s been complaining that he has the most delegates to the convention (so far) and that means he should be the nominee. But the man doesn’t have a majority of delegates, and it looks like he may not get a majority during the primary season. That means an open convention, and someone else may wind up as the nominee. Trump doesn’t think that is fair.
Which amuses me.
I’m not a big fan of the American electoral system. I think in the effort to throw out the Westminster traditions the founders of the US created a rather bizarre set of rules. However the system has worked, more or less, for a couple of centuries. The rules today, both for the parties and the nation, are pretty much what they have been all my life. Trump apparently hasn’t bothered to learn the rules, and if he loses will have no-one else to blame.
I don’t remember Trump screaming in outrage when George W. Bush became president in 2000, even though more people voted for Al Gore. Back then the fact that the person with the most votes could finish second was seen as an aberration, but perfectly understandable the way the system is set up. (I won’t comment on having a candidate’s brother in charge of the vote counting in the most hotly contested jurisdiction.)
Canadians are familiar with party leaders being chosen by conventions. We don’t have a primary system, and our delegate selection process is only open to party members. We know that having he most delegates on the first ballot doesn’t always translate into victory. Stephane Dion was in third place on the first ballot in the 2006 Liberal Leadership convention. He won on the third ballot. Similarly Joe Clark won the Conservative leadership on the fourth ballot in 1976, after finishing third on the first ballot.
If Donald Trump was serious about being president, why didn’t he spend some time actually building an organization and seizing control of the Republican Party? Or was that too much like hard work?
Here in Canada, Jean Chretien was perhaps our most popular Prime Minister, the only one to win three straight elections with a majority. Yet he lost control of his party and was replaced by Paul Martin in 2003. The men had been political rivals for years, and Martin managed to place his sympathizers in key positions in the Liberal party. Chretien knew he had been outmaneuvered, but didn’t complain. The rules were the same for everyone.
It is not as if Trump shouldn’t have been aware of the rules. This isn’t his first presidential bid, though it is his first as a Republican. He should have known from the outset he might have a battle on the convention floor to win. If he didn’t consider all the possibilities in advance, maybe he isn’t as smart a businessman as some people claim. Perhaps he was over afflicted with hubris. After all, who could resist the charm of “The Donald?”
Apparently lots of people.