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In deference to the Republican National Committee’s promise to give its “undivided support” to President Trump’s reelection — a broad effort that included the passage of an unprecedented loyalty pledge earlier this year — GOP state organizations in Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina and Virginia have canceled their 2020 nominating contests with several more states, including delegate-rich Florida, a key battleground state in the 2020 presidential election, sure to follow.
The party’s fealty to the beleaguered President comes as no surprise, of course, demonstrating Trump’s complete and total takeover of the Republican Party.
What exactly is the RNC and the Trump campaign worried about? After all, the President’s approval rating within his own party has consistently hovered between 79 percent and a record-high 91 percent, according to a recent Gallup Poll.
Two of my Republican opponents — former Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld — have likened Trump to “a king” who “wishes to be crowned instead of elected” while Mark Sanford, the ex-congressman and former governor of South Carolina, dragged a life-size cardboard cutout of President Trump across South Carolina a few weeks ago to protest his state’s arbitrary decision to cancel its presidential primary, a state where Trump, incidentally, enjoys at least a nine-to-one advantage over the rest of the Republican field.
In the meantime, President Trump’s Director of Communications recently told Fox News — with a straight face, no less — that the president’s 2020 campaign didn’t have anything to do with the decisions to cancel any of the aforementioned primaries, saying that “there are volumes of historical precedents to support them.”
While it’s true that there are plenty of examples of the major parties canceling presidential primaries — the Republicans canceled eight primary contests in 1992 and ten in 2004, and the Democrats scrapped eight primaries and caucuses in 1996 and ten in 2012, during former President Obama’s re-election campaign — it’s hard to believe that the Trump campaign, desperate for a coronation instead of a fair and open nomination process, didn’t have a hand in this.
That’s the sort of thing that happens when you have a weak and ineffective chief executive. It’s also the sort of thing that can happen when a pathologically self-absorbed individual values absolute loyalty, if not a kind of creepy hero-worship, above all else.
It’s all about him, after all, and the state parties — shamefully — are all too willing to acquiesce to his out-sized ego.
It’s there for everyone to see.
It almost reminds one of “Murder in the Cathedral” where they said, “Well, the king didn’t tell us to murder the archbishop, but he’ll sure be happy if we do it.”
The state party organizations, or so we’re told, are merely following the King’s wishes.
And they’re doing so with glee. “Pigs will fly before the South Carolina GOP allows Trump to have opposition,” said a former state party chair in the Palmetto State. In other words, rank-and-file Republicans in the state shouldn’t have a say in the nominating process.
Earlier this year, one member of the RNC even went so far as to suggest that the national party should suspend the party’s nominating rules during its annual winter meeting in New Mexico this past January and endorse Trump, declaring him the party’s de-facto nominee and thereby cutting off any primary challengers at the knees.
While the RNC didn’t take that drastic step, it appears that several state parties are willing to do the party’s dirty work for the President by scrapping their traditional primaries. They seem to have no concern whatsoever for those rank-and-file Republican voters they’re suddenly disenfranchising.
Nor, apparently, do they believe in competition.
Republican voters in those states, including Trump supporters, should be outraged that they’ll have absolutely no say in selecting their party’s presidential nominee. The arrogance displayed by state party leaders is astounding. What they’re really saying is, “We know better than the voters what’s good for them. Their voice really doesn’t matter.”
It’s also a cowardly act and begs the question. What exactly is President Trump and the party’s hierarchy really afraid of?
Even Richard Nixon, whose presidency ended in disgrace two years later, never tried to convince the Republican Party to cancel any of its primaries when he was challenged from both the left and right for his own party’s nomination in 1972.
Nixon, who was as politically paranoid as anyone — well, almost anyone — never felt seriously threatened by the antiwar candidacy of Rep. Paul N. McCloskey of California or by the conservative challenge launched by Rep. John M. Ashbrook of Ohio.
McCloskey, who dropped out of the race after polling nearly 20 percent of the vote in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary on March 7th, and Ashbrook, who undauntedly remained in the race until the bitter end — polling 224,922 votes, or close to 10 percent, against Nixon in the delegate-rich California primary in June — appeared on the ballot against the incumbent President in a majority of the twenty Republican primaries held that year. McCloskey appeared on the ballot in eleven primaries while Ashbrook ran in ten states, actively campaigning in several of them.
Ignoring his primary challengers, Nixon went on to win the general election with a staggering 60.7 percent of the vote nationally.
Again, it begs the question. What exactly is President Trump afraid of?
Rocky De La Fuente is a successful California real estate developer and businessman challenging President Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. He was the Reform Party’s candidate for President in 2016.