Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Republican convention, Day 2:
The burning of Alaska

THE INTRAPARTY parliamentary shenanigans that occurred on Monday set the stage for some kind of repeat on Tuesday. The dustup between maverick delegates and the RNC secretary were bad enough; what happened next — and what happened after what happened next — would make the 2016 Republican convention an unprecedented spectacle.

Never mind the schedule of speakers on Tuesday. One event distilled just how far the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign will go to cultivate the fiction of party unity. One probable reaction to that event illustrates just how far the Republican Party really is from being unified.

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When it's done right, a political convention is a wonk’s delight, a days-long venture into the weeds of our messy political and electoral processes. What happened Tuesday was also an education in how to lose political allies, or make those allies feel like strangers.

The Republican delegation from the state of Alaska was seated and ready at Quicken Loans Arena, having traveled 4,000 miles and arriving with the apparently outrageous intention of casting their 28 delegate votes in accordance with the proportional results of the March primary election: 12 votes for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 11 votes for Trump, and five votes for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Instead, the Alaska delegation was horrified and outraged to learn that the RNC legal eagles — likely goaded by party and committee leadership and maybe even Team Trump — were set to award all 28 delegate votes to Trump.
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ERICA MARTINSON of Alaska Dispatch News reported that “delegate Peter Goldberg ... located an RNC attorney and aired the delegation's grievance of democracy undelivered.

“That's when the delegation found out for the first time that the Republican National Convention attorneys had decided that they saw Alaska's convention rules differently. Since Cruz and Rubio are no longer in the race, all of the state's delegate votes were going to Trump, the attorney told [state party chairman Tuckerman] Babcock.

“The RNC attorneys had said nothing of their new interpretation of the rules to the delegation, the Trump campaign in Alaska, the Alaska Republican Party or its legal counsel, Babcock said. "There's no excuse for that," he said.

“Alaska Republicans had agreed to split the vote, in the name of bringing the party together, Donley said. ‘What a way to get unity, huh? Cheat people out of a vote,’ he said.

DONLEY told MSNBC that he is “feeling like we did everything we could to honor the votes of the people of Alaska. The RNC denied that. They didn't even consult with us about our own rules ... They didn't talk to any of our representatives to the RNC about it. And their interpretation is dead wrong. Because we suspended that rule at our [state] convention. So those rules didn't apply to us at all. They are wrong.”

It was the second parliamentary snafu for the convention in as many days. Like the one on Monday, it underscored how aggressively Reince Priebus and the leadership of the Republican National Committee intended to go to communicate at least the perception of party unity, and rank & file acclamation around Donald Trump. Whether that acclamation was real or not didn’t matter. Babcock knows enough of the difference to offer his own party a warning.

"It's something any centralized authority always has to careful of — how you treat the remote areas," Babcock told Martinson. "Whether it's the RNC reinterpreting our rules for us, or Washington, D.C., bureaucrats reinterpreting regulations for us, it's still very frustrating for Alaskans."

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