“Convention delegates should be free to vote their conscience,” says Kendal Unruh, founder of www.freethedelgates.com . Unruh, a Colorado delegate to the GOP convention and member of the convention’s Rules Committee, has begun, or rather, has consolidated a movement among GOP voters to encourage the delegates to next month’s convention to vote their consciences, rather than “bind” themselves to the results of their states’ respective primaries.
Unruh’s website has, as its front page, a letter that its organizers invite visitors to sign. It reads:
To: GOP Convention Rules Committee
From: Concerned Republican Voters
As Republicans, we are devoted to the pillars of conservatism that have made America great. For generations, we have worked to build a party that embodies the American dream.
That’s how the GOP became the party of freedom, prosperity, and opportunity.
It was the GOP that fought to abolish slavery, and was the GOP that championed women’s suffrage. Today, it is the GOP that works for stronger families and stronger communities for a strong and prosperous America.
Many of our country’s greatest leaders were, and are, members of the GOP — we are the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan.
But today, we are saddled with a presidential candidate who holds none of the qualities of our party’s greatest leaders.
He lacks common decency, respect of the Constitution, and the temperament of someone fit to be Commander-in-Chief.
That is why we cannot, in good conscience, support Donald Trump for President of the United States.
Mr. Chairman, we are calling on you to support a rule at the Republican National Convention which would reaffirm the longstanding principle that delegates to the GOP Convention can vote their conscience in the name of preserving the legacy of our party and our nation.
Kendal Unruh, Founder, National Delegate & Member of Rules Committee
Those who find themselves in agreement with this petition may add their name to the list of signees, and sign up as volunteers to bolster the cause. Many, myself included, have signed the letter, and as the Rules Committee begins their deliberations, there is little doubt that this cause will be the subject of a great deal of conversation.
This move by #NeverTrump Republicans has some shaking their heads, and some shaking their fists. However, a couple of points should be understood before passing judgment on the #freethedelegates movement.
#1 The delegates are already free
There are no rules in place that would bind a delegate to vote in a particular manner. The rules for the 2016 convention haven’t even been written yet (thus the need for the Rules Committee that Unruh sits on). In fact, as many have argued, the idea of a delegate being bound to vote based on the preferences of others undermines the very democratic process under which our elections operate.
#2 Trump should not fear a room of unbound delegates
Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that the voters chose him, and that he can win. Since the convention delegates were selects by his party, there should be no reason (according to Trump reasoning) why unbound delegates would not select him. In fact, selection by unbound delegates would give him a mandate as the Republican nominee far beyond what bound delegates would produce.
#3 This is the whole point of a delegate system, and representative democracy
This country’s system does not function as a pure democracy. It functions as a representative democracy. This is true in our city councils, our state legislatures, our congress, and our presidency. The idea of a representative democracy is that people elect ‘wise’ individuals to act as their proxies in making decisions that are complex enough and weighty enough to prohibit adequate study by the average citizen or to leave to the fickle whims of an easily swayed populace. It is no different with delegates. We elect delegates with the idea that they are versed in the political system, and we imbue them with the power to go to the convention, weigh the candidate options, and vote wisely on our behalf. The primaries are, as Unruh explains in her MSNBC interview, a “preference poll,” which advises the delegates of the preferences of their constituencies. The delegates MUST make up their own minds.
“And that’s all I have to say about that.” – Forrest Gump