What started out as a simple effort to make my voice heard quickly became a window of insight into the variety of couth and civility among RNC delegates for this month’s convention.
This last week, I decided to join the growing chorus of voices encouraging the Rules Committee of the Republican National Convention to make explicit what is already the case – namely, that delegates are not bound by law or duty to vote in any particular manner regarding the party’s presidential nominee.
Now, I believe it has adequately been demonstrated, by these linked sources and many others, that this proposal is both legal and appropriate. So, I sent the following email to each member of that committee:
I am writing to you this morning to stand in agreement with efforts to make explicit what should be self-evident, namely, that delegates at next month’s convention ought to be able to vote their conscience on every ballot at next month’s convention. I am including a letter to this effect to indicate my support of its contents. I pray that you will help uphold the rights of your fellow delegates by supporting it as well.
Christopher J. Ray
Dear Republican National Convention Rules Committee Member,
We are writing to you because you are an RNC delegate and a member of the Rules Committee of the 2016 Republican National Convention.
We respectfully request that you please reject the Solomon Yue amendment proposal and support a rule for 2016 that would reaffirm the right of delegates to vote their conscience during balloting at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as you select the party’s nominee for president of the United States to take on Hillary Clinton in the November general election.
Though the current RNC Rules and the First Amendment already allow delegates to vote their conscience, and that right has historically been exercised frequently, the addition of a ‘conscience clause’ that clearly affirms the right of delegates to vote their conscience will help delegates feel comfortable exercising this right in Cleveland in July without any fear of their vote being voided.
Please vote in support of a conscience clause to put America and the Party back on the right track so that we can defeat Hillary Clinton in November.
Thank you for your service to this great nation of ours and God Bless America.
JAMES LAMB, Spokesman
When I sent the email, I had no idea if I would receive any responses back, nor was that my main concern. I simply wanted to do my part to encourage them to do what I believe is right and prudent. Over the next two days, I heard back from half a dozen or so members of the committee, including the chairman.
The emails I received were as varied as the delegates themselves – some containing houghtful discussion and inviting further dialogue, others simply containing the word “No!,” Still others accused me of being a bad Republican, or trying to circumvent the law. One, clearly having perused my website, said, “If you are not a rebublican why should I care what you think. You have already made your decision” (obviously referencing my article chronicling my recent exit from the party and seemingly oblivious to the fact that being an American concerned for the welfare of the country transcends party distinctions).
The most impressive email I got was from a southern delegate who expressed their voting intentions and implored me not to leave the party but, rather ,to stand with them and other principled conservatives to continue the effort of driving the momentum of Congress and the country in a positive direction.
So, what have I learned from this little expiriment? Threethings. First, there are clearly principled delegates on both sides of this issue.Second, there are still a lot of misperceptions about how a delegate is duty-bound to vote (see my earlier atricle for some discussion of this). Third, just because someone is a delegate, even if they are on the Rules Committee, that appaently doesn’t mean that they are capable (or interested?) in having a civil political discourse with those with whom they may disagree.