The Slatest

RNC Rules Committee Decisively Finishes Off #NeverTrump

People walk into the Quicken Loans arena in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, days before the city hosts the Republican National Convention.


After 10 or so hours of debate over occasionally interesting amendments, the RNC rules committee signed off for the night on Thursday by tanking the big one: the rule, proposed by Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, that would unbind delegates from their first ballot obligations and allow them to vote their conscience. Never-Trumpers will continue to argue, perhaps forever, that they still have some snazzy new trick up their sleeve for snatching the nomination from Trump. But they don’t. It’s over.

The RNC and delegates loyal to chair Reince Priebus were in control of the process throughout the day as 112 members began to run through amendments to the Republican Party’s 42 rules, one-by-one. The “printer jam” that caused a 3-hour delay in proceedings Thursday morning was a decoy. Instead, former Virginia Attorney General (and Cruz ally) Ken Cuccinelli was trying to broker a deal with Priebus in which Cuccinelli and his allies would stop jamming up the amendment process in exchange for certain conservative-friendly changes to the 2020 primary process, like closing all of the early primaries. No deal was reached, and the slog amendment process went on. Other high-profile populist amendments, like one to ban corporate lobbyists from serving as RNC members, were shot down decisively.

As was Unruh’s rule to unbind delegates, which was rushed to a vote out-of-order before the close of business. The proposal was never going to pass out of committee, but the goal was to secure the 28 votes that would allow anti-Trumpers to bring the thing to a vote before the full convention. Unruh was only able to collect 21, and the motion went down by voice vote. That vote was immediately preceded by a recorded vote of 87 to 12 that made explicit delegates’ binding.

Anti-Trumpers may describe what went down as a bumrush to squash the righteous quest that only their small ranks are morally evolved enough to appreciate. Whatever. The argument posited against unbinding the delegates—that Trump won the delegates, and it would be wrong to throw that away after the fact—was simply the fairer case. “I will not turn my back on 14.1 million people that voted for Donald Trump,” said Rhode Island delegate Eileen Grossman.

The Republican Party will nominate Donald Trump for president, and we’ll have a pretty conventional election. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s selection as the vice presidential nominee and Republicans’ hatred of Hillary Clinton will bring most Republican voters to the polls to cast their ballots for Trump-Pence. The electoral map will settle into its usual battlegrounds with a new opportunity for either side here or there. One candidate will win by a few percentage points thanks to base turnout, and we’ll have another blurry result that answers no essential questions in American politics.

Congratulations to Donald Trump!