As of yesterday evening, the thing that nobody thought could happen, happened. Donald Trump officially became the Republican nominee for president. For the last year and a half, there had been a quiet assumption (or in some cases, a very loud assumption) that at some point, the party would step in and put a stop to all this. In fact, as recently as yesterday, there was a group of delegates hoping they could use the convention rules to get the party to reconsider. As if everyone involved would suddenly stop, blink, and say, "Whoa, what the fuck are we doing? Haha, everybody put your pants back on, we have to do the real primary now."
Their attempt failed without so much as a vote. Quashing their plan appears to have involved cornering delegates in bathrooms to threaten them and publicly announcing that if any delegates didn't fall in line, their names and hotel rooms would be announced in public so that Trump supporters could "visit their hotel and find them."
This is what it looks like when the most powerful civilization in the history of the world picks who it wants to become the most powerful person on the planet. Look at it!
The thing is, lots of you are cynical about politics, particularly those who watch House Of Cards or Veep and assume there are elements of truth at play there. But at least you expect complex behind-the-scenes deal-making or Kevin Spacey throwing a journalist in front of a goddamn train. The reality is so, so much stupider.
For example, lots of the convention voting we're about to describe involves voice votes -- a guy at the podium asks for the crowd to shout "yea" or "nay" and then judges who is screaming the loudest. Part of this simply came down to one group out-screaming the other. That ... actually seems strangely appropriate.
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"WE LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!"
I sat down with several of those Republican delegates who, up until the minute of Donald Trump's confirmation as their candidate, were trying to get a chance to overturn the primary results. The process is difficult to explain in full, mainly because it makes no fucking sense. To boil it down, that long, torturous primary lets candidates win delegates (designated party insiders and other officials), who then go to the convention and cast the vote that actually matters. But both parties have tried to leave themselves enough wiggle room to let those delegates pick somebody else in the extremely unlikely event that the primary voters pick a candidate who is a human dumpster fire. They mainly do this by keeping the convention voting rules vague and confusing, and by allowing them to be changed pretty much any goddamned time the party feels like it.
As you can imagine, the Republicans had a sizable group of delegates who wanted one last chance to nominate anyone, literally anyone, possibly even an inanimate object, who wasn't Donald Trump. So on the first day of the convention, the Republican National Committee had everyone vote on a new set of rules that would clarify that, yes, delegates are absolutely bound to vote the way their state voted -- the rule would not allow them to switch their vote away from Trump, no matter what.
Nine states challenged the new rules. Their attempt got shut down before it started. As delegate and member of the rules committee Gina Blanchard-Reed explained, "What we wanted to do was get a roll call, so that we could actually take a vote to reject a rules package. And that's what really exploded in there today."
This is where the aforementioned screaming comes in. The official party line is that no roll call was provided because five states dropped their objections. And if reality were House Of Cards, Kevin Spacey would've secured those dropped objections via a series of cunning deals and/or murders. In reality, three delegates who spoke with Cracked claimed the pro-Trump delegates simply chanted and played loud music to drown out the voices of the opposition so no one could hear them.
Show of hands: Which of you dreamed of running for president some day back when you were in elementary school? How many of you imagined that the nomination process would look exactly the way it would if it had in fact been conducted by a stadium full of elementary school kids?
When the anti-Trump delegates attempted to hold up the nomination, the sources we spoke with say that things immediately escalated to death threats. Selena Coppa, an alternate delegate from Washington, said, "On the floor of the convention, a pregnant female delegate was threatened with being hung for what she was doing ... we have to be protected from the protesters? No, we have to be protected from ourselves."
Gina Hayward-Reed told us at least three delegates received their threats in a much more veiled form. "[T]here wasn't anything physical ... it was more coercion ... 'You should really think about what this means down the road for you, y'know?'" Not that Selena didn't see plenty of that sort of thing, too. Stuff like, "'We're going to make this difficult for you,' 'You don't want to ruin your life,' 'You know, this could go very badly for you.'"
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"That's a nice political party you have there. Be a shame if something were to happen to it ..."
Make no mistake, this is mild stuff compared to some previous major party conventions. The 1924 Democratic National Convention came down to fistfights and screaming matches on the floor, and an army of Klansmen burning one of the candidates in effigy. The 1968 DNC descended into chaos as Chicago mayor Richard Daley got in the face of a senator from Connecticut and screamed, "Fuck you, you Jew son of a bitch!" We think of elites as either smooth, charismatic con artists who could talk a cow into a slaughterhouse, or conniving hucksters who orchestrate complicated machinations behind the scenes. In reality, they're just people. Petty, shitty people.
"I almost got my credentials [rescinded] because I wasn't sitting in the right seat," says Hayward-Reed. See, she'd been a little too far out into the aisle, and her opponents used those extra few inches of, uh, butt-space to try to justify kicking her out of the whole convention. That's the sad reality of political infighting at the highest level. It's not assassinations and bribery that you have to worry about; it's some asshole with a tape-measurer looking for the slightest, pettiest excuse to shut up the opposition.
The direction of history can turn on shit just like that. In fact, I'm pretty sure it just did.
Robert Evans runs the Cracked Personal Experience Article team, and his book on how sex, drugs and rock and roll built civilization is on sale now.
For more reasons Trump is a frightening, frightening figure, check out Donald Trump Is Courting 9/11 Truthers: The Weird Reality and 5 Ways We Got The Trump Campaign Wrong: An Insider Explains.
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