Several years ago, I joined a poker game with a group of people I hadn't met before. The stakes went up and up, and, at one point, a pot reached over $1,000. I had what I was fairly certain was the winning hand, but the dealer, who was a friend of my remaining opponent, "accidentally" flipped his last card face up, not down. Normally, the rule is that the misdealt card is "burned" and a replacement card is dealt face down. No harm, no foul.
In this instance, I was informed "house rules" say the player gets to choose whether he wants the card or a replacement. This effectively gave him two last cards, and, sure enough, he pulled his full house after rejecting the first card.
Cheated, I high-tailed it out of there and never went back. The Never Trump movement would have said: Too bad, you should have known the house rules before you sat down.
For four months, I (mostly) kept my mouth shut during the GOP presidential delegate chase, but now that it is over, I want to shout it from the rafters: the nomination process is the most corrupt, elitist, anti-democratic system for choosing a president imaginable. It is rotten to the core.
It is what millions of primary voters are rebelling against. Even as 35 states had lined up for Trump, super PACs, professional politicians, and party hacks conspired how to overrule the will of the voters and pick the candidate they wanted.
Trump was never my first, second or third choice. This isn't about Trump, though. It's about restoring basic fairness and voter empowerment going forward.
This year the party chieftains wanted to tell millions of voters, who sometimes waited two hours in line across the country to cast their ballot, that their vote doesn't really count. A record turnout of voters went to the polls naively thought that Republicans believed in one man, one vote. The insiders replied: Sorry, it doesn't work that way. You should have known the rules.
And by the way, as we learned this year, it doesn't matter what the rules are because the insiders are empowered to rewrite the rules when they don't like the way voters are voting.
Another story: A few weeks ago a longtime conservative friend, who is also a Virginia delegate, told me proudly that she and all her delegate friends intended to not vote for Trump at the convention.
Wait a minute, I reminded her, somewhat stunned; a plurality of voters in Virginia chose Trump. She launched into a tirade that she has been an activist in the party for 20 years and how dare all these new Trump voters just storm into the party and vote for someone other than her first choice. She all but blurted out: My vote should count more than theirs.
Apparently, in the GOP rulebook, all voters are created equal, but some voters are more equal than others.
Many people are intensely unhappy with the outcome -- and they feel entitled to a "better" candidate. But imagine that it was Ronald Reagan who had won Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, and at least 20 other states. But the party hacks said: sorry, we nominate George Bush. See you in November.
Conservatives would have gone ballistic, and justifiably so. Since when do we as conservatives believe the ends justify the means?
It seems like just yesterday that Republicans were making fun of Democrats for rigging the system for Hillary Clinton, and the voters be damned.
Now the other argument in favor of the corrupt nomination process is that the Republican Party is a private organization and it can make whatever rules it wants.
Fine. But if that's the case, the party should at least have the decency to tell the voters: We have a couple thousand insiders who are going to decide who our nominee is. Don't make 20 million people trudge to the polls under the false belief that their vote matters if it doesn't.
Amazingly, this is the same party that says it must drive up voter turnout to win, but when voters do turn out in record numbers, they thumb their noses at them as stupid, low-information, "not real Republicans," and so on. My delegate friend sneered: I've never even seen these people at a Republican meeting before. Um, isn't that a good thing?
As an aside, Democrats routinely slander these voters as racists, xenophobes, know-nothings, fascists and other niceties. Wouldn't it be nice if the conservative intellectual class came to these voters' rescue rather than piling on and giving credence to these vile leftist rants? Whose side is the Never Trump crowd on?
So how to fix the GOP nominating system to empower voters and make the delegate class mostly impotent? I'm no expert (who is?), and I do believe in federalism, where the 50 states decide their own rules. But, at the very least, get rid of the rules that allow "unbound delegates." Trump won almost 60 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania, yet as many as two-thirds of the delegates said that at the convention, they would choose someone else. Delegates should be bound based on a well-defined rule of either winner take all, or some kind of proportional system.
As I write these words, I just received a text that some influential Never Trumpers are still conspiring to find a way to take the nomination from Trump even after he gets way past the 1,237-delegate finish line. They are advising delegates to break the rules and not vote for Trump even though they are honor-bound to do so.
Will the madness ever end? If only these smartest minds of the party, by their own admission, would help figure out how to beat Clinton.