It is clear that the GOP is imploding and breaking apart; the question is how, when and what will exist after?
This writer was involved in a similar event in 1989 with the Young Democrats of America convention in Columbus, Ohio. If Donald Trump wants to have the greatest impact he should follow that example. A brokered or contested convention fight will lead to the kind of compromise-based outcome that will surely leave Trump and his supporters outside looking in. For that reason the better result for Trump is to follow the example of the pro-labor members of the Young Democrats of America in 1989 and stage a walkout.
First a little history:
In 1989 I was the Columbus-Franklin County, Ohio Frontlash director. Frontlash was an AFL-CIO support group that organized college students and young people in support of labor’s agenda. The Young Democrats of America invited me to a planning meeting for their 1989 convention in Columbus but it became clear that what they sought from labor was money but in return they only offered disrespect. At that time Columbus had no union hotel large enough to handle such an event so if they event were to be held in Ohio it needed to be elsewhere.
The Young Democrats of America exists to support Party principles and to nurture future leaders. In this case it was time for labor to organize and teach these future leaders a lesson. So after attempts to educate through conversation failed labor did what it does best: organize.
First we reached out to the keynote speaker Mario Cuomo and quickly virtually all national leaders declined to participate in a convention that was in effect anti-union. On the first night pro-labor delegates walked out and held a rump convention at the local CWA union hall. Media coverage made it impossible for the Democratic National Committee to ignore the fact that the YDA now had two leadership teams.
To make a long story short, Chairman Ron Brown presided over a negotiation in Washington, D.C. to bring the organization together and labor was once again respected. Like today’s young activists, unions are not respected but for a brief shining moment in the YDA they were. The power of organizing over principle cannot be ignored.
So what does this have to do with Donald Trump?
If Trump wants to run a third party candidacy, which seems likely, he and his supporters should attend the first night of the GOP convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The fight will not be about delegates, it will be about rules. It seems impossible to imagine that the Rules Committee will not fashion convention rules that will disenfranchise Trump voters and delegates. So Trump supporters should not wait for a delegate count to walk out; they should walkout when the rules are approved.
Trump has the resources to reserve First Energy Stadium and on the night in question walkout and organize a rump convention. With tens of thousands of delegates and supporters cheering him on Trump can declare himself the people’s GOP nominee. It is just the sort of staging that Trump has mastered.
In the end the GOP will be no worse off; 2016 will be an electoral disaster. But a walkout is a signal of strength, while complaining about the rules is a sign of weakness. At least in theory the promise of a walkout with First Energy Stadium paid for and reserved just may force the Rules Committee to capitulate to the Trump forces.
If a team I led of less than a half dozen Young Democrats can do it surely Trump can. I just hope for a front row seat.