What Would a Brokered GOP Convention Mean for Libertarians?
If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.
Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:
But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention. How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination? The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.
Who would that candidate likely be? It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.
Morrissey is absolutely right and libertarians would do well to heed his words. I’ve noted a fair number of libertarians dreaming of a brokered convention at which Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) is chosen as the Republican nominee. But that’s not what will happen. Romney, Gingrich, and even Santorum have a better shot at receiving the nomination at a brokered convention than does Paul, who is not only disliked and distrusted but loathed by the GOP establishment.
There is also a chance, as Morrissey notes, that a brokered convention would end in the selection of a nominee who isn’t even running right now. That possibility ranges from the disastrous, a big government conservative like Bush or Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Va.); to the mediocre, like Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) or former Governor Haley Barbour (R-Miss.); to the perhaps more acceptable, such as Daniels or Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). But under no circumstances will a brokered convention result in the nomination of a libertarian like Ron Paul, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), or former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N.M.). The Republican establishment that controls the convention process would never allow it.
If libertarians want to see a libertarian elected president, the only way that’s going to happen is if Paul wins the nomination outright — a possibility that is now unlikely in the extreme given that Paul is focusing his energy on the remaining caucus states, which don’t have anywhere near the number of delegates needed to win the nomination. This leaves libertarians with a choice between backing another Republican candidate who is more likely to win the nomination, such as Romney, or sending a message to the GOP establishment by backing a third party candidate like Johnson. Whatever we decide, we should make our decision unencumbered not only by the fantasy that a brokered convention will even happen but also and more importantly by the delusion that it would turn out in our favor.