Historically, political parties in this country had an important check on raw majority rule. If one faction tried to ram through a nominee or platform that didn’t represent the whole party, and offered no form of compromise, then the rest could bolt. That is, they could leave the convention, withdraw their support, and put their own nominees on the ballot in their states.

Honorable Republican delegations to Cleveland should do it this year: Walk out if the minority* Trump candidate is forced on the party.


2012 Republican National Convention (Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour)

2012 Republican National Convention (Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour)

In 1948 the Democrats had a fight much like they had this year. Southern Democrats felt slighted. President Harry Truman vetoed Taft-Hartley against their wishes, integrated the Army, and went to NAACP to make sweeping promises of a civil rights agenda. However the Jim Crow delegates weren’t going to be able to stop Truman from being re-nominated, so they at least wanted a to hold him to a platform that they could support.

Therefore on the floor at the DNC in Philadelphia there were two competing platform planks: one that favored “state’s rights,” and one that pushed for equality. Truman chose to give active support for the equality plank, even though he knew some delegates might leave. He was right, and dozens of delegates at that point walked out of the convention.

Those delegates that bolted then re-convened in Birmingham. Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who led the walkout in Philadelphia, was nominated for President by this State’s Rights Democratic Party convention. The Dixiecrats hoped to throw the election to the House, or if necessary throw the election to the Republicans to send a message to the rest of the party.

The way they hoped they could throw the election to the House was that they were able to put their candidate on the ballot as the Democrat in four states: South Carolina (Thurmond’s home state), Mississippi (home state of Dixiecrat VP nominee Fielding Wright), Alabama, and Louisiana. President Truman was in fact left off the ballot entirely in South Carolina.

In the four states where Thurmond was listed as the Democrat, he won, getting as much as 87% of the vote in Mississippi. In eight other southern states where Thurmond was listed as a third party nominee, he lost, and never got higher than his 20% in Georgia. It wasn’t enough to take the election from Truman, because the President greatly outperformed the polls, but it could have mattered.

It would be particularly fitting to use this strategy now, against Donald Trump. Trump has taken the nomination in large part due to yet more Democrat dissatisfaction over civil rights. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders affirmed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, sending many Democrats seeking an alternative. Barack Obama already had them angry, and BLM was the last straw.

Racist white Democrats found their alternative in Trump. They rushed to open Republican primaries to vote for him, sending GOP turnout to record levels. It would be truly just for Republicans to use the tools honed by anti-civil rights Democrats, against their own candidate. Donald Trump is the candidate of those who wish Jim Crow were still around, so it’s only fair to use against him the tactics of Jim Crow delegates.

Republicans, contact your state parties and contact your state delegates. Tell them to bolt the convention in Cleveland, and hold an alternate convention. Get an alternate convention going that will nominate someone else. Get that alternate nominee on the ballot in your state as the Republican. That’s a game changer that lets everyone hold true to principle.

In particular, Texas hasn’t seceded from anything on principle in quite a while. Seceding from the RNC would be a good start. Or how about Ohio? What if John Kasich were on the ballot for President there? I think he could win.

* Trump has received only 40% of the vote so far. Most of the GOP has spoken, and he is not the guy the party wants.