Trump Should Stop Complaining About Primary Rules


For all of his posturing throughout this election season, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is somewhat of a whiner.  

The latest example comes from his constant complaints about the Republican primary process as rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been able to wrest delegates from Trump in state after state, provoking Trump's wrath after Cruz was able to gain the support of all 34 delegates in Colorado.

Trump's supporters have been reportedly stunned and angered by the process at work in the primaries, which was no doubt enhanced after Trump's outburst. But it was ultimately Trump's responsibility, as well as that of his campaign, to navigate the rules and discover what he was getting into.  And he didn't, so now he whines about it.

As The Week's Paul Waldman succinctly points out, the Democratic and Republican parties are private entities; they are not government organizations. Presidential nominees historically have been chosen by party elites, with the nomination process only opening up to the public in the 1960s. But even some of that has been rolled back over the years, as with "superdelegates" in the Democratic Party.

While Americans value and have grown used to the idea that nominations should uphold the will of the people, the basic fact that the parties ultimately control the process has not changed. The Democrats use superdelegates while the Republicans mainly use a complex and arcane system of elections that typically involve many meetings with senior party members.

Fair?  Maybe not, given the fact that the Democrats and Republicans are the only two parties in the U.S. with practical power. But they are constitutionally sanctioned ways for the parties to operate if they choose to do so.

Trump's complaints are also ironic, given that he has personally benefited from the chaotic state of the Republican Party and certain primary rule changes over the past year. For example, the GOP enacted a rule in 2012 that required candidates to win more than one-half of the delegates in eight states to qualify for the nomination. This was originally done so that then-Sen. Ron Paul would not be able to challenge former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts for the nomination in a contested convention.

Like Frankenstein's monster, that rule came back to haunt the GOP by decimating the chances of any "moderate" Republican politicians like former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida or Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to challenge Trump for the nomination.  Only Cruz, a person the GOP dislikes almost as much as Trump, remains.

Similarly, even though most Florida Republicans voted against Trump, he still came away from the state with 99 delegates because he was facing a divided field. Many Republicans did not see this as being "fair."

As conservative commentator S.E. Cupp points out on CNN, Trump's whining betrays his arrogance and sense of entitlement which he has been cultivating on the campaign trail for almost a year.  This is the man who proudly bragged, on a debate stage, about funding politicians as if they belonged to him and who has admitted to exploiting weaknesses in the country's tax and labor codes for his own benefit.

Trump either has to figure out an entirely new strategy to retain and increase his delegate count, or he will lose in a contested convention.  But whining is a profoundly bad look on a candidate which has made his campaign about "winning" and "making America great again."

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Sources: CNN, The Week / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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