State GOP leaders attempt to corner Donald Trump

In a move ostensibly designed to target Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, GOP party leaders in North Carolina and Virginia are deliberating the inclusion of an allegiance clause for candidates to be recognized on the ballot for their state primaries.

If passed, the oath would require GOP candidates to pledge support for the eventual GOP nominee.

“John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said the proposal was among many that the organization was considering as it sketches out its ballot access requirements for the 2016 GOP primary. The ultimate decision, he said, would be made by the 84 members who make up the state party’s central committee, which is slated to meet on Sept. 19. The requirements must be submitted to the Republican National Committee by Oct. 1.”

A pledge of fealty is not a new concept:  The motion under consideration mirrors an extant Virginia law, the “sore-loser law,” which forbids candidates from mounting third-party bids in the event of their primary loss.

The proposed measure has gained support from former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:

“Anybody who wants to seek the Republican nomination should have to commit to supporting the ultimate Republican nominee,” Cuccinelli said in a Monday interview. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

This is a deeply illiberal impulse.

Let’s specify up front:  This motion is a discernible variant of an unavailing “Stop [insert candidate here]” crusade to bring a candidate to their knees and drive them from a political contest.

This proposal weighed in Virginia and North Carolina will give Trump the incentive to launch a third-party bid and will confirm for his followers he is anti-establishment; he speaks the truth, particularly about immigration; and he is the country’s preeminent alternative to Washington D.C.’s career politicians often tethered to lobbyists.

Trump’s “man-on-the-street” rhetoric, he has dared to speak rudely, has successfully impressed itself on others to gain their support.  If this measure passes, Trump will capture the country’s attention, appeal to his swelling disciples and make his suffering sound convincing.

There are endless opportunities for discrediting opposition.  Chiefly among them is proffering policy ideas which are underwritten with historical, ethical and philosophical verification. Such an approach establishes a comfortable, traditional relationship with voters.

Rush measures to rectify what the GOP may define as a “Trump problem” will only serve to further the Trump campaign and mark the GOP as a party tainted by a sclerosis.  Individual candidates should not be compelled to offer a public avowal of loyalty as the price of entry to the public square.

Party unification is essential, but a betrothal should be earned.


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