Impending rule changes for the Republican Convention

Ronald Reagan, Acceptance Speech, Republican National Convention, RNC
Ronald Reagan, Acceptance Speech, Republican National Convention, RNC

Rule 40 (B) for the Republican Convention in 2012 provides that votes at the Convention can be counted only for candidates who have received a majority of the votes in at least 8 states.

Rumors that this rule might be changed in 2016 has raised cries of “Foul” and “Unfair” and “changing rules in the middle of the game” from the Trump-ites and Cruz-ites since Trump and Cruz are the only possible beneficiaries of the rule. As with all questions, it is instructive to examine a little history prior to making a determination.

It has been a time-honored tradition at Republican conventions to nominate multiple candidates with long-winded nominating speeches for each.  Thus the “Great State of Idaho” might trot out its favorite son, “Joe Bagadonuts”, who had no real chance of nomination, and give a long speech about the virtues of Joe in particular and Idahoans in general.  This made for great theater, ego boosting, and fun in the old days but also long, boring interludes for many of the delegates.

In 1952, with the advent of televised proceedings, the Rules Committee realized that TV audiences would more likely switch channels to watch “Uncle Miltie”, (Milton Berle), or turn the set off than to suffer through 40 or more speeches.  To make the show more palatable, the Committee instituted a rule whereby only serious candidates who had won majority support in at least 5 states would be allowed the privilege of a nominating speech at the Convention.  Others could still be nominated and voted upon sans nomination speech.

In 2012, the Romney-ites changed the rule from 5 to 8 states.  More importantly, the new rule 40(B) along with rule 16.2 now provided that only votes for a candidate that had won at least 8 states would be counted on the first convention ballot or any other ballot. This, of course, had the effect of holding down any expression of enthusiasm for Ron Paul or the Tea Party or other candidates but it might prompt the following question, “Did supporters of Ron Paul or other candidates, after finding out that their votes would not be counted, nor would they be heard, go home to vigorously work for and support the party nominee or did they go home and sit?” Remember that Romney received millions fewer Republican votes than McCain in 2008.

Before deciding for yourself whether Rule 40 (B) should be changed in 2016, consider how it was instituted in 2012 and the impact that it might have had on that election.  Also consider that many of the Convention rules are not permanent and may be changed at any time. The rule, for example, that requires 1237 votes to nominate could be changed to “most votes on the first ballot” or, alternatively and more likely, to a supermajority (Say 60% of the delegates – 1519).

Regretfully, we must watch carefully and not trust anybody.

RedState and BallotPedia have more information on this and other Republican Convention rules.

Photo credit NationalArchives


John Weaver is a 20 year resident of Southern California and believes that good Governance requires a strong application of reason as guided by historical lessons, truth, and faith and that good Governance can never be attained without a population that understands and subscribes to basic principles. John has earned degrees in Physic and Mathematics from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and has made his home variously in Southern California, Georgia, the Washington D.C. Area, and London.