The author suggest those rules might be tweaked this year to prevent a similar candidate in the future.
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"People look at Trump and say, 'Oh, that's who you are! That's who the Republican Party is!'" Mickey Edwards, a former Oklahoma congressman who is a prominent NeverTrump Republican, lamented to me.
In Edwards's estimation, a few problems converged to create the Trump phenomenon: a crowded primary field in which "everybody in our party knew that Hillary [Clinton] was extremely beatable, and that's why they ran"; the involvement of too many independent voters, "some of whom have never voted"; and a primary season that gave too much credence to the views of the fringe in vital early-voting states. "You can't just dismiss the idea of momentum," he explained.
Trump took advantage of all this by winning the early states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada (he placed second to Ted Cruz in Iowa), taking the majority of delegates despite never getting a majority of votes in those states. And throughout primary season Trump won primaries open to voters who weren't registered Republicans, suggesting that he was less popular among people who were really committed to the GOP.
"We've created a very bad system that allows—I don't know whether you would say it's too democratic—but it basically dilutes the power of the people who really are the party," Edwards said. A functioning candidate-selection process, he feels, would be "a matter of making sure that you nominate someone qualified for the job, even if their policies are controversial." So in short, he wants a process that would keep another Trump from being the nominee.
"Another Trump" could be any charismatic populist Republican the party elites don't actually want in power, not necessarily someone with Donald Trump's particular, um,attributes or campaigning style. The term "Trump" as we're using it here could include another run from Trump himself, or a candidate like Sarah Palin, or David Duke, or Michelle Bachman, or the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.
Earlier this year, Republican leaders unhappy with Trump were looking to change the primary rules to close them to independents in the future (on the theory that those people would be the most likely to back another Trump), but that effort still failed at the Republican National Convention. Edwards feels that significant changes were shot down in an attempt to suppress any sense that the party was questioning Trump.
Edwards blames party leadership for this, Reince Priebus in particular. "He and [Paul] Ryan, with the weight of their titles and positions, were strengthening the narrative that Trump was putting out there, that we would steal it from him."
The article goes on to caution about over correcting. The rules changes following Romney's defeat in 2012 created Trump's opportunity.
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