“BE IT RESOLVED,” states the preamble to the formal rules of the Republican Convention,” that the Republican Party is the party of the open door.” The preamble goes on to defend the purpose of the rules as to ensure the “broadest possible participation of voters” in its activities and to make the party “open and accessible to all Americans.” The ideological basis of the Republican Convention is thus the purposeful inclusion and tolerance of all American citizens regardless of heritage, race, gender, or religion.
Doesn’t sound like the party of Donald Trump does it?
Candidate Trump recently got himself into trouble for denouncing Judge Gonzalo Curiel on the basis of his Mexican heritage, despite the fact that Judge Curiel is an American citizen born in Indiana. Republican leaders, including some as closely aligned to Donald Trump as Newt Gingrich, have gone on record stating that they do not have an issue with Trump’s questioning the political (or in this case, unabashedly liberal) inclinations of any judge. It is, however, the fact that Trump links such ideology to culture and race that is the larger problem. Despite Trump’s own insistence that many Latinos are in support of his candidacy, his implication that political bias somehow causally follows race or heritage is something the majority on either side of the political aisle finds “inexcusable.”
Such comments cannot come as a surprise to those who have been closely following the presidential race. Trump began his candidacy on a tough anti-immigration stance in which he couched his proposal within stereotypical indictments against Mexicans. In defiance of the first amendment, he then argued for a ban against all Muslims on the basis of their religion alone. And it was Trump himself who stated that Syrian children should not be allowed to live or determine their own destiny if they happen to be born into the wrong family.
If Newt Gingrich’s comments are telling, then most Republican leaders seemed to have believed that Trump would pivot away from such rhetorical nonsense following a nomination victory. Many Republicans may have calculated that Trump’s bigotry was simply a form of pandering to the party’s excitable fringe elements. The fact is, however, that the candidate’s recent comments are simply the latest evidence that Trump means exactly what he says. And even if Trump were to distance himself from his own comments in the near future, Republicans should take this opportunity to decry such behavior and punish it vehemently. Such inflammatory talk should be labeled for what it is – indefensibly opposed to the purpose of the Republican Party, and a cause for disqualification from its nomination.
Those familiar with party guidelines will be quick to note that the convention rules offer no litmus test for the ideology of the presumptive nominee. Given the party’s record of past successful nominations, such a test has not been required until now. But Trump’s pending nomination presents a dire situation -- a revocation of the Convention’s core purpose -- and as a result desperate acts within the confines of existing rules must be taken.
According to Rule No. 12 of the convention rules, for example, amendments may be offered if proposed and accepted by the Standing Committee on Rules prior to the convention in July. In fact, as explained in Rule No. 32 the Republican Convention laws themselves may be suspended on the basis of majority agreement of any seven states. Such an agreement could be reached if party leaders were to work quickly to generate a consensus and a path to nomination for the runner up (in this case Ted Cruz) or an alternative credible candidate who will pledge allegiance to the party’s purpose.
For the good of the party, allegiance to its core purpose, and in defense of Constitutional conservatism the Republican Party's leadership must pursue this course. Should Trump be disqualified, his supporters will no doubt cry foul and declare the will of democracy on their side. But lest we forget, the United States was founded not as a pure democracy but a Constitutional Republic with limits to government and restrictions upon its leaders. The Republican Party in particular, with its frequent conservative invocations of the Constitution and the wisdom of our nation’s Founding Fathers, claims allegiances to this identity. That the same GOP would nominate a man who specifically calls for a rejection of those Constitutional limits is a far greater tragedy than upsetting the temporary will of the people.
We as Republicans are, after all, the party who believes that liberty should exist for all. We believe that a person’s work ethic and contributions to society are the standards by which recognition is earned – not by what race he is or what family he happens to be born into. Ours is the party of Lincoln, Reagan, and Bush – the party that brought America the leaders who declared the Emancipation Proclamation, defeated the ideology of Soviet communism, and pioneered the war on terrorism. Ours is not the party of racism, bigotry, or xenophobia.
It is time we made this resoundingly clear by rejecting the embodiment of such vices in Trump’s candidacy. As such, being faced with his nomination may present, instead of catastrophic and ideological defeat, the opportunity of a lifetime for the Republican Party to put accusations of racism to bed once and for all.
The “Party of the Open Door” can live up to that name if its leaders close that door on the bigotry and racism of Donald J. Trump.