May 3, 2012
Mr. John R. Phillippe Jr.
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
SENT VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Phillippe:
I am writing to you to address the erroneous interpretation of the Nevada Delegate Binding Rules for 2012, which you expressed in your May 2, 2012, letter to Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald. Your interpretation of these rules manufactures a meaning that is not present in the rules’ plain text. I emphatically urge you to recall your letter and to issue a formal apology on behalf of the Republican National Committee for your advocacy of a course of action that would clearly contravene the rules that have been developed in a fair process, as well as the outcome at the State Convention that would result from the legitimate decisions of duly elected delegates. Please note that the present communication is an open letter and will be available on the Internet to a broader audience.
Your letter suggests that the delegates that are allocated in proportion to the final results of the February 4, 2012, Nevada Presidential Preference Poll must “actually support” the candidate for whom they would be pledged to vote on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. You go beyond this to suggest that a delegate pledged to a particular candidate must be “approved by an authorized representative of the candidate he or she professes to support” and that, if this does not turn out to be the case, “grounds for a contest may exist.” Your letter continues in stating that you “believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention.” In short, you explicitly state that the Republican National Committee would consider overturning the results of a procedurally fair delegate election at the Nevada State Republican Convention, if the election does not produce the hoped-for outcome of a majority slate of Romney supporters. This is unacceptable and entirely contrary to a system that is supposed to produce a representative government in accordance with general rules developed in a fair process and agreed upon in advance.
Before I demonstrate the specific errors of your position, allow me to be forthright regarding my motivations. I am a duly elected delegate to the Nevada State Republican Convention. Furthermore, I write this letter while having no ambition to be nominated as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. I do, however, intend to attend the State Convention and cast my votes for the prospective national delegates whom I consider to be the most worthy and principled among the options available. Since I will not personally become a national delegate, I do not have any ulterior motives in this communication. I only desire fair adherence to the legitimate delegate-selection process.
I proudly acknowledge that I am a supporter of Ron Paul and a person committed to procedural fairness and adherence to the rules as actually written. Following a set of rules agreed upon in advance through an equitable procedure is key to a system that avoids arbitrary decision-making and arbitrary power concentrated in the hands of a connected oligarchy. To be non-arbitrary, a process must be adhered to, irrespective of the particular outcome it generates. To only adhere to a process when it generates one’s favored or expected outcome is to turn the process into a mere veneer for a particular agenda.
I think I can speak for other supporters of Ron Paul when I say that there is no intention among any who wish to become delegates to the National Convention to do so in a manner that violates the rules of the Nevada State Republican Convention. Any insinuation that anything other than complete fair play may be the intent of a sizable portion of the delegates to the State Republican Convention is deeply offensive to these men and women of conviction and integrity – who have followed all of the rules of the process up to now and do not intend to suddenly stray from that course.
It is instructive to examine what the actual rules – rather than your deeply erroneous interpretation thereof – state. In your letter, you cite Sections 1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 of the Delegate Binding Rules for 2012, without actually reproducing the text of these sections. A detailed analysis of the text will show that it is incompatible with your viewpoint.
Section 1 Text: “Pursuant to § 15(b) of the Rules of the National Republican Committee, in Presidential election years, National Delegates and Alternates shall be allocated proportionally based on the final results of the Nevada Presidential Preference Poll, rounded to the nearest whole number. National delegates shall be chosen at the Nevada Republican Convention by election. Any candidate who receives less than the percentage required for one Delegate will receive no Delegates.”
Comments: This section only discusses how and in what proportions National Delegates and Alternates shall be allocated to a candidate, not whether such Delegates and Alternates must “actually support” the candidate to whom they were allocated. Nothing in the language of this section would suggest that a test of a Delegate’s thoughts or beliefs would be required as a precondition for a Delegate’s selection or allocation to a particular candidate. There is already a rigorous test for selecting a National Delegate. It is voting by the other delegates at the State Convention.
Section 4.2 Text: “The NRP Secretary shall allocate National Delegates to the candidate of their choice by first allocating the three automatic delegates (Nevada Republican Party Chair, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman) to their preferred candidate.”
Comments: The interpretation of this section should not be controversial. There are to be three automatic delegates, who will each be allocated to the candidate of his or her choice. Please note that there is also no test stated in the section regarding what must be done to verify that a particular candidate is these delegates’ “preferred candidate.” Your interpretation states that “The three RNC members, who are automatic delegates, should each be allocated and bound to their preferred presidential candidate.” I would like to clarify that the words “bound to” only apply to the first round of voting at the Republican National Convention. There is no requirement in any set of rules for any National Delegate to be bound to any candidate on a subsequent round of voting. This distinction is critical.
Section 4.3 Text: “The NRP Secretary will next allocate the three prospective delegates from each congressional district receiving the highest number of votes to their preferred candidate to comply with RNC Rule 13 (a) (3).”
RNC Rule 13(a)(3) Text (pp. 14-15 of the linked document): “Subject to the provisions of Rule No. 16, the membership of the next national convention shall consist of:
(a) Delegates. […]
(3) Three (3) district delegates for each Representative in the United States House of Representatives from each state.”
Comments: Section 4.3 and RNC Rule 13(a)(3) say nothing about delegates being subjected to a loyalty test for a particular candidate. They simply state that three delegates shall be allocated for each district in such a manner that there would be three delegates for every Representative in the US House of Representatives.
Furthermore, the text of Section 4.3 states that “The NRP Secretary will next allocate the three prospective delegates from each congressional district receiving the highest number of votes to their preferred candidate” [Emphasis added]. Note that this applies to delegates “receiving the highest number of votes” in an absolute sense – not “receiving the highest number of votes among the delegates who support a particular candidate”.
To repeat: It is clear from the text that the delegates that must be allocated are those delegates that receive the highest number of votes in total, not the highest number of votes among those who support a particular candidate.
For instance, suppose delegates who support Mitt Romney were to receive the 2nd, 4th, and 5th-highest vote totals, while delegates who support Ron Paul were to receive the 1st, 3rd, and 6th-highest vote totals for a particular Congressional District. Furthermore, suppose that the allocation of delegates were required to be such that two delegates would be bound to vote for Romney, and one delegate would be bound to vote for Paul at the first ballot of the National Convention. It is clear that the highest total vote-getters would need to be selected as National Delegates – i.e., the 1st and 3rd-place finishers who support Ron Paul and the 2nd-place finisher who supports Mitt Romney. The 1st-place finisher would have the choice to be allocated to Ron Paul, the 2nd-place finisher would presumably choose to be allocated to Mitt Romney, while the 3rd-place finisher would be bound to vote for Mitt Romney in the first ballot of the National Convention, despite his or her support for Ron Paul. It would emphatically not be the case that the NRP Secretary would be permitted to bypass the duly elected 3rd-place finisher, simply because of that finisher’s sympathies for Ron Paul, and select the 4th-place finisher who is sympathetic to Romney to attend the National Convention as a Delegate.
Your letter is thoroughly mistaken in stating that “A nomination to fill a Congressional district delegate slot shall only be in order if the person’s preferred candidate has available delegate slots to fill. The preferred means to ensure that no presidential candidate receives more than his allocated slots is to conduct the congressional district delegate selections sequentially, and if a candidate has reached his allocation, no further nominations for delegate candidates who support said presidential candidate shall be in order.”
Your statement is contrary on its face to the plain text of Section 4.3 and would have the effect of disenfranchising the delegates at the State Convention in casting ballots for the National Delegates of their choice. The application of your interpretation would have the effect of ignoring delegates who obtain higher absolute vote counts, in favor of some who obtain lower absolute vote counts, simply on account of the ideological positions expressed by such delegates. This ideological particularism is contrary to the principles procedural fairness which underlie any meaningful electoral system and which are essential to the American system of representative government.
Section 4.4 Text: “The Secretary will then allocate the remaining delegates for each candidate, beginning with the prospective national delegate for a given candidate receiving the most votes, followed by the prospective national delegate for said candidate receiving the second highest number of votes and continuing in descending order of votes received until the number of delegates and alternates earned by each candidate in the Presidential Preference Poll has been allocated. The delegate slots for each candidate will be filled by the prospective national delegates receiving the highest number of votes, and the alternate slots will be filled by the prospective delegates receiving the next highest number of votes after the delegate slots are filled.”
Comments: Section 4.4 addresses the allocation of National Delegates, other than the automatic delegates and the delegates for each Congressional District. The text clearly states that “The delegate slots for each candidate will be filled by the prospective national delegates receiving the highest number of votes, and the alternate slots will be filled by the prospective delegates receiving the next highest number of votes after the delegate slots are filled.” This again refers to the highest number of total votes cast, not the highest number of votes cast for delegates who personally support a particular candidate. There is again no mention of any kind of loyalty test in order to become a “national delegate for a given candidate”. Rather, this section would allow delegates who receive the highest number of votes to have the first preference regarding which candidate they will be allocated to. If the Ron Paul delegate slots are exhausted by many of the highest vote-getters, then the next-highest vote-getters would need to agree to be bound to vote for Mitt Romney on the first ballot of the National Convention, irrespective of their personal views regarding the candidates. The personal views of these vote-getters should not determine their eligibility if they have been duly elected by the delegates at the State Convention.
Your interpretation is thoroughly in error in stating that “At-large (statewide) prospective delegates should be elected by determining how many delegate slots each presidential candidate has available after processes 1 and 2 above have been completed, and allocating to each available slot the highest vote-receiving prospective delegate that supports the candidate with an available slot. So, for example, if Ron Paul has 2 slots available after processes 1 and 2 above, the two highest vote-getters that support Ron Paul should be allocated to him. And if Mitt Romney has 4 slots available after processes 1 and 2 above have been completed, the 4 highest vote-getters that support Mitt Romney should be allocated to him.”
Your statement above is directly contrary to Section 4.4, which clearly requires that the delegates allocated to all candidates be the absolute highest vote-getters. Contrary to your example, if Ron Paul has 2 slots available after the automatic and District delegates have been selected, and Mitt Romney has 4 slots available, then the top six absolute vote-getters must become the National Delegates, such that two of them are bound to vote for Ron Paul in the first ballot of the National Convention, while the remaining four are bound to vote for Mitt Romney in the first ballot. The highest absolute vote-getter would have the option to select to be bound to either Paul or Romney – and then a similar option would be offered to the second-highest vote-getter. Once any two of the highest six vote-getters have selected to be bound to Paul, the delegates in the remaining slots among the top six vote-getters would be automatically bound to Romney on the first ballot.
Section 5 Text: “All National Delegates and Alternates, ex officio, At Large and Congressional District, shall be required to vote for the Presidential Candidate to whom they are bound. This requirement applies only to the first candidate vote at the Republican National Convention.
Comments: While your letter inexplicably omits mention of Section 5, this section is indispensable to understanding the context of the other provisions cited above. If the requirement of voting for a particular candidate only applies to the first vote at the Republican National Convention, then a loyalty test for that candidate cannot make sense and cannot be countenanced. The rules explicitly permit the delegates to vote their consciences after the first round of the National Convention, if subsequent rounds are necessary. Requiring a loyalty test would effectively bind the delegates on the subsequent rounds, contrary to the letter and intent of Section 5. The duty to vote for a candidate on the first round must not extend to the duty to think a certain way or to an inexhaustible claim on the delegates’ future decisions, actions, and beliefs.
I again urge you to acquiesce to the principles of objectivity, fairness, and a literal reading of the rules – and, accordingly, to withdraw your letter of May 2, 2012, and to publicly apologize on behalf of the Republican National Committee for urging and lending an official air to the clear contravention of a fair process and of rules developed pursuant to such a process. If you do not withdraw your letter, then it will be legitimate to perceive your and the RNC’s actions as an attempt to interfere with a neutral and impartial process, simply because the outcome of that process may not be to the liking of the Mitt Romney campaign. To only respect the rules when they are in one’s favor is deeply contrary to every principle on which the American system of representative government stands. Such a double-standard would nullify the will of duly elected delegates and replace it with the imposed preferences of a self-appointed oligarchy of kingmakers. I hope that you will find the strength of conviction to step back from this dangerous precipice.
Gennady Stolyarov II, CPCU, ARe, ARC, AIS, AIE
Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator