In 2012, the Republicans engaged in a protracted battle to find their nominee. Multiple candidates soared only to implode or be crushed by the might of Mitt Romney’s Super PAC and personal campaign money. There were lengthy debates that generated enough sound bites to fund two years of Democratic attack ads. When it became clear Romney would be the nominee, even though he was not secured, the Democrats began beating the crap out of him.
By the time he had the votes to be the nominee, he was out of money and the convention was months away, so he could not get the party money coming to him. The Obama camp defined him and crushed him before he could even accept the Republican nomination.
Naturally, the party blamed conservatives. I had written in November of 2011 that Romney would be the nominee, would lose, and the party would blame conservatives. That is exactly what happened. The response was to re-write the rules. Debates would be limited, the calendar compressed, and the convention early.
No one saw Donald Trump coming. He has thrown the process for a loop. His polling fell after the first debate, but there are limited debates and the second one is still a month away. He has personal funds that do not require his alliance with a Super PAC. He can capitalize on conservative angst and party rules written to avoid another 2012. Changing the rules flummoxed the rule makers who wrote rules contemplating traditional candidates running traditional races.
And that brings me to Hillary Clinton. She is the most traditional candidate of a most traditional system and she looks intent on blowing herself up. Usually it is the GOP who want a coronation. This time, a quarter of the GOP has fallen head over heels in love with the flamboyant Donald Trump while Democrats have rushed to coronate Hillary Clinton without a vetting process.
Now, because of the way the Democrats designed their process Hillary Clinton remains on trajectory to get the Democrats’ nomination and an indictment. There really is only a limited way to stop her and it requires massive injections of cash to overcome her. Plus, after building an entire base of voters on identity politics, good luck throwing the first woman presidential nominee overboard.
Republicans wanted to stop love affair politics where its voters serially date others before settling on the established pick. Instead, their efforts caused an exacerbated love affair play that has cash behind it. Democrats wanted to stack the deck in Hillary’s favor and they succeeded now to their own detriment.
The lesson of all of this is that party leaders should never underestimate their own voters’ penchant for doing it their way. For different reasons, Trump and Clinton have now upset the best laid plans of a political class intent on stacking the deck for preferred candidates or classes of candidates. The great irony though is that Hillary has upset the best laid plans of the Democrats because their plan succeeded.
They’re now probably stuck with her while Republicans are still deciding.