D.C. voters are sending us to the convention to say no to Trump

By Kris Hammond and Peter Lee,

The writers are D.C. delegates to the Republican National Convention.

We are among the delegates to the Republican National Convention who are unequivocally opposed to the selection of Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. Rather than thwarting democratic will, we are implementing it, as D.C. is #NeverTrump country. Unlike in many states and territories, D.C. Republican voters elected us in a primary. Trump persuaded a mere 13.8 percent of those voters to support his candidacy. Only the caucus state of Wyoming had a lower percentage.

Notwithstanding our local mandate to carry out the will of D.C. voters by opposing Trump, we agree with Trump advocates that rejecting a Republican candidate who received a majority of the delegates during the primary season requires extraordinary reasons. However, Trump is a uniquely bad candidate who is unfit for the office he seeks.

The reasons to oppose Trump’s nomination are legion: Under the pretense of opposing political correctness, he has served up a buffet of bigotry toward religious, racial and ethnic minorities. He displays a shocking contempt for the truth. He appears to have no fixed beliefs other than belief in his own infallibility. He is dangerously ignorant about foreign affairs, policy issues and the Constitution. He has promoted a caricature of conservative policy positions, from his position that women who have an abortion should be punished if abortion were made illegal to his belief that staunch opposition to radical Islamic terrorism includes killing the family members of Islamic State terrorists.

After he acquired a majority of delegates, many Republicans believed that Trump would pivot toward the general election. Instead, he has continued to attack his fellow Republicans. He generated embarrassing headlines about his antics on the same days that negative news broke about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. His fundraising and campaign structure have been anemic.

Convention delegates are uniquely positioned to avert the coming calamity. They have been chosen to perform the solemn function of voting for the party’s presidential nominee. They are not mere rubber stamps attending the national convention for the glitz and the parties but instead are the final gatekeepers. Delegates have a historic right to cast votes according to conscience, regardless of purported binding based on primary contest results.

The case against a Trump nomination justifies the exercise of a conscience vote at the convention. We do not take this position lightly. Under any normal scenario, delegates should select the candidate who prevailed in the primary season — but this is not a normal scenario.

By passing on Trump, Republican delegates can avoid adverse consequences for the Republican Party that could last for decades. Since 2013, the Republican National Committee and many pollsters have acknowledged that the Republican Party cannot win national elections without increasing its share of minority voters, particularly Hispanics. Trump’s bigoted statements and proposed policies this past year have driven his approval ratings with African Americans, Hispanics and women to historic lows. Many nonwhite male voters will never give the Republican Party a second look if it nominates Trump. The consequences could be especially devastating for D.C.’s Republican Party, which has endeavored to brand itself as inclusive.

Conservatives have said the party should rally around Trump because he might appoint the “right” justices. Imagine a Supreme Court nominated entirely by Democratic presidents because the GOP cannot win a presidential election because of the damage wrought by a Trump candidacy.

Delegates have a duty to party and country. They can select a better candidate after weighing all factors and information, including information that was not available to primary voters. At the convention, they can act as a safety valve, saving the country from a manifestly unfit nominee and averting the looming train wreck.

Many Republicans fear that stripping Trump of the nomination would divide the party, leading to a Clinton presidency, but we believe that selecting a candidate other than Trump would not only increase the chance of victory in November but also serve the Republican Party’s long-term interests.

Rather than mechanically endorsing the primary results, we urge our fellow delegates to carefully consider the consequences of a Trump nomination for the country and the party, and cast a vote of conscience. Our position may be summarized as “country before party, party before Trump.”

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