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You Will Never be Elected President: an Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Donald:

You will not be President of the United States.

First, you are so unpopular among the general public that any Democrat will landslide you in the general election.

Second, you you are not even going to get on the general election ballot, because you will not win the Republican nomination. If your current popularity among your supporters somewhat declines, the likely outcome will be a brokered convention. And you will not be its nominee. I would expect the choice to be John Kasich or Paul Ryan.

Even if your current popularity holds up, and you enter the convention with what you think is a majority of the delegates, you still will not be the nominee. Because the Republican Party will change the rules. It does not matter exactly how the rules would change. They could retroactively create “Super-delegates,” consisting of existing Republican elected officials, and grant them status as delegates (as the Democratic Party already has). There are infinite other methods the Republican Party could employ to achieve the end result of a nominee acceptable to its establishment.

But, you say, you would then sue the Republican Party. But there would be no grounds for suit. The Republican Party is a private club. No state law or federal law applies to how the convention works in nominating a candidate. Even if there were such a law, the federal courts would not enforce it and would almost certainly instead invoke the “political question” doctrine to avoid it.

But, you say, the United States Supreme Court did intervene in the Florida presidential election in 2000, elevating George W. Bush to the White House. First, that was a general election, where state and federal laws do apply. Second, there will be no majority on the Supreme Court that would help you. The 4 establishment Republicans there would not rule for you, and the 4 establishment Democrats there would have no compelling reason to help you, either.

The last time a national party denied its nomination to the leader in votes at its primaries was in 1968, when the Democratic Party convention nominated Hubert Humphrey, who had earned zero votes in the primaries. One result of that anticipated outcome was the gathering of tens of thousands of protesters in Chicago, who were met by 12,000 police, 7,500 Army troops, 7,500 of the National Guard, and 1,000 Secret Service agents. The later report of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence found that the extreme violence was a “police riot” that resulted in over 200 injuries. Many protesters were beaten bloody and had their bones broken with nightsticks. What will happen in Cleveland, when you are denied the nomination there in July?

But, you say, if denied the Republican nomination, you would run as an independent. By the time the Republican convention disposes of you, it will be way too late to get on the state ballots for the general election. The Republican convention is July 18-21. A non-affiliated candidate needs to file 79,939 valid signatures in Texas by May 9 and 89,366 in North Carolina by June 9. Other states with filing deadlines before the Republican convention are Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Others are in late July, almost certainly also impossible: Missouri, Washington. The rest are in August, with these on August 1: Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia. That is 21 states where it will be impossible for a candidate frustrated at the convention to file an independent candidacy.

A more likely independent candidacy would come from the Republican establishment itself, if you prevail in the March 1-15 primaries. Splitting the conservative vote in November would no doubt elect the Democrat.

Welcome to the real world, Donald. Don’t quit your day job.

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Dan Meek is a public interest lawyer living in Portland, Oregon.

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