Jan 292016

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One of the more fascinating aspects of Donald Trump’s run for the presidency is that the Republican establishment doesn’t like him or want him. Dan Carlin comments on this in his latest episode of Common Sense . To summarize his relevant points:

The Republican Party is not officially a government body. It is essentially a semi-private club. Its members can choose to exclude anyone they want.

Currently the rules of the club allows (to simplify a little) that anyone who calls themselves a Republican can cast a nominating vote for anyone else who calls themselves a Republican, and the person who gets the most votes will have the machinery of the Republican Party backing them in the general election.

This works as long as everyone operates in good faith. But the system doesn’t have much in the way of formal defenses against exploitation, the understandings that prevent gaming the system are informal rules.

Eventually the informal rules will weaken enough that they’ll be ignorable (or even considered gauche). Then someone will attempt to game the system. Enter Trump.

The thing about exploiting a system is that systems don’t exist ex nihlo – they are composed of people. There are a lot of people who don’t simply call themselves “Republicans”, they actually work for the Republican Party. They’ve put in years of labor, sometimes decades. Often for very little financial reward. Their identities are wrapped up in the party. Obviously they aren’t doing this just for themselves – they’re doing this for the Ideal of the Grand Old Party. For all the people who think and feel like them, that depend on them to keep the government leaning right. However, they are not without opinions, and they are heavily invested in the Party itself.

I think it’s fair to say that these people have put in the work to have more of a say in what the party does. If a hostile outside group comes in and attempts to subvert the infrastructure that these people have spent decades (centuries?) building, they are fully within their rights to defend themselves.

If a crazy man shouting hatred for ideological/ethnic opponents manages to flood the nominations with bigots that he has roused to angry action via lies and bluster, I can understand the establishment participants deciding to exclude him in spite of how many nominations he receives. Because in the end, the establishment is a private party working for the interests of people they want in their party. And just because there isn’t any formal way to evict party crashers right now doesn’t mean they can’t do so.

If this sounds familiar to people immersed in the SF world, it’s because we already saw all this happen last year, during the Sad Puppies Fiasco. Regardless of how you feel about either side, the parallels are striking.

WorldCon is a semi-private club. Their rules allowed anyone with a few extra Hamiltons to nominate whoever they wanted, and the machinery of the WorldCon establishment would then throw an award party for them. The rules against exploitation where purely informal, it was expected that anyone who cared to attend a WorldCon would care about their reputation among Con-goers and not ignore the general understanding.

A hostile group with active disdain for an ideological/ethnic group (that they believe runs WorldCon) gamed the system, at the behest of a few loud men. They were motivated by anger, and the most odious of them is a proud bigot with no regard for honesty.

The establishment, who have worked for years or decades creating the infrastructure this outside group is hijacking, is more than a bit peeved at the situation.


I hear that the Democratic Party has “super-delegates” to help combat this sort of problem. I don’t know if the Republican Party has such preventative weapons in place. I’m interested to see how they deal with this invasion of their party. I’m particularly interested to see if they manage to resolve it in a better way than WorldCon did/is trying to. I don’t think WorldCon did a bad job, all things considered. But I assume choosing No Candidate would be much more harmful for the Republican Party than choosing No Award was for WorldCon.

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