First, what happened in Colorado was a great lesson in civics, a course which is no longer taught in our schools.
When the Founders gathered in Philadelphia to construct a constitution, they asked themselves what system of government would be the best, given their beliefs about human nature. And one thing they all agreed on was that people in general were not to be trusted. In this they were no doubt influenced by the fact that, not far from where they were meeting, a mob attacked an old woman whom they accused of being a witch. And maybe also by the Shays rebellion in Massachusetts.
In any event, the Founders did not have much confidence in a democratic system of government. And so they gave us a Republic instead, if we could keep it as Benjamin Franklin observed. The purpose was to deny the ordinary people Hillary Clinton used to talk about the right to vote directly for the folks who would govern them. Instead, the ordinary people would vote for higher level people, who would in turn vote for still higher level people until, after much filtration, the cream would rise to the top and we’d be governed by the very best society had to offer.
The Founders would not have been shocked by what happened in Colorado. That’s what they expected would happen across the country. Ordinary people could simply not be trusted to pick a president.
What they didn’t count on was that 229 years later ordinary Americans have a very different idea of Democracy. America has come to mean freedom, equality, and opportunity. No one was better than anyone else. Whether you were rich or poor, male or female, black or white, literate or illiterate, folks came to believe that each person had a right to vote for the President of their country.
That’s precisely why the Presidency came to be seen in almost mystical terms. It represented an idea that was greater than any individual that held the office. And it gained its legitimacy from the fact that every American citizen could vote directly for the President.
That’s why what happened in Colorado was so shocking to ordinary Americans. And that’s why all the civics lessons in the world won’t dilute their disgust with what happened.
Before their very eyes a bargain that was fundamental to American’s perception of their relationship to the State was broken. It was bait and switch. They’d been convinced that the Republican Party was there to represent them. Not a group of elites called electors. Them. Individually. And on this assumption, people supported the Party. They campaigned for Republican candidates. They gave them their hard-earned money. They voted for them time and again.
They had done as they were asked and they thought the Party had an obligation to them to allow them to pick their candidate. And in Colorado they were mugged by the reality that the system was corrupt. It was more than just the loss of a few delegates. It was the loss of their innocence.
You see, they’d been told that all of the ills America had been suffering over the last 20 to 30 years were the fault of the Democrats. If we could only defeat the Democrats at the polls, then we could solve America’s problems.
We believed this despite the fact that the regulatory state kept growing and extending its tentacles into every aspect of our lives. Even up to the kind of light bulbs we could buy. We believed this despite the fact that our public schools were continuing to deteriorate, and even our private elite colleges could not be trusted to produce anything but sniveling, self-absorbed, freedom-hating, self-entitled little fascists whose curriculum included only courses with the word “studies” in them.
We believed this despite the fact that Trey Gowdy’s Commission was a pretense to help cover up the Benghazi mess and Hillary’s role in it. And that our own representatives conspired to give President Obama his despicable Iran nuclear arms deal, with only one Senator — Tom Cotton — voting “No” on the Corker Amendment that was designed to make it look like Republicans were fighting the deal while they were in fact facilitating it.
Ordinary Republicans are reviled not only because what happened in Colorado served to bring home how we’d been taken for patsies by our own party, but also by the jubilation that followed the cancellation of the vote and the consequent coronation of Cruz. “We did it. #NeverTrump” tweeted the Colorado GOP immediately after their victory.
Ted Cruz beamed and gave a thumbs-up to the in-crowd. The voters of Colorado were betrayed, but this man was beaming? Alfred E. Newman, in the flesh.
The Founders believed that a filtration system would protect America from corruption. But it hasn’t done so. Instead, it’s just the opposite. We have a system where a Ruling Class has risen to the top and will do whatever it needs to ensure its perpetuation. It isn’t concerned with the security of the country or the economic well-being of its citizens.
Politico reports that “Anti-Trump billionaires are funding ground operations in an increasing number of states to try to ensure the selection of national convention delegates who oppose Trump.” And Ted Cruz, the constitutionalist, is OK with this?
What happened in Colorado was the clearest wake-up call American conservatives could possibly get. In that sense, it was a good thing for America.