Legitimacy and Legality : The Colorado Screwjob


Earlier on this week I wrote about how the event happened. About how the popular straw poll was cancelled due to the RNC making these polls binding on the delegates. I wrote about how Colorado had a history of having their caucus manipulated in the past. About how in a proportional system that they have a candidate can be the front-runner and receive 40% of the straw poll votes and 35% of the actual caucus votes and come up with 0 actual delegates voting for him. I showed how another candidate being third in the straw poll with 14% get 0 delegate votes but the last place candidate getting 6 delegate votes. In a normal world this would have been enough to show how the Colorado race is designed to circumvent the will of the voters. It appears it is not.

The main argument of the political establishment is that they followed the rules that they wrote. Is that a correct statement? Absolutely. Is that the point? Not even close. There are two factors at play here. Legality. Whether or not the political establishment followed the very same rules that they wrote. Legitimacy. Whether or not the perception is those rules were effective in its chosen goal. If the goal is to have a contest which determined who the average Colorado republican wanted on the ballot in November then it failed. If the goal was to have the Political Establishment select which candidate it wanted then it succeeded.


It is useful to take a look at the powers of the RNC in this matter to see if the rules would pass the standard of legality. It has been perfectly clear from its statements that the power of the RNC is absolute. It is their party and the voters are just there to put them into power during election time. If the RNC wanted to make a rule said “candidates whose first name begins with a D and last name begins with a T are prohibited from winning the presidential nomination” then they can. The RNC powers are so widespread that it would be perfectly legal for them to cancel every election from here onand just declare Cruz the nominee.

I can already see some people thinking that I am just being engaged in hyperbole and am being overdramatic. Remember that in 2012 the RNC changed its rule and required a candidate to win a majority of 8 states just to be nominated. It was done so that Mr. Paul could not get nominated and get any votes and it is a perfectly legal thing for the RNC to do. Even the bound nominees are given at the whim of the RNC. Trump won the highest number of the votes in Florida and got all the delegates. That rule is there because the RNC agreed to it. If the RNC decided that it suddenly did not want Florida to be winner take all then it is within its rights to do so. It has been made abundantly clear by the RNC that everything they do is legal, following the procedures which they themselves made, and the voter is only needed on November.


If you are watching an election of a dictatorship say North Korea and they say that the latest generation of the Kim family got 100% of the vote, do you believe the people really wanted him as their leader? Or do you believe they were somehow coerced into voting for him? They could have followed the rules correctly and most likely did as they set up the rules but the impression is the whole thing is a sham so in the eyes of the world he has no legitimacy.

Lets take another example closer to home. The Supreme Court. Everybody knows how they are supposed to do things. They take a look at the merits of the arguments and decide based on existing case-law and their interpretation of the constitution. Do they follow the rules? Of course. Do the people feel they are legitimate decisions? If you feel that they are making this decisions based not on the merits but on whether or not they are conservative or liberal then the answer is no. Due to the lack of legitimacy or the feeling that the cases are actually decided on merits rather than politics the great issues facing the country are not settled but rather put on hold. Until the other side has a majority at which time another case comes up to overturn the previous decision.

Legitimacy is the greatest counterbalance to the powers of government. You can design all the rules you want and you will more than likely follow the paper laws you yourself set. Legitimacy is a moral law. A higher law than that which is written in books and can be withdrawn by the people as they see fit.

The GOPe in Colorado had two choices. They could continue on with the arcane caucus system they have now which requires people to show up at multiple dates for multiple hours at a time or they could have instituted a straw poll or an actually primary to make it as easy as possible for the voices of common people to be heard. They chose the system which makes it as hard as possible for the common person to be counted.

This is by no means limited to the GOP. Consider Clinton going to the convention without the required number of delegates. The same feeling of illegitimacy will occur among the Sanders supporters as she would have been given the nomination by the party elite in the form of superdelegates.


There have been two great criticisms of the Trump campaign during this period. First why it did not work harder in Colorado. Did Trump not understand the rules which led to him being caught flat-footed. The answer to this is simple. If the rules are so stacked in the favor of the political establishment that there is no semblance of legitimacy to the whole process then there is no point in competing. There is no merit in the attempt when the outcome has already been predetermined by the rule makers. Could Trump have complained earlier? The answer is yes, but let me remind you. There was an attempt to put a primary in Colorado this year which was defeated unanimously and the straw poll was removed unanimously as well. The GOP in Colorado proved they were not interested in the will of the people. Much better to let the process conclude and have the GOPe exposed.

Second, that the rules aren’t that bad because Trump has benefited from them in other states. Like Trump said in one of his interviews, the rules don’t matter. This is something our political establishment needs to get through their heads. It is the legitimacy that the rules lead to that counts. For example in Florida Trump was a few points shy of a majority yet got all of the delegates. That is acceptable because there was a primary which made it as easy as possible for people to vote and participate. Colorado made it as hard as possible which is why it is not acceptable. The beneficiaries don’t really matter. What matters is a process wherein citizens have the easiest time possible having their voices heard.


The most troubling thing about this issue is the divergence between the political rulers and the average citizens in the country. On the one hand the rulers are saying “We followed the rules and you could have to therefore you are just whining” while the ruled are saying “We do not feel that the rules are fair”. The political class of the country has moved so far away from the people that they cannot comprehend the basis of the outrage. They assume that people are complaining that they did something procedurally wrong and are being called out on it. Whereas nothing is being done to address the actual concern of the populace that they have been locked out of the process.

People should not feel ashamed at protesting this. The media and elite will make it seem like you are stupid because you did not sufficiently understand the rules. They will ignore the actual problem which is that the rules themselves have been set up to exclude citizens. Everyone should be angry at that and demand that it be fixed.


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