Kansas Republicans should insist on having a voice in choosing the next Republican presidential nominee.
The Kansas Republican Party has decided to deny giving rank-and-file party members a voice in choosing its presidential nominee for next year. In a release, the party says : “The Kansas Republican Party will not organize a Caucus for the 2020 election because President Trump is an elected incumbent from the Republican Party.”
The release gives a reason: “Every time an elected incumbent Republican has run for re-election, except in 1912, the Kansas Republican Party state convention adopted a resolution instructing all delegates to vote for the elected incumbent. This has been the same standard for the Kansas Republican Party dating back to President Lincoln’s reelection ”
This reasoning is undemocratic (small “d”).
Kansas Republicans should have either a caucus or a primary election. To have neither, simply because the incumbent president is a Republican, deprives members of the Kansas GOP of a chance to make a decision.
Yes, President Trump is popular with Republicans, very much so. But not everyone agrees. There are Republicans, myself included, who would prefer someone else than Donald Trump as the party’s nominee. Already, there are several credible candidates. Perhaps there will be more. For the Kansas Republican Party to assume that Trump would win the caucus or primary smacks of elitism. Party elders know best who should receive our convention delegates, it says. The vote of the people does not matter — this is the message from Kansas GOP leadership.
I can hear the critics: “None of these have a chance to beat Trump.” That’s hardly the point. But these candidates are serious and have achieved success in politics. Some have been members of Congress and/or governors.
Between now and March 2020 — when a caucus or primary would likely be held — things could change. Kansas Republicans need to position the state to have a voice in who is the next Republican nominee for president.
Further, to give everyone an equal chance to have a voice, Kansas Republicans should abandon the caucus and hold a primary election. Participating in the caucus is difficult. Many people are not able to attend and cast their vote. No matter the cost to the party, Kansas should seek broad participation in its presidential nominating process. That means asking the people to make a selection, and it means a primary election instead of a caucus.