Guest post by St. Louis County voter Lloyd Sloan
Last Saturday (April 9) I attended my local Republican Party Missouri River Township Caucus in St. Louis Country, to select 36 delegates who are subsequently part of selecting the delegates from Missouri to the national GOP presidential nominating convention in Cleveland.
The Caucus opened orderly and two slates of delegates were nominated: one by a Cruz supporter, and the other by a Trump supporter.
I spoke on behalf of the Trump slate, and said I originally supported Rand Paul, then Cruz, and Walker third. Trump was then further down on my list, but he did climb, in part as a reaction to the “#NeverTrump” folks, a position I never held and considered it shallow and unwarranted. In the end, I decided to caucus with friends who were pro-Trump. Based on what I encountered, I am now glad I did.
The slates were then voted upon on a flawed approach where attendees stood and walked to opposite sides of the room depending on their chosen slate which was disorderly and created a hostile environment of “us” against “them”. The standing “face-off” count produced a 27-27 tie. Confusion followed.
Pressure built up on the four who did not vote. (People murmured: Now what? Hey, THEY didn’t vote!) Three key events happened in the confusion: (1) I made a motion which was seconded to combine the slates but this was ignored, and then (2) One of those seated (the husband of the township committeewoman) rose and sided with the Trump slate. A cheer arose from the Trump people believing they had just won the caucus (28-27). But then, (3) the leader of the Cruz slate spoke privately (and inappropriately) with the chair. I presume he was “chewing his ear” for a secret ballot, since the chair then announced his intention to pursue the secret ballot approach.
I objected strongly to the secret ballot given that no motion had been made and no vote taken. I also objected that my own proper motion had been ignored completely. I was also rather upset that the last voter who had joined the Trump side was being ignored.
I was told by the chair to be silent or be ejected. I found out later that the secret ballot violates the GOP State Committee “Call to Convention” (page 5 of 13) Agenda 4. Election of Caucus Chair. This provision expressly rules out any secret or paper ballots.
Ballots were made by tearing pages of yellow lined paper into four parts. (Clearly no preparation was made to use paper ballots.) These “ballots” were then passed out to each person in the room. People marked their ballots Trump or Cruz and deposited them at the front of the room.
The (improper) vote by secret ballot was then counted (with observers representing both slates) and Cruz was (no surprise to me) declared the winner.
Having reached my limit of such “irregular” politics, I loudly walked out of the room. My parting words were: “You wanted a divided party? You got one!”
My primary and final outrage was then and still remains a deep concern for a party that is now tragically divided—DELIBERATELY made worse by its own leadership, who make and enforce the rules. When caucus rules are established and enforced to produce such “Mad Max” bloodsport (“two enter, one leaves”), then shame on the party that creates such rules. And shame on those who consider such behavior Christian.