Opinion Columns & Blogs

FERGUSON: GOP should start over with a fresh face

The candidacy of Mr. Donald J. Trump has made this election cycle very interesting in more ways than I can recount in the space this column provides me with. Suffice it to say that when it comes to news reporting and commentary, he is the gift that keeps on giving.

But Mr. Trump's campaign is proving to be educational for all of us as well. For instance, I was altogether unfamiliar with the term "brokered convention" until just a few days ago. Thanks to The Donald I now know what that is, and there is a chance I may get to witness one unfold in real-time a few months from now.

In case you haven't heard the chatter about what a brokered convention is and how it might come about, here's a quick review. Because the people who made up election rules didn't trust us common folks to directly select presidential candidates, the primaries only serve as vehicles for choosing representatives from each state to attend the party conventions, where they will cast the decisive votes to determine the nominee for each party.

At the conventions, electors representing a particular candidate, are expected to vote for that candidate during the first vote, called the "roll call." If a candidate has more than 50 percent of the electors pledged to him or her things should go pretty smoothly and only one vote should be required. But if no one has reached that magic number during the primaries, the electors have to vote again and at that point they can (and some of them must) change who they vote for.

If no one wins a majority of votes on that second ballot, the electors must vote again. The process continues until someone emerges as the consensus choice. That is what is known as a brokered convention, and it could happen to the Republicans this year. It's not a terribly rare occurrence, but this year is different because the guy who is getting the most votes in the primaries is widely reviled by many of the leaders of the party he is trying to represent. Things could get very interesting if Trump doesn't have 51 percent of the electors in his pocket after the primaries have all been held.

There are suggestions of all sorts of wild scenarios that could occur at this year's GOP convention, including the possibility that electors might reject all of the announced candidates and select someone who didn't even run in the primaries, like Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan. That isn't likely to occur because such a move would outrage many Republican voters, but it's a very odd situation and anything seems possible this year. I think if the GOP wants to reject all the candidates who participated in the primaries they should think more outside the box and consider candidates who aren't career politicians, since voters clearly favor "outsider" candidates this year. A lot of voters (me included) like the idea of a president who is not part of the elite power structure in Washington, D.C., but a lot of voters (me included) would rather it be someone who is a decent human being rather than a vulgar, narcissistic blowhard with disturbing hair.

My preference would be for them to select someone who is tough, level-headed, honest and well-respected. The ideal candidate should have a deep reverence for law and order and should be widely-recognized as someone who cannot be trifled with.

Given the above criteria, one name quickly comes to mind as the perfect eleventh-hour candidate for the GOP — Judith Sheindlin, more popularly known as Judge Judy. I have enjoyed her program for many years and am always impressed with her integrity and intelligence in dealing with complicated problems that involve the law, finances and interpersonal relationships. She has many qualities that would serve her well in a position of great power and influence.

Plus, can you imagine a debate between Judge Judy and Hillary Clinton? It's just too good an opportunity to pass up. Someone get me Reince Priebus on the phone — we need to talk.

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com.