I am not saying I get all my American political understanding or information from binge watching a Netflix show (hello, season 3 of House of Cards), but it certainly went some way to explain what a contested convention is to this moderately exasperated and confused English expat. The American political system is confusing beyond words.
One key aspect of expat life is most definitely to understand the political culture and composition of the country you are living in or moving to – and as I have never been in America for an actual forthcoming election – this is all a steep learning curve, but one I am enjoying very much.
The whole Donald Trump/Republican GOP love/hate political tussle has been worrying, confusing, shocking and all too compelling to watch – a train wreck, if you will. I focus in on the Republican side of this 2016 campaign because I have learned, as an immigrant to the United States, the most about this countries political functions and ideologies from their campaign race and reactions to it.
Trump has kept making momentum and leading in various polls and primaries, winning the most delegates so far out of the remaining runners (Ted Cruz and John Kasich). The magic number to get the GOP nomination is 1,237 – but political machinations seem to be afoot to make sure that number is not so easily obtainable as it once looked.
So what is a contested Republican National Convention? According to my general research, it occurs when no nominee has the majority number of delegates on the first ballot (with 1,237 being a majority) then it goes to a contested convention where meetings are held and votes are cast in rounds – and these rounds keep going until there is a clear majority winner. In theory, the voters can vote for whomever they like, which will make the televised spectacle more … well … spectacular.
It does seem that Donald Trump was initially assumed to maybe not be a serious contender, but he has tapped into something – a fact that I am worried by as there seems to be so much anger and hateful rhetoric from/around him – not something I expected to see as part of an election here. Nothing he says, even when disparaging about women, muslims and immigrants, or ill-informed and misguided ideas on nuclear weapon armament, seem to halt his momentum. I always thought freedom of speech was such that you can believe and adhere to whatever belief or ideas you have as long as you do not use them to incite hatred, aggression or acts of violence? All of which seem to have happened around him at his rallies.
So as a relative newcomer to this country, who has a slowly increasing understanding of what underpins life here in America, a July contested Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio will be something to watch – in fact, I think the world will be watching.
What are your thoughts on Republican and Democratic campaigns so far? Do you think there will be a contested convention for one or both parties? Do you think Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination?