National Security

Why a Brokered Democratic Convention in 2020 Would Eclipse the Current Chaos

Think the recent House hearings gave us too much drama to handle? Those would be nothing compared to what could happen next year

Image Credit: MSNBC Youtube Screenshot

Think the recent Dem-led House hearings were jam-packed with melodrama and tension?

If the Democrat primary season offers no clear winner going into the party’s Milwaukee convention in July of 2020, the hearings we’ve just endured will seem like ice cream socials compared to the first brokered political convention in this country since 1952.

Imagine a bag of vipers.

Then imagine an awful lot of those vipers in a really big bag trying to cut deals with the other snakes — while simultaneously trying to eat them.

That is a timid understatement, compared to what would happen on the convention floor in Milwaukee if this scenario comes to pass.

A brokered convention happens when no one candidate has the delegate support to win on the first ballot.

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It almost happened at the GOP convention in Kansas City in 1976 — but President Gerald Ford narrowly beat future President Ronald Reagan when the first ballot was held.(Jimmy Carter, of course, ultimately won the 1976 election against incumbent Ford).

In 1952, Democrat Gov. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois won on the third ballot after getting an endorsement from sitting President Harry Truman, the Dem incumbent.

If the Democratic convention in 2020 turns into a melee, all kinds of scenarios are possible.

These tweets describe some of them.

The brokered scenario from respected analyst Allan Lichtman:

The Hillary scenario:

The Bernie scenario:

If feminists and the hard-Left go for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), young people and socialists go for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), urban moderates and gays go for Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and older blue-collar voters and traditional Dem voters go for former Vice President Joe Biden — then the vote could be so diffused to the point that a brokered convention becomes possible.

This doesn’t even factor in former New York City Mike Bloomberg’s vast fortune, which will allow him to stay in the race as long as he desires. (He’s announcing a gun control plan on Thursday, by the way, in Aurora, Colorado, and will grab lots of left-wing attention for it.)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, if she wants another run, could wait until the convention, hope for no clear winner going in, and then cast herself as the “savior” of the party and a consensus choice.

Given that she still has the likely support of the majority of superdelegates — delegates picked by the party machine, and there are a lot of them — it is a viable scenario.

Related: Trump-Hillary Rematch Next Year?

The Sanders scenario is harder to see, but not impossible.

Theoretically, in a bitterly divided convention between party regulars for Biden and true-believing hard leftists split between Warren and Sanders, then the party — after a raucous floor demonstration for Sanders (much like the one that got Wendell Wilkie nominated by the GOP in 1940) — goes with its heart and not its head and gives the prize to Sanders.

A long shot?


Then there is the dark-horse scenario. In this possibility, someone not even running now — not even on the current radar — is proposed by party chiefs to heal wounds, since nobody else will concede to the others competing against them in Milwaukee.

The 1964 film “The Best Man” portrays this scenario beautifully. In this situation, a moderate woman with a leftist minority running mate would be the smart money.

It could come down to something like a Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota (making her almost a home-state favorite) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) ticket.

Related: Klobuchar Sees Gray Areas of the Green New Deal

Booker could solidify African-American support for the Democrat nominee that dissipated a bit after former President Barack Obama’s campaigns.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro of Texas could also fit the bill for vice president — and perhaps, in a GOP nightmare — make Texas competitive.

The plan works only if the proposed compromise candidates had dropped out of the race before or immediately after Super Tuesday — March 3, 2020.

Regardless of the details, a brokered convention has not been seen in this country for generations.

It would be popcorn time for every political junkie in America and an exciting, yet dangerous, time for the Democrats.

And for an incumbent president who is either facing impeachment or has been acquitted in the Senate?

The challenge of facing a fresh new face is high.

So is the opportunity.

And as usual, President Donald Trump will rise to the occasion.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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