Have you seen the television series “Veep”? I haven’t.
But my college sophomore eldest daughter has seen it. She, who I programmed…er…um…cough…helped to raise well, tells me one of the last episodes is a hilarious rendition of a brokered convention.
If it actually happens in July in Milwaukee, it won’t be so funny for the Democrats.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a brokered convention, it means no candidate gets to the convention with enough delegates to win on the first ballot. Then, the back stabbing begins.
Since it’s up close and personal retail politics, it gets vicious and easily melodramatic.
In other words, everybody from candidates, to the press, to staffers, start acting like telenovela villains. The resultant grudges are not exactly conducive to a united party going into the fall.
At a brokered melee it’s not “listen to my ideas.” The time for that is well past. It’s pushing a state party chairman into a corner and saying, “This can go one of two ways. Either you get a bridge named after you or I make sure your spouse learns about the male stripper on your staff. You know, the one you share hotel rooms with to ‘economize.’ Your call.”
Anybody from the front runners to the also rans, to the unknown compromise candidates, can walk away with the nomination. The 1924 Democratic convention in NYC went for 103 ballots over 16 days. The compromise candidate won.
The 1940 GOP convention in Philadelphia went 6 ballots and the dark horse guy won after the galleries went bonkers for him. The 1976 GOP convention in Kansas City almost went to a second ballot, but Ford edged out Reagan in the first. Not even close to a brokered convention since then.
Why is this year different?
The Democrats are so abnormally diffused by ideology and faction, even for them, that one candidate may not be able to unite everyone under their tent by July. The party establishment is behind Pete, Joe, and maybe Amy. The hard left wants Bernie or Liz. Then there’s Mike. And if Hillary gets in?
Their attitude towards each other is best typified by paraphrasing Tom Wolfe in “Back to Blood.” When a character is explaining the collective attitudes of South Florida Latins towards each other he says, “One thing you gotta remember. Here, everybody hates everybody.”
That also may be the reigning ethos in Milwaukee in July. At least, we hope it is.