By Hillsdale College Online Courses March 10, 2016
Dr. Arnn joins Hugh Hewitt to discuss the results from March 1 and the fundamental questions that are being argued in this presidential race.
HH: Usually, the last radio hour of the week is the Hillsdale Dialogue. And you can listen to all of them at www.hughforhillsdale.com, or go to www.hillsdale.edu and sign up for everything that is Hillsdale, and it’s always free, and it’s always necessary, and it’s important to your understanding of the crucial period of time in which we are entering into in the American republic. But I’m doing a special edition of the Hillsdale Dialogue on a Wednesday today, and I’m going to rebroadcast it on Friday with Dr. Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, because Michigan, where Hillsdale College is located, votes on Saturday. And the results of yesterday, Tuesday, Super Tuesday’s election, need to be digested. Dr. Arnn, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
LA: How are you doing?
HH: Well, I am confused and concerned and interested in what you think happened yesterday, and where is the party that was birthed not far from your college going?
LA: Oh, yeah. Well, first of all, it’s really, I’m excited, mostly. I’m very worried, very worried with the Republicans, very worried about what’s going to happen. But also, I think more this week than I thought last week, this is the most exciting political debate I have ever seen.
HH: Do you, I tweeted out that it will be the roughest two weeks of Republican campaigning, including the 1976 Ford-Reagan fight, I mean, by far.
LA: Oh, yeah.
HH: Do you agree with that?
LA: Very much, and you know, first of all, it’s set up nicely to get a choice, in my opinion. I’m actually kind of happy about that, because I think if Donald Trump continues to win, he will do that after going through what’s going to be just incredible bludgeoning for the next two weeks. And I think you know, right now, it’s easy to see that he’s way the frontrunner, that next is Cruz, and that Rubio is third. And there’s going to be polls tomorrow to show about where Rubio stands in Florida, but on what is it, March 15th, that’s his Armageddon Day, right? He needs to win Florida.
HH: And to be specific, Donald Trump has 316 of the necessary 1,237 delegates, Ted Cruz has 226 of the 1,237 delegates, Marco Rubio has 106, and John Kasich has 25, and Ben Carson, who has suspended his campaign, has 8. And Michigan’s favorite son, a son of Michigan, Mitt Romney, is in open opposition to Donald Trump on Twitter, and he’s giving a speech on Thursday, which we neither can talk about today, but I anticipate given the tweets, will not be complimentary of Donald Trump.
HH: So what does that all add up?
HH: What choice does that present?
LA: Well, first of all, there’s a movement starting, and I very much disagree with that movement, that we should announce now that we won’t support Trump if he’s the nominee.
HH: I’m so relieved to hear that you are in disagreement with that movement, as am I, for a variety of reasons. But I didn’t know that you were in agreement with me on that. So, or I was in agreement with you. Tell us why that is a bad idea.
LA: Well, first of all, you know, it is a republic, which means the great body of people pick our leaders, and if the great body of the people pick Donald Trump, and he brings millions of new people into the party, which he is doing in these primaries so far, then it’s a big step to tell them no. And the second thing is a lot of the claims against Trump center on the fact that he has the makings of a dictator. And there’s even claims by some people who have said this that he himself calls for the unabashed use of executive power. And I’ve been looking that up. I’m building my Trump folio here at Hillsdale College. I’ve got a bunch of my kids doing it. And on that particular thing, Trump is not just uniform, he is frequently eloquent that he doesn’t like executive orders, that he doesn’t like the bureaucracy making laws, and that he is going to stop that and work with Congress.
HH: He has disavowed it, in fact, on this show. But I would point out, because I want to help build your Trump folio, that in the press conference last night, he all but threatened Paul Ryan, that if he didn’t get along with him, that would have very bad consequences for the Speaker of the Houses, who is a Constitutional officer.
LA: As long, he can do that all he wants to as long as he does this. If he says in the end, the Congress has got to pass the law or it isn’t a law, then of course, he has extra reason to use every art and pressure available to him to try to get them to do what he wants. That’s the way it used to work. And so Reagan, you know, going out in the public and giving Tip O’Neill a dressing down, and then giving him a good glass of whiskey and a great Irish conversation at night. Those were Reagan’s arts, right? So in threatening Paul Ryan, you know, he’s opening the conversation, you know, unless he means something different from that. And you know, Paul Ryan should threaten him back, by the way.
HH: Oh, interesting. Interesting.
HH: As a Constitutional officer, not as a personal vendetta, but as a representative of the House?
LA: Yeah. You know, this is a, first of all, this is a real live political fight, very intense, and talking about fundamental things. When’s the last time we had that?
HH: I agree. And on the sideline, a Democratic Party talking about fantasyland and Tinkerbell. It’s just completely a, what’s the place that Gulliver went to? He landed on the land of little people. The Democratic Party, the Lilliputians, it’s the Lilliputian Party. It’s full of small people and small ideas that have been proven wrong again and again and again.
LA: Over and over. And see, one thing that’s really good about this, and they’re all doing it, but I think it started with Trump, you boast of your three Trump tattoos.
LA: And the truth is, I’ve never heard you ask a gotcha question on your show or any of these debates, or Meet The Press, where you go, right?
HH: Well, people ask me why I didn’t react badly at the last debate when I was insulted by Trump. I said I’ve been insulted by Dr. Larry Arnn for four years, and I’ve got practice in dealing with it.
LA: (laughing) We’re friends.
LA: Yeah, so, but anyway, but see, that, Trump is preemptive about that stuff, right?
LA: He is clearing the way for him to say, and the others, because in the end, and you know, your goodness about this, I hesitate to praise you, but I’ll do it.
LA: …is that you understand that you are not the story. You’re the reporter of the story, and that in the end, the people have to have a direct connection with the people they vote for, and figure them out for themselves.
LA: And so that’s happening here on a big scale among all of the candidates. And you know, all the stuff they used to worry about, first of all, what is gotcha questions about except convicting somebody of a breach of the artificial politically correct rules that we have today? And so they’re not worrying about that stuff. The other thing is they’re always worrying about, you know, looking mean or something. Well, they’re not worried about that anymore. (laughing)
HH: No, they’re not. No, they’re not.
HH: Let me ask you about the KKK/David Duke comment, and not from a, he has disavowed David Duke before and after not disavowing David Duke, and had a terrible three minutes like Marco Rubio had a terrible three minutes at a particularly crucial moment. However, his three minutes are on tape, as are Marco Rubio’s. They will be edited and compressed and replayed a million times in October of 2016. As an objective matter, it will generate turnout from the African-American community that is the Democratic Party’s rock solid base, and from others. It is, in many people’s eyes, disqualifying, because it makes him unelectable. What do you say to that?
LA: Well, we don’t know enough to know that right now. The last time I saw any polls, and there’s going to be a bunch more polls this week, and I, you know, for goodness sake, I’ve been utterly corrupted. I’m reading the polls.
HH: You are. You are utterly corrupted. That is bad.
LA: That’s terrible. You know, what I’m teaching, I’m teaching the Constitution right now. I’m usually reading something that happened in the 18th Century. But I’ve been reading polls, and Trump has been polling well among African-Americans, and you know, really well, kind of like Reagan used to do. So will that keep up? I don’t know. I do know that Trump has been particularly good at taking these scandals and turning them to advantage. And the David Duke scandal, first of all, to mention David Duke requires one to repudiate him. He is an avowed segregationist.
HH: And a Nazi.
LA: And that won’t to.
HH: He is a self-proclaimed Nazi.
LA: Yeah, okay, so that’s really bad. And I could hear if Donald Trump had done a better job, as he did both as you point out before and after when asked about David Duke, he might have said I abhor him and everything he represents, and I’ll never do any of it. But you know, if he votes, I hope he votes for me.
HH: Yeah, something like Churchill would have said.
LA: Yeah, yeah, you know, and he didn’t get that out. And I don’t know why. I don’t think it can have been calculated, and the question is, will he be able to use his arts to demonstrate, which does seem to me true, by the way, that Donald Trump is, you know, Donald Trump has been appealing to black people. I don’t think he’s a racist. And…
HH: He is not a racist. I declared that on CNN. I believe that you find evidence of racism very easily in people’s past actions. He says things that upset those for whom race is a preeminent issue, but that does not make him a racist.
LA: Right, that’s right. And I don’t, you know, I mean, I think, so my Trump folio is coming along.
HH: Hold onto that thought.
HH: I’ll be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn.
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HH: We know now that Marco rubio is expecting additional endorsements today, some speculate Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico. We know that Mitt Romney is giving an address on Thursday, which is before, which is following our original broadcast of this on Wednesday at the Hinckley Institute of Politics Forum Thursday at 11:30AM at the University of Utah. We don’t know what he’ll do, but his tweets are quite anti-Donald Trump. And then there are Michigan voting and Kansas voting and other people voting, Louisiana voting on Saturday. Maine votes on Saturday and Sunday. And then we have a pause, and on Super Tuesday, and in this, we meet in the middle hour of our voting with Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College. And when we went to break, we were talking about the stakes and the choice. And so you were setting up your Trump folio choice, Dr. Arnn. Please continue.
LA: Well, mostly that you know, in 2000, for example, Trump writes a book, and he talks about how he ran his company. And you know, there’s not a bunch of people who work for Trump coming forward testifying against him. And he says he was saved in the 2008 real estate crisis by the excellence of the people who worked for him. And he had figured out long since that he’s got to let them do their jobs, right? He didn’t sound like a dictator when he talks like that. And then he talks about how there’s just this elite that’s trying to manage the whole society, and we’ve got to let the people manage it. Now there’s some bad stuff about Trump, too, right? I mean, not just the David Duke thing, which I think is probably just a…
HH: Let me ask you, let me pose the, I wrote a Washington Examiner column before the KKK was fully absorbed, and I had not seen it. I had read some reference to it, in which I said there’s six reasons to support Trump over Hillary Clinton. Three of them are named the vacancy of Antonin Scalia and the next two Supreme Court seats. The fourth is that he will rebuild the Navy. He is a builder of ships. The fifth is that Putin and the president of China will think twice before crossing him. And the sixth is Ivanka Trump, who impresses me quite a lot as a very sophisticated, incredibly accomplished young woman who has incredible influence over her father, a Svengali-like influence, actually, and people mock that, but I don’t care. And the KKK thing may have made him unelectable in my book. I don’t know, yet. Like you, I have to get more evidence, but there are, what do you think of those reasons?
LA: Yeah, well, he, you know, apparently, I haven’t found, my Trump folio is not complete, yet, so I’m only making provisional academic statements about where the truth lies. But apparently, Trump has written that he’s slept with somebody else’s wife.
HH: Yes, he has.
LA: And takes some pride in that.
HH: And has had many, many partners during many, many years.
LA: Well, that’s not the best thing.
HH: No, it’s not. For the edification of the youth and the training up in moral excellence, it is not.
LA: Yeah. And so you know, there’s plenty of reasons to be against Donald Trump.
HH: But the objection that came back to mind was you cannot believe him when he says he will appoint people like Judge Pryor, and there probably is no better appellate judge in America than William Pryor. There are equals to him, but they’re no better, and Judge Sykes, who is also very, very good, but his critics say you can’t believe him. And, but I know one thing. I know Hillary Clinton will appoint critical legal studies people, and the Court will be lost. I know that.
LA: And on that point, I’m digging in my heels on that point, because I can’t find any evidence since 2000 that Donald Trump is not a supporter of limited and Constitutional government, right?
HH: Would you repeat that? That is important.
LA: Yeah, the point is, so Donald Trump misunderstands eminent domain. So I’ll stick that in there. He should correct himself about that. The takings for eminent domain are eminently Constitutional if it’s for a public use. And we’ve expanded the definition of public use so far. You’ve fought it yourself, Hugh…
LA: …that local governments can take somebody’s house because they want to build something that’ll pay more taxes on it, and then give them special deals on the taxes, right? Trump is wrong about that, right? But I will say that a consistent theme since he ran for president in 2000, often repeated, beautifully written on January 28th in the Reno, Nevada Gazette, is a defense of Constitutional government that proceeds by separation of powers. And so I think that if there’s consistency to be found in him, it is there. And I’ve got just lots of evidence about that, and I’ve got my team here, you know, who are my undergraduate geniuses who’ll work for peanuts.
HH: very important.
LA: Very important, right, and all they get is a really expensive education for a fraction of the cost. They can’t find counterexamples about that stuff.
HH: Interesting. Now I have been tweeting today there are two great problems with the Trump candidacy in the eyes of his critics, other than the authoritarian temptation. One is that he doesn’t know a lick about the military, and doesn’t know anything about the triad, etc. And I tweeted out this morning if he were to put Senator Cotton, Senator Ernst or Senator Sullivan, three combat veterans of the long war on the ticket with him, he would do a lot to address that, because he’d had to spend time with them, and they could teach him about such things, and that as to being wobbly on the Court, if he were to commit publicly and forever, in the sort of commitment that a politician cannot evade later because of its ambiguity to make his nominee Senator Ted Cruz to replace Justice Scalia, whether or not Senator Cruz wanted to do it, he would call upon him in the best interests of the Union to do that, and got McConnell to agree to confirm him, that would go a long way, I would think, to people whose objections are other than emotional.
LA: Yeah, especially if he did that. If he beats Cruz, and see, I think Cruz, to say a word about him, I think Cruz had a very good week.
HH: He did. He did.
LA: He had a very good Super Tuesday, right? And he’s stronger now than he was, and I’m glad about that. And I’ve always hoped that the race would cohere as early as possible so we can have a real fight among some people who might win. And so we made a step toward that on Tuesday. And I’m not saying anything negative about Rubio, but he didn’t have such a good day. And Cruz did, and so we might get a month of argument chiefly between Trump and somebody else, and we’ll learn a lot about that. And you know, right now, it looks like that somebody else might be Ted Cruz, who’s a very able man, and not vulnerable against Trump’s sort of burst on the scene idea of really doing something about illegal immigration, because Ted Cruz has been very firm on that.
HH: Now I point out that Marco Rubio could pass Cruz in delegate count on the 15th, in which case if there is a negotiation between those two camps to “stop Trump”, Rubio ought to be the top of the ticket. But if Rubio loses, he ought to withdraw or align with Cruz in a Cruz-Rubio ticket. It just seems to me that that is an objective analysis of what ought to happen if you want to stop Donald Trump. And if you don’t want Donald Trump to be stopped, you want Cruz and Rubio never to talk to each other again and to say horrible things about each other.
LA: Yeah, and another thing is, forget for a minute the idea that it’s an emergency to stop Donald Trump. Some people think that. But just think of this. You know, I know that my old friend and yours, Frank Shakespeare, ambassador to the Vatican, very distinguished man…
LA: …was in the first Nixon campaign, and the second one, too. And Nixon told him once, he said Mr. President, and at the time, Frank Shakespeare was a film executive, and he said are you going to run? And Nixon said well, I have to run. And he said why do you have to run? And he said well, events conspire to make some people eligible for the job, and it’s better if they run. Now let’s say these guys are public spirited. They should be thinking now about what pursuit’s the best choice to the American people. And coherence in the race, that’s a motive for them to get together.
HH: I will be right back with Dr. Larry Arnn to expand upon that motive to get together, and whether or not it can be anticipated or counted on.
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HH: So Dr. Arnn, what is that self-interest and mutual interest that Cruz and Rubio would have to discover? And how would they communicate that to each other? And how did Lincoln do it when Lincoln was confronted with a splintered Republican Party in 1860?
LA: Well, first of all, he did it by staying home and letting the convention sort it out over the course of about 48 hours. But I’m just saying, you know, first of all, only one of these guys is going to win, and what I think is, you know, let’s say you get to the place where you feel like the other guy has a better shot. Well, the motive wouldn’t just be let’s stop Trump. At least it wouldn’t be mine. The motive might be okay, we’ve got this far, now we’ll have a better race if I don’t clutter it up anymore. And then let these two guys fight it out. And let the people decide. That is what’s supposed to happen here. So I’m just saying you know, we’re all, so many people are horrified by Donald Trump, and I am in some respects. I named one of them. But in other respects, I kind of think it’s good, and I do like it that he’s appealing so broadly, right? And who am I to say no, no, he’s no good, right? If, you know, what I have to decide, I’m just a citizen, right? First of all, next Tuesday, I’ve got to decide who I’m going to vote for.
HH: Yeah, I was going to ask you. You anticipated my, you do have to vote. It’s not Tuesday. It’s Saturday, isn’t it?
LA: Saturday, yeah.
HH: Yeah. Don’t forget to vote.
LA: So I might have missed my vote. Yeah, no, Saturday, I have to decide who to vote for, and I am going to decide. I’m pretty sure now who I’m going to vote for, but I’m unlikely to say who I voted for, because of, I’ve been exiled to Switzerland.
HH: Yeah, you have been. You have to come live here. And you know what’s amazing is that this attempt to be neutral and fair and objective earns the enmity of everyone.
HH: And so I’m beginning to understand Churchill’s ratting and re-ratting a lot more when everyone’s mad at you.
LA: Yeah, well, one thing about, so we read the Lincoln-Douglas debates, right? People should go listen to that again, because what are they like? In the end, you know, these debates are not, you’re a dirty dog and you said I was a dirty dog, and you’re a liar for that, right?
LA: The people who are saying they won’t support Trump have given a list of reasons. And so I am looking up those reasons to see if they are true. And one of them is not, as far as I can tell. But some of them do have something to them, and so one thing in our Trump folio, I don’t know if we’re going to publish it or not, we might just put it on the website, and that we might do that for some of the other candidates, too.
HH: Let me read to you our mutual friend, Jonah Goldberg, today, Wednesday, writes, “Is Joe Scarborough having his Col. Nicholson moment? That’s what I wondered Monday morning as I watched the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe insist that Donald Trump’s inability and unwillingness to simply and plainly denounce the Ku Klux Klan on a Sunday CNN interview was ‘disqualifying’. To those who might not have seen the Bridge Over The River Kwai, it’s partly the story of British Lt. Col. Nicholson, played by Alec Guinness. Nicholson, a prisoner of war held by the Japanese, convinces himself that he and his men should help his captors build a strategic and valuable bridge over the Kwai River. Nicholson thinks if he shows the Japanese what good British discipline is all about, he will win some kind of moral victory. Of course, as they finish the railway bridge, the Japanese military will win an actual victory. Only at the last minute, spoiler alert, does Nicholson realize the error of his ways. ‘My God, what have I done,’ he says, with his last breath as he falls on a TNT plunger destroying the very bridge he built seconds before Japanese trains go over it. Nothing so dramatic transpired with Joe, but it would be nice to hear My God, what have I done from a lot of people.” And he goes on to blame GOP poohbahs, cable personalities, including some friends and colleagues of mine at Fox News, talk radio hosts and politicians who have either stood, watched or cheered as Trump built his populist cult of personality. And he goes on to denounce Trump. This is, these are extreme terms.
LA: Well, Jonah doesn’t like Trump.
LA: You know, I have to insert, by the way, that my wife’s father was, in fact, Col. Nicholson. That is to say, he commanded a Japanese POW camp.
LA: And he hated that movie.
HH: Oh, he did?
LA: He hated it, hated it.
LA: Because it’s so foreign to the way they were thinking, you know, that there was such a guy like that guy, sort of morally torn between the chance to build a really great bridge, and blow up a bridge the Japanese were going to use. That’s just, he just hated that thing, right?
HH: And it’s also, I mean, any analogy to World War II, I was called a Nazi sympathizer. I’ve been using the Switzerland analogy, and a columnist said that makes you a Nazi sympathizer. (laughing)
LA: Yeah, yeah, right?
HH: And I said my gosh, people, it’s America.
LA: Yeah, you know, mostly, so you know, here’s what I think. I am running a college. It’s a conservative college. It helped to found the Republican Party. It is a fierce partisan of Constitutional rule, and the principles behind it, and it spends an enormous amount of money teaching that to anybody who wants to learn it, right? So that’s my partisanship. And when the general election comes, and I am going to be strongly for and give money to whichever nominee I think will support that stuff the best.
HH: And let’s come back after the break and talk about how a voter in Michigan, or anywhere else, can discern that in the next two weeks. Stay tuned, I’ll be right back on the Hillsdale Dialogue with Dr. Larry Arnn.
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HH: Right now, Dr. Arnn, voters are voting. They’re actually voting in Arizona as we speak. I learned this week that everyone got their ballot in the mail on Saturday, and so they’re voting in Arizona’s primary as we speak. Absentees are out in Florida. Early voting is underway in Florida, where this show is heard across the state. It’s underway on Saturday in Michigan, where we’re heard in Detroit and Grand Rapids. It’s in places we will be in, in Ohio and across the state. How ought, how do you advise a voter to evaluate the four candidates? We haven’t talked about Governor Kasich, who remains in the race, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and John Kasich?
LA: So the way I do it, and will have completed it by Saturday, is establish home base. That is to say pick the issues that you think are fundamental, which ones matter to you the most. In mine, they are defined by this reflection. The new things about the American government are the regulatory state and the entitlement state, and that’s why we’re losing control of our government. How do we fix those? And then I will take everything I can find that they said about that, and try to put it in context so I know something about what they were asked, what they were talking about, and put it in a document and read it through. And you know, you can just learn so much. And we’re blessed this time, because four of the candidates, and I’m leaving out Ben Carson, who’s…
HH: Who’s withdrawn, effectively…
LA: …suspended his campaign.
LA: The four of the candidates are very articulate people. And they’re very good at saying what they think. And it’s not hard to look it up. And you know, it takes some time, and you know, I’m doing it, and I’ve got my team doing it, but, and I’m doing a lot of it, too, but I do that. First of all, who are these people? What do they stand for? And it’s good to do that back through a few years, because the passage of time cancels out, you know, immediate pressures, right? What is consistent about them? And then also, follow the race. Who is most likely, given the political forces that are in play today, to successfully get done what you want to get done. I’m thinking of that. So I’m thinking about who do I think is electable. Who’s going to win the general? And that’s how I do it, and you know, I do that based on some serious knowledge of America’s past, and that’s why I’ve been able to identify the things that I think matter.
HH: The hardest part of it, not learning, there are three components – learning what they say, learning their electability, and then whether or not you can trust what they say.
HH: On that last matter, how do you judge that?
LA: Well, time helps, again, right? Is there, you know, think of your own life. Everybody, you know, this is one of the scholar’s arts, right? Put yourself in their place. If you give an account of yourself of what you support and what you believe and how you came to believe it, you’ll find that in your life, there are some things that are steady, and that when you reach maturity, you came to these things. Well, try to identify that for them, right? What have they stood for? You know, Ted Cruz and Rubio and Kasich, and I think also Trump, although not in politics, they have at least 15 years, with some of them longer, where they have said things about public affairs. And are they consistent, or rather are they consistent on the points that you think matter the most? And then you know, character is, you know, first of all, we don’t know if any of these guys are going to be good at this job, because the job is very hard. And Aristotle says power shows the man. So we’re going to learn a lot after they try to serve. We’re going to learn a lot each week. We’re going to learn a lot in the general. And then the day after, like I have this memory. Ronald Reagan got elected in 1980. I was so glad. I’d been living in England for three years. I come home and he gets elected, and Margaret Thatcher was elected while I was living in England. I watched both of them come to power. Reagan used to say to me, you need to more often, boy. But I watched his press conference the day after he was elected, and he was appointing people and talking about what they were going to do, and I thought wow, he’s going to be really good at this. And I saw it in a new way, because he was beginning to do it. That means there’s going to be some doubt about that.
HH: I also, I asked you about who they surround themselves with. It has been a very fortunate thing as I have run across people since we began doing the Hillsdale Dialogues, and they will tell me they are Hillsdale graduates and whom they are working with or for. For example, the Attorney General of the great state of Montana, Tim Fox, has employed a Hillsdale graduate. And he told me that sua sponte when I was dealing with the Attorney General. And that happens all, and I am reassured about an individual’s character and their ability to evaluate talent when they hire Hillsdale people. And I, how much do you put into the people surrounding the candidates? What do you say about that?
LA: Yeah, that matters, and also, what, if you know them, what do they think about him, because you know, because if you work for somebody, you form definite views. And I know that Trump, I don’t know anybody who works for Trump, but I know that Trump is apparently popular with the people who work for him. I know a lot of people who work for Ted Cruz, and some who work for Rubio, and I know they like them, think they’re really great, and think they’re honest, you know? And they work themselves, I mean, remember about all of these four guys. These are very serious and disciplined people. I mean, they are just, and they couldn’t wage this war on each other and for the republic if they weren’t like that. So I have some confidence in the characters of all of them. It’s harder to judge about Trump, because you haven’t seen him in public office.
HH: Now I’m leading up to an extra segment, a fifth segment, because I want to ask you what you think about conventions and how they act, because you studied quite a few conventions – state conventions ratifying the Constitution, the convention that came up with the Constitution, and other conventions that did not succeed, like those bodies that attempted to get the League of Nations going. When we come back from break, I want to know what Dr. Larry Arnn thinks about an open convention, and the expression of will that would come from that in the terms of selecting a nominee. Don’t go anywhere, America, one quick more segment of this week’s Hillsdale Dialogue.
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HH: Dr. Larry Arnn, an open convention, or a contested convention, is by definition one at which no nominee arrives with the necessary 1,237 delegates committed to his or her nomination. Otherwise, we don’t know what the result will be, because there is doubt. What do you think of such a prospect? And what ought people to accord the result of such a convention?
LA: Well, so I’ve been to three or four Republican conventions, you know, to be there, or I’ve probably been to more than that, but I’ve been to three or four where I was there for two or three days. I’ve given testimony to platform committees several times. And first of all, what are they like? Well, they’re highly-patriotic Americans. A Republican convention is a very middle America event. I like them, you know. And you know, they’re people who are active in politics, and they’re not professionals, and so they’re going to vote the way they’re supposed to vote, instructed by their state primary system, the first ballot. And if nobody wins on the first ballot, then there’s just going to be a big argument, right? And it’s going to take the form it’ll take. It’ll, people will go around and try to persuade, and there’ll be deals made, and it’ll be intense, and it’ll look chaotic, and partly be chaotic. And I think that what they’ll be thinking about is, you know, if history holds, they’ll be thinking about who can win, and who’s the best, those, both those things, not necessarily in that order. And what does best mean? Well, why did Lincoln win? Lincoln was from the state where the convention was, and it was a swing state, thought to be. Lincoln was rustic. Lincoln was one of us. And Lincoln was inspiring. Lincoln had the right principles, but also the way he spoke them was moving to people. They remembered things he said. So it’ll be things like that, right? And it’ll take some form. You know, there’ll be people who emerge unexpectedly as influential among the delegations. And I think that’s, you know, I, you know, because I have fallen into this very unusual mode for me of fearing for the country and enjoying the race at the same time, I have some warm anticipation of such a thing.
LA: (laughing) And I fear it, too, right?
LA: And I don’t think we’re there, yet. I think we’re going to know a lot more after Florida about that.
HH: E.J. Dionne calls the Republican Party a rough beast that is developed by a series of choices. I disagree with that. But a convention can be a beast, or it can be a swan. I mean, it can be either thing.
LA: Yeah, the Democratic convention, I’ve been to a couple of those, not for as long, either one, and I don’t want to do them an injustice, but there are different sorts of people there, right? A lot more people that are involved in politics, or public policy in some way.
HH: More on that next week. Dr. Larry Arnn of Hillsdale College, thank you, www.hillsdale.edu, America, or www.hughforhillsdale.com.
End of interview.