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Opinion: The 2024 Republican Party Presidential Primaries and the Definition of a Dealbreaker



By John F. Di Leo, Opinion Contributor

The 2024 primary season is well underway. Most of the candidates will have announced by Independence Day; the first debates commence in August, and petition filing for ballot access in the primaries begins mere weeks after that.

We have a recent incumbent president, a recent incumbent vice president, and a plethora of sitting and former politicians, not to mention a couple of unelected businessmen in the Trump model, already lined up to crowd our debate stage.

Every other op-ed will address the qualifications of the candidates, their strategies and styles, their hopeful paths to victory. But one thing that perhaps doesn’t get enough attention is the question of the dealbreaker.

Spend enough time studying politics, and most voters will eventually determine that there are a couple of issues that are absolute musts for any candidate they’ll support. They’d rather skip a race than be forced to vote for a candidate who’s in the right party or measures up otherwise, but who is wrong on their most important issue.

Traditionally, political consultants identify such an audience as the single-issue voters. No matter how good the candidate is otherwise, if he’s “wrong” (whatever the voter defines “wrong” as) on this big issue, he’s going to need a plan to get other voters to make up for the ones he loses on this.

That single issue, over the years, might have been a candidate’s position on the Vietnam War or the SALT talks, or on the sanctity of life, or the Second Amendment or capital punishment.

Some of these are still dominant single issues today, while new ones have been added in recent years as well. Does the candidate fall for the “climate change” hoax? Does the candidate recognize the necessity of securing the borders? If a candidate is wrong on either of these, that’s sure to lead him or her to be wrong on dozens more.

Most of us are of two minds on the concept of the dealbreaker. “Your dealbreaker” is ridiculous, while “my dealbreaker” makes perfect sense. Some of us don’t see why a single issue, even a big one, should command so much importance in comparison to all the others, but we understand why about our own issues, because to us, this one issue is a weather vane for everything else. Even if you look like you’re right on all the other issues, if you’re wrong on this one, you can’t possibly be, or, just as bad: you can’t be trusted.

The current cycle has revealed the invention of a couple of new types of dealbreaker, and candidates who don’t believe it will move forward at their peril.

For two hundred years, the American people thought – and sometimes it was a delusion, but at least, it was a genuine belief – that both political parties wanted the best for our country; they may disagree wildly on which tax policy, which regulatory policy, which foreign policy, would deliver that “best result,” but at least they believed that both sides wanted the best result for America.

In recent years, it has become clear to more and more of us that this is no longer the case. The average voter who identifies with either party may well have the best of intentions, but recent revelations concerning the administrative state and the upper echelons of the Democratic Party have proven that the Democrats who gain access to high office, whether in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches, are united only in working against the best interests of the American people.

So for this reason, more and more Republican voters are finding a need to establish a new key issue, a new fundamental must-have for any candidate seeking their support: Is the candidate solid in opposing the Left, or has the candidate been a willing sap, a supporter of the enemy’s tactics?

The Photo Op

One example concerns Chris Christie of New Jersey, who announced his candidacy this week. Whatever his political skills – and of course he has positives; he was elected and reelected governor of a Democrat-leaning state – he also has an unforgivable handicap. In 2012, when all signs pointed to Barack Obama narrowly losing his reelection bid, Governor Christie posed with Obama on a New Jersey beach – for a photo op in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Barack Obama had spent four years being as divisive as possible, constantly attacking both Republicans and the American people in general. The one thing he needed before that election was a chance to look bipartisan, likable, and helpful.

Chris Christie gave him that opportunity by posing with him on that beach. It was an in-kind contribution to the Obama campaign, an unrivaled PR gift. Many Americans attribute Obama’s reelection to that one ill-considered picture.

And for that reason, it’s a dealbreaker. Christie probably has no idea how much Republican voters hold that choice against him. He likely thinks it was just another political photo op; he does a thousand of them, what’s the big deal? But to those of us who understand the level of damage that Obama’s two terms did to America and the world, Christie’s election eve gift to Obama is, rightly, an absolute indictment from which he can never recover.

The Electoral College

The next one in the news at the moment – a new one because it only happened two years ago – concerns Vice President Mike Pence’s conduct at the Electoral College tabulation on January 6, 2021.

Mike Pence had a terrific record as a movement conservative in Indiana. From talk show host to congress to the governor’s mansion, he’d impressed the base with a rare level of consistency throughout his career. In his decade in Congress, he maintained a virtually perfect 99 percent ACU rating, an uncommon feat indeed, and he appeared to be a standup fellow throughout his term as President Trump’s loyal vice president.

But then came the 2020 election.

In state after state, often blaming covid-19, governors, secretaries of state, even county board presidents and boards of elections, illegally changed their election rules to allow almost unrestricted vote fraud. Mail-in ballots, print-at-home ballots, an elimination of signature verification, ballot harvesting, registration from PO boxes and public parks, five and six week early voting periods… the list goes on and on. In many of these states, the legislature never approved such changes; they were completely illegal under their state laws, but the legislatures had no enforcement powers to stop it.

As a result, dozens and dozens of lawsuits were filed against these corrupt practices both before and after the election, usually thrown out by judges who were partisan Democrats, or were afraid to make such a call, or who simply believed that such decisions were “beyond their pay grade.”

Vice President Pence was the one person in the process for whom it clearly was “at his pay grade.”

Read the Constitution. The Vice President doesn’t have many duties, but what few are enumerated are huge.

· He succeeds to the presidency if the president dies or resigns.

· He breaks every tie in the Senate (making him essentially equal to the entire Senate in such circumstances).

· And he supervises the count of the Electoral College.

The Electoral College doesn’t work quite like the Framers originally intended. The original plan was for state legislatures to directly appoint their states’ electors, and then those electors would vote for a president. As political parties developed, candidates started assembling their own lists of electors, and leaving the choice up to the voters; whoever won the election in each state, that winner’s slate of electors would be sent up to Washington for the count.

The question is no longer who each state’s slate of electors will vote for, but rather, which slate each state’s election will pick. And the state legislature alone is empowered to write the rules on how that election is held.

The relevant section of the Constitution (Art II, Sec 1) reads as follows: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…” This part has never been amended.

In short, the selection of the electors is the determining factor, and everyone knew that in numerous states – certainly at least seven, but arguably several more – the governors, county board chairmen, and secretaries of state had conducted an election in a manner completely contrary to how their legislatures directed.

There was only one chance to rectify the matter. On January 6, 2021, when he got to each of the states in dispute, Mike Pence should have said “I have been informed that this slate is in question; the chair calls upon the state legislature of (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc.) to inform the chair which slate of electors to count within seven days” or something along those lines.

We don’t know how this would have ended up; perhaps the result would have been the same, but such action was necessary to bring legitimacy back to the process. Mike Pence chickened out; he claimed to have had no authority, when in fact he was the only person who had the authority and opportunity to rightly turn the process back to where the Constitution put it: the state legislatures.

To those of us who value the sanctity of elections and support the plan of our Founders, Mike Pence’s choice that day is an unforgiveable dealbreaker.

The Witch Hunt

One more such issue is worth mentioning, though it’s much broader. The evidence has now proven that, ever since 2015, a cabal primarily consisting of the DNC, the Clinton and Biden campaigns, the Democrat congressional leadership, and rogues officers in the Department of Justice colluded to illegally defame and frame President Trump and many of his associates for all sorts of crimes.

From wiretapping at Trump Tower to corrupt FISA warrants based on knowingly fabricated evidence such as the Steele Dossier, this cabal has spent eight years in various ways illegally using federal resources to bring down President Trump, culminating in sham impeachment trials, the fabricated January 6 “insurrection,” and the House kangaroo court that further slandered President Trump and his supporters. All of it has now been proven to have been nothing but a series of scams, without an ounce of truth behind them.

Whether one is a Trump partisan or not – for this issue is just as important to every other Republican candidate, volunteer, donor or voter in the country as we move forward – it is plain that any Republican who gave cover to these psyops is as much a part of the problem as any Democrat.

Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and a host of others who undeservedly go around with an “R” after their names, are now recognized as having been traitors to the rule of law as well as to the Republican party, for giving the Democrats cover in these matters, for giving Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden the ability to pretend that these witch hunts were bipartisan.

Whether we support Trump or De Santis, Haley or Scott, Elder or Burgum, one thing every serious Republican knows is that we are all at risk of the same treatment – we could all face the smear tactics they have used against Trump. To have given cover to the Steele Dossier and to Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 shock theatre is therefore the newest of such dealbreakers.

No self-respecting Republican voter who hopes for victory, tomorrow or ever, can ever support the allegedly Republican turncoats who legitimized these past eight years of witch hunts.

The primaries and caucuses will be here before we know it; looking out for these dealbreakers among the candidates just might help narrow down the field a bit as our decision days approach.

Copyright 2023 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer and transportation manager, writer, and actor. A one-time county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has been writing regularly for Illinois Review since 2009. Follow John F. Di Leo on Facebook, Twitter, Gettr or TruthSocial.

A collection of John’s Illinois Review articles about vote fraud, The Tales of Little Pavel, and his 2021 political satires about current events, Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes One and Two, are available, in either paperback or eBook, only on Amazon.


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