Conspiracy, Cooperation, and Coincidence

As the chase for the GOP nomination tests the outer bounds of curiouser and curiouser, it may be helpful to discuss what is a conspiracy and what is not a conspiracy.

Donald Trump is convinced he is the victim of a conspiracy to thwart the will of the people and deprive him of the delegates needed to win the nomination. Oddly enough, Donald Trump, of all people, does not understand a conspiracy.

A conspiracy is a plan by a group to do something evil, unlawful, or treacherous. There are three elements: you must have (1) a group, (2) a plan, and (3) an illicit goal. The common definition of conspiracy says that the plan is secret, but plotting openly does not strip a conspiracy of its nefarious nature. In addition, group can be a little deceptive; while it takes three to be a crowd, two can be a group.

If you don’t have all three elements — group, plan, and illicit goal — you do not have a conspiracy. A coincidence — the chance coalescence of events, even events in which the actors have the same, shared motives — is not a conspiracy without a plan and an illicit goal. Likewise, cooperation — a group with a plan — is not a conspiracy without an illicit goal. The political world right now is filled with all sorts of things that are not conspiracies. Let me detail some of them.

The coincidence that Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and the Republican establishment would like to block Donald Trump from the Republican nomination is not a conspiracy. As to Ted Cruz and the establishment, it is quite safe to say it is not even a matter of cooperation. The rules for a nomination have only existed for the entire history of the party. The candidate who wins a majority, moves to the general election; the winner of a plurality gets to keep scrapping for a majority (and may never get it).

Similarly, the coincidence that the Republican party rules have allowed Donald Trump to parlay less than forty percent of the vote into nearly fifty percent of the delegate commitments for the first ballot is not a conspiracy. It is rather good proof that there is no conspiracy against Trump, but it also lacks any elements of a conspiracy for him. It just shows his exceptional luck.

The Cruz-Kasich alliance, such as it is, is also not a conspiracy. It has no illicit purpose, and by all appearances, it may not even be a plan. It is too early to tell whether it is working or backfiring or having no effect at all.

That the very Democratic-leaning press has given millions of dollars in free coverage to the Trump circus is frankly illicit, and the mainstream media is certainly a group. But there is no plan, so there is no conspiracy. That every major news outlet chose to cherry-pick the news to emphasize a lunatic candidate does not mean there was a plan. In fact, our media would perhaps be healthier if there had been a plan. Instead, the progressive echo chamber is so well sealed that all the major outlets chose to adopt the same narrative — crazy man runs for president and right wing nuts flock to support him. Not one has given anything close to equal time to reasonable voices on the right because they don’t believe there are reasonable voices on the right. Not one has admitted or analyzed the obvious gaps between Trump’s positions and conservative positions as espoused for at least the past thirty-six years. No media outlet has explored the prevalence of democratic cross-over voters in Trump’s share of the electorate, so none has asked why these Clinton Democrats have abandoned a Clinton in the Democratic primary or how the media can suggest that people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008 are suddenly the legitimate voice of Republicanism in 2016.

So, we come to the primary voting of April 26, 2016, a block of solid blue states in which a block of disgruntled Democratic voters is expected to deliver a solid victory in the Republican primaries for a life-long Democrat who, like them, now claims to be the voice of the Republican Party. It is not a conspiracy because there is no plan. But the goal is still treacherous and evil to any true conservative.

The question from here will be whether Ted Cruz can recover and win Indiana. Thus far, there has been little sense of momentum from one state or set of states to another. If Cruz can prevent a Trump bandwagon effect from taking root, he can win Indiana, and then the likelihood of a two or more ballot convention becomes very strong. If that happens, this was just another bump in a very bumpy road. If a Trump bandwagon starts to develop at this late date out of the solid blue northeast, it will just be the final irony in highly ironic primary season. At the height of its electoral success and power over the past eighty years, the GOP succumbs to the adage of its greatest president — you can fool some of the people all the time. It is not a conspiracy, but it would be a shame.