Is Donald Trump America’s Boaty McBoatface?

Across the pond, the UK gave the public the opportunity to name a new £200M ($290M) polar research vessel. Amid worthy candidates (Falcon, Endeavor and [arctic explorer] Henry Worlsey) and admirable attempts (IceIceBaby, Big Shipinnit and SCIENCE!!!), one candidate is (er) floating to the top: Boaty McBoatface.

The poll, which closes on 16 April is an experiment in direct democracy. There are no elected representatives, parties or subcommittees. When asked for ideas, one participant nominated “Boaty McBoatface.” Out of some 3,800 other options (to date), thousands others agreed this this is how they would like their arctic endeavors branded.

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Above, a former candidate for the new New Zealand flag design[/caption]

A similar case happened recently in New Zealand. The government decided that their flag was too close to Australia’s and too referential to its former British colonial overlords, so it opened a public contest to submit and vote for a new flag design. Similar to Boaty McBoatface, some serious doozies rose to the top.

These stories made me think: is Donald Trump our Boaty McBoatface?

Consider this. Throughout the nomination process, the Republican party has been mostly hands-off. They permitted the candidate field to stay as wide as the market for votes would allow. Looking past the machinations of delegates, caucuses and primaries, the race has been as unfettered as these things get.

When left to their own devices, time and time again Republican voters selected Donald Trump.

Now, in the case of the New Zealand flag, a government-appointed committee considered (well, effectively moderated) the vote and narrowed the list down to four approved designs that voters could select from. Once the UK boat poll concludes, the site notes that the government, not the voter, will be picking the winner.

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Presidential candidate Donald Trump[/caption]

The Republican Party is now forced to play a similar role as the New Zealand flag committee, the UK boat agency, and a parent cautioning a kid from eating a pound of jelly beans. They have to tell their members that they don’t really want what they think they do.

We had our say. We picked our Boaty McBoatface. And now it’s up to the Republican Party — through a contested convention or somehow else — to take the rudder before we hit an iceberg.

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