The Rules adopted by the 2012 Convention, as amended under Rule 12, shall constitute the Rules of the Republican National Committee and the 2016 Republican National Convention. Any amendments herein to these rules, as adopted by the 2016 Republican National Convention, shall take effect at the adjournment of the 2016 National Convention and constitute the Rules for the Republican National Committee and the temporary Rules of the 2020 National Convention.This rule replaces what has been the rule establishing the temporary rules for the next convention. Standard protocol within the Republican Party has always held that a convention of delegates crafts the rules that will govern their conduct. Furthermore, those rules serve as a temporary baseline from which the next succeeding convention can work. This saves the party from having to start from scratch for each convention. However, that process also tends to create something of a negative inertia that can make change more difficult (especially in a potentially highly charged setting like a national convention).
Yue's proposal breaks from that sequence. Rather than having the Convention Committee on Rules wrangle over new rules or rules changes for the 2016 convention, this change would have them haggling over the temporary rules for the 2020 convention. Any changes in Cleveland would take effect when the 2016 convention adjourns.
One way of looking at this is that freezes the current rules and punts any changes to after the convention. Setting that baseline is a powerful action as described above. And FHQ has often argued that that baselining is a powerful institutional function. Those are the rules unless there is agreement if not consensus about changing them at the convention or later by the RNC itself. That can be a high bar.
Another way of looking at this, though, is that it locks in the 2012 rules for 2016 but also sets any changes to Rules 26-42 in stone for another four years -- from Cleveland to the 2020 convention. The most controversial of those rules is the oft-maligned, too often over-discussed Rule 40. That eight state majority threshold could be changed and locked in -- again, as a placeholder -- in Cleveland for 2020. Given how often that rule came up in 2016, this would seem significant. On some level it is.
Yet, the overall scope of this change is pretty minimal, long term. In the short term, it absolutely would solidify Trump's nomination in Cleveland if passed through the Convention Rules Committee and by the convention. But unless that rules package calls for the post-convention elimination of Rule 12, then the Republican National Committee would retain the ability to amend the rules that would govern 2020 nomination process.
That makes this proposal a potentially weak bargaining chip in the broader discussion of the rules. If, to get it passed, concessions were made on changes to the future nomination process rules to lock, under this proposal, the 2012 rules in place for Cleveland, then those on the opposition side -- against Yue's proposal -- would almost have to call for the elimination of Rule 12 to remove any possibility that the RNC would revisit and alter those changes.
In the end, that is a hypothetical situation. And given the make up of the Convention Committee on Rules -- stacked with members of the RNC -- it is unlikely that any such sort of bargaining over the rules will occur. However, it is helpful to unpack all of this to see where the discussion might go and what the logical aims and ends of Yue's proposal are.