ARKANSAS, September 2, 2012 — A common theme heard from hundreds of thousands of Ron Paul supporters is the notion that Ron Paul had enough delegates to be nominated, but at the last moment the establishment swooped in and stopped him. The establishment certainly changed some of the rules and took on the Tea Party and the Ron Paul movement, but that doesn’t mean they stopped a Paul nomination.
Ron Paul didn’t didn’t have the delegates necessary for nomination, not even if he’d received all of the Maine delegates. He was a state short.
He knew this months ago when he sent an email to supporters saying that his delegates were “not enough.” There certainly was cheating during the election, but Ron Paul at the convention wasn’t going to win ― he couldn’t win ― and he wasn’t going to be nominated. Nothing could have changed this at the convention.
Ron Paul never had the delegates needed
A while back, I wrote an article discussing Paul’s legacy, arguing that Romney was going to be the nominee, and quoted Ron Paul himself:
“When it is all said and done, we will likely have as many as 500 supporters as delegates on the Convention floor. That is just over 20 percent! And while this total is not enough to win the nomination, it puts us in a tremendous position to grow our movement and shape the future of the GOP!”
The GOP rules stated that you must have a plurality of the delegates in five states to be entered in nomination. This is different than just having “multiple” delegates or even just 5 states. It means you have to have more delegates in the state that nominates you than any other candidate, though not necessarily a majority. This rule is what stopped Ron Paul from becoming nominated.
Some people have noted that the GOP upped the requirement to eight states from five, but, as Reason Magazine reports, that doesn’t go into effect until next election, and it had no impact on Paul’s chances to be nominated this year.
Did Paul have the five necessary? No. The only states where he had a plurality were Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, and Louisiana. Even then, Louisiana was strongly contested, as was Maine. Regardless, those are only four states. Five states nominated Paul, as well as a territory, but they weren’t the right five states as they didn’t have a plurality of Ron Paul delegates.
That’s why Ron Paul said he wouldn’t win the nomination. In response, many Paul fans claim that Nevada counted, and thus Ron Paul made it. But Nevada doesn’t at all count as a plurality for Paul because Romney had a plurality of the delegates bound to him.
Nevada didn’t count for nominating Ron Paul
In Nevada, a state typically claimed by Paul’s supporters as one where he had a plurality, the delegates are “bound,” meaning that in the first round of voting they must vote for a specific candidate. Most were bound to Romney. Even if we agree that they could vote for whomever they pleased, on paper they were Romney’s and Paul did not have a plurality there. This means that Nevada didn’t count as one of the necessary five. Even with Maine, Paul only had a plurality in four states.
Ron Paul had three states with Maine a contested fourth, not fifth.
What does this mean? It means that going into the convention, Ron Paul couldn’t have been nominated. The conspiracy theories are just that ― theories. And those theories aren’t backed by the evidence. Even Ron Paul said that his delegates were “not enough” to win, whether by that he meant win the nomination, or whether he meant win the fight to be nominated.
Did Cheating Happen? Absolutely.
I have been blocked from several Ron Paul pages because I have pushed this explanation, an explanation that Ron Paul himself believes in. One of the pages, ironically, was a page protesting censorship. The irony is deadly.
There is no doubt that cheating happened in the primary process; it absolutely did, and it was probably committed by supporters of every candidate, including Romney.
The Nevada delegates, for example, tried right at the end to vote for Paul though they were bound by Romney. They claim this was in response to other rules violations. This is one of those claims that makes politics seem so sleazy to so many people. Even libertarians can get caught up in group think.
Boehner was rude and ignored people calling for points of order. According to rules, he had the power to do that, but he overstepped that power big time. He should have been impeached from the process.
There were other rule changes that were horrible, like the one that says the GOP can change the rules between conventions. That’s a bad rule and should be overturned.
But the problems with the GOP aren’t as simple as “they stopped Paul from winning.” “They” didn’t have to; Paul’s supporters managed that themselves. Ron Paul was a fringe candidate who had an incredibly powerful influence at the nomination, due entirely to grassroots activism. But if those supporters had spent half the energy explaining to Romney supporters why they should instead support Paul as they spent calling them “unpatriotic” “sheeple,” he probably would have easily passed that five-state plurality standard.
And of course, I have been cussed out, defriended, and called the inevitable “sheeple” for explaining just that. Several people have even accused me of being paid agent for Romney.
What this means for the libertarian movement
Challenging the acceptable narrative is always going to lead people to emotional responses, whether you’re questioning statism or a conspiracy theory that is rejected by even Ron Paul.
A single election isn’t significant compared to what’s necessary to actually push for a libertarian society. That’s going to take education, rational discussion, and looking for ways to make converts.
In the end, Ron Paul’s legacy depends on what we do with it. As Ron Paul said, “Our Revolution is just getting started.”
Shaun Connell is a libertarian writer who is passionate about free-market economics, intellectual honesty, and bringing back the gold standard. He’s the founder of Capitalism Institute and the author of Live Gold Prices.
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