TAMPA, June 10, 2012 – With all but one of the Republican primaries concluded, there are two things that are clear. The first is that unless something very improbable occurs, Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. The second is that Ron Paul will have an army of delegates at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in August.
The media continue to wonder what Paul hopes to accomplish with those delegates, although he has been clear from the beginning. His primary goal was to win the nomination. His secondary goal was to influence the direction of the Republican Party.
Paul has remained consistent in his strategy. In a June 6 e-mail to supporters, Paul said
“We stand to send nearly 200 bound delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa…What’s more, we will send several hundred additional supporters to Tampa who, while bound to Romney, believe in our ideas of liberty, constitutional government, and a common-sense foreign policy. When it is all said and done, we will likely have as many as 500 supporters as delegates on the Convention floor.
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!”
Some of Paul’s supporters dispute that any of the RNC delegates are bound to vote for any candidate, citing Republican Party Rule No. 38. Obviously, Ron Paul doesn’t see it that way.
However, one thing everyone acknowledges is that no delegate to the RNC is bound to any candidate’s position on the issues. That means Paul’s 500 delegates can vote any way they want regarding the Republican Party platform.
That might not sound exciting, but consider the implications. The nominee is expected to adopt the platform as his own, or at least not take a position that directly contradicts it. Romney’s positions are diametrically opposed to Paul’s on a range of issues. What if the Ron Paul delegates get one or more of Paul’s positions into the platform?
For example, Romney supports the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war against nations that pose a threat to the security of the United States. Paul rejects this policy, insisting that Congress formally declare war before the president orders planned military action.
Contrary to popular belief, a declaration of war is not “permission” by the Congress to start a war. A declaration of war is just that, a declaration that war already exists. Whenever the Congress has declared war in the past, it has done so citing the overt acts of war that the nation in question had already committed against the United States. The whole concept of declaring war rules out preemptive war.
That’s why George W. Bush could not have obtained a declaration of war on Iraq. There were no overt acts of war committed by Iraq against the United States. Ditto for Korea, Viet Nam, Somalia, Bosnia, etc.
It would have been difficult to achieve a declaration of war against Afghanistan in light of the Taliban’s offer to prosecute Osama Bin Laden if evidence were presented of his guilt. Bush rejected the offer saying, “There is no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he’s guilty.”
If Paul’s supporters were to get a declaration of war requirement into the Republican Party platform, preemptive war would indeed be “off the table.” Romney would have to defy the party or flip flop on his current position.
Even with 500 votes, the Paul delegates might have an uphill battle on this front. The other candidates’ delegates are firmly in the preemptive war camp. The party leadership may very well break 5,000 fingers before letting a declaration of war requirement get into its platform.
But there are other positions that Republicans might not be so opposed to. Paul wanted to cut $1 trillion during his first year as president. Romney only wants to cut future increases in spending. Paul’s supporters could get actual spending cuts into the platform.
Romney said that he would have signed the NDAA resolution that authorized the president to arrest American citizens and hold them indefinitely without due process. Paul and his supporters vigorously oppose this. Since the bill was signed by Obama and not a Republican president, Paul’s delegates could conceivably get repeal of those provisions into the platform.
Ending the drug war, cutting military spending in general, and opposing a federal prohibition on gay marriage are just a few of the other issues upon which the candidates disagree. Chief among them for Paul has been an audit of the Federal Reserve System.
While endorsing Romney, Sen. Rand Paul said that Romney now supports an audit of the Federal Reserve System, something that Romney said he wouldn’t “take [his] effort and focus on” in 2011. While technically not a “flip flop,” it may be a harbinger of what Paul’s supporters can achieve by flexing their delegate muscle at the RNC.
If they do achieve a major change in the GOP platform, Romney may have to flip flop once again to avoid campaigning against his own party. That could be the first sign that the Ron Paul Revolution will be alive long after his presidential campaign has ended.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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