WASHINGTON, D.C., September 4, 2012 — The Republican National Convention has officially come to a close, and Mitt Romney stands as the Republican nominee. Along the way, many bore witness to party efforts designed to ensure that there was no protest or dissent at the convention, with shenanigans specifically aimed at the Ron Paul delegates.
Throughout the convention, unsavory tactics were employed against the Paulian delegates, and new rules implemented. Love or hate the Paul ideology, the new rules imposed by the GOP have terrible implications not just for Ron Paul supporters, but for all future anti-establishment candidates that seek to modify, enhance, or “cast a wider net” for the Republican Party.
One unexpected event at the convention was that Paul’s supporters were denied their hard fought victory in Maine. The Republicans, who had been contesting Paul’s capture of most of Maine’s delegates, decided arbitrarily to split the number of delegates and award half to Romney on the day of the convention. This caused delegates to walk out of the convention in protest and further resulted in the governor of Maine boycotting the convention.
Other Paul delegations were intentionally seated in bleachers where they could more easily be ignored. The Houston Chronicle reported: “Delegates from U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands get better seats than Ron Paul’s supporters.”
Perhaps one indicator of how the party bosses felt about the presence of the Ron Paul supporters involved a microphone being abruptly cut when Georgia was attempting to read the number of delegates accumulated by Ron Paul. Not realizing that another microphone was still on, someone snickered: “Well done! Whoever controlled the microphone did a great job!”
Attempts by Paul supporters to add issues of substance to the platform were squashed. Some of the planks proposed by his delegation included opposition to nation building overseas, foreign aid, and the National Defense Authorization Act. Romney surrogate, former Senator Jim Talent, quickly repelled any efforts by the Paul team.
Talent argued with regard to the plank against nation building: “I’m very concerned it would be read, and may be intended to be read, as getting out a whole range of tools that we regularly use in foreign policy in order to protect American security at as inexpensive a cost as possible — tools by which we assist other countries in developing grassroots democratic and economic institutions. [We] ought to be trying to assist Libya as it emerges as a democracy. That doesn’t mean we have to go in and build a nation.”
The party attempted to appease Paul supporters by adding an “audit the Fed” plank, issuing empty promises to convene another gold commission, and including a vague doctrine on Internet freedom.
Worse than the way they treated Ron Paul and his delegates, the Republican Party has set a precedent such that no insurgent candidacy is likely to occur again. The new bylaws provision allows the RNC to change the rules between national conventions. It also dictates that the winner of future contests collects all of the delegates. This ensures that if a grass-roots campaign attempts to duplicate the success of the Paul campaign, it would face much higher barriers to succes. Its efforts would be immediately thwarted.
The betrayal experienced by Ron Paul and his supporters over the mishandling of the convention was made clear during a recent interview when Paul claimed that the Republican Party is “not his party.” In the end, the Republicans resorted to the same underhanded, close-door tactics for which they have condemned the Democrats.
It was not too long ago that, during the debate over Obama’s overhaul of healthcare, Speaker of the House John Boehner said: “Can you say it was done openly, with transparency and accountability? Without backroom deals, and struck behind closed doors, hidden from the people? Hell no, you can’t!”
Sadly, the Republican Party drove away a young, vibrant, knowledgeable faction that could have helped prevent the collapse of the already crumbling republic, chose an individual who is more beholden to his campaign donors than the rule of law, and triturated any future campaigns that seek to inject issues of substance and challenge the orthodoxy of the ruling class.
Truly, the coercive and demeaning actions of this year’s RNC toward its supporters served as a brilliant advertisement for party migration and a model of wasted opportunity.
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