Ron Paul supporters may be noisy, but they share the GOP objective
Last weekend, a number of Colorado counties held their Republican and Democratic assemblies and, if what happened in the Denver County Republican assembly is any guide, it could be a raucous and interesting year.
My friend Kelly Maher videotaped the event, which she described as “a descent into madness.” Looking at the video and reading some of the comments, it appears that during the assembly, Congressman Ron Paul’s supporters became agitated, with some chanting, “Point of order,” leading to a great deal of arguing between party officials running the meeting and delegates pledged to Paul.
It’s difficult to get a real sense of what the problem was or how it started, but it seems that Paul’s supporters were wary of the assembly being run in some way that was going to exclude them from what they felt was their permissible input.
Colorado has a sizable number of supporters of the of the congressman, who are often quite zealous and sensitive to the idea that Republican party machinery is somehow tilted against their candidate and his point of view. Many are fairly new to party politics, which can be, at best, tedious and often Byzantine, even to experienced participants.
Therefore, it’s not clear if assembly officials were attempting to be overly restrictive in their running of the assembly or were simply trying to get through what is inevitably a long day’s work of choosing candidates and establishing local political-platform positions.
What does seem apparent is that traditional party machinery is wary of Paul supporters, who, some believe, want to seize control of party gatherings merely to advocate for Paul at the expense of the rest of the business necessary to transact at the county and state level.
Paul supporters, meanwhile, are suspicious that party officials are attempting to marginalize their positions, perhaps out of disinterest or to ensure that “establishment” candidates and positions are preserved.
Some other states’ party gatherings have caused wounded feelings between Paul supporters and party officials and resulted in each hardening its opinion of the other — which is not really very helpful to the task of replacing Barack Obama as president.
What’s interesting is that Paul himself seems to have moderated some of his attacks on the Republican Party. He seems more concentrated on picking up enough delegates in state primaries to have a platform from which to craft some Republican positions and perhaps some input into the choice of a vice presidential candidate. The early fear that he might break off into a third-party run, which would be very damaging to any GOP candidate’s hopes, seems to have passed.
Some commentators have speculated this is because a third-party run would damage his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is an extremely viable vice presidential choice in the upcoming election or even possible presidential timber in the future.
I think it is possibly less self-serving than that, deriving from the congressman’s clear patriotism and knowledge that the nation is in serious danger of financial Armageddon. It’s become increasingly clear that any of the congressman’s primary opponents are better stewards for America than the present administration, and the stakes are too high this go-around to chance a third-party bid or scorched-earth lesson to the Republican Party.
I don’t believe, in this environment, Paul wants to take the Eugene McCarthy approach to the nomination.
For those who don’t recall Minnesota’s Sen. McCarthy, he was a five-time candidate for president, but most significantly a strong Democratic anti-war candidate at the tumultuous 1968 Chicago convention. He was a top-tier contender until Robert Kennedy decided to enter the race. Many encouraged him to withdraw and support RFK, which he declined to do. Even after Kennedy’s assassination and Hubert Humphrey’s nomination, he continued to hold himself and his supporters aloof, which probably assisted in the election of Richard Nixon.
My hope, and I think the hope of many who are concerned about the direction of the country, is that those operating party machinery allow Paul supporters to participate and Paul supporters choose to cooperate.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.