There is fear out there expressed by those in the Republican Party, the Romney for President campaign, even the Ron Paul for President campaign about the behavior of Paul supporting delegates and Paul supporters in general at the upcoming GOP National Convention in Tampa.
What does Ron Paul want? Will be speak at the convention? Will he be nominated? Will his supporters be disruptive?
In the context of the modern political convention, which instead of being a deliberative body is a really a tax-payer funded love-in for the nominated candidate, this is an important question. Because these are made-for-TV events, any kind of appearance of disruption of routine party business by parliamentary wrangling of appearance of disunity is frowned upon severely. Everything is meticulously planned and scripted and any deviation from that plan could present an image problem for the folks watching about the candidate the convention will nominate.
For example, there’s talk Ron Paul could have himself put into nomination for vice-president by his delegates forcing a roll call vote which hasn’t happened at a convention since 1972. That will throw everything off schedule if it happens. Just ask George McGovern.
Given this situation, it would seem the Paul supporters would have some leverage with the Romney campaign and the party leadership. Give us what want and we’ll give you decorum. Instead negotiations seem to be happening from the opposite direction. The party seems to be saying either give us decorum or you will have no role at the convention. This is largely due to the fact the upper-echelon of the campaign, persons-like campaign manager Jesse Benton, his string-puller Trygve Olson and the man they want to work for in 2016, Sen. Rand Paul, are looking ahead and trying to make sure Ron Paul supporters and delegates don’t come off in Republican eyes like the protestors at 1968 Democratic National Convention.
You hear the word “respect” more and more from persons in the Paul campaign. No doubt there are those within the campaign who believe their own supporters are an unruly mob and have said so publicly. They’ve gone so far as to schedule their own gathering at Tampa to keep Paul away from grassroots sponsored events festivals schedule the week. Shouldn’t respect be a two-way street? How much respect should Paul supporters be forced give while the Romney campaign forces out Paul supporters from the Massachusetts delegation, and acts in questionable if not downright illegal ways to secure delegates in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arizona and attack and arrest Paul delegates in the process?
The only “respect” Paul delegates at the convention should show is to the taxpayers who have the fund these Nuremburg-type rallies and make them actual democratic events again. If that means things go off schedule, so be it. Paul delegates can make history by changing again the nature of a political party convention away from spectacle to an actual gathering where there’s debate and discussion and votes, the kinds of things that actually happen in democracy. If left to their own devices I’m sure these delegates would do just that. But I am worried that biggest division in Tampa will not be between Romney and Paul, it will be between and Paul supporters and their own campaign.