Political conventions in this day and must be hell on reporters looking for actual news to write about instead of being on a week-long junket. But a enterprising political reporter (the exception being Dave Weigel, who will be too busy making love to Jesse Benton to report on anything useful) looking for a story at the upcoming GOP convention in Tampa (presuming it goes off with being disrupted by a hurricane) will find it covering the Ron Paul Movement because it will be in Tampa that movement will more than likely split itself in two.
The Republican Party establishment and the Romney campaign are doing their level best to keep out Paul delegates from the convention. That was to be expected. What was not expected was Romney Campaign being aided and abetted by the Paul Campaign. By agreeing to a deal to split the Louisiana delegations between Romney, Santorum and Paul instead the of the plurality Paul delegates would have had (and may well have been upheld by the RNC), the “official” Paul campaign took away the one state which would have given it the five states and or territories needed to nominate Paul from the floor of the convention (which would have given him an unscripted 15 minute speech as well). With the Paul campaign actively discouraging its delegates from trying to nominate Paul anyway and also look good for the cameras, it’s obvious that the game is up as far as the campaign goes.
Actually, as it turned out there were two campaigns, both intertwined.
The first campaign I believe was legitimately running for President and either trying to win at least before Iowa, or and trying to get as many delegates for the convention as they could afterwards for the possibility of a brokered convention (even if remote) to at least have some influence.
The second campaign, however, was all about Rand Paul pure and simple and his future in the party. One did not operate without the other’s consent. All of their moves since January were done with Rand’s interests in mind and I dare say in reality he and Trygve Olson were calling the shots (Benton is simply a drone who follows orders from both).
That’s why you had this rather confused and contradictory situation where one campaign was raising money, giving speeches before thousands and winning delegates and the other was working behind the scenes with the Romney forces, not attacking them directly because they knew he would be the nominee, and eventually making an endorsement for Romney after he appeared to have clinched it. Anything that needed to be done to help Rand out with the Romney campaign and the party establishment was done.
Thus, when state conventions in Arizona and Oklahoma turned chaotic over the weekend of May 12 (you know, the whole “Romney’s son was booed” motif), the Romney campaign demanded the second Paul campaign put a stop to first campaign and that’s exactly what happened. Benton gives a conference call saying they were going to wind things down, and Rand gives his endorsement. But with more state conventions still to take place for delegates, appearances the first campaign was still operational had to be kept up. So other surrogates like Jack Hunter and Doug Wead were sent out saying nothing’s changed when that was utter crap. And Ron himself never officially dropped out, never suspended, never did anything. This rather unusual status of running/not running allowed for continued fundraising appeals to be made which kept the money coming in so that they would have millions they haven’t even spent, a nice kitty to have for the next four years. For all it’s clumsiness, it was actually a very skillful way of keeping the whole enterprise going until the very end when they couldn’t anymore and then they could blame the party for it. The one problem was, the deal for the Louisiana delegation came two days too early, betraying the whole thing. Louisiana was state No. 5 and everyone knew it and everyone knew the Paul campaign had a case to make before the RNC because the idiots in Louisiana state party violated their own rules. So a deal was made to prevent the case from being heard. No fifth state, no nomination and Roger Villere was punished for being a jack-ass.
Was it deceptive? Only if you believed Ron still had a chance to win even late in the game. Those a little wiser or a little more cynical could see the outlines of what they were doing, from Adam Kokesh to Scott Horton to Justin Raimondo. While I thought it was rather fanciful, the campaign never completely discouraged such thinking or at least never discouraged persons from trying to gain delegate slots presumably to put Paul’s name in nomination. If they did, the RP would have dropped out but if he did that, the whole enterprise would have come to a screeching halt. No more money, no more effort.
If Paul campaign wants to congratulate themselves for being clever, they have the right to do so. But there’s a price to be paid down the line. There’s not going to be much of a grassroots left outside of the just as delusional people who now think Rand now has the inside track to the 2016 nomination. Yes several state parties were taken over this election cycle but just remember that was done because ordinary RP supporters gave up their time and money to attend precinct meetings and county conventions and state conventions. Will that control be maintained if such persons, believing they were part of a sacred cause, don’t show up anymore because they now know they were being used? I have my doubts.
Then again it may not matter. I’ve said before I don’t think Rand or his claque have any use for the grassoots of the Paul campaign. I believe they feel that such support is overrated, that they’re more trouble than their worth, that the party leadership holds a negative view towards said supporters and wishes they go away, so why not go along with them? Rand 2016 will be a campaign based on raising large amounts of cash, largely from the coal and energy sector, to use towards negative TV ads against his opponents. So long as he looks good in TV debates and the polls shows he’s a front runner, he doesn’t need people waving signs for him. And he won’t need people calling for him either, they have machines that do that sort of thing now. With an Iowa organization already in place and no New England/New Hampshire candidate on the horizon to call upon regional loyalties, they feel they’re in great shape for 2016.
So as we fast-forward from 2008 we find Ron Paul still on the outside looking in, giving a rally speech outside the convention hall; another pro-Paul rally altogether which the candidate and campaign are ignoring and with Rand Paul and the rest of the delegates on the inside. Being split in three is not exactly a unified situation. Not that the movement was unified to begin with. But it took someone with Ron Paul’s charisma and sincerity and honesty to bring such a diverse movement together. There are those who may feel the message alone is strong enough to keep it together. Unfortunately there are just as many ready to sacrifice the message for power.
Now granted power is what it’s all about. But power without principal is basically Sauron’s Ring. And what we speak of specifically is the attempt by trying to reach for power to water the message down or change it so it doesn’t mean anything. This is happening with many movement candidates who trying to hem in the message, especially when it comes to foreign policy. This is a key point because while many rank and file Republicans could agree with Paul on economics, they are repelled by his foreign policy. It’s affecting candidates who the movement helped win primaries and other elections and who now are flip-flopping on foreign policy not realizing why it is the essential part of the message.
After Tampa, some in the movement will devote the next four years of their lives to another Paul, others may grow apathetic and drop out and others may try their hand with non-major parties. But whatever happens, the fact remains that more education is needed on creating a foreign policy which reflects American’s interest and economic resources. The movement will go nowhere or go down dead ends until minds are changed on this point because so much of what take place with American economically and even socially does flow from foreign policy. This is what I personally learned from Ron Paul five years ago and will be his legacy to me now that he’s exiting the stage.