Now that that the Republican Convention is history, a few thoughts. I write as one who’s never involved himself in Republican Party politics in Maine, whether at the state, county or local level. I do know many of the players involved, however, and I hope I can show some objectivity.
Let’s start with a few stipulations:
1. That there is a serious problem with the national Republican Party. It’s true that there’s an inside-the-beltway crowd that disdains conservatives and limited government. The recent convention barely mentioned the Tea Party, which singlehandedly revived the Party’s fortunes after the 2008 election and gave the Party its smashing victories in 2010. There is ‘us’ and ‘them’, with widely divergent goals and interests. My deeply held suspicion is that the inside crowd likes things just as they are because they’re living large.
2. That the RNC’s attempt to change the delegate rules and control everything from inside the beltway was and is a disgrace and an insult to every Republican.
3. That the RNC’s reshuffling of Maine’s delegation before the convention was offensive and also a disgrace. Regardless of what we might think about Ron Paul and his crowd, they followed the rules at the Maine convention.
4. That I’ve never understood Ron Paul’s appeal. He’s a strange character with some good ideas about limited government but some very odd ideas about America’s place in the world. To hear him talk, it’s all America’s fault that the Iranians hate us and there’s some very unexplained racism in his resume with a strong odor of antisemitism thrown in for good measure.
5. That Ron Paul has fanatically devoted followers, with emphasis on ‘fanatically’ and ‘followers’. I can’t call them ‘supporters’ because they treat Ron Paul as a god and not as a politician. And should you criticize their god, they attack with all of the gusto and ugliness of leftists.
Now, here’s my take on the Maine delegation and Ron Paul’s delegates. All week they’ve loudly decried the RNC and played the role of martyrs fighting against tyranny. But it rings hollow to me and here’s why: while they followed the rules at the Maine Republican convention, they did so as a mobilized minority seeking to impose their own brand of tyranny on Maine’s Republicans. Ron Paul’s followers have always been a minority in Maine and because of our caucus system they’ve been able to appear more numerous than they really are. In spite of their efforts, Romney won the Maine primary although Ron Paul’s followers claim they were robbed.
Yet, in true Bolshevik fashion, this minority organized to take over the convention. They did so without regard to the majority of Republicans in this state and their feelings. They appropriated for themselves 18 of 24 Maine delegates and the rest of us be damned. They themselves demonstrated how to abuse and oppress – all while following the rules.
Now, let’s be clear. Romney was not my first choice or even my second choice. But he’s the nominee whether the Paul faction likes it or not. And I cannot agree that Obama is preferable to Romney. This is just petulance. Ron Paul was never going to be the nominee and anything to the contrary is just fantasy.
It will be a test of their maturity whether Ron Paul’s followers turn to and help elect Romney. And the jury is still out. We can continue the fight with the RNC but in the meantime we have an election to win.