No, I am not in Minnesota. But the news of the progress Ron Paul supporters have made there is encouraging. But what I have to say also has to do with what happened before the Minnesota state Republican convention.
I’ll start with a pre-convention article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Paul supporters have already flexed their might in the state’s Republican Party. They claim 20 of the 24 national delegates already selected at local Republican gatherings. They ousted a GOP insider from the party’s ruling body and thwarted some sitting lawmakers’ attempts at party positions.
While Paul has suspended his presidential bid, he’s made clear that his fight in the party is far from over and that the next front is in Minnesota. The 12-term Texas congressman will address the convention Friday night. It’s a privilege he was denied four years ago and supporters have stewed about the slight ever since.
“Starting with the Minnesota State Convention this weekend, our movement has an opportunity to secure more delegates, take control of more local and state parties … to achieve lasting victory in the years to come,” said John Tate, Paul’s campaign manager.
This is an example of the kind of thing Ron Paul supporters all over the country are trying to accomplish. To start taking control of the party. These are the real hope and change people. They are not waiting for someone to give it to them from the top down. They are making the change they want to see happen. They are making a difference. This is how it is done, folks. The only criticism I can make is that this should have happened a few decades ago.
But not everyone is happy about it.
That promise to “take control” is making some longtime Republicans queasy. Republicans who have labored in the party trenches for years consider the Paul supporters upstarts who refuse to see the difference between Democratic President Obama and Romney.
Maybe they do not refuse to see the difference. Maybe they see that the difference is so small that it hardly matters. And that would be Romney’s fault, not the fault of Ron Paul supporters.
“The hideous Ron Paul invasion of the Minnesota Republican Party is not quite over … but enough evidence is in hand to draw some grim conclusions for those who are not enamored of a … fringe cult political figure who speaks to alienated, fairly ignorant and frequently unwashed lost souls,” said longtime Republican activist John Gilmore on his blog this week.
Wow. The sooner control of the GOP is wrested from the hands of people like Mr. Gilmore the better. His attitude is one of the problems with the Republican party generally. They treat anyone who challenges their authority as “unwashed” upstarts who are too ignorant to know better. They have become the stuffy old Scholastics of the GOP. In my opinion, they refuse to acknowledge the problems that are staring them in the face, and they are offended by people like Ron Paul who have the courage to acknowledge the problems.
What problems? Well, favoring big government programs for one. Republican politicians have done almost nothing to actually curb spending. When they had control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, they spent and spent and spent some more. And even now, the best plan any of them (except for Ron Paul and maybe one or two others) can come up with is to slightly decrease projected future spending growth. When Republicans had a chance to reform education, instead of lessening the federal government’s role, they gave us No Child Left Behind. When they had a chance to reform federal health care programs, instead we got Medicare D. Last presidential election season, the GOP nominated a “maverick” who wanted to increase the war on drugs, clamp down on immigration, control political speech, and establish mandatory national service. And in the current presidential election season, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination is a guy who seems to take whatever political stance best suits the audience to which he is talking, whether they are liberal or conservative. About the only good thing to be said the GOP right now is that the frontrunner for the nomination is not Rick Santorum, who, as best I could tell, wanted make government more authoritarian than ever. (Why this was considered by so many people as “true/genuine conservatism” I do not know, but it was a little frightening.) And that does not even mention the fact that Republicans have done as much at the Democrats to cause so much of the economic mess we now have. And do not even get me started on their support for things like the so-called “PATRIOT ACT” and the Defense of Marriage Amendment.
So what happened at the Minnesota state Republican convention? Apparently, the Ron Paul supporters did take over, as another article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune explains.
Longtime activists realized Saturday that their party has changed from one that stressed religious values to one focused on ending the Federal Reserve Bank, bringing back the gold standard and bringing about a strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution.
The conflict between the two forces created a tense and anxious crowd.
In front of 2,000 Minnesota Republicans, GOP National Committeeman Jeff Johnson laid out in stark terms the level of anger at the St. Cloud convention.
To “Ron Paul haters,” he advised: “Get over it. … If we don’t grow as a party, we die.”
To “Ron Paul lovers,” he made it clear that longtime GOP activists are angry because they’ve been displaced. “Some of the anger is from people who have been sitting in those chairs for 20 years or 30 years doing hard work and are not here this year because you are here instead,” he said.
Adding to their anger was the belief among some that Paul folks might simply abandon the party once Paul drops out. Johnson advised them: “Don’t disappear.”
I would guess that Mr. Johnson is probably right about the reasons for anger. But there is more to it than that. Social conservatives do not like Ron Paul or his followers.
The change also marks a clear split from when state Republicans made “family values” the passport for party entry. Instead of evangelizing about religious principles, Paul disciples cheer for a scaled-back foreign policy and the freedom to drink raw milk and grow hemp.
“They took over, basically. Nobody else was organizing,” said Andy Parrish, who used to work for Bachmann and is now helping to manage the campaign for the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “These libertarians don’t believe in natural law whatsoever.”
Mitch Mueller of St. Paul, sporting a Minnesota for Marriage button, said he’s uncomfortable with the change. The party leadership, he said, is “more concerned about being on the right side of history than on being on the right side of nature or morality.”
Mr. Mueller apparently fails to allow for the possibility that Ron Paul and those who support him believe what they are doing is moral. I would guess the same is true for Mr. Gilmore. Unfortunately, people like Mr. Meuller and Mr. Gilmore have been running the party for a long time. And now they are angry that people who do not share their social conservatism have shown up and taken over.
Folks like Mr. Mueller do not seem to grasp that Ron Paul’s politics are very much about being on the right side of morality. I will go so far as to assert that Ron Paul probably believes his political beliefs stem from his moral beliefs. While Mr. Mueller and people like him want to have their moral preferences made into law, Ron Paul and people like him believe that in general that sort of law is itself immoral.
To Mr. Gilmore and Mr. Mueller and folks like them I have to say, your way is not working. You have not saved the country. You have not reigned in government. Your way has given us massive debt, intrusive bureaucracy, and a government that continually seeks to wrest more control away from people over their individual lives. You should not be surprised that people are starting to turn away from your way of running things.
To Ron Paul and his supporters I say, keep going. You are in the start of changing things. This is just the beginning. Keep going. Do not stop now.
To those who accuse libertarians of being against people working together I say, here is yet more proof that you are wrong. Clearly these people are working together for what they believe is a common good. While you may disagree with their political goals, you cannot truthfully claim that they do not believe in working together to make things better for society. Obviously they do.