Though Ron Paul did not have nearly enough delegates to win the GOP nomination, he and his supporters have once again succeeded in raising questions about and drawing attention to subtle but significant issues. Two significant controversies have surrounded the Texas congressman at this week’s Republican National Convention. The first involved his refusal to comply with GOP conditions of giving a speech at the convention, and the second involved the delegates and proposed changes to the nominating process, itself, within the party.
Planners of the RNC gave Ron Paul an opportunity to speak at the event, but only under the conditions that he fully endorse Mitt Romney, and that he only deliver remarks vetted by the Romney campaign. Unsurprisingly, the congressman who has for decades been noted for his uncompromising stance on issues, including those on which he disagrees with the majority of his party, refused the conditions.
In addition, GOP leaders fueled the very party split they were trying to minimize when they removed 10 Paul-supporting delegates from Maine from the delegate assembly. The delegates would have added Maine to the list of three states in which the majority of delegates supported Paul, though he did not earn the majority of votes in any state. Candidates must have the majority of delegates in at least five states to be eligible for nomination as the party’s presidential candidate. Romney still earned nearly twice (2,061) the required 1,144 votes to secure the GOP nomination. He had enough pledged delegates to win the nomination by May 29th. Of Colorado’s 36 delegates, eight Paul supporters abstained from voting, while 28 voted for Romney.
To add to the controversy, the Republican National Convention Committee passed a rule which would require that delegates be approved by candidates, and was later amended to include state parties in the decision making process. This would prevent a candidate from running the kind of campaign Ron Paul did this election by tying delegate counts to the popular votes in each state. Though Paul had no chance of winning the primary, these issues caused an uproar from both Paul supporters who felt marginalized and other delegates and party members who felt the rule change centralized the party too much.
The GOP, though it has been divided in recent years, has been held together by the decentralized nature of the party which puts it in stark contrast to the Democrat Party which is a highly centralized entity. The decentralized nature of the party fits the ideology of its members, as well as giving people who may be disillusioned with the current state of affairs the idea that it is reformable. The party must decide whether it is worth losing those people for a more united party.
Ron Paul supporters, on the other hand, face the decision whether it is worth the risk of the implementation of Obamacare, three or four additional Obama-nominated, activist, Supreme Court justices and other potential expansions of government which would make returning to the 2012 state of affairs a best-case scenario to stand against the Republican Party in the general election, and whether such an action is move which will advance or hinder their ultimate goals. Many libertarian ideas have also begun to enter the party’s mainstream as well as Romney’s presidential platform, such as the idea of auditing the fed and implementing a gold standard.
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