Ron Paul supporters get a bad rap, especially from establishment Republicans. They are often branded as a raucous bunch who obnoxiously disrupt order at conventions and gatherings and are accused of disrupting the entire 2012 primary process. When did it become so out of line to be passionate about a political cause?
The way Paul supporters anger establishment Republicans when they use party rules to assert the voice they have been denied by the media at conventions throughout the Nation reminds one of an obscure Norwegian film released in 2006. “The Bothersome Man” a film wherein a 40-year-old man arrives in an idyllic city where the inhabitants are emotionally sterile and simply “going through the motions” of life is not exactly a political film (the film is very bizarre and not in English), but it’s a good analogy for the GOP establishment. In recent primaries the situation has been sterile, as well-mannered and politically lukewarm Americans shuffled into voting places cast their popular vote beauty contest ballots and went home to observe the results on FOX or CNN. A few people who better understood the process, or had been working closely with the campaigns, were largely the only ones involved in the business of delegates and conventions.
This election season, however, has been different. The way in which the Paul campaign has educated its voters and trained them to involve themselves more deeply in the process could be viewed as a public service as well as a campaign tactic. Establishment Republicans don’t see it that way, though, because it has thrown a wrench in their otherwise comfortable process.
Take this blog post outlining the experience of an establishment Republican in Minnesota at his local convention, “Ron Paul’s Devious Plan to Steal the Presidency,” from Hillbuzz:
The Paulbots, who did NOT submit their names prior to the convention, were now demanding that they should added to the list of nominees that very day. This is normally outside of the rules, but the Paulbots (there were at least 50 of them spread throughout the auditorium) through a suspension of the rules, demanded that they be added to the list of nominees. It was difficult to override their votes, as they had descended en masse to this event, and the unsuspecting non-Paul delegates were confused as to what was going on!
After some manipulative moves on the floor, and by using Roberts Rules of order AGAINST the Convention Chair, they were able to add all of their names to the delegate nominations.
I’ve never seen such unmitigated rudeness at a convention before. The Paulbots would leap to their feet screaming “Point of order!” every time they thought that the chair was being dismissive of them.
The entire process was chaotic and psychotic, and the non-Paul delegates were stunned. They didn’t understand what was happening, and I tried to explain to an elderly woman from my precinct that this entire coup was PLANNED, and that the Paulbots had every intention of flooding the State delegates with Paul supporters.
Sounds like Paul’s people crashed the party. In reality, the writer of the blog post was made uncomfortable by something else altogether: He is unable to understand how these “rude” Paul supporters were able to take control of a process where power is usually wielded by only a few like-minded participants. Not only have the Paul supporters turned the usual sheep herding into a “chaotic and psychotic” process, they’ve done it in the name of a man who strikes fear into the hearts of GOP talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, whose words are political gospel for the establishment Republicans accustomed to leading these events. Paul has pulled back the curtain of the political process for many young and politically passionate Americans. What is so bad about that?
Last week, reports similar to the above-mentioned blog post were abundant, as Paul supporters were accused of muddying county conventions in Iowa and Colorado. Establishment attendees in Iowa claimed that Paul’s supporters were using illegal tactics, encouraged by the Paul campaign, to gain delegate seats.
“They were abrasive, offensive, and self-centered,” Kevin McLaughlin, GOP chairman in Polk County, told ABC.
The chairman, a veteran of many conventions, went on to say that the scene was very unusual in his experience, but that Paul was not going to succeed.
The Paul campaign says that the complaints from establishment Republicans are “silly” and based on the fact that Paul’s people have out-organized the campaigns of other candidates.
In fact, Drew Ivers and David Fischer, co-chairs of Paul’s Iowa campaign, told supporters in an email that the key to “to get elected” is “to be aggressive.”
“Remember, to get elected, the first key is to be aggressive so make sure you jump up as soon as nominations are open. If there are any votes, make sure you vote ONLY for Ron Paul supporters. A vote for anyone who is not a Ron Paul supporter could cost us seats at the District and State Conventions.”
It is natural to reject change and outside influence in a closed system, but to give the GOP some advice in the words of Bob Dylan, “You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, the times they are a changin’.” In 2008, lukewarm, establishment Republicans picked a lukewarm, establishment Republican candidate who exemplified much of what the wildly unpopular Republican President before him stood for. Meanwhile his challenger promised “hope,” “change” and a new way of doing things in Washington. People who were never politically involved flocked to support the latter because of a growing frustration with the status quo. He got elected, and those supporters got no “hope,” no “change” and the same old business coming out of Washington. They are angry and they’re rejecting the false left-right paradigm like never before.
There is one man who can and has energized many of those disenfranchised voters. He just happens to have an “R” next to his name; but many of his supporters don’t look like Republicans and maybe they don’t act like Republicans, so they are being shunned. Those voters will likely stay home or cast protest votes for Paul in November, and America will see how whichever lukewarm, establishment Republican candidate’s turn it is to get the nomination holds up against President Barack Obama in the general election. Paul’s people know how things will turn out; that’s why they act so rudely. This is no time for polite politics.