It was perhaps inevitable that the GOP would turn on the Ron Paul supporters to eliminate them from their version of a body politic. I predicted it would take place and so did a number of others. But what has been surprising is the timing. It seemed reasonable to assume that the Republican gatekeepers would wait until after the convention or even the election to keep the Paulistas in harness and supportive, nurturing their faint hopes that their message would somehow have an impact, encouraging them to vote for Mitt Romney. But the Republican Party leadership decided instead to purge Paul supporters at both the state and local level and also on the convention floor. As Justin Raimondo has noted, a harrowing worthy of Josef Stalin took place in a number of states employing procedural ploys, stripping delegates of their accreditation, and even illegal closing of caucuses, which denied to Ron Paul’s supporters any ability to have significant impact at the convention. The deal was sealed when the GOP rules committee revised its convention guidelines, initially to make it impossible to cast dissident votes or to propose nominations from the floor, and subsequently to allow the national party to veto and replace state delegates. As one Associate Press report put it somewhat laconically in an early report on convention preparations “Republican officials have reduced the ranks of Paul delegates.” Jordan Bloom, who attended the Paul events in Tampa, reported that Paul’s supporters were angry and frustrated, many having experienced political corruption up close and personal for the first time. One friend of mine on Capitol Hill likened the caucus deals finally arrived at in various states to having a burglar steal everything you own and then return a couple of days later to give you half back if you do not complain. That’s what happened. The Paul supporters were outgunned and out-muscled and, led by a campaign team that wanted accommodation, wound up taking what they could get.
Through it all, Ron Paul himself has emerged with his dignity and values intact. It is precisely because of his honesty and integrity that he succeeded in attaining near rock star status among his followers. The media is reporting that Ron Paul was offered a last minute opportunity to speak at the convention but refused when he was told he would be required to offer a full endorsement of Mitt Romney and have his speech reviewed by Romney’s staff. Would that Paul’s integrity had somehow trickled down to his senior campaign staff, which Tom Woods has correctly described as “handlers who are concerned with their long term careers in politics.” Or, in the vernacular, the “go-along to get-along gang.”
The New York Times plays along with the charade, describing how, “Paul campaign leaders decided to cooperate with Romney forces for a smooth convention, while eschewing compromises that would have alienated core supporters even more.” That’s called remaining viable in the system even though you know perfectly well it has done its best to delegitimize you and will end up forcing you out completely. And who cares whether or not Ron makes compromises or not? His son and heir presumptive Rand, Senator from Kentucky, has already sold out, endorsing Romney and specifically approving of his foreign policy, with The Times explaining “Senator Paul has shown a greater commitment than his father to operating within Republican Party institutions.” Sort of like plucking a nettle and calling it a rose.
Jesse Benton, married to Ron Paul’s granddaughter, ran the Paul campaign and ran it badly, failing to take advantage of opportunities in states like Virginia where Ron might have actually defeated Romney head-to-head if a minimum of support had been forthcoming from the national campaign. Benton explains to The Times how he has had to reject those who “dress in black, stand on a hill and say, ‘Smash the state.’” Benton, who reportedly has morphed into a multitasking paid political consultant and deal-maker with several businesses registered in his name including offices in Washington, D.C., generously paid himself $586,616 along the way while keeping the revolutionaries in check. He also confuses passion with craziness, possibly because he lacks the former. Most Paul supporters that I have encountered are completely rational and dedicated to turning our country around. They support the message of small government, non-interventionism overseas, constitutionalism, and sound money policies all because they make good sense. But I suppose Benton would argue that he is, as The Times adroitly puts it, “balancing pragmatism and principle.” Too bad pragmatism wins out every time for those who are ambitious.
And then there is the little matter of foreign policy, which is of particular interest to readers of antiwar. Ron Paul bravely opposed foreign aid and foreign interventionism, both as endorsed and practiced by the two mainstream parties, raising challenging questions about the status quo in the Republican debates and also in his speeches. He understands how central what occurs overseas is to America’s malaise, note his comment “If I didn’t have the foreign policy [views] I do, I don’t think we would be here tonight” delivered in his farewell speech to his supporters in Tampa on Sunday night. But go over to the pathetic Campaign for Liberty website and you will detect nary a whiff of that, nothing on foreign affairs more recent than April, as if self-congratulatory blurbs on auditing the Fed will solve all the problems actually caused by America’s evolution into an imperialist police state. Campaign for Liberty is sponsoring a Liberty Political Action Conference in Chantilly Virginia from Sept. 13–15. Check out the list of speakers. Out of 32 speakers, only one, Antiwar.com contributor Ivan Eland, can be regarded as having genuine expertise on foreign policy, but I’ll bet there will be some hot discussions on deregulating light bulbs and washing machines and lots of armchair revolutionary talk about how to get organized.
Which is all to say if you want to continue the Ron Paul revolution on foreign policy after November, his self-designated heirs and successors are a dead loss. So ignore those constant email solicitations for funds to continue to fight the good fight because the pleas are mostly designed to maintain the status and incomes of those who have already failed so miserably to deliver on Ron Paul’s promise. You might begin by emailing back and asking exactly how the money being raised is used. If you even suggest that America’s foreign policy mess is the driving force in America’s decline, they will ignore you.
The highly paid Paul advisers, some of whom have been negotiating with the Romney camp for many months, have already been co-opted and do not care about what interests the rest of us if it has anything to do with America’s shameful behavior overseas. Why? I suspect it is because they understand that attacking U.S. foreign policy eventually works its way around to the issue of Israel, which is something they choose not to deal with, for whatever reason. Whether foreign policy phobia was a tactical decision or something more deeply rooted matters little, but the end result was to produce a campaign myopia about what is really wrong with the United States and its policies.
So if you think that auditing the Fed will do it (which might never happen anyway), be my guest, but those of us who are frustrated and angry about what we are seeing must continue to fight against the corporatism and consensus politics that are producing a police state and destroying our nation. We must not stop in November and we must not be bought off by the lies of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama who, apart from expressing their love for Israel, will not discuss foreign policy at all. We must continue to speak out, to support websites like antiwar as well as the increasing number of individuals and groups that are challenging the system. America’s rush to empire must continue to be our focus and a sustaining a vibrant discussion of our failed foreign policy must always be our principal objective. Truly, if we do not tame the beast we are all fated to suffer when it finally turns on us.