The Platform From Hell

In response to the well nigh universal jeers that greeted his endorsement of Mitt Romney, Sen. Rand Paul (son of Ron Paul) tried to reassure us: Oh, don’t worry, because the Paulians will have a major influence on the party platform.

How so?

Well, it seems the Republicans want to audit the Federal Reserve — a longtime Paulian hobbyhorse. Yet so do many Democrats89 of them voted for it in the House. This hardly means the Fed will be reined in — never mind abolished. Okay, okay, but stop being so narrow-minded! Isn’t half a loaf better than none — and doesn’t this represent progress?

No — not when it is considered in the context of the total platform document, and especially the foreign policy section.

The big conflict this year was over the section on Israel, the title of which — “Our Unequivocal Support for Israel” — says it all when it comes to the GOP’s foreign policy agenda. Yes, but that support is apparently not unequivocal enough, as far as some people are concerned, because Israel’s more fervent supporters tried to change the GOP’s support for a two-state solution by deleting that section from the platform. We can’t call for the creation of “a terror state” like Obama and the Democrats, one delegate rose to declare. Try telling these people that the two-state solution was first endorsed by a Republican President: George W. Bush. Besides, Frank Gaffney has an answer to that….

The effort to dump the two-state doctrine ultimately failed when Romney enforcer Jim Talent, a former Senator, argued that Bibi Netanyahu and his government support two states, and if it’s good enough for Bibi …

Efforts by the Paul delegates to call for real cuts in military spending were quashed, along with a valiant attempt by Paul delegate Richard Ford to insert the following in the document: “The Obama administration has made the mistake of following the failed and dangerous policy of nation-building.” Ford went on to argue:

“Nation-building is a failed policy of the Democrats and we Republicans need to go back to the humble foreign policy of George Bush before 9/11. We need to go back to not creating democracies overseas that create Islamic regimes, and go back to the goal of getting our enemies and bringing our troops home as soon as possible.”

Once again Talent intervened on behalf of Romney and the party Establishment:

I’m very concerned it would be read, and may be intended to be read, as getting out a whole range of tools that we regularly use in foreign policy in order to protect American security at as inexpensive a cost as possible — tools by which we assist other countries in developing grassroots democratic and economic institutions. [We] ought to be trying to assist Libya as it emerges as a democracy. That doesn’t mean we have to go in and build a nation.”

It’s fascinating to see how a proposal to get rid of a horrifically expensive program — our nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, for example, have so far cost us $18.8 billion — is opposed in the name of cost effectiveness. In Bizarro Republican Land, cuts are too costly — the way to save money is by spending more. Oddly, they don’t apply this principle to domestic programs, such as Medicare and Social Security: they’re only opposed to “nation-building” at home. So while 17-year-old Johnny may be reading at a third grade level, our effort to improve the literacy of Afghan women is what’s really important to the GOP.

The heroic Ford also tried to ditch the GOP’s foreign aid plank, which endorses sending billions overseas — again, in the name of “cost effectiveness.” The plank reads:

Foreign aid should serve our national interest, an essential part of which is the peaceful development of less advanced and vulnerable societies in critical parts of the world. Assistance should be seen as an alternative means of keeping the peace, far less costly in both dollars and human lives than military engagement. The economic success and political progress of former aid recipients, from Latin America to East Asia, has justified our investment in their future. U.S. aid should be based on the model of the Millennium Challenge Corp., for which foreign governments must, in effect, compete for the dollars by showing respect for the rule of law, free enterprise, and measurable results.”

While the motion to strike this laughable nonsense was shot down by Talent and the Romneyites, bravo to delegate Ford for challenging the bipartisan interventionist consensus. Within the narrow parameters of permissible debate, the only question is how best to police the world — not whether Washington ought to be playing Globo-cop to begin with.

One has to ask: what possible political advantage do Republicans get for supporting sending our tax dollars overseas? If we had a national referendum on foreign aid, the vote in favor wouldn’t make double digits. So how do we explain the GOP’s support for a vastly unpopular boondoggle?

The answer is: exporters with political connections and government contracts benefit, and these guys donate to political campaigns. Interesting enough, another proposal to make sure our aid money goes to buy American products “where possible” was also blocked. It was surely redundant: because our foreign sock-puppets get paid in dollars, they are more likely to spend them in the US. An entire industry has grown up around collecting these vast government expenditures, and the party is owned lock, stock, and barrel by these folks. So why advertise it?

The Paul delegates made a frontal assault on the red-state fascist measures adopted by both the Bush and Obama administrations. Uri Friedman, writing in Foreign Policy magazine, reports:

Pat Kerby, a delegate from Nevada, offered an amendment opposing the indefinite detention of American citizens under the National Defense Authorization Act. ‘It’s not beyond [the Obama administration] to use things like the IRS to go after donors for conservatives,’ he argued. ‘The idea of granting this power to government is in defiance of the constitution.’ Minnesota delegate Kevin Erickson agreed on the broader point, declaring, ‘The fact that we have a president who has … an assassination czar and a kill list is an abomination to our Constitution.’”

The red-state fascist view was given voice by Jim Bopp, whose title of co-chairman of the platform subcommittee on constitutional government belies his complete ignorance of our nation’s founding document: “It doesn’t matter if the enemy combatant is a U.S. citizen or not,” he declared. “If they are fighting for a foreign country or foreign interest, they can be so held.”

That the President, as commander-in-chief, can unilaterally and secretly designate anyone an “enemy combatant” is of no concern to this distinguished scholar of constitutional law. No doubt Professor Bopp considers himself a conservative, but whatever institutions he seeks to preserve against the liberal onslaught, the Constitution is apparently not one of them.

Kerby’s amendment was defeated. Yet the signal achievement of Ford, Kerby, and others is that these vital issues were even debated at all. That hasn’t happened since the days of Sen. Robert A. Taft.

When Sen. Paul babbled to Sean Hannity that the “liberty movement” should get on board the Romney train-wreck because of all the “influence” the Paulians are likely to have on the GOP platform, what he meant was the GOP call to audit the Fed, establish another phony “gold commission,” and a vague statement in favor of “internet freedom.” When it comes to the vital question of war and peace, however, the platform committee — and, indeed, the entire GOP apparatus at the national level — is controlled by the party bosses, and those bosses hew to the neocon party line: intervention everywhere.

Ron Paul’s speech to the 10,000-strong Paulians who came to hear him at the Sun Dome was a stinging rebuke to the war-crazed neocons who think they can ride Romney’s coat-tails all the way to the White House. Hailing Bradley Manning — who “never killed anybody” — Paul had the crowd roaring its approval as he denounced the Swedes for kowtowing to Washington’s demand for Julian Assange’s head. What a kick in the teeth to Tampa’s laptop bombardiers — and to all those top officials in the Paulian organization, who would rather Ron toned down the antiwar rhetoric and have glommed on to Rand Paul as a potentially more marketable political commodity.

The Romneyites and their “conservative” enablers can’t fight the Paulians on the battlefield of contending ideas, and so they have resorted to crude organizational measures. The Maine delegation, which was solidly Paulian, was purged of half its members: Maine’s Republican governor, Paul Lepage, is boycotting the Tampa convention in protest.

A new bylaws provision which allows the Republican National Committee to change the rules between national conventions is aimed at throttling future attempts by the Paulians to duplicate their strategy of acquiring delegates by winning at local party caucuses. The new rules would obligate delegates to go with the winner of the various “beauty contests” masquerading as elections, with results such as we saw in Iowa. This move, by the way, is not just aimed at the Paulians, but at any and all dissident conservatives and Tea Party types who might presume to challenge the wisdom of party bosses. The Huffington Post huffs that the Paulians are “disrupting” the convention: to buck the party leadership, as their headline characterizes it, is to “cause mayhem,” which is odd, considering how this is a political convention, and all — not in North Korea, but in America.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story about how the Maine delegates walked out of the convention in protest over the anti-Paul purge, accompanied by a photo of fanatic-looking Paulites who are actually in the process of caucusing; however, the Times avers they “erupted in fury.” Those crazy anarchists — aren’t those acid-filled eggs they have in their pockets? I’m surprised the Times photographer was brave enough to get that close! Also noted in that same piece:

As the roll call of states commenced, several states listed votes for both Romney and Paul. When repeating back the count, those at the podium cited only the Romney votes.”

While the “official” vote count will claim Soviet-style near-unanimity in favor of Romney, the reality is that Ron Paul garnered 190 votes from 26 states. Not bad for a guerrilla campaign that was subjected to a media blackout, smeared by the usual neocon suspects — with help from some alleged “libertarians” — and was outspent by the opposition 100-to-1.

The treatment dished out to the Paulians — and dissident conservatives — at Tampa ought to settle once and for all the strategic question that has been roiling the “liberty movement” ever since Rand Paul endorsed Romney. The Randian idea is that it is possible to make a deal with the Establishment, and they’ll let us play in their sandbox as long as the movement plays by the rules. Yet the big internal change the party leadership put forth in Tampa is explicitly designed to let them change the rules at their discretion, if it means stopping insurgent campaigns like Paul’s in the future.

In this context, Rand Paul’s Wednesday speech to the convention — not to mention the Ron Paul tribute video — promises to be as grotesque a spectacle as has ever been conjured before television cameras. I can’t watch it, I won’t watch it — and besides which, a new episode of Property Brothers is on HGTV, and if you think I’m going to miss that in order to see how low somehow can bow and scrape before his father’s persecutors, you’ve got another think coming!


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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].