Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Response to The Paulite Mess

Jonathan Bernstein had a nice piece up earlier today on the fracas -- if you really want to call it that -- at the Republican Convention on Tuesday. I agree with and am sympathetic to the argument that the Romney/RNC led convention may have committed an unforced error in drawing a line in the sand with  the Ron Paul delegates on the seating of the Maine delegation, the overall 2016 primary rules changes and/or nominating Paul at all. Yet, having followed this story closely all year and being here in Tampa and taking it all in yesterday, I could not help but think that the convention orchestrators would have been damned if they did allow Ron Paul to be nominated and his delegate votes to be tabulated in the roll call and damned if they didn't.

In a lose-lose situation, the majority faction with the power -- in this case, Romney and the RNC -- chose the most convenient loss: squashing the revolt and keeping an already condensed convention on pace to finish sometime before, well, today.

Now, some may ask why I consider that the choice set Romney and the RNC faced contained two losses. Indeed, as Bernstein asks, what's the harm in allowing Paul to be nominated? Well, the best and worst quality of the Ron Paul supporters -- and the designation depends on who in and out of the Republican Party you ask -- is their passion. That applies across the board. What doesn't is what each Paul delegate individually wanted out of the convention. There may have been some that may have been content with Rand Paul as a speaker at the convention. There may have been others who would have been satisfied by a rules compromise. Still others may have gone along quietly following a simple nomination of Ron Paul. But there are some who would not be content unless Ron Paul was installed as the Republican Party standard bearer.

Yes, the roll call would ultimately have put that to rest.


And that's kind of the point. Faced with the unknown of just how many Paul delegates fell into that all or nothing category, the RNC and Romney did what majority factions do in convention settings: they employ their superior numbers and stomp out dissent. To open the door to them in further compromises or allowing the issuance of minority reports or whatever parliamentary procedure the savvy Paul delegates had up their sleeves would have meant delay, irritation and perhaps much greater than necessary tumult at the convention.

Anjeanette Damon's piece on the Paul folks within the Nevada delegation is instructive. The Paul folks used the rules to their advantage until the avenues the rules provided were gone. And then they broke the rules.

Look, this is a counterfactual. We don't know what would have transpired had the convention allowed Paul to be nominated. But we do have plenty of evidence of how far the Paul folks were willing to go -- within the rules -- at state conventions.

...and the RNC and Romney wanted nothing to do with that possibility whatsoever.

So the party -- rightly or wrongly -- ripped the band-aid off quickly and moved on with the evening. After the recess, everyone was ready to move on to "We built this", and here in the building there were only sporadic pro-Paul-themed comments thereafter. It was a fun afternoon of drama, but it was convention business as usual in the evening.

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Anonymous said...

There were two elements at play:

1. Getting Ron Paul nominated as a Presidential candidate; and

2. Allowing a debate on the minority reports.

In regards to #1, it is true that only the passionate Ron Paul supporters were upset that the rules were changed from needing 5 states to 8 states.

However, in regards to #2, it was not just the Ron Paul faction that the Romney/RNC camp angered by refusing to accept the minority reports. The tea party, social conservative groups and even many establishment radio hosts were upset and are still upset at the rule changes.

Many are more angered that Boehner ignored the will of the convention (not just the Paul faction) when the NOES were shouted clearly louder than the AYES as can be seen at 2:50 in this video:

Josh Putnam said...

Oh, there was definitely a coalition of folks beyond just Paul delegates against the rules changes. But the compromise on candidate approval of delegates broke up that coalition. The state party hard liners joined the rest of the party leaving the Paul folks alone on the rules dispute beyond the compromise?

No need for YouTube clips. I was in the building. The Paul delegates and others were as loud or louder on both those votes.

...but that is the power of controlling the convention. The Romney camp and RNC stocked the official positions -- as all nominees do -- with Romney-aligned people.

Anonymous said...

The compromise did break up that coalition but it still does not negate the fact that a minority report was submitted on time via email. If email is a proper avenue of submission, the minority report should have been debated.

I agree that the Romney camp controlled the convention but rules still need to be followed. You can flex your muscle by outvoting your opponent, which they did, but subverting the rules is unacceptable.

Josh Putnam said...

There is no clear rule or procedure detailing how minority reports should or can be transmitted. It is neither proper nor improper just uncharted territory. It wasn't obviously accepted.

And that goes right back to the Romney folks and the RNC pulling the strings at the convention. It is their affair. It is not clear that they were subverting the rules (other than the voice vote -- and that is a debatable point).

I'm not here to defend or attack the tactic. FHQ has tried throughout 2012 to openly and frankly talk about both sides and the reality of the delegate selection process. It is politics and politics can be both nasty and unfair.