Monday, May 21, 2012

They Showed Up

Key excerpt from Jeff Johnson’s speech at the GOP state convention:

So I want to say something to both the Ron Paul lovers in the room and the Ron Paul haters in the room. And there’s a whole bunch of us, I would argue most of us, somewhere in between those groups.

To the Ron Paul lovers in the room, the ones who are here because of Ron Paul, you know what the chatter is, you know what the talk is, you know there is a lot of anger. Some of the anger is from people who have been sitting in those chairs for 20 years or 30 years doing hard work and are not here this year because you are here instead. So you have got to understand that anger. And you have to appreciate that anger. And the chatter is, fair or not ... they don’t care about the Republican Party, they are going to lose interest in a year, they are going to disappear, they are going to let someone else do the work, and then they aren’t even going to vote for Republicans. And it might not be fair, but a lot of people are saying that. And if that makes you mad, if that perception makes you mad, and I think it should, because it would make me mad, make sure it doesn’t happen, don’t disappear. If we are part of the Republican Party, then we all need to vote for Republicans in November.

For the Ron Paul haters in the room, and that’s a strong term, but it’s out there. For the folks who just want to purge the party of the Ron Paul people, the folks I hear say, 'Why can’t it just be like it was six or eight years ago?" My advice to you is: get over it.

Excellent advice that the MN GOP would do well to heed. Four years ago, when Ron Paul supporters showed up at the precinct caucuses and then largely melted away when it came time to get down to the hard work of actually trying run and win campaigns, long-time Republican activists were understandably put out. The Paul people were told that if you want to get involved and really make a difference, then commit to it and sign on for the long haul.

This year, that is exactly what they have done (at least so far). Politics is all about showing up and Ron Paul supporters did that in spades. And it has caused a certain amount of tension within party circles and lead to some uncomfortable situations. I experienced a small dose of that when comments I made at the precinct caucus were not well received by Paul supporters and I was not elected to be a delegate at our BPOU convention as a result. But that’s how the process works. If you show up and get other like minded folks to do so as well, you get to decide the delegates and alternates who will attend the BPOU, district, and state conventions. The Paul people did that and as a result they also got to choose a good part of the delegation that will represent Minnesota in Tampa at the Republican National Convention.

Rather than grousing and complaining about it, Republicans not particularly enamored of Ron Paul need to accept the outcome, learn from it if they wish, and realize that this is exactly what they asked for four years ago. They should also realize that there are worse things than having the party’s direction being driven by limited government/libertarian conservatives. In my experience, there are two kinds of Ron Paul people: those who support the man and those who support his positions. The former are admittedly difficult to deal with at times and their devotion to their candidate can verge of being a cult of personality. The latter however are mostly folks like the rest of us. They think the government is too big in both size and scope and that the country needs to get back to the Constitutional precepts upon which it was founded. We don’t have to agree with them on everything in order to work together to elect candidates that better represent our shared values.

In the past, the Republican party has been able to successfully fuse groups with diverse interests together for electoral success. For example, during the Reagan years it was social conservatives, free market advocates, and foreign policy hawks. There is no reason why a similar fusion that includes a libertarian faction can’t work today. Welcome to the party Paul people.