On Monday, Republicans from across the country descend on Tampa, where the Republican National Convention is set to begin after a long and bruising primary system, to nominate former Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee to run against Barack Obama in 2012.
I will be reporting on the evening scheduled speakers and events throughout the week and featuring live, up to the minute coverage of what should be a historic event. Republicans have been chomping at the bit to have a chance to go head-to-head against President Obama, and Tampa will undoubtedly be fired up in anticipation and excitement.
I have covered the Ron Paul campaign and many libertarian issues for PolicyMic, and the RNC will be no different. One of the most interesting and exciting things to look for will be how the GOP responds to the hundreds of Paul delegates, whether Paul will be speaking, how the platform will be affected, what the Republican message will be, and the obvious hostility that exists between the mainstream GOP establishment and the growing Paulian, libertarian wing of the party.
PolicyMic will be covering all the events and speeches during the Republican National Convention LIVE. For the most recent updates bookmark and refresh this page.
Before the RNC starts tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few noteworthy pieces of news from over the weekend.
From Raw Story: "Ron Paul Declines to Endorse Romney, Spurns Convention Speaking Slot." Unsurprisingly sticking to his principles, Paul reiterated his opposition to Governor Romney's philosophy and positions. Paul was asked to speak at the Convention only if the Romney campaign and the RNC approved his speech and if Paul also endorsed Romney. Paul wasn't having any of it. "Paul claims that convention organizers told him he could deliver a speech on two conditions. First, the Romney campaign would get to vet his speech, and second, he would have to give a full-blown endorsement of the GOP nominee. Paul balked at both requirements. 'It wouldn’t be my speech,' Paul told the Times. 'That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.'"
RNC Posts Platform on Website? According to Politico, "The Republican National Committee quickly pulled down a draft copy of its 2012 platform Friday afternoon after POLITICO discovered it hidden on the committee’s web site.The RNC has kept the document tightly held, refusing to share earlier drafts with reporters. An apparent staff error led to its posting." Although the Republican party has hinted at including positions in its platform that might appease Paul and his supporters, the GOP platform is really of very little political significance. Does anyone think that they would follow up on anything of principle?
Highlights from P.A.U.L. Festival: Over the weekend, the P.A.U.L Festival in Tampa drew over ten thousand people. Here are some great videos of some of the speakers: Lew Rockwell, Thomas Woods, and here is Ron Paul's full speech at the We Are the Future Rally on Sunday. Also, Reason.Tv has a great short video interviewing Paul supporters at the festival and why they won't be supporting Romney or Obama. "I want to make sure that when the Republican Party loses, terribly to, in my opinion, the worst president in history, I want [them to know] it's because they systematically shut out the most intelligent, most youthful and active voting bloc in American history," said Ron Paul voter Mike Timoney.
Thanks to Hurricane Isaac, the RNC was delayed a day. As Chris Miles reported earlier today, they are reshuffling speakers and now have a revised speaking schedule for the next few days.
Meanwhile, the Ron Paul delegates are getting nosebleed seets at the RNC. This should come as no surprise, as the GOP has spent an extraordinary amount of time muscling out any libertarian, constitutionalist, or Paulian principled influence on their party. And as Chris Miles points out in his coverage, even the social conservatives are feeling shunned by the GOP. The Republican Party is in a mess; they are betting it all on a liberal Massachussetts Republican plastic man to be the answer to President Obama, a conservative Democrat that resembles Bush more than George McGovern.
The GOP may loathe Ron Paul and his supporters, but his message is the only that can rival and beat Obama's with a bipartisan appeal and and with character unheard of in politics. Putting Paul's delegates in the nosebleed seats - as the establishment Republicans rubber-stamp Romney, slap each other on the back and hand you the bill - is just another reminder of where their loyalties lie.
Tomorrow should be interesting. A full day of speakers, including Rick Santorum, John Boehner, Ann Romney, and Chris Christie which should be fun. Tune in tomorrow night for more.
A Floor Fight at the Convention Today? Taking advantage of the delay in the Convention thanks to Hurricane Isaac, Ron Paul delegates took every opporutunity they could to have their voice heard and vent their justified frustrations with how the GOP has treated them. Will this cause a floor flight today? I sure hope so.
Paul Ryan Loves Ron Paul? Perhaps the GOP is listening to Paul and his delegates after all. Yesterday, Paul Ryan said that Paul supporters "should be very comfortable" with him and Romney. "Ron is a friend of mine. I''ve known him a long time in Congress," Ryan added.
The GOP knows that they can not win without the growing percentage of Republicans that are libertarians or lean towards Paul's more traditional conservatism, all of whom will have a very difficult time voting for Romney or accepting Ryan's olive branches. Paul Ryan's record and history show that he is little more than a political opportunist that uses catchphrases, rhetoric, and talking points to push an aggressive foreign policy, the expansion of the police state, and big government both at home and abroad.
Ron Paul supporters know this, but Ryan's gesture is interesting. The fact that he would even take the time attempting to cozy up to Paul supporters is an encouraging sign for us.
But ultimately, the only thing Ron Paul and Paul Ryan share in common is a name. When it comes to a knowledge of history, economics, the Constitution, and the real principles behind a free society, they are polar opposites.
Ron Paul Delegate Count: Although New Jersey put Romney over the top and officially gave him the Republican nomination, the Paul delegates did not go down without a fight. Paul did great in Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, and nearly took the entire state of Minnesota (!). What’s interesting to note is that during the announcement of the delegates, every time Paul’s numbers were supposed to be called they were drowned out by bad mics, crowd noise, or by simply not calling them out. Romney and the rest of the Republican cabal wanted as smooth as path as possible to the nomination and no “division” within the party (God forbid!), and he got his wish.
“Seat Them Now!” Timothy Carney had a couple of great live tweets this morning about the reactions during the seating of Maine’s delegates. First, Carney tweeted “Ron Paulites chanting "seat them now!" after getting steamrolled on certification of Maine delegates,” then later tweeted “ND delegate just texted me saying they were instructed to chant "USA" to drown out dissent.” Aren’t the Republicans great?
RP Supporters Walk Out: The Los Angeles Times reported earlier that many Ron Paul supporters simply walked out of the Convention in disgust and protest, especially with how Maine delegates were treated.
“Ron Paul supporters at the Republican National Convention erupted in fury Tuesday over decisions that weakened their delegate count and other rule changes that will make it harder for non-establishment candidates in future elections.
Several members of the Maine delegation walked out of the Tampa Bay Times Forum after the convention affirmed the GOP’s decision to replace 10 of Maine’s 24 delegates.
‘It’s a disgusting, disgusting display of a hostile takeover from the top down,’ said Ashley Ryan, 21, a Maine delegate. ‘It’s an embarrassment.’”
To the credit of the Governor of Maine, a Romney supporter, he boycotted the event from what he saw go down in his own state.
I have made this point before, but with this story and what went down in Maine, I can’t help but stress it again: politics is not the future of the liberty movement. Running Republican may work at the localest of levels, but in terms of making real lasting change, politics, elections, and “working within the Republican Party” is simply a losing strategy. Hopefully this helps convince more and more people to disengage from the political process and find ways to spread ideas in other, more effective ways.
Paul Appears at Convention Floor: According to the Los Angeles Times, “Paul, the Texas congressman with a passionate, libertarian-leaning following, created a stir Tuesday when he made two swings through the floor of the Republican National Committee, shaking hands and greeting supporters -- acting, in short, like a candidate for president. Perhaps more significantly, pro-Paul delegates announced that they had submitted nomination forms from six states that could require that his name be placed in nomination alongside Romney's.”
What a sight that must have been, I really wish I could have been there! Paul’s supporters have worked so hard fighting for the libertarian message and representation within the GOP, good for Paul for making an appearance (especially amongst a crowd that is openly hostile to what he, and his supporters, stand for).
The Police State Party: It is only fitting that the party that has openly and vehemently defend torture, wiretapping, warantless searches, the drug war, the militarization of cops, profiling, the TSA, "border security," and a general disregard for the Bill of Rights would get to see firsthand what that police state has evolved into. In a great story for The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf describes the Orwellian scene that surrounds Tampa for the Convention.
The most tragic part is that apparently now the sight of fatigued-covered men with their fingers eerily close to automatic weapons is becoming more and more casual, simply the new normal in America. Helicopters, armored police cars, cops that look like Gestapo soldiers, you name it, it’s all there, and will undoubtedly be there when President Obama and the Democrats invade the poor people of North Carolina next week.
And on a more lighter note, given that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to speak tonight, breaking news from the New York Post today should make Republicans worry (and me and Ron Paul delegates chuckle). Apparently, Christie was Romney’s first choice for VP but Christie did not want it because he feared that him and Romney would lose to Obama and he’d have to give up his seat as Governor.
Also, check out Ron Paul’s interview today with Neil Cavuto on Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as VP.
You Used to Need Five States To Get Nominated at the RNC: For a great example of what a farce the RNC has been so far, Brian Doherty has a great piece at Reason about how the RNC simply changed the rules as they went in order to desperately prevent Ron Paul from being nominated on the floor at the convention yesterday. Here’s Doherty:
“Remember all that brouhaha over Ron Paul needing five states to nominate him, according to the old "Rule 40"? Well, today six states (or entities with delegations) tried to nominate him--Nevada, Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota, Alaska and the Virgin Islands.
What happened then? A rule change was adopted saying you need eight. Sorry Ron!
That's apparently why Paul's 190 or so votes, announced by various state leaders, were not announced from the podium to the convention assembled.”
And many people in the media call Ron Paul supporters “crazed” and “sore losers!”
Hot Mic Catches GOP Censorship: When the Georgia delegates were being announced, the microphone volume was suddenly turned off when Ron Paul’s delegates were announced. After that, a hot mic caught an RNC attendee say “Well done! Whoever controlled the microphone did a great job.”
They’re not even hiding it anymore.
Rand Paul’s Speech: Out of all of the speakers scheduled at the RNC, Rand was the only I was really looking forward to hearing. Not necessarily because I am a supporter of his (see my PolicyMic article a few months back after Rand went on FOX News and endorsed Romney), but because as the son of Ron, I wanted to see how the GOP would react to him.
Rand is admittedly better than 99% of politicians out there, but then again, that really isn’t saying too much. He has done many things in the Senate that I completely agree with and support, like opposing NDAA, CISPA, and SOPA, sponsoring legislation banning police from using surveillance drones domestically, and is currently working to get his dad’s “Audit the Fed” bill up for a vote in the Senate. But as much as he likes to cuddle up to his dad’s libertarian supporters, Rand is definitely much more of a conservative and a slick politician which fills me with an immediate distrust.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, his speech was a mixed bag.
He began his 15-minute address by calling Obamacare “unconstitutional,” and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Anyone who isn’t a partisan Obama supporter can see this, of course, and has turned an already corporatist health care system into an even more fascistic one. The fact that he went after Obamacare (and not Medicare, Medicaid, the thousands of other federal laws and regulations, or offer an argument in favor of alternatives to government medicine in general) seemed to me highly partisan and uninspiring.
The next few minutes continued this trend. Rand criticized Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments, gave an anecdote about a Cambodian family in his state to counter Obama, discussed his grandfather immigrating to this country penniless, and living the American dream and the benefits of immigration in general. Yawn. Where’s the passion? The intensity? Just flattering the audience, telling them what they want to hear. And ff I have to hear another politician talk about his immigrant grandparents one more time, I’m going to lose it.
The rest of the speech was littered with right-wing talking points and rhetoric. Obama hates the rich and hates capitalism! We must have a new President! All Obama does is point fingers and blame everyone else for his problems. Blah blah blah.
Man this is a real let down. He sounds so bland, so awkward up there. He is a pretty good speaker, but he just seems so stiff and nervous. I haven’t heard anything too memorable, just lots of talk about how “great” this country is.
Wait a second! Finally, something to sink my teeth into. About 10 minutes in, he says “Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent.” This touches on the point that he has been making recently that we should audit the Pentagon. Absolutely! After the Fed, that’s the first place we should send the GAO. The Pentagon has literally let trillions of dollars vanish into thin air, and like any government program or bureaucracy, is littered with waste, rent-seeking, lobbying, and corruption.
Rand then went into some great points about never trading liberty for any fleeting promise of security, which definitely received the loudest applause and even a standing ovation. He then reiterated his opposition to the NDAA and indefinite detention.
Ugh, a Ronald Reagan reference. “Sunny optimism” and “charisma.” You mean the president who increased spending by nearly 80% and raised taxes multiple times? Back to the partisan conservative Republican Rand again.
Overall, I thought the speech was pretty disappointing. The crowd didn’t seem very into it and he really did look and sound incredibly awkward. All I want to know is exactly what has been gained by your sucking up to the awful Republican party Rand? Even with your mildly libertarian stance on some issues, they still don’t like you and will never fully embrace you. If you really claim to be a supporter of the liberty movement, how come you sound so much like a typical conservative Republican? Boy does politics frustrate me. Either Rand is a principled constitutionalist secretly working within the GOP to run for president in 2016 and dismantle the beast from the inside or he is a slick-tongued politician who wants power. My money is on the latter.
Tweet of the night, from Roger Stone: “Sen Rand Paul speaks to RNC for his 30 pieces of silver . Sell out whore with a Luntz-like toupee”
Ron Paul Tribute Video at the RNC: Daniel McAdams at the LRC blog makes some great points about the 3 minute tribute video the Republicans made for Paul. “However, as many of us expected, what is missing from this video tribute is only the main theme Dr. Paul has repeatedly, speech by speech, every time he opens his mouth, driven home to anyone who would listen (and ask his multitude of young followers whether they appreciate and listen): The antiwar theme of peace and prosperity. The principle of non-interventionism. The golden rule.
Anyone who does not understand that Ron Paul above all stands for peace and prosperity through the avoidance of an immoral, destructive, and impoverishing interventionist foreign policy honestly has no clue about the very core of this man.
He has been a voice crying in the wilderness for decades on this one precise point. And that the RNC chooses to ignore the core of this man's beliefs is but a condensation of the lies and mendacity we have seen on their part over this entire campaign, culminating in the blatant theft that would make a third world dictator blush — or flush with envy. We do not need the RNC whitewash of Ron Paul. We know and will continue to follow the REAL Ron Paul! Our hero.”
Can Romney-Ryan Woo Libertarian Voters? Nick Gillepsie at Reason argues that the Republican ticket must do three things if they can even think about winning libertarians over to their side.
Gillepsie says that Romney must get serious about cutting spending, get serious about bringing home the troops, and get serious about staying out people’s lives.
Gillepsie is right, and I would definitely think about supporting Romney if I thought he would do all of these three things. But if that was Romney’s agenda, then he wouldn’t be a Republican, he’d be be a libertarian.
Get serious about cutting spending? Romney want to spend trillions more and criticizes Obama for supposed cuts to Medicare!
Bring the troops home? Romney nearly falls over himself to accuse Obama of being insufficiently warlike and hawkish abroad, despite three and a half years of a foreign policy that might make George W. Bush blush.
Live and let live? Well, it actually is pretty hard to judge Romney on this one since he has taken so many different positions on a multitude of personal liberty issues. He was pro-choice, then pro-life. He passed Romneycare. He passed an automatic weapon ban as Governor. He supports the NDAA and the PATRIOT Act. While I think Romney is fairly ambivalent about social issues, he does stand with the President in opposing nearly every aspect of the Bill of Rights.
Libertarian will not be wooed in the slightest bit by Romney.
Romney Threatened Ron Paul With PR A-Bomb? During the debates and the primaries, many in the media (foolishly) accused Paul and Romney of being in some sort of “alliance” together. Given that they disagree on pretty much everything, I myself found that very hard to believe. If anything, I thought it was a smart strategy by Paul to go after Santorum, Gingrich, Perry or whoever was the current favorite knowing full-well that it would be down to him and Romney. Then, go in for the kill.
Well if Doug Wead is to be believed (and he has a record of honesty and integrity), Romney threatened Ron Paul as the Paul campaign discussed the possibility of attacking Romney before the Michigan primary.
According to an interview with We Are Change (about 15 minutes in), Wead said “I favored us going after Mitt Romney...I wanted to go after him like crazy. The argument against going after Romney was that he has a tremendous amount of money and he threatened to drop an A-bomb on us...to destroy forever the name Ron Paul by producing commercials that in essence would destroy his name and reputation.”
Nice guy, this Mitt Romney, willing to do whatever it takes for power over others.
What is a libertarian to do in 2012? Admittedly, after three full days of watching the Republican Party use borderline Stalinesque tactics to prevent Paul from even speaking at the convention (it’s not like he was going to win! Romney had the nomination in the bag, but they couldn’t even let Paul have his 15 minutes), I’m a bit flustered and exhausted.
I really wanted to offer my commentary on Romney’s and Rubio’s speeches, but I feel like it would be a bit redundant. I heard the first few minutes of each and honestly had to shut it off. The Republican “leadership” sound like wannabe Mussolinis, sneaking libertarian rhetoric out of one mouth, but then quickly shifting to promises of war and aggression in every crevice of the globe. I can’t stand the Democrats, but I think I may dislike the Republicans even more. At least the Democrats don’t steal rhetoric and make odes to the classic American libertarian spirit while simultaneously enacting the most unlibertarian policies imaginable.
Politics and elections have always mostly bored me, and Paul’s presence in this presidential campaign was the sole reason I paid so much attention. But now that it’s over, I find myself, as I am sure other libertarians do as well, at a bit of a crossroads. What do we do now?
Should we vote third party and throw our support behind Gary Johnson? John Ashman has a great PolicyMic piece up this morning on how many Paul supporters are doing just that.
As for me, I’ll probably be writing in Ron Paul’s name just to say that I voted (twice!) for the only decent man to run for president in the last hundred years, maybe in all of U.S. history. And after this convention is finally over, I will be doing what I always do: writing articles in defense of principles I hold at my very core, trying to expose the constant crimes of the U.S. government, living as free as I possibly can, and working with others to find ways other than politics to enact change in the direction of more liberty and less coercion.
Sorry for the pessimism, folks, I am just still disgusted by how Ron Paul and his delegates were treated by the Republicans. But, like always, I am eternally optimistic about the long-term prospects for the future of liberty and peace in this country.
Good night and have a great long weekend!