GOP shoots itself in the foot

While I personally disagree with the views of the Ron Paul radicals, David Johnson’s article is important because it shows their views. – Ed

by David Johnson, Manhattan, delegate at Republican convention in Missoula

The GOP elephant just stepped on and crushed its hardest workers. Such was the aftermath of the last week-end’s Republican State Convention in Missoula, and the ones who will pay the dearest price for this stunning display of spitefulness will be Rick Hill, Denny Rehberg, Steve Daines and the rest of the statewide Republican ticket.

The Old Guard Republican Party has just shot itself in the foot — and shot its candidates in the back.

Political conventions in election years are normally all about building unity, laying aside differences and “closing ranks” around the party’s chosen nominees. Accordingly, the opening speech by former Gov. Judy Martz on Friday morning struck just the right chord — a gracious recognition of what the ideas of Ron Paul and the enthusiasm his supporters have come to mean to the Republican Party. Martz then called upon this strong and active contingent of the Montana GOP to join with the others in forming a united front for victory.

The Ron Paul backers in the audience — reportedly 47 percent of the state convention delegates — were seen nodding in agreement. Romney’s nomination was a foregone conclusion. They weren’t there to change any of that, but rather, to keep Dr. Paul’s ideas active and alive, and to claim their well-earned place of respect at the GOP table. Gov. Martz’s comments notwithstanding, they were in for a cruel and shocking surprise.

The primary objective of the Paul delegation was to elect a proportional number of Paul delegates to the August national convention — partly to honor the party’s most conservative presidential candidate with a few symbolic votes, but more importantly, to have an opportunity to participate in the national platform.

Based on Paul’s showing in the recent Montana presidential primary, state party chairman Will Deschamps assured the Paul campaign that the state nominating committee would select five Paul people to be included on the slate of 20 nominees for the national convention. Deschamps then appointed a nominating committee comprised of himself and four other Romney (or better put, anti-Paul) individuals, who subsequently nominated ZERO Paul people, even though nearly half of the state delegates present were in the Ron Paul camp.

“In the spirit of unity,” the convention then flexed its “Old Guard” muscles by electing a 100 percent Romney delegation to go to Tampa. The message to the Paul Republicans couldn’t have been more clear:

“There is no place for you at our table and no room for you in our party. Oh, and by the way, now go out and get our candidates elected.”

So what are the chances of that happening, Rick and Denny?

Just as bad as the outcome itself were the elitist methods employed to achieve it. Not only were the Ron Paul folks intentionally deceived into believing they would be treated deferentially (if not equitably) by the nominating committee, but after the 100 percent Romney slate was announced and the Paul candidates had to all be nominated from the floor, the powers that be created a totally prejudiced ballot.

Delegates received a ballot featuring on the front, one box to check for the full Romney slate of 20 delegates (which they argued were the more legitimate candidates,) and on the back side, the Romney candidates listed a second time, and underneath them in smaller type, the floor-nominated Paul candidates. If more than 20 votes were cast, the ballot would either be counted only for the Romney slate or in some cases simply invalidated.

While almost all of the Paul candidates were present and gave the traditional brief speeches, less than half of the Romney candidates even bothered to show up for the convention, and almost none of them spoke. It became painfully obvious that the fix was in.

What is such a mind-blower about all this to a new participant, such as I, is the degree to which power and control means everything to the GOP Old Guard, even at the expense of losing all their party’s elections.

(Note: the convention was blanketed with Paul signs, Paul literature and two large Ron Paul booths. By comparison, there were no Romney booths, no Romney signs and no Romney material to be seen.)

When driving up to the convention center, you couldn’t help but notice one intrepid older gentleman, holding a protest sign that read, “Den of Thieves.” It was easy to dismiss the message as just another anti-capitalist rant from another Missoula socialist. But ironically, there was more truth to his sign that he could have ever known.

For indeed, I had just witnessed the Republican Party stealing the elections away from its own candidates.

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