I am heading into a storm — in more ways than one.
Writing this on the flight to Tampa and the Republican National Convention. Should get in before the projected arrival of Hurricane Isaac, but a storm of controversy has already hit the Republican Convention.
First a little background.
I’m heading to my first national convention as a delegate elected at the Republican Party of Minnesota State Convention in St. Cloud May 18-19. Of the 40 delegates Minnesota is sending to Tampa, 32 of us are supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. We have pledged to vote for Dr. Paul during the roll call of states to endorse a Republican candidate for President. Many of us have also committed to vote for the endorsed candidate whomever that might be. I take both pledges seriously.
I ran to be a delegate this year because I strongly believe the most important movement in American politics today is occurring within the Republican Party. Let’s be honest; while the general election shapes up as a stark contrast between the way Democratic President Barack Obama and the presumptive Republican candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would manage the economy and make decisions affecting our everyday lives, both Obama and Romney have essentially the same objective – manage the economy and make decisions about how each of us conducts our lives.
That shouldn’t be.
In a free society based on free markets, individual liberty and constitutional government, it is not in the President’s job description -- Article II of the U.S. Constitution -- to manage the economy or make for us personal decisions about things like health care chhoices and education choices for our children let alone try to run the world by imposing American values on cultures through undeclared wars.
Ron Paul and “Liberty Republicans” are driving the Republican Party back to its small “r” republican roots of constitutional, limited government and individual liberty. The debate within the Republican Party is whether the GOP will be a party that, like the Democrats, seeks power to impose its values on Americans or will the GOP be a party that, very much unlike the Democrats, seeks power to actually limit the scope of government and return the federal government to its limited constitutional authority.
That brings us to the storm already raging in Tampa.
On Friday, August 24, the Republican National Convention Rules Committee met and granted the Republican National Committee – and Gov. Romney – sweeping new powers to amend the governing documents of the GOP. The committee stripped state parties like the MNGOP of authority to decide how its delegates to the national convention are chosen.
Under the new rules delegates will be allocated and bound to presidential candidates based on state straw polls, and national presidential campaigns will have final approval of delegate selections.
The GOP Rules Committee action essentially ends the presidential selection process for Minnesota Republicans with the caucus gatherings in February – 9-plus months before the election. Although many of us are tired of long political campaigns, a lot can happen in 9 months. The GOP action makes those nine months and anything that happens virtually irrelevant.
It’s ironic that many of the speeches at the Republican convention will no doubt reference states’ rights and blast President Obama for nationalizing health care when one of the first convention actions of the Republican establishment was to take away the authority of state parties to manage their own delegate selection processes.
Why would the party do this? Reaction from both Ron Paul and non-Paul Republicans in Tampa is pretty much in agreement. The Chairman of the Minnesota convention delegation, Marianne Stebbins, a Ron Paul supporter who participated in the Rules Committee meeting, puts it this way:
“Gov. Romney’s campaign counsel Ben Ginsberg in today’s Rules Committee meeting adopted an attitude toward Liberty Republicans that if you can’t beat them, then beat them with a stick. Mr. Ginsberg and the interests he represents made it clear today that Liberty Republicans and Tea Party Republicans are unwelcome guests at this party.”
The rules changes came as, at the same time in a room down the hall, the Credentials Committee was unseating the Ron Paul delegation elected at the Maine state convention.
The centralization of power that the Ginsberg rules intend is exactly what the federal government has been doing for decades in Washington DC and in St. Paul.
It’s a Ginsberg-like attitude that has created trillions of dollars of federal debt and constant budget battles in St. Paul.
It’s the Ginsberg idea that experts know better how to manage our lives that we do that has created the plethora of permits and permissions a person needs to simply function every day.
It’s the Ginsberg need for total control that has taken away our fundamental rights to make our own health care decisions and educate our children in ways we deem best.
Simply put, Liberty Republicans believe when we live free, we live better and the tremendous prosperity the country has generated, the standard of living achieved for all levels of income, the wealth available for compassionate charity for the less fortunate bears that out.
The Rules Committee action is why many Liberty Republicans don’t salivate when someone rings the unity bell and why we can’t give unequivocal support to Gov. Romney. If Gov. Romney can condone a power grab by the RNC, what’s to say he won’t initiate an Obama-like power grab by the federal government when he is President?
When the GOP Rules Committee arbitrarily invalidates Republican Party governing documents that doesn’t bode well for liberty and constitutional government. Delegates will be debating and voting on the Ginsberg/Romney rule changes on Monday, and I am looking forward to participating in the debate and voting against the change.
Marianne says she can’t fathom a Republican candidate for President that would tolerate Mr. Ginsberg’s proposals let alone support them. I agree. Gov. Romney could take a major step toward becoming a true defender of individual liberty by withdrawing support for the rule changes.
Will he? You’ll hear it here. More from Tampa later, so check back. If you watch only one political convention this year, make it the GOP. Within the Republican Party is where the debate that matters to America is taking place.
Now, let’s tackle that hurricane.
Live free, live better.