On Tuesday, September 2nd, Ron Paul and his Campaign for Liberty hosted the Rally for the Republic, an alternative convention to the RNC, celebrating freedom and liberty. A major theme of the night, printed on the front of the programs was “Calling the GOP Back to its Roots.” While Ron Paul has worked within the Republican Party to spark his Revolution, the feelings from the rest of the Rally were more mixed on that possibility.
Historian Doug Wead started his speech with an open invitation, “Republicans across the river, come back, come home.” Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson recited his many accomplishment as a Republican Governor, though he did admit he vetoed just as many Republican bills as Democratic ones from his state congress. In contrast, speakers such as Jessie Ventura and Bill Kaufman denounced the two major parties, and Lew Rockwell went further, condemning not just the GOP but conservatism itself, finding both corrupt at their core.
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, a bipartisan organization, noted that the GOP has been half successful, no new taxes have been introduced since Bill Clinton in 1993. However he criticized the Republican Party for runaway spending and a growing National Debt.
Across the river in St. Paul, speaker after speaker at the Republican National Convention heralded John McCain’s stance to either lower or maintain tax rates. However, a balanced budget, paying down the debt and controlling government spending were mentioned rarely. The most often example of controlled spending was limiting earmarks. That is a start, but in the grand scheme of a budget of trillions, earmarks barely make a dent.
At the RNC there was unanimous support for the Iraq War and the War on Terror. Mitt Romney complained about the “liberal” government and declared, “Is a Supreme Court decision liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitutional rights? It’s liberal.” This was in sharp contrast to the Rally for the Republic where the Iraq War as well as the War on Terror were both condemned. Key features of Bruce Fein’s American Renaissance included civil trials for suspected terrorists and recognizing that America has no moral or legal obligation to spread democracy. Ron Paul admitted that he found the greatest moral crisis of our time is the acceptance of preemptive war.
When I interviewed some delegates at the RNC, I found a few who actually approved some of Ron Paul’s constitutional views on the role of government, yet they disagreed on his position to end the Iraq War immediately. One particular delegate from Texas felt that Congress needed someone like Ron Paul, but he could never support him in a leadership position. This same delegate also believed that Ron Paul was a bit hypocritical when Paul would add earmarks to bills for his district and then vote against those bills, knowing that the bills were sure to pass anyway.
The Republican Party was not friendly to Ron Paul at the convention since he would not support John McCain for President. The Party required a chaperon accompany Dr. Paul at the convention. During the delegate roll call, delegate votes for Ron Paul were continuously ignored. Some of his delegates did decide to support John McCain at the last minute in a show of state and party unity.
Back at the Rally for the Republic, when I questioned Ron Paul supporters on whether the Revolution would come from within the GOP or from outside, I received mixed answers. However, the responses did relate to how close they were previously associated with the Republican Party prior to Ron Paul’s campaign. Long time Republicans felt the Revolution was more likely to emerge from within the GOP, or at least they hoped. One supporter felt that for the revolution to truly spread across America, it would have to come from everywhere, the Republican Party, the Democrat Party as well as from independents.
I also questioned the supporters on their current preference for President since Ron Paul’s campaign ended a while ago. I could not find a single Obama supporter. When I questioned the Rally-goers on their feelings towards Obama, I was surprised to find that their problems did not come from his liberal views of domestic government, but instead they felt he was just another politician who could not be trusted. This did echo many of the speakers at the Rally who saw little real difference between Obama and McCain, both were just more of the same. One person I talked to was from Chicago and had been aware of Obama for some time now leading to his distrust.
I was also able to find only a single McCain supporter, though she did admit to being a loyal member of the GOP who preferred Ron Paul, but supported any Republican nominee. The rest of the Ron Paul supporters were split between Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr and Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, with one person planning to leave the Presidential vote blank on his ballot.
In the end it seems that while there is a great deal of support for Ron Paul’s Revolution, many of the Revolutionaries just don’t feel attached enough to the Republican Party to spend all that much effort calling the GOP back to its roots. The GOP itself just doesn’t seem to want a Revolution, and is happy running out candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain. If the Revolution is to grow, it will have to shed the Republican Party. Perhaps the new champion will be Jesse Ventura in 2012?