There has been much sturm und drang within, and especially outside of, the Minnesota GOP over last spring’s coup de main by the Ron Paul campaign in Minnesota. Paul activists, organized as tightly as a Marine basic training company, swarmed the precinct caucuses, the BPOU conventions, the CD conventions, and finally the state convention. They completely took over some districts (including the Metro 4th and 5th CDs) and took the lopsided majority of the state’s delegates to the national convention.
Now, unlike my friend and longtime activist John Gilmore, I’m doing my best to see a silver lining to the takeover, especially in the 4th CD in which we both live. Gilmore is the lightning rod of the anti-Paul faction in the 4th and the state, of course, and pulls no punches on the subject, and makes it clear he’s not in the business of finding silver linings.
Being a mere foot soldier, all I can do is note that whatever the problems the Paul takeover has brought at the leadership level (and, as I’ve noted, there are most definitely problems), the takeover has had a few benefits, at least at the grassroots level. There are fewer “warm body on the ballot” candidacies this year in the Fourth CD than any year I can remember. More of those races hit their number to get the state funding match than in any recent year.
That’s all to the good.
On the other hand? I’ve documented some of the problems that we’ve had in the 4th CD from the top down rather than the bottom up.
And compared to the 5th CD, we’ve got it good. Nancy LaRoche – a longtime activist in CD5 – chronicles the disintegration of the leadership in the CD5 GOP under the “watch” of some especially cynical Ron Paul personality cultists.
Nancy’s been trying to find if there’s even a faint sign of life among the elected “leadership”. Money quote:
None of the executive leadership have responded to the web site bill as of today. Then I wondered, was the 5th District organization as a whole part of their kill plan? There has been no fundraising, no full committee meetings, and no sign of leadership since their election. Mitch Berg wrote about similar issues of idle hands in CD4.
Jason Lewis talked about the misled direction of some Paul supporters who can’t see the forest for the liberty trees. They refuse to elect a better President now to buy the country time for more liberty-minded candidates later. 5th district leaders appear to have no intention of shaping the party, only destroying it. I tend to agree that these Libertarian “tributes” are happily exploiting the Republican party only to advance their sponsor, Ron Paul — then trashing the vehicle they commandeered.
This, of course, was the big concern many in the “establishment” – including this former “establishment” member who in 2010 was one of those pesky Tea Party insurgents – had with the direction of so many of the Ron Paul crowd. While many – including the vast majority in my own SD65, including its leader, Joe Schultz (who writes an excellent blog, by the way) came to stay and make a difference within the party, there are not a few that quite clearly did not, and have no intention of it. And plenty of people are not amused. And in a year when the Fifth CD fields one of its strongest candidates ever – Chris Fields – it would have been spectacular to have had him backed with a functional district. (Likewise with Tony Hernandez in the Fourth).
On MPR this morning, I heard a bit by Mark Zdechlik comparing the reactions of the “mainstream” Republicans in the party and the Tampa delegation with those of the “Ron Paul”-faction, who were the majority of the delegates. Zdechlik quoted a Mark Zasadny of Roseville. I’ll add emphasis:
Minnesota Ron Paul delegate Mark Zasadny of Roseville said if the election were held right now he would vote for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president.
Mr. Zasadny: thanks for hammering home every stereotype the “establishment” had of the Paul movement; that you had not the faintest interest in the GOP, but hijacked it to serve as a vehicle for the Ron Paul Personality Cult.
(Yep, I said “Ron Paul Personality Cult”. Anyone who doesn’t honestly think that a Romney/Ryan presidency won’t be better for the prospects of liberty in this country, especially and even if only economic liberty, but also the rest of the First Amendment, than a second Obama term seriously needs to get a grip. Incrementalism is not a dirty word, if it’s incremental in the right direction, especially if that’s a springboard to further bigger increments. Increments are better than excrements).
“It seems like the clear message was like the grassroots movement is not really welcome in the Republican Party. So that’s kind of hard to swallow when they come around and say, you know, ‘OK, are you ready to unite behind the Romney campaign and the RNC,'” Zasadny said. “And it’s like, ‘well you just tried to cut our throats.’ So how are we supposed to respond to that?”
Well, you can respond in any of a number of ways, Mr. Zasadny.
- You can come back for the next round of caucuses and conventions, and try to consolidate your control of the MNGOP.
- You can replicate your Liberty movement organization that suceeded so wildly – at least at conquering the party organization – in other states, and take over more states, to gain more control of the party apparatus so that the next time the rules fight comes up, you’ll fight the battle with more than just a thin rump of delegates from Minnesota and Nevada.
- You can learn the lessons that every spunky class of political newcomers does; that politics is a marathon, not a sprint. And all of you Ron Paul supporters that got into the game last February at the caucuses? You’ve just been sprinting. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Or you can react to the perceived “throat cutting” (which wasn’t; the party has every right to organize itself to present its winning candidate in as monolithically-positive light as possible, free of the yelping of what is, let’s be honest, a small minority of the delegates) by doing what Mr. Zasadny and the “leadership” of CD5 have done; taking the knife out of their throats and jamming it into their eye sockets, and twisting it 720 degrees.
Mr. Zasadny: You were sent to Tampa to represent the Republican Party. Part of being a delegate to a Party convention is supporting The Party. Whether you agree with it or not. That’s not to say you can’t be a principled dissenter – I’ve done that myself – but not while speaking as an elected delegate at the party’s convention.
The MNGOP is, and should be, a big tent. It should have room for fiscalcons and libertarians, and even the odd “moderate” who doesn’t screw the rest of the party on taxes and regulation. As a Tea Party libertarian conservative, I’m more than sympathetic to the Libertarian cause; I came back to the MNGOP in 1999 mostly to try to push the libertarian-conservative cause in the GOP. So not only am I a sympathetic ear – I was pushing the Liberty cause long before most of you were involved in the MNGOP.
But when you betray the party while serving as a party delegate?
The question isn’t “should Mr. Zasadny and those who think like him make themselves absent from future GOP events”. The question is “how badly have people like Mr. Zasadny and the CD5 “leadership” hurt the cause of the genuine Liberty supporters that have come to the GOP to do some good – and in many cases, have delivered on it?
Because there are a few babies among the bathwater.