The Cult of Paul
Successful politics is the blending of principle and pragmatism. Too much of either one or the other will always result in failure and setback. If you refuse to compromise in order to maintain ideological purity of principle, you will not win elections, and wind up consigning yourself to the minority fringe. If you too willingly sacrifice principle for the sake of winning elections, your principles will have little or no influence on policy, and your overall aims will be thwarted.
When the history of the 2012 Republican election cycle is written, the story it will tell is of two camps, one devoted uncompromisingly to principle, the other to simply winning, and whether or not we prevail in November will depend largely on whether those two camps can come together and find some middle-ground. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll call these two groups the Romney and the Not-Romney camps. The Romney camp says sure, our candidate may not be very solid on any principles, particularly conservative principles, but he has the best chance of winning. The Not-Romney camp says Romney is untrustworthy, cannot be counted on to fight-for and defend any of our principles, and is thus unacceptable. But there is a third element trying to force its way into play, coming from the outer-edge of the Not-Romney camp, that being the Ron Paul supporters.
A cult of personality arises when an individual displaces the principles and ideas behind a political group. It usually is a deliberately cultivated agenda, but can grow spontaneously as well, as has been the case with Ron Paul, who has become the center of his own cult of personality. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Anyone who has been to CPAC over the past couple years will recall, usually with disgust, the behavior of the legion of Paul supporters who keep to themselves, heckle other candidates and their supporters, are rude and derisive toward those outside their group, and make a big show of all leaving the room together after their people finish speaking. Ask them if they will vote for the Republican nominee if it’s not Paul, and they will usually admit they will not. And heaven forbid should you try to engage them in discussion or debate, as they invariably will treat it as an opportunity to sermonize, and will often dismiss you with a trite line like “well I guess you just don’t like the truth!” when you disagree or point-out a flaw in their arguments.
For Paul supporters, this election cycle has ceased being about what is best for America, and has become all about getting their candidate into office, by hook or crook. They absurdly rationalize this attitude by telling us that putting anyone else on the Republican ticket would be just as bad as Obama. For them, it’s “Paul or nothing.” They have utterly discarded the pragmatic element required for successful politics, but they are not going to allow that to stop them. Ron Paul has been disdainful of the Republican Party throughout his career, but his supporters are trying to hijack that party on behalf of their candidate, and they have a plan for accomplishing that goal. The following is an email received by a friend of mine a few days ago:
From: Massachusetts Ron Paul Supporters <email@example.com>
To: undisclosed <XXXXX@XXXX.XXX>
Sent: Saturday, January 21, 2012 4:58 PM
Subject: Massachusetts Ron Paul Supporters ALERT
Hello fellow liberty activists!
I am sending out batch emails that have been collected at Tea Party, Audit the Fed, and other Liberty events across the commonwealth in an effort to help elect Dr. Ron Paul in the upcoming Presidential Primary. If you support Ron Paul and will be voting for him in the upcoming primary then we URGENTLY need your help!
Ron Paul grassroots activists are organizing folks like you to help Dr. Ron Paul win delegates and have a shot to win the Republican Nomination at the Republican National Convention in August 2012. If you would like to learn more and get involved then please read the attached FAQ regarding the delegate process and fill out our Help elect Liberty Delegates Sign Up Sheet
Although Independents can vote in the Primary on March 6th, by Republican Party rules, in order to participate in the Republican Caucus (in late April, Early May 2012) and elect Liberty Delegates, you MUST register as Republican by February 15th.
The Caucus is usually on a Saturday morning in your congressional district, and takes about an hour. PLEASE step up for the hour it takes to vote for a Liberty delegate!
Delegate FAQ pdf attached.
Soon after filling the sign sheet we will contact you again with more details.
Bob Dwyer – 508-930-xxxx
The email includes a link to a sign-up sheet, which also explains how this scheme will work. Erick Erickson does a great job of explaining it over at RedState:
A prominent friend told me some weeks ago that he noticed an odd thing. In his state, several people who have been successful in getting themselves known as very probably Mitt Romney delegates for the Republican National Convention are also his supporters. And they are not just my friends’ supporters, they are also long time staunch Ron Paul supporters.
Why then would they, long time staunch Ron Paul supporters, align this year with Mitt Romney? He made calls and talked to friends in other states. All of them saw the same thing happening — long time Dr. Paul supporters working to become delegates to the convention pledging to support Mitt Romney and others.
If the field stays fractured at this level, with only a few people, but each getting delegates enough to prevent the front runner from an outright majority, there will be a second vote at the Republican National Convention.
Delegates are only locked in for their candidate during the first vote. After the first vote, they can vote for whoever they want. So if Mitt Romney is unable to clear an outright majority on the first ballot, suddenly he could see some of his delegates turn on him — turn and go back to Ron Paul.
It is an ingenious strategy premised on a convention where no one gets majority support early. It plays well to a primary calendar where the delegates are first awarded proportionally. Who knows if it is a campaign strategy or just his volunteers, but the Paul campaign has been active now for four years trying to take over local parties.
It may pay off if the GOP doesn’t unite around a candidate soon.
So in a nutshell, Paul supporters are trying to pass themselves off as delegates for other candidates so they can hijack the nomination for Ron Paul. Can this work? Two things need to happen in order for this plot to succeed. First, there must be a brokered convention, one in which there is no first-ballot majority winner. Second, Paul supporters must successfully pass themselves off as delegates for other candidates in sufficient numbers to eventually give their man a majority at the convention. It seems like a long-shot, but it would be good for local Republican committees across the country to be watchful for these “Manchurian Delegates” nonetheless. More important I think is what this sort of behavior says about Paul supporters. They truly do stand apart from the Republican Party, and we should not count on them for any sort of loyalty. They truly have come to constitute a cult of personality around their candidate, and their only allegiance is to him.