There are some conservatives who love the Republican Party so much they will not step back and ask themselves if the party is really lovable. The rest of us have a message to deliver to those love-blinded enthusiasts. This week the party was anything but lovable. Michelle Malkin wrote on Wednesday:
“I have no patience for the Republican party-bots telling these front-line soldiers to shut up in the name of unity — and to hide ‘in-fighting’ because the Left will publicize it… It should be publicized.”
She was referring to the pandemonium which occurred on Tuesday at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, during what has been described as the largest RNC power grab in GOP history. To the consternation of many Tea Party figures and conservative grassroots activists, the RNC pushed through two massively unpopular rule changes, and refused to seat 10 of Maine’s delegates who were supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
The controversial new RNC rules will allow the RNC to change convention rules at any time between conventions (Rule 12) and will allow Presidential candidates to veto which delegates represent them at the convention (Rule 16). A third rule change was also passed which changed the Plurality Requirement for Presidential nominations. Whereas the 2008 rules required a candidate to have a plurality in only five states in order for their name to be put in for nomination, the new rules require candidates to have a plurality in eight states. This last rule change was implemented in order to prevent Ron Paul supporters, who had a plurality in six states, from placing their candidate’s name in for nomination and guaranteeing him a fifteen-minute speaking slot.
When these rule changes were first proposed, Virginia delegate Morton Blackwell from the Rules Committee spoke out strongly against them and quickly wrote an open letter urging grassroots action to prevent their adoption. Other conservative leaders also stepped up to the plate, with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stating on her facebook page:
“The controversial rule change being debated at the RNC convention right now is so very disappointing. It’s a direct attack on grassroots activists by the GOP establishment, and it must be rejected.”
Minority reports were compiled hastily so that they could be turned in before the deadline set by the RNC. Unfortunately, when dissidents went to look for the Rules Committee Chairman John Sununu, in order to give him their reports, he was nowhere to be found.
When House Speaker Boehner dismissed the Rules committee from the convention Tuesday so that they could convene for a last meeting, Morton Blackwell was not present. Indeed, the Virginia delegation was stuck on a bus that was mysteriously looping around the convention center. They were to be stuck on that bus for over an hour while all of the rules meetings and votes were conducted. Many of the delegates posted outraged tweets from the confines of the bus, infuriated by the fact that they were being excluded from what was probably the most important vote of the convention.
When Boehner brought up the rules on the floor, he gave no information regarding what changes had been included and no minority reports were ever mentioned. Delegates who were not in contact with Rules Committee members could have had no idea what they were voting on.
The vote was conducted hurriedly, with Boehner calling for votes in favor and then votes opposed and immediately calling the vote for the “ayes.” You be the judge of whether it was a good call. The delegates didn’t seem to think so, booing loudly and yelling “point of order, point of order.” Their cries reverberated throughout the convention hall for a few tense and booming seconds as Boehner looked out embarrassedly over the crowd. Then the calls of dissent were drowned out with chants of “USA! USA!” and a tense and angry silence was gradually restored. As Rachel Maddow said in her coverage of the vote, “Conventions aren’t supposed to look like that anymore.” Michelle Malkin tweeted: “Thanks to Boehner’s deaf ears, minority reports squashed. Floor fight squashed. Mission accomplished, party bosses. #RNCpowergrab”
The fiasco of the disenfranchised Maine delegates was no less disturbing, with the RNC originally stating that they would not seat any of the 21 Ron Paul supporters and compromising at the last minute under overwhelming pressure, agreeing to seat half of them. The conflict over the Maine delegation arose as the result of a challenge issued against the Ron Paul delegates by Romney supporters, who claimed that they had been elected illegally. The RNC Committee on Contests found no evidence of fraud, ballot tampering, or cheating, but did not issue a ruling. They instead changed the rules to allow the challengers a second chance to prove their case against the Maine delegation.
When Boehner called for a vote on whether or not to accept the committee’s decision, great chaos ensued. Cries of “seat Maine now!” flooded the building. The vote was definitely a close one and delegates interviewed after the vote called the chair’s decision not to conduct a roll call vote, “tyranny.”
Video of the disenfranchised voters departing the convention floor showed them chanting “Shame on the RNC!” as they walked the halls of the building. “Why vote?” cried one delegate. “Why vote if they’re going to overturn our votes? This is not an election. This is fraud!”
“What happens next?” a reporter asked him.
“I don’t know,” he responded. “I don’t know what to do. All I know is this is election fraud. We’ve been disenfranchised. This is ridiculous.”
Maine’s National Committeeman Mark Willis states:
“We’re boycotting because we held on. We were the only state that never took a deal. We never compromised. They tried deal after deal and we never, ever wavered. We can go back to Maine now with honor and dignity and respect, to all of the people that elected us at that convention…we are going home heroes.”
Unfortunately, Willis’ form of heroism – the heroism of the lone civic warrior who doesn’t bend, back down or back off – was one quality that was not rewarded by the RNC this week.
Contrary to what you and I keep hearing from our dear friends and compatriots in the vast political struggle, what this poor, old, battered and corrupted Republican Party needs is not our silence, not our money, not our votes. What it needs is our heroism, our passion, our ideals, our steadfastness. What it needs is our disapproval, our disgust, our rejection. What it needs is for us to get up and with a loud voice proclaim that we will not stand for its crooked behaviors, its unjust maneuvers, its reprehensible lies. What it needs is a good lesson.
Scottish author George MacDonald wrote:
“Love loves unto purity… Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed.”
We must bear a brave love for our Party that will not be afraid to destroy. That is the only hope it has left.
Perhaps former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, grasped the heart of this statement when she posted to her facebook page Monday night:
“We have to remember that this election is not just about replacing the party in power. It’s about who and what we replace it with.”