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Archive for March 12th, 2012

Ron Paul’s Delegate Strategy May be Working

There is an interesting analysis article over at Real Clear Politics that lays out a scenario whereby the August Republican National Convention evolves into the worst nightmare imaginable for party officials – a brokered convention.  Based on how Republican candidates for president have done so far with different demographics and regions of the country, Sean Trende predicts how the race for the Republican nomination may play out and lays out a scenario where a brokered Republican convention could take place.

Now, it’s no secret that a brokered convention would be a catastrophe for Republican Party leaders use to grand coronations at their quadrennial national party events.  After all, anything could happen.  Chaos could rule or a dark horse candidate not officially sanctioned by the party oligarchs could emerge.  In either case their lack of control would disrupt the usual smooth proceedings meant to portray to the nation a party united, happy, and excited about its standard bearer.

Given his campaign’s strategy of focusing on caucuses and out hustling his rivals at local, county, and state conventions nationwide the main beneficiary of a brokered convention would be Texas Congressman Ron Paul.  The fact of the matter is that most Americans do not get involved in politics.  Many rightly view it as an ugly, corrupt business.  Others are too busy following American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or the latest escapades of Lindsay Lohan.  While others would rather leave it to the professionals.  But, Ron Paul supporters are different.  They may not outnumber the supporters of other candidates, but they are hungrier and more dedicated to their principles.  They are much more willing to show up, outlast, and fight for delegate positions than the supporters of rival candidates.  These attributes seem to be paying dividends for the Paul campaign at least in the early stages of the delegate selection process.

In Iowa, Ron Paul supporters have become delegates for other candidates.  Under party rules, if the convention is brokered at some point those delegates could be eligible to throw their support behind Dr. Paul.

In Georgia, Paul forces took over or as local GOP officials called it “hijacked” the DeKalb County delegate-selection convention in eastern metropolitan Atlanta.  They also missed by a whisker doing the same thing in populous Cobb County.

And in Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas, at the county GOP convention made up of over 2600 delegates, Paul supporters organized and triumphed by electing Paulites to all 14 seats on the ballot for county GOP executive committee board.  These 14 new members of the board will make up two-thirds of the ruling body.  Consequently, that county’s GOP platform now calls for holding elected officials to their oath to the Constitution, repeal of the 16th Amendment, and a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

The process of selecting delegates in most states is in the early stages.  There will be multiple stories like the ones mentioned above.  Ultimately, there may be a brokered Republican convention in August.  Then again, there may not be.  Ron Paul may not get the GOP nomination for president in 2012, but whoever does will be leading a party much different from the one that exists today.  It will include delegates to the national convention, activists, and party officials who support a non-interventionist foreign policy, sound money, and civil liberties.  You talk about a nightmare for the party oligarchs!

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Have you watched an Elizabeth Warren video? I admire her energy. She uses phrases like, “We have to get cracking.” She probably doesn’t use exactly those words, but that’s the feeling you get. We have problems to solve and she wants to solve them. Now.

The problem is that she believes in good government. That is, she believes that when government acts, it accomplishes good things. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi think the same way. Have a problem? Let’s solve it the public way. They like hat motto of public service, “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

For people who oppose Warren, Obama, Pelosi and a passel of other progressives, the idea that government accomplishes good things is demonstrably false. It also runs against the traditional American idea that government is a necessary evil, not a positive good. A necessary evil has bad consequences, which people must tolerate because the alternative – in this case, no government at all – would be worse. A foundational principle of governance is that public instruments and institutions are intended to prevent bad consequences of lawlessness. To use these same tools to accomplish other purposes – to solve problems for people – invites their misuse.

Analysts often criticize conservatives because conservatives believe government itself is bad. How can you expect government to work, critics say, if you elect people who believe government itself is the problem? You have to populate government with people who believe government can accomplish good things. Otherwise, critics continue, we will see more government dysfunction, malfunction, and gridlock.

That’s an interesting explanation of why our government doesn’t work well. Another explanation is that you can’t take tools designed for one purpose and use them to accomplish some other purpose. We’ve seen this type of argument many times in foreign policy debates. You can’t take armed forces designed to keep our country secure, and use them to build states abroad. Armed forces aren’t trained or organized for the latter task. We never see good outcomes when we do try to use our armed forces to build and secure states abroad. Instead we see failure, one after another.

Why should we expect different results in our domestic policy? Our Constitution specifies a government strictly limited to the preventive functions mentioned above. Moreover, our Declaration of Independence says that when government exceeds its authority, it must be replaced. The Constitution in particular does not contain tools or precedents that authorize government to solve problems or accomplish purposes beyond those spelled out in the Constitution. Nor does this founding document create institutions intended to accomplish tasks beyond those stipulated. In fact, it says exactly the opposite to future officials of the federal government: anything not mentioned here, you are not authorized to do.

Yet critics blame small-government advocates for the current inability of public institutions to accomplish good things! They say that if advocates would only believe in government’s ability to solve problems, rather than faulting it for causing problems, government could once again become a force for good. Their frustration with the current anti-government mood is palpable.

To take a simple example, suppose you have legal mechanisms in place to prevent fraud in the drawing of business contracts. Fraud is a type of lawlessness; government exists to prevent that. Now suppose you use those legal mechanisms to regulate legal, non-fraudulent business relationships. In the latter effort, goverment uses its authority to address some problem not under its purview. Its tools don’t work, and unsurprisingly the attempt has a bad outcome. When government tries to do more than prevent lawlessness, the record shows that the net consequences are bad: the costs exceed the benefits. The costs nearly exceed the benefits even when it adheres to its principal or core functions.

That is why it is called a necessary evil. On the ladder of human benefits, only two rungs fall below minimal government: (1) activist government, and (2) no government at all. That puts the limited, minimal government in our Constitution at the top of the ladder. I’ll leave it to you to decide which of the two alternatives oppresses citizens more egregiously: anarchy or the powerful, monstrous government we see growing right before us.

When you see an energetic progressive claim we should rally together so government can help us, ask for some evidence. Ask for an example. The advocate for government activism may cite the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010 under Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. There you have your evidence of the putative good government accomplishes when people work together. There you have your evidence of monstrosity.

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