Election Day: The Ron Paul Factor

We stand less than forty-eight hours from the election of the next President of the United States. The two major candidates are Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. The key figure in this race could very well be one that is not even in the race and is retiring from Congress.

Congressman Ron Paul, the representative from Texas who led a revolution of libertarians and constitutionalists within the political mainstream. This year has been a well-documented battle of these political revolutionaries against the entrenched establishment. Kicked down and brushed aside, the Ron Paul people have now proven to be a force of influence and will be an interesting storyline to follow Tuesday night.

Conflict still remains as to whether or not many will vote for former New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or write in Congressman Paul himself, but one thing remains certain: Mitt Romney is not on the short list.

Maine’s Republican Party operations have been a mess from the beginning. To say the spike in activity during caucuses was unexpected is dishonest, as the Paul campaign had been open about its strategy being focused on the delegates in caucus states.

If the leadership in the party were paying attention, they would have picked up on this and prepared for the new recruits to be welcomed into the party. Instead, however, the “wing nuts”, as chairman Charlie Webster once called them, were insulted and robbed.

“Where’s Waldo” county’s votes weren’t counted towards the straw poll count, mysteriously disappearing, apparently into the spam filter of someone at the offices of a major political party. Washington County was delayed because of debatable weather conditions, a controversial move at the time. Both counties, coincidentally, were strong on Congressman Paul. Instead of doing as a leader should, Webster refused to ensure all the votes would count. But as a good leader of the Old Boy’s Club, he kept things as is to ensure the victory of Mitt Romney.

The chairman of the Maine Republican Party refused to count all the votes of the Ron Paul people, implying their votes are insignificant and irrelevant to the big picture. But now, their votes are suddenly significant and relevant to the big picture, as any Republican will tell you they must vote for Mitt Romney. Ron Paul votes don’t matter. Maybe they will just tell Webster that their votes for Romney got lost in someone’s spam filter.

The madness didn’t cease there. In fact, it was just beginning.

Come the State Convention, the turnout was massive. Ron Paul supporters had the front of the Augusta Civic Center lined up like it was three hours before a rock concert. Instead, it was a couple hours before a major political event, which began check-in at 7am.

As the votes rolled in, it was tense, and delay tactics were endless. Romney lawyers were quickly working to find any way possible to undermine the turnout that clearly was not in their favor, and the supporters were endless in their “Points of Orders” that were randomly shouted left and right.

Fake slates were created and faithful recruits were deployed to distribute them to the Paul delegates to disrupt the majority for liberty. Then a man would find himself at the microphone nominating random Paul supporters for the purpose of disruption, repeatedly, was one who would be rewarded for his establishment dirty work. Also a distributor of fake slates, this man is David Sorensen, who would later become communications director for the Maine Republican Party.

Now the Romney campaign, which tried to undermine the grassroots, asks for the support of the Paul people. After months spent attempting to recruit delegates who could be knowledgeable and respectful, the Romney campaign felt the need to insult their efforts. The amount of hard work put into the structure and ground game was enormous, and had the Romney campaign welcomed that, they could have secured a serious advantage over the youthful grassroots of President Obama. It’s too bad Sorensen can’t draft votes for Romney like they were fake slates at a State Convention.

The chaos still didn’t cease here. A couple months down the road, last minute before the deadline, a challenge was filed against the Maine National Delegation. Citing a series of points that essentially amounted to calling the State Convention invalid because of repeated procedural errors, the challenge made it very clear that the challengers had no doubt in their mind.

But why did the challenge, if the reasons so clear, not get filed until the last minute? Could it be dirty tactics? Maybe it would have something to do with the fact that the two individuals behind the challenge were soon-to-be-ousted National Committeewoman Jan Staples — who was replaced at the State Convention by Ashley Ryan — and Maine Romney campaign chairman Peter Cianchette.

The Maine chairman of the Romney campaign evidently felt his job of ensuring the election of the former Massachusetts Governor would be best accomplished by alienating a major wing of the Republican Party. Staples ruined her legacy by working to drop a bomb in the divide within the party and causing the rift to blow open. If only they could challenge the general election results and have half of the Obama/Biden vote thrown out.

What it comes down to in the end is respect. Respect is earned and only given when mutually returned. From the Republican establishment, a lack thereof exists.

As noted extensively, there were multiple opportunities to welcome the Ron Paul people. From Day One on, the establishment had made it extremely clear the chances of Republican candidate Ron Paul in the general election ever existing was 0%. So why the resistance? Let the Paul supporters have their day, jump for joy at the State Convention, and cheer as their National Delegation goes to Tampa to watch Mitt Romney walk away with the nomination. Was it really that hard?

After all of this, it is an insult to expect a Mitt Romney vote out of a single Ron Paul supporter. If the loss in the contest had been fair, it would be a different story. The Republican unity line might actually be a fair weapon against internal dissent. This was not the case, however.

When it comes down to the results rolling in on Tuesday evening, the Ron Paul factor will be strong. They will play a key role in either putting Romney over the top in Maine’s Congressional District #2, making the Libertarian Party of Maine official as Gary Johnson reaches 5% of the vote in the state, or a massive write-in showing for “Ron Paul.”

And if the end result is not the first possibility, the entire loss should be blamed on the divisive Maine Republican Party leadership who felt that protecting their power interests was more important than expanding the big tent and strengthening the party towards a general election victory.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning activist who is State Coordinator of the Maine Tenth Amendment Center and former Androscoggin County co-coordinator for the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign. These thoughts are his own, and not on behalf of any organization he works for.