In my column last week about the Rally for the Republic, I observed that there were serious differences among Ron Paul supporters about what form their political activity should take now that the primaries are over and their man has lost. Nothing illustrates that point better than the behavior of the Ron Paul delegates at the Republican National Convention.
When the roll was called, 15 delegates voted for Paul at the convention. The only other candidate to receive votes besides John McCain was Mitt Romney, who was backed by two Utah delegates. But Paul’s finally tally could have been at least twice as large — in fact, by some estimates, Paul had as many 78 delegates, about the same as Pat Buchanan’s 1992 haul — if many of his supporters didn’t end up voting for McCain.
Paul supporters worked hard at state conventions and in district meetings to augment the number of delegates the Texas congressman won in the GOP primaries, often with surprising success against the opposition of party leaders. They staged a semi-successful credentials fight that resulted in four Paul delegates being seated in Nevada.
But those four delegates went for McCain over Paul in the final vote. About a dozen pro-Paul Massachusetts delegates did the same. They cited their delegation leaders’ desire to show unified support for McCain (who won neither state). The Las Vegas Sun described them as gracious; Lew Rockwell complained “Ron Paul Republicans drop the prefix.”
An argument could probably be made that this is a sign of political maturity as Ron Paul Republicans try to preserve their future viability and work seamlessly within their party like the religious right before them. But it is a bit difficult to understand the point of fighting to nail down these delegate slots, often earning the acrimony of the party establishment in the process, and then end up not voting for Paul.