A little over a month ago I wrote a post which challenged Ron Paul to prove there was caucus fraud or get out of the race. Well, at first I was criticized by rabid Paul supporters who questioned my assertions, stating it wasn’t the candidate himself making them, well, until he actually made that suggestion. Of course they ignored me then.
But after the debacle on Saturday in St. Charles County, Missouri (or as blogger Bob McCarty termed it, the “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre“) I’m reminded of another incident in the recent past. And I’ll get to that in a moment.
First, though, I want you to read a couple other accounts (The Other McCain and All-American Blogger) of the incidents, including the comments, and learn that Ron Paul supporters sometimes leave a lot to be desired in manners. All done? Good.
Now you can continue past the jump.
I will cheerfully admit that I’m not as up on Robert’s Rules of Order as I probably should be, and my experience with them comes in a convention setting rather than at a caucus. But it’s my understanding that, until the rules are actually passed and voted on, Robert’s governs. (However, the caucus rules might also be an extension of the Missouri Republican Party’s bylaws, which I’m definitely not an expert on.)
You may recall that some time back our state party had a voting system which didn’t sit well with the smaller counties because it was strictly proportional to the number of registered Republicans a county had. As the most egregious example, a single member of the Anne Arundel County Central Committee had several times the voting strength of the entire membership from Somerset County, which had the fewest GOP registrants.
But once we figured out that we were cutting our own throats by adopting these rules and threatened to maintain what Robert’s dictates – a ‘one man, one vote’ system which would allow a number of smaller counties to combine forces and run the show – suddenly large counties were quite willing to come to the table and discuss a more equitable voting system, which is now part of the state bylaws. We were aided when former Chair Jim Pelura agreed to adopt rules in a piecemeal basis rather than as a whole, meaning we could debate the issue.
And that’s where the importance of a fair-minded Chair comes into play. It’s my impression that the Chair in the St. Charles County case was a complete hack who decided he would set the rules, just because he could. It seems to me that the proper procedure in the video camera instance was NOT followed, unless it’s a state rule I’m unaware of.
When I receive the call to convention for our state party, enclosed is a copy of the convention rules. That’s akin to posting them outside the school where the caucus was held. But – and this is a very important but – these rules have to be approved, and if the chair was doing his job he would have noted the objection to the ‘no video camera’ rule and allowed it to be voted on separately. (Of course, had the rule passed it would have been incumbent on those recording to cease.)
I will grant it’s probably a lot easier to run a convention of 300 Central Committee members – even as hard-headed as some of us are – then a caucus of a couple thousand, but the situation was handled poorly and those in the Paul camp may have a case to continue their narrative that Ron Paul is being cheated.
And I have to ask those in charge of the Republican Party: is it really that important to keep Paul’s delegate count artificially low by doing these things? He’s not winning any primaries so he’s not going to get the nomination. But it makes us look like the biggest hypocrites by talking about how Democrats promote voter fraud yet run these events in this manner. Sadly, in the face of evidence like this I have to concede that Paul supporters could have a point and perhaps there is a effort to rig the system. Certainly this is a strike against those who believe primaries are flawed and party regulars should caucus to select nominees for office.
In fact, the arrogance shown by those running these caucuses reminds me strongly of the Rule 11 controversy we endured here in Maryland two years ago. When the party brass had an easy opportunity to attain the imprimatur of the rank-and-file members on waiving the rule to benefit two candidates who had primary opposition, they didn’t trust us to do so – instead, they behaved in a manner eerily reminiscent of the St. Charles caucus chair. (Now two of those involved in that fiasco are running to represent the party again as National Committeeman and Committeewoman; however, Louis Pope expressed his support for the Rule 11 resolution Heather Olsen and I presented last fall.)
While some of our state representatives to the national convention will be elected at our upcoming convention, I don’t believe we will have any of the problems which have been associated with the caucus system thus far. By rule, I believe the ten we select are bound to vote for the state’s top vote-getter, not that I agree with that rule. I’d vote for whoever I damn well pleased, but I’m not running this time because I have a far more important trip to take in September and I can only afford one.
But it will be interesting to see what the fervent Ron Paul believers will do when we meet as a state party. Maybe they’ll surprise me and behave like rational citizens.