Wait. You thought they’d let you vote?
Since the turn of the century, Republicans in power have recognized two things: hardcore religious and socially super-conservative white people could be a major voting bloc for them and they could NEVER let these people have any power of their own. So, each election cycle, they would trot out the “guns, God, and gays” fear machine to stoke up fear and anger and resentment and then channel that into heavy turnout at the polls for their candidate. This is, largely, how George W. Bush got elected. The issues of abortion, gun control, affirmative action, and gay marriage were useful tools for making this group of people useful tools.
Over time, that demographic has shifted into what’s now called the tea party and their patron saint is Ron Paul. More organized than before, this group is even more powerful (as we saw from the 2010 election) and the Republican Party machine knows this. That’s why they have gone to extraordinary lengths to strip Paul supporters of any significant role at the RNC Convention this week and have sent his remaining delegates to the nosebleed seats in the convention center.
For years the fundamentalist evangelical Christians were used by the likes of Karl Rove to generate a groundswell of support. Then, after the election, nothing would happen. That’s why Bush never did anything to push for further restrictions on abortions or most of the other issues they used to fire up this group. While it was often a focal point of his campaigns, it was rarely if ever a focal point of his presidency.
However, Mitt Romney faces a much more activated group this time around. Using state convention rules to their advantage, Ron Paul actually managed to secure enough delegates to make things uncomfortable for Romney, even embarrass him at his own national convention. They ended up working out a deal that gave Paul’s supporters more voice in the formation of their Party platform while seating some of his delegates.
However, after learning that this wasn’t going to be enough to quell some of Paul’s supporters who planned to make their voices heard, his delegates were promptly seated in the far reaches of the convention center where they are sure to go unnoticed. Delegations from places with lots of brown-skinned people like Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa are getting placed right up front where the cameras can pan across their useful non-white faces and Michigan, which defied Party rules, had their convention too early and lost half their delegates is sitting right in the front row. Paul supporters will be nowhere to be found on the main floor.
And, just to be sure that nothing like this ever happens again, the Republican establishment types that actually run the show passed a new rule to ensure that, should he win, Mitt Romney will maintain his power at the 2016 convention:
The Republican Party changed a series of rules Friday to significantly increase Mitt Romney’s power over the GOP and make it harder for insurgent presidential candidates to compete in future elections.
After Ron Paul used the convention process to win the most delegates in some of the states where he lost the popular vote, the Republican convention rules committee passed a measure to ensure that a candidate who wins a statewide caucus or primary ultimately controls its delegation and gets more leverage over picking his delegates. The shift to binding primaries and caucuses means the end of so-called beauty contests.
The Romney campaign’s move will mean less consequential state conventions — lower-profile events that typically follow the popular vote caucuses and primaries. It also might fend off potential primary challenges from the right in 2016 should Romney win this November.
That’s a breathtaking consolidation of power and one that is not likely to sit well with Paul supporters who have worked tirelessly on behalf of their candidate to have a voice in the process.
So, once again, the religious, social conservatives of the Republican Party are being relegated to the role of “useful idiot”, their votes counted on and taken for granted while they actually have no voice in the actual process. And, should Romney win, you can be sure that his agenda will have more to do with shifting the country into further becoming a corporatocracy while the issues the tea partying Paulites care about will get short shrift. The biggest difference is that, this time, we get to watch it happening on live television.
What will be interesting to see is if these tea parties wake up this time and realize they are being used and will be discarded after the election until sometime in early 2016. Will they realize that Mitt Romney’s corporate connections are far more important and carry far more power than they ever will? Will they allow these corporatists to manipulate them like rubes at a carnival or will they fight back and cause trouble for Romney.
Either way, it will be fun, if not a bit frightening to watch. Because, let’s face it, if either of these camps wins, America loses.
[Photos by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]