Ron Paul Should Just Give Up
On August 27, hundreds of delegates will convene in Tampa, Florida to affirm the presidential candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney. The Republican National Convention (RNC) will assemble, and although it is quite clear that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate, supporters of Ron Paul have recently caused a stir in the media, claiming that Paul is still viable as a candidate. Paul’s supporters claim that delegates at the convention will exercise their power of free choice and actually choose Paul as the Republican candidate. However, the states have already clearly chosen Romney by voting, and any delegate who does not abide by their state’s chosen nomination should not be allowed a vote at the convention.
We’ve come a long way from the 9-9-9 tax plan of Herman Cain, Rick Santorum’s homilies against contraception, and the bounced $500 checks of the Gingrich campaign. At this point, we might have thought to ourselves that the ridiculous days of the Republican primary race were over. But not yet.
Paul’s supporters see the RNC as a turning point. They claim that Paul is a front–runner who will win votes not designated to him by state elections. They allude to the last RNC, in 2008, when the same issue came up. A Utah delegate refused to vote for John McCain, demanding that he be able to cast his own vote, ironically, for Mitt Romney. He quoted Jennifer Sheehan, a legal counselor for the RNC, in a letter as saying every delegate was a free agent and was not bound by the results of their state’s vote. This “letter,” however, is only found on Ron Paul websites; any legitimate source for this letter is absent.
The argument that Ron Paul can actually win candidacy at the RNC via rogue delegates is not only fallacious with respect to feasibility, but wrong in principal. The electoral college is often criticized for transgressing the will of the people. Although in practice most delegates vote for the candidate their state has chosen, they are technically free to vote for anyone they wish to vote for. This caused great commotion in the 2000 election, when Al Gore lost to George Bush by a narrow margin of electoral votes, although he had won the popular vote. Encouraging this practice in party conventions is an ethical contradiction for Ron Paul, who leans towards Libertarian policies and actually ran for president in 1988 as a candidate for the Libertarian party. For a party that radically favors strong civil liberties, it seems ironic that Paul’s supporters would encourage politicians to take action against the will of the people. And for a man known for a trustworthy reputation, this is character–damaging. Ron Paul ought to simply drop out before suffering a fate similar to that of Newt Gingrich at the hands of the media.
Fortunately, Republican politicians will most likely take Mitt Romney over Ron Paul; Romney is much more prepared for election season. Although Republican politicians might not have benevolent reasons for choosing the millionaire candidate, at least their interests line up with those of the people. In this sense, at least, the will of the people prevails.