Ron Who?

This is ridiculous.  I can’t believe the party that professes to be the “law and order” party, and the party that supports the rule of law will now pretend that Ron Paul didn’t win, even if he does pull off the win in Iowa.  I’m not a Ron Paul backer, and his adherents will be quick to point out my lengthy criticisms in my coverage of this campaign, but I am also critical of the sort of machinations I’m now witnessing in Iowa.  As I have repeatedly told readers, I believe Ron Paul has a naive view on foreign policy that disqualifies him in my view, but I won’t I support the GOP establishment attempts to dominate the primary process.  If we won’t play by the rules, why have them, and if we pretend the winner isn’t the winner, why have an election at all?

Of course, this is all prospective, because no votes have been cast, and we’re a long way from declaring anybody the winner in Iowa, but we should consider carefully what establishment figures are saying about all of this.  After all, it is the establishment that gave us this accelerated primary schedule, and if it now plays to the advantage of the one candidate they had hoped to weed out early, that’s not the candidate’s fault, but their own.  As a matter of fairness, should Ron Paul win in Iowa, I will not engage in the down-playing and minimizing the Republican party establishment now seems to be setting up.  This ought to tell us something important about the GOP, and it’s time we rank-and-file folks recognize it.

When I read in Politico that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said the following, I knew I was seeing the culmination of years of establishment domination of the party in that state:

“People are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third,” said Gov. Terry Branstad. “If [Mitt] Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire and the other states.”

You might wonder why Branstad would seek to ignore the victor, and the answer is that it may well be Ron Paul, Republican Congressman from Texas.  In fact, the very premise of the story is offensive to me:  “Will Ron Paul Kill the Caucuses,” is the question asked in the Politico article’s title, and I have to ask in reply: Will the GOP establishment kill the caucuses?

Again, it’s not that I favor Ron Paul, but a sense of fair play dictates that I ask the question, because in my view, if Ron Paul has organized and motivated people in the state of Iowa to support him in sufficient numbers to win, why shouldn’t he be considered the victor? It’s as though the governor of Iowa is saying: “Well, just ignore that Ron Paul fellow, because he may win, but he’s not representative of thinking in our state.”  In fact, others are making that argument, almost precisely.

Here’s the real problem with that thinking: If we have a respect for the rules, and Ron Paul has played by them, and he manages a win, we might wish to ask if that isn’t the most relevant consideration.  After all, if he can get enough support to pull this off, even against the better-funded Romney or Perry, why shouldn’t we consider him as a serious candidate?  Are we now supposed to submit to the argument that the winner of the Super Bowl hadn’t been the best team?  Oh, you might make that argument if you thought another team better, but the problem is that by the rules, and according to the system, the winner is the winner.

This points out a deeper problem in the Republican party that arises from too many years of accepting establishment candidates with an uncritical campaign. Here we have a whole slate of candidates who are to varying degrees rejected by voters, and yet the one that pleases the most voters is to be considered unacceptable?  If this should come to pass, I may need to rethink my view not only of the idea of the Republican party, but also the notion that they’re willing to play even by the rules they’ve established.  I find it unconscionable that should Ron Paul win in Iowa, he would be treated as anything less than the victor and the presumptive front-runner.

You can argue for this one or that one, but my question remains: If they’re so damned good, why didn’t they win?  Of course, all of this is a bit presumptive, because nobody has voted, but I find it curious that people who worry that Ron Paul would run as an independent and thus derail a Republican nominee’s bid to unseat Barack Obama would likewise suggest that if Ron Paul remains in the party and plays by the rules, he cannot win even if he wins.  That’s absurd, and it’s embarrassing, and anybody thinking that way should be ashamed, no matter their preference.  The whole notion of this process is to go with the candidate that the most people can agree to support.  If we won’t abide by those rules, let us dissolve the process, let the establishment tell us who they want, and to devil with the rest.

In other words, if this process is to be rigged in such a way that Ron Paul cannot win, even if he does, what’s the point to the process at all? Why bother? Why make the pretense at a democratic process if what we really have is a process whereby the least objectionable establishment candidate will be selected for us?  If you want to argue that somebody is killing the Iowa caucus, we should not point the finger at Ron Paul, and instead admit that if Ron Paul wins, but we didn’t want him, it’s our fault. Any charade aimed at negating the significance of a Ron Paul victory will be met on this site with scorn and derision. Why? Is it because I think Ron Paul is the superior candidate?  Clearly, this is not the reason.  Instead, I believe that if Ron Paul plays by the rules and wins with a plurality, since none are likely to attain a majority, then I will consider Ron Paul the winner.  That goes for any of them.  My question is this:  If we would accept a Gingrich, Romney, Perry, Bachmann, or Santorum victory, by what moral or intellectual contortions could we suggest that Ron Paul isn’t eligible by the same standards?

Ladies and gentlemen, one of the things you tell me without reservation is that we must have consistent candidates who do not sway in the breeze with political expedience.  You argue passionately for the sort of people who abide by their principles, and do not surrender them when times are tough.   I have agreed with you unreservedly, but now I must ask:  Shouldn’t the same be true of us?