In his masterwork 1984, George Orwell wrote of the practice of “doublethink”:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

Ladies and gentlemen, doublethink is alive and well in the Republican party today.

On June 1st and 2nd, Washington state help it’s GOP convention to elect delegates to the National Convention in Tampa on August 27th. I had the honor of attending as a delegate from the district level. It was the first caucus process I had been through and it taught me a lot- particularly about just how divisive politics has become in America; not only between political parties, but within them: between supporters of the various Presidential nominees.

June 1st business consisted of convention necessities like electing the permanent chair, adopting rules for the convention, and breaking out into congressional district caucuses to elect delegates to the RNC. This first day went a bit long, but ran smoothly, and the results were underwhelming for the Liberty movement: Five of Washington’s fifty delegates went to Ron Paul rather than Mitt Romney. I’m pleased that three of those five were out of my district… all three of our seats.

The second day was when I got a real education. It is the June 2nd proceedings I will discuss here. In the morning, we seated some alternates who got moved up to fill empty delegate seats. The main business of the day was to select ten at-large delegates to represent the the Washington caucus as a whole, then to discuss the party platform and make any agreed-upon revisions.

At-large Delegate Selection

In the morning during at-large delegate selection, we heard speeches from dozens of delegates saying who their Presidential choice was, why they wanted to go to Tampa, and any qualifying experience they felt they had. There was much-impassioned rhetoric about how the “Republicans need to unite to defeat Obama” (i.e., nominate Romney), or “Now it’s time to get behind Mitt and fire the President”.

Why, then, did the vast majority of districts elect all-Romney delegations despite the fact that about 30% of delegates at the convention were for Ron Paul? Why did the Romney delegates speak of “unity” while handing out a slate without a single Ron Paul delegate on it? Why, at the district level, were balloting materials confiscated by the establishment after Paul supporters elected their own caucus chair in a completely legal way? The state caucus process is meant to be a meeting of the Washington Republicans to find common ground on our plurality of values and choose the delegates who best will represent this plurality of values at the RNC, but the Romney campaign seemed content to discard the values of thousands of Ron Paul supporters in Washington and deny them a representative voice at the national convention. The Romney delegation’s idea of party unity seems to be “everyone just shut up now and vote for Mitt”. In one breath, they say “we’re glad to have all you young Ron Paul folks and your energy”. In the next breath they say “now it’s time for you Ron Paul delegates to rally behind Mitt Romney.”

…to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy…

No, it is not time to rally behind Mitt Romney. There were still two candidates running for the GOP nomination. They should both have representation all the way through to the national level, where the best remaining candidate is chosen to be party nominee. Even if Ron Paul delegates are committed to vote for the party’s eventual nominee, that nominee is not recognized until August and they will not pledge allegiance to Mittens any sooner. They choose Ron Paul because of principles, not popularity, and that is exactly the kind of integrity lacking in the Republican party today- but if you want to talk popularity, we can talk about which candidate consistently draws 5000 to 6000-person crowds at rallies across the country or who is beating Obama in polls (and it’s not Willard Romney).

In the end, all ten Washington at-large delegates went to Romney.

Platform Dicussion

The next order of business was the state party platform discussion. This was where the convention really went off the parliamentary procedure rails.

We didn’t even start the platform discussion until about three in the afternoon, with a commitment to adjourn at five. The platform was presented by the platform committee, then there was a motion to adopt the platform as-is, in total. This brought an appeal from the liberty camp saying that this was a violation of the rules, for the rules clearly stated that there would be a motion to adopt the platform, followed by a discussion of each plank to entertain any changes proposed by the delegation- and suspending the rules requires a 2/3 vote by the body. The chair ruled (incorrectly) that the motion was not a suspension of the rules. This decision was appealed. By this time we were debating a motion within a motion within a motion, with no hope of actually conducting business in sight.

There were speeches for and against the motion to adopt the platform without any discussion, accepting whatever the small committee put forth as the credo of Washington Republicans. There were many Romney delegates arguing that “the nice people on the committee worked very hard and I’m sure the platform is fine”. One member of the platform committee said that there were Paul supporters on the committee, and seemed to think that none of the others might have some issue with what they produced. Older delegates just seemed to be tired and ready to go home.

…to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed…

On the other side, there were also impassioned pleas for discourse from the Paul delegation and some others reminding everyone of the importance of speech and discussion in finding the strongest ideas. There were yet simpler arguments urging the body just to follow its own rules. After all, wasn’t the platform half the reason we were all there that day in the first place? Did we take valuable time on a weekend to go to Tacoma just so we could adjourn without conducting the business at hand?

The discourse regrettably descended into name-calling, vague insults, and partisan in-fighting. This highly contentious floor debate continued right up until five o’clock when the question was called and the Romney majority overwhelmingly voted to adopt the platform and go home. So we concluded the day having made zero changes to the state party platform, leaving in questionably aggressive sections about Israeli foreign aid, militarism, government involvement in marriage (all things that Dr. Paul has expressed concerns about). It is my suspicion that whoever moved to adopt without discussion knew full well it was a suspension of the rules, and used the parliamentary quagmire he knew would ensue in order to squelch debate over the precious party line; he was at least a “useful idiot”. If the GOP wanted to bring the Paulians into the tent, the platform discussion and delegate selection were the only two ways to do it- and they blew it.

Here we saw the true colors of the WA Republican Party caucus process: division. One demonstrably wrong decision by the chair was used to waste all remaining time on petty bickering rather than doing the platform business. The philosopher in me was severely disappointed. Rather than discuss the questions to arrive at agreeable answers, they would rather have a shouting match to force everyone present to adopt theirs. For all their talk of unity and bringing in young energy to the GOP, the establishment is unwilling to have a free and open debate about the issues- and it is for the issues that Ron Paul supporters have the most energy. The establishment is well-aware of this fact. Ron Paul delegates will not simply lay down their arms and walk into the Romney pen. You have to convince them you have the right solutions, not force them to tow the old party line. If the WA GOP oligarchy truly wanted to include the Ron Paul camp, they would do so by engaging it on the issues and finding common ground the whole party can stand on, not by censoring organized discourse over the platform during the one block of time explicitly reserved for this critical component of the party’s continued relevance. I am again reminded of 1984:

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.

Conclusions

The Washington State GOP seems to think that they can win an election by co-opting the youthful energy of the Ron Paul Revolution, gutting it of its principles, stifling the opinions of its members, and draping Mitt Romney in the remaining husk of empty enthusiasm, hoping this will dupe enough young voters to win the election. They seem to value a win for “our team” more than they value being right about the issues so dire to the country. But they are wrong about this. Young people today are too well-informed, well-connected, and frankly too cynical about the political process to fall for it. They will only respond to a genuine message like Dr. Paul’s, and they will stand by him until someone else is nominated at the Republican National Convention (and some even longer!). Shutting out minority opinions to preserve the status quo or force through a vanilla, corporate-sponsored, moderate candidate who embodies in his personal history much of the problem with America will not work. This country needs the Ron Paul message and the GOP will lose this election  if they don’t encourage, endorse, and propagate this message- which brings moderates, independents, and even erstwhile-liberals, to the GOP vote without diluting the core Republican message of limited government, sound money, and personal liberty.

Advertisements