What good are Utah’s party conventions if Ron Paul wins Iowa?

There’s an interesting piece in Slate today (click) that speculates what the mainstream media, as well as the mainstream GOP, will do if Ron Paul wins Iowa’s caucuses.

The concensus seems to be that Paul supporters will say the win means something, while everyone else will say it doesn’t.

This has already happened. When Michelle Bachmann (who? Yeah) won the Iowa straw poll last year, it was heralded as a huge meaningful win, while Ron Paul coming in second was ignored in favor of whoever came in third.

What the media ignored then was that the Iowa straw poll was essentially composed of purchased votes. The straw poll is a fund raiser, and voters have to pay to get in. The candidates pay the entrance fee of all their fans, not to mention providing food and other goodies to attract them, so the win goes to whoever can bribe the most voters, not to put the point to suscinctly.

I found it more telling that Bachmann paid for more supporters than she ended up with votes.

But Ron Paul, at No. 2,  got no respect, as Jon Stewart on the Daily Show made clear.

What’s this got to do with the Utah party conventions? Everything.

Iowa Caucuses are not representative democracy — they’re popularity contests among party faithful, which puts them on a par with Utah’s party conventions, although perhaps still slightly above.

The Utah GOP convention, these last few years, has been taken over by the party fanatics, especially the Tea Party. This is prefectly legal, but shows again the problems that can arise when ”government is decided by those who show up,” as Rep. Rob Bishop told a Tea Party crowd one time. When the ultimate decision in November — the final candidate — is pretty much decided by who shows up in January, you get a process skewed to the desires of the fanatics, not the general electorate which is busy earning a living.

When only the fanatics show up, what does it mean? Well, it means Sen. Bob Bennett, who would easily have won reelection in the last election, getsbooted in the party convention. It means Sen. Orrin Hatch, who really ought to have more dignity, is busily prostituting himself to the whims of the Tea Party whackos and ultra-conservative bloggers because he knows he has to hit that lowest level of politics to survive the convention.

Party conventions might mean more if people with a wider range of political beliefs went to them. The trick is how to do that.

It might be better to just take away the convention’s power to decide the next election by booting an incumbent, perhaps by forcing a primary if the convention selects a challenger. That would force the conventions to engage in more reasoned discussion, perhaps choose their alternate more carefully, making conventions less of a opportunity for the big mouths of the fanatics to take the place over with shouting.

As to what it really means if Paul wins Iowa: Nothing.

As the story makes clear, Paul’s forces are busily doing their best to pack the caucuses.When a political function  turns into something you have to win by manipulation, it becomes merely another piece of purchased propaganda, grist for the campaign later, and no longer has value.

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11 Responses to What good are Utah’s party conventions if Ron Paul wins Iowa?

  1. Owain says:

    “When only the fanatics show up, what does it mean?”

    It means yet another installment of Charles Trentlemann expressing his anguish over the fact that the voters, damn them, have spoken.

    Charles, it’s been over a year now since Bob Bennett was summarily dismissed from office for failing to represent his constituents. If the process was so flawed, so hijacked by the political fringe, by the fanatics, it should have been easy for the legislature, urged by the vast majority of outraged voters of the state, to amend voting laws in Utah to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Particularly with a Presidential election coming up, surely something would have been done to prevent such a miscarriage from happening again.

    But nothing happened. There was no ground swell of outrage, no electoral reform, no change whatsoever of which I am aware. Why should that be, if the process was so obviously skewed?

    Perhaps it’s because for the vast majority of Utah voters, the system works just fine, and it is people like you who represent the fringe in Utah politics. Perpetually in the minority, you chafe at how the democratic process functions in Utah, not because it is flawed, but because you do not get the outcome you desire.

    The reason you do not get the results you desire is not because of a flaw in the Utah electoral process. You do not get your desired outcome because a vast majority of Utah voters want nothing to do with what you want, electorally.

    With respect to Ron Paul, I agree somewhat. If he wins Iowa, that doesn’t mean a great deal. It’s still a long way until the nominating convention. We’ll see how things pan out the closer we get. Stranger things have happened, though.

    I mean, could the Democrats have picked a more unqualified candidate for President in 2008 than Obama? Given the field 4 years ago, I think that’s hardly likely, with the possible exception of John Edwards (given what we know now, wouldn’t that have been a bucket of worms).

  2. Dixie says:

    I find it odd that so many people this week are calling Ron Paul supporters fanatics when he has an increasingly large share of the polling pie, ostensibly filled with people who once supported other candidates.

    Were they not fanatics until they polled for Ron Paul?

    Also, I don’t understand this knee jerk and somewhat obsessive need to reflexively discount Paul. The guy is for peace, property and a lawful government. He’s a wartime veteran, a baby doctor with 4,000 births to his name, considered one of the most principled members of Congress (by both sides of the aisle) and he’s spent a lot of his time in the private sphere helping the poor for free.

    If America can’t get behind a guy like that, what’s the point? Seriously.

    The way he’s being attacked in the media, including this blog, one might think he was the second coming of Charles Manson, or a member of Al Queda.

    Where is the backlash against the people discounting the views of voters in Iowa? Who will defend the principle that their opinion, no matter how different than yours, still counts in a free country that respects diversity and the first amendment?

    • lettruthprevail says:

      @Dixie: Right on!

      I’m not fond of the word fanatic either. It suggest mindlessness. I prefer to be called a passionate supporter as I am well aware of what is going on and feel very strongly about avoiding the cliff that the rest of the herd is determined to run off.

    • Owain says:

      There are many objectionable facets to Ron Paul. One which I find most objectionable is his opposition to civil rights.

      According to Ron Paul, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties. The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society.”

      I do not think that businesses, property owners, nor individuals should have the right to discriminate against people, which is why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.

      Ron Paul disagrees, which is just one reason why I could never support Ron Paul as a candidate for President.

      • James says:

        The reason he is against the civil rights act of 1964 is not because he is against civil rights. It is because he abhors the federal government telling the states what to do.

        There are many disabled people who despise the federal laws regulating the protection of the disabled because now they are being treated with respect because the law commands them to be. And they really don’t appreciate that. They would prefer to support businesses that treat them fairly because it is the right thing to do. And abandon businesses that do not.

        Same thing with the civil rights act.

        • Owain says:

          If you get rid of the Civil Rights Act, how do you not go back to ‘whites only’ drinking fountains? ‘Whites only’ lunch room counters? ‘Separate but equal’ schools. Discriminatory housing? Discriminatory hiring? ‘Jim Crow’ voting laws?

          These are things for which the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides protection. If Ron Paul is against the act, how can you say he is for civil rights? How else are civil rights to be guaranteed?

          Sorry. I think this disqualifies Ron Paul for the office of President of the United States.

        • Ammon says:

          Well, Ezra Taft Benson told me that the civil rights movement was all just a communist plot. After all, if they weren’t all just fence sitters in the pre-existence, there would have been no need to punish them. Right?

          Utah, okay with the negro since 1978.

      • Doug64 says:

        To the extent that the 1964 Civil Rights Act grants the federal government the right to oppose discrimination by businesses not involved in interstate commerce, Ron Paul is right – the 14th Amendment only grants the federal government the right to act against state governments, not private businesses. That means that any justification for federal anti-discrimination laws has to be found in the rest of the Constitution, and except for the interstate commerce clause and how Congress chooses to spend the nation’s money, it isn’t there. In the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court upholding the 1964 law, it recognized this by focusing in part in the level of interstate business a business was engaged in.

        Note, however, that the 14th Amendment *does* prohibit *state laws* mandating “separate but equal” – private businesses may choose to discriminate, but states cannot legally mandate that discrimination. So, no laws requiring white only/black only facilities and treatment.

      • erin says:

        “The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society.”

        If there is a business that discriminates- publish it far and wide and no one will go there. Let the people pressure the culture to be better. Giving the gov’t more and more power- even in the name of “doing good things”- only gives them the eventual power to do bad things.

  3. The Other Salty Pirate says:

    Argh!! Face it, Charles. Yar land loving ways do not understand the beauty of the seas of thought. Keep yar self maroon in your lonely island of the 7 Hates and stop be writing messages in tiny wine bottles that nobody cares about. Yar be only polluting the sea.

    Yar mostest wise sea lover,
    The Other Salty Pirate

    P.S. It’s yar week to be in the barrel, lad.

  4. Reggie says:

    Read the Slate article.
    The conclusion is that it’ll be the “saintly Romney vs the racist, Israel-hating, Medicare/caid-killing Ron Paul” that’ll be left to behold in the electorate’s eyes.
    I HOPE the establishment thinks that. Oh god, do I hope it.
    Please give us a Paul vs Romney finale, lord, please, oh please.
    Because then, Ron Paul gets to talk even MORE. About Liberty. And Liberty, is like a snowball.
    It gets bigger, faster, the MORE snow is in its rolling reach.
    I would love nothing BETTER than to see how that establishment plan to mischaracterize Paul in lieu of Romney will pan out.
    It’ll be one for the ages, I think.

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