This week’s 2012 Republican National Convention was meant to be a spectacle of all things GOP. It’s the one time of the year when the party’s best and brightest, young and old come together to celebrate what it means to be “Republican”. By all accounts, RNC 2012 was a success as they have now achieved the two most important tasks of a political party… nominate their candidate for President, and define themselves to the American people through the 2012 Republican Party Platform. Undoubtedly, Mitt Romney gave one of the best speeches of his political career, and the party did it’s duty to officially nominate he and Paul as their new leaders. Mission accomplished.
But there was another (if perhaps unwritten and unspoken) task for this year’s Republican Party as well… it’s to form the most important coalition in the history of the GOP. A coalition to marginalize the party’s moderates and Libertarians in favor of the Tea Party and Religious Right.
Last Sunday’s Ron Paul rally was ground zero for Republican marginalization. Drawing record crowds to the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome in Tampa, the Liberty movement’s “counterconvention” was aptly titled We Are The Future. The vast majority of the crowd was of college age and seemingly had enough enthusiasm to get anyone they wanted into the Whitehouse. Speakers sent grossly mixed messages of encouraging support to Republicans while simultaneously scorning the party for their (probably illegal) ouster of Liberty delegates. But amidst all of the excitement, an ugly contradiction was clear… Ron Paul and his supporters lost. Their dream to be the future was yet again a dream deferred. Just like 2008, the Liberty folks will again sit on the margins of the real GOP, and just be exploited for their youth and initiative.
As the GOP charges toward the Religious Right with most social issues, this is quickly isolating party Moderates. Sure, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez gave rousing speeches at the convention. This is not to be overlooked, but having a few representatives to show diversity within the party does not excuse the whole.
Take the Conservative LGBT group GOProud… so far the only LGBT Conservative group to fully endorse the Romney/Ryan ticket. Despite their continued attempts to play by the GOP’s constantly-changing rule book, GOProud was marginalized at this year’s RNC in favor of the Far-Right. Once again, the Republican Party committed to “traditional marriage” 100 percent by adopting it as the party platform. But according to GOProud founding member Christopher Barron, that doesn’t matter…
When asked if he could clarify GOProud’s position on the Republican Party platform, this was his response…
Then I asked if GOProud also supports DOMA like the rest of the GOP…
So apparently there’s a disconnect here. The party platform is supposed to be a statement of what that political party believes. It steers the ship towards legislative priorities of the party, and to select candidates for national, state and local offices. Despite Mr. Barron’s claims that “no one reads it”, the GOP 2012 platform will travel home with every delegate, and be given to every campaign chair across the country. The document certainly is important. After all, if the entirety of GOP did NOT support DOMA it wouldn’t be law today. Democrats are the ones fighting against it, NOT Republicans. GOProud can claim what they want, but their party is actively fighting against them. Just as Republicans are fighting against Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin and any other figure that threatens the delicate alliances holding the “big tent” party together. As more Conservatives and Moderates get left out in the cold, is the GOP really a “big tent” party at all? And how long are these growing Conservative forces willing to play a game at which they always lose? How long can sit on the party’s political outskirts before there’s a real revolt?
As RNC 2012 is now in the history books, Mitt Rommey and Reince Priebus can breathe a sigh of relief. But the tense forces within the GOP haven’t lessened… If anything they may be heightened. It’s going to take every bit of strategic intellect to make it through November 6th. And the margin of error couldn’t possibly be any thinner.