Last month, I left my perch on the top of the Continental Divide to attend the Colorado GOP convention in Denver. I went as one of those “unpledged” Ron Paul delegates, and as near as I could tell, most of the unpledged delegates were Ron Paul delegates.
With Rick Santorum’s exit from the race the week before, there was a lot of new strategizing going on. As most people know by now, many of the “anyone but Romney” Santorum delegates joined forces with the unpledged and Ron Paul delegates to upset the establishment, resulting in Mitt Romney getting only 13 of Colorado’s 33 delegates going to the National GOP convention in August.
The six Santorum and 14 unpledged delegates also managed to secure the leadership positions in the Colorado delegation. So while it might not look like it to the mainstream media, because they don’t see any delegates pledged to Ron Paul, and they can’t seem to figure out why the majority of Colorado’s delegates are unpledged, and six are pledged to a candidate no longer in the race, Ron Paul actually won Colorado’s delegate count.
Near the end of the Congressional District assembly, I ran into an old libertarian friend. After changing their party affiliation (in Colorado a voter can register as a Libertarian) Sandra and her husband had been Ron Paul delegates at the 2008 Colorado GOP convention, where she had been booed when she attempted to speak on behalf of Dr. Paul. What a difference this year, when there seemed to be enthusiastic cheering and applause at every mention of Ron Paul’s name.
The only disappointing moment came during the state assembly on Saturday, when a very brave member of the Log Cabin Republicans took to the stage to urge his fellow Republicans to recognize the equality of gay and lesbian Republicans, and accord them the same freedom and rights as all Americans. Unfortunately, one of the state’s largest and most conservative delegations, El Paso County (home of Colorado Springs, and the heart of Colorado’s evangelical Christian community) was seated directly in front of the stage. While they weren’t the only delegates expressing their disapproval, their booing was no doubt the loudest.
Given the reaction to the Log Cabin Republicans, it was a little stunning to later learn that the convention resolution expressing support for legislation that would make civil unions and domestic partnerships legal in Colorado did so well. While it didn’t pass, the vote was pretty close, with 1, 477 in favor, and 1,752 opposed. Compare that to the resolutions calling for the abolition of the federal Department of Education, and the EPA, which passed overwhelmingly: 3,214 to 138, and 3,017 to 303, respectively. Another resolution that had huge support (3,082 to 190) recommends that each bill brought before Congress be limited to one subject.
Two other big winners in the resolution voting had to warm the heart of every Ron Paul supporter. One calling for an annual audit of the Federal Reserve passed 2,955 to 327, while the other calls on the federal government “to retain physical gold in reserves equal to the value of money in circulation,” which passed 2,534 to 675.
One other resolution that also passed easily, 2,181 to 693, in spite of the consternation about “stealth” Ron Paul delegates, keeps the caucus and assembly process for electing delegates and nominating candidates in its current form.
Whether or not Ron Paul can defeat the Republican establishment remains to be seen, but it does seem clear that he is succeeding at challenging both the Democrat and Republican status quo, and he is changing the substance of political debate by making freedom once again the foundation of our national conversations.