My politics tilt to the left yet by a quirk, I became a Ron Paul delegate in Vermont. Here's how it happened.
Just about everyone in Vermont thinks of himself or herself as an independent voter, including a goodly number of people in Vermont’s less than robust political parties that run the gamut, as Dorothy Parker said, from A to B.
According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, Vermont has three major parties: Democratic, Progressive, and Republican. There are three official minor parties as well: Libertarian, Liberty Union, and Working Families. Then there are the official-but-unlisted independents at all levels, most notably Vermont junior U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
Then there are groups like Vermonters 4 Liberty, a small but dedicated cadre of libertarians, independent from the Libertarian Party. They also largely comprise the Vermont Campaign for Liberty, which is listed as one of seven Tea Party groups on the Tea Party Patriots website. The Tea Party has not yet become a significant force in Vermont politics, although ideas associated with the Tea Party are widespread, as they link back to Vermont’s brief existence 1777-1791 as the independent Vermont Republic. Indeed, Vermont is and has always been libertarian at core.
Vermonters 4 Liberty are dedicated to supporting Congressman Ron Paul within the Republican Party, which is how I got involved. I think of myself as a radical centrist who thinks the Constitution pretty much means what it says and it might be a good idea to follow it, (I am a nominal Democrat only when moving to the right.)
Vermont’s presidential primary was held in March this year. Vermont lets you vote in any party’s primary, but you have to request the ballot. There being no contest in the Democratic primary, I requested the Republican ballot with some malice aforethought, planning to vote for Ron Paul as the best available substitute for Congressman Dennis Kucinich – since no one else was out there calling for bringing the troops home from everywhere, cutting the budget of the former War Department, Repealing the Patriot Act, and legalizing drugs.
Little did I know that my primary vote for Ron Paul made me, officially in the eyes of the State of Vermont, a member of the Republican Party.
Next thing I know I’m being dared by a local libertarian to come to the Woodstock VT Republican town committee meeting and be chosen as a delegate to the state convention. Since the Republicans hadn’t organized the town, the official Republican Town Committee in its entirety was a small group of insurgent Ron Paul libertarians and myself. They knew I was a loose cannon politically, but still elected me as one of the five Woodstock delegates to the state convention.
At the Vermonters4Liberty fifth annual convention in early May, the 35 attendees picked their slate of 14 Ron Paul supporters to run to be delegates to the national Republican convention against another 23 party candidates and individuals. Given that Ron Paul delegates numbered about 80, out of a possible total of 650 delegates, prospects were dim. Prospects were further darkened by the group’s lack of any plan of action, parliamentary or otherwise. As the chair, who would eventually become a national delegate, said of the GOP, “they’re not the enemy.”
Establishment Republicans had no such reciprocity, expecting the Ron Paul people to be contrary and making plans to shut them down. Republican state party rules call for allowing each candidate for national delegate to address the convention. At the last minute, the Republican leadership changed the rules, confronting the convention with a fait accompli: no one would be allowed to speak. A Ron Paul delegate’s motion to allow speeches was voted down and Ron Paul backers were effectively silenced, since they had no plan B.
Given the extreme rhetoric of the Republican Party of late, the Vermont convention was surprisingly tame. The audience booed health care and booed shutting down Vermont’s nuclear power plant. It cheered “repealing Obamacare” and mentions of Supreme Court Justices Alito and Roberts (though they may regret the latter now.)
Tagg Romney, Mitt Romney’s son, told the gathering that “the Democratic goal is to be to divide us” and “character assassination.” He also said, “my father is the cheapest person alive” and “I think he’s a great man.”
The only glaring liar among the speakers was former Lt. Governor of Vermont, Brian Dubie, who said falsely that President Obama had added more to the national debt than ALL the prior presidents put together. Someone in the audience shouted, “Not true!” (That was me, but no one paid much attention.) The Ron Paul people got two of their candidates elected to go to the national convention, as well as a slew of alternates. My work was done.