With the weather throwing the GOP a curveball and Ron Paul delegates giving Romney a fit, the Republican National Convention has been pitched by the media largely as a ceremonial event to give Mitt Romney the party’s proverbial throne. What is less talked about are the “other things” that go on at the national convention, like making changes to the party platform. This year, a fight over party control between the national central committee and the state parties has already begun.
A proposed rule-change from the committee would allow the National Committee to bind delegates in a proportional or winner-takes-all manner based on the popular vote in the state’s primary. The move by the National Committee is in reaction to the real or perceived threat that many ‘unbound’ delegates will refuse to nominate Mitt Romney at the convention.
State party members in opposition to the ex post facto rule change argue that the this constitutes a coup by the party establishment, and that it is “contrary to the principles of republican governance and hostile to the interests of the grassroots of the party.” In a statement released by the Republican Liberty Caucus:
For the first time in years you’re likely to see a real floor fight tomorrow over proposed changes to the party rules. The rules committee produced a proposal which takes away the autonomy of state parties and massively increases the power of the central committee and the states are fighting back with a minority report and a wave of protest which is sweeping through the party rank and file. This confrontation transcends ideological lines and is about whether the Republican Party will remain a party run by its members or merely become a tool of special interests.
The first state to split from the establishment plan and speak up against proposed changes was Texas but it has now been joined by a number of other state delegations including Iowa, Nevada, Nebraska, Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana and probably more by the time you receive this. Opposition is snowballing because Republicans don’t want to see their party traditions tossed aside by big government insiders.
If the irony in this inter-party fight isn’t implicit, it is at the very least indicative of the nature of the “Grand Ole’ Party” itself. A party that champions small government pushes for a consolidation of power as those who actually believe in it threaten the leadership in a fight over party control.