On Sunday, Ron Paul addressed a group of supporters near the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Ever vigilant, Paul told the gathered crowd that they will “become the tent eventually” and despite what Washington may think, the Ron Paul “revolution” is still going to happen. Now it is up to Paul supporters to listen to what their leader is saying.
I support Ron Paul. I voted for him in the primary. I was hoping that he would be the Republican nominee for president. However, my vote and my hopes were not enough to get him the support of the wider Republican base. Boo hoo. Too bad, so sad. I believe Ron Paul is right in his claim that true conservatism will eventually become the predominant characteristic of the Republican Party and will take over “the tent.” But that time is not yet. We didn’t get where we are overnight, and we’re not going to get away from where we are overnight. Patience and determination will be required. Paul supporters have already shown that they are determined, now they must show that they can be patient as well.
Think about how much progress the Tea Party movement has made in four short years. It is (for the most part) decentralized, privately funded, and full of zeal for true conservatism. The Tea Party is an example of what “we the people” are capable of when we have a common goal. Ron Paul alluded to this when he told the audience: “With the energy that we have, it seems to me they would be begging and pleading for us to come into the party.” Indeed. The Tea Party and Paul’s campaign have forced the GOP to at least listen to the concerns of a growing number of Americans who want limited government, more freedom, free-markets, and a return to Constitutional principles. Paul has helped to solidify and galvanize a group who primarily want to be left alone to conduct business and live their lives in peace. That is an amazing accomplishment, in and of itself.
Although Tea Partiers and Paulbots have made much progress and generated large amounts of publicity for the cause, they must not fall prey to the “my way or the highway” mentality. Paul lost; now get over it and get on with it. Taking a movement from the grassroots to a national powerhouse is hard and tedious work; it takes time and lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Denying that Mitt Romney earned the nomination is tantamount to mutiny. It is using the system until the system yields an undesirable result. If Paul supporters were always intending to vote for Paul—no matter the results of the primary—then why bother wasting time and money on the primary process? The answer, obviously, is to get the word out. The word has been sent, loud and clear. In this regard, Paul’s failed bid for the nomination was still a great success. Romney may not be what we were looking for, but he is what we got nonetheless.
Tea Partiers and Paul supporters must view the Republican voting base as its mission field, not simply getting the “right guy” into office. In order to make a real difference, there must be hundreds of Ron Pauls in Congress, not just one sitting in the Oval Office. This is the real task to be undertaken. Refusing to vote for Romney because he’s “just like Obama” is a denial of the very system we want to change. Paul seems to understand this, now his vocal and loyal supporters must show that they understand it as well. Four years is a good start, but it is only the beginning. There is much yet to be done.