Tag Archives: 2012 Republican National Convention

Totalitarianism in the US: an “accident” waiting to happen

Clear-eyed “Numerian” over at The Money Party reminds us we’re on a dangerous historical path:

Show trials and party purges

The Republican Party has not yet been able to use the judiciary as a means of enforcing party dictates (other than through the traditional means of stacking the courts with Republican judges). Even though we haven’t had 1930s style show trials in the US, there has been an ominous development this week that has set the Republicans on the path of purges that weed out undesirables in the party. The usual process of the quadrennial political conventions is for the first ballot to be an open ballot, so that all the candidates who have run in the primaries and who won delegates to the convention will allow their name to be placed in nomination and votes counted from their supporters. Even in the case where a candidate such as Mitt Romney has locked up the nomination, this ritual is observed, if only to preserve party unity in the election (the losing nominees after the first ballot “free up” their delegates and urge them then to vote for the winner of the primaries).

This ritual was not observed this week at the Republican National Convention. Ron Paul received a substantial number of votes in the primaries and had a large number of delegates at the convention. The Romney team pushed some of these delegates off the floor and out of the convention quite unceremoniously, using trumped up reasons (with the seating of the state of Maine’s delegates, for example). Then, when it came time for the first ballot, even though the states went ahead and announced the votes for Ron Paul, the chair would ignore those and announce only the votes for Mitt Romney. Worse was to come. The party introduced rules that will make it much harder in future primaries for someone like Ron Paul to get much if any votes. These were put up for voice vote, and even though the nays obviously shouted louder than the yeas, the chair – in this case House Speaker John Boehner, called the vote for the yeas. In fact, people could see the teleprompter Boehner was using, where it clearly instructed him to say the yeas had won the vote no matter what he heard.

This is a classic party purge, and a number of Ron Paul delegates walked out of the convention in disgust (many of them are using the internet to announce they have left the party altogether). For the first time, and despite the fact Romney is in a very tight race for the presidency, party purity is more important than party unity. Once purges begin they are very difficult to end, and since Romney is something of an empty vessel on matters of principle (his policy program is nothing but the trite Republican bromides of tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and endless defense spending), it is up to the Tea Party faction to fight it out with the Evangelical Christian faction and the Oligarchic funders of the party to see which side will remain standing.

I put “accident” in quotes for Mr. Numerian because totalitarian fascist pricks tend to look a lot like the mafia. Family above all, turf and homeland. These concepts are evident even among democrats who recently claimed “the government is all we belong to“. Presumably, you eventually can’t leave.

“Nice country/business you got there, it would soy-ten-lee be a shame if anything happened to it. Especially because of those barbaric ________________ [insert current xenophobia-based bogeyman].”

But as Ron Paul kept reminding us: freedom is popular. And thankfully we’re seeing an overwhelming, and undeniable, surge of organized libertarian movers and shakers because of it.

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GOP adds ‘Protecting Internet Freedom’ to platform

Last week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Florida, the GOP proudly unveiled a new addition to their platform:

Protecting Internet Freedom

The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power. The Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem. We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector.

Most interestingly, the Libertarian Party has handily beat Republicans to the punch by more than two decades, having tackled the internet freedom message way back in 1991:

Stop Internet Censorship

Politicians are trying to take away your right to read what you want, and to say what you want.

The Internet is making it possible for new voices to be heard — the voices of people who simply could not afford to publish their ideas or display their artistic talents to a wide audience using older technologies. Established interests of both the left and the right fear new voices, and are trying to control what appears on the Internet through new laws and regulations.

America’s Founders couldn’t foresee the Internet, but they knew that government control of information was not only a violation of personal liberty — it was a threat to their hopes for a nation based on the principles of self-government. So they gave us the First Amendment.

The Libertarian Party carries on today in the tradition of the Founders:

  • The Libertarian Party didn’t wait for the Internet to become popular to stand up for principle: The LP has always supported freedom of speech and the press, and has had language specifically supporting freedom of online communication in its Platform since 1991.
  • The Libertarian Party joined with thousands of concerned Internet users in “turning its web pages black” in protest of President Clinton’s signing the unconstitutional “Communications Decency Act” in 1995.
  • The Libertarian Party continues to speak out today against the attempts by Democrats and Republicans to find loop-holes in the First Amendment, so they can turn the Internet into a government-controlled medium.

Think about it: while the GOP has just given birth to a messy and still-diapered internet freedom policy, the LP’s plank is all grown up, growing a beard, and is old enough to drink.

Even for a totally empty rhetorical gesture, I suppose it’s better late than never.

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