The Iron Fist in Tampa All dissent must be crushed

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As the Republican convention-goers gather in Tampa, Florida, the Republican party Establishment is eager to crush any public expressions of dissent – both inside and outside the convention hall.

Inside, efforts are underway to make it impossible for delegates pledged to antiwar libertarian Ron Paul to place their candidate in nomination – an effort the Huffington Post deems a u201Cdefenseu201D against Paulian u201Cshenanigans.u201D Party rules say officially-recognized candidates must have pluralities of delegates in at least five states: however, at a recent Republican National Committee meeting, Texas committeeman John Ryder moved to increase the number of states to ten – just to make sure Paul doesn't make the grade. Disdaining convention floor fights as u201Cthe residue of the 19th century,u201D Ryder averred it is time to u201Cstreamlineu201D the process by which the GOP nominates its standard-bearer. Ryder claimed that he wanted to eliminate “distractions” at the Republican convention:

u201CUnless you’ve got a real contest, where you have two candidates or three candidates who actually have a mathematical chance of winning, then why do we want to go through the exercise?u201D

I have a better idea: since polls are showing Mitt Romney being soundly beaten by our incumbent President, why don't' we just dispense with these pesky elections – which are, after all, just part of the residue from the 18th century – and declare Barack Obama the winner? That way, we can save time, energy, and taxpayers' money – because, after all, the taxpayers are footing the bill for Mitt's coronation, just as they are for the Democrats. Think of it as a Republican budget-cutting plan – the Ryder plan.

To the Republican party Establishment – and much of the rank-and-file activists – political debate is a u201Cdistractionu201D from what really matters in politics, which is seizing power. As for the rules governing the political process – they can be changed at a moment's notice, and bent any which way, in order to facilitate this seizure. Ron Paul's supporters in the GOP learned that the hard way, as the Romneyites used their control of the party bureaucracy at the state and national levels to retroactively change the rules in order to unseat duly elected Paul delegates. In Maine, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, and elsewhere, the party bosses have disenfranchised Paul voters – closing down party caucuses, rejecting as delegates anyone under 50, and calling the cops when all else failed. And while Ryder's rule change failed – thanks to RNC'er Morton Blackwell – the Romney people did sneak in an amendment that would require delegates to state in writing who they intend to vote for on the convention floor at least one hour before the vote.

This is something not even the Communist Party of the Soviet Union required, and is unheard of even in Red China. The reason for the new rule is obvious: to alert the Romneyites to impending displays of public dissent. This will give them time to isolate the dissenters, strip them of their delegate credentials, and unceremoniously haul them out of the convention, preferably in handcuffs, while the cameras roll.

On the outside, it looks even more grim: aside from the fact that a major hurricane is reportedly headed straight for Tampa – in which case the whole thing is apt to be cancelled – preparations are underway for mass arrests: they're emptying out the local jail to make room for all the protesters, who have been duly warned, in a letter posted by the local top cop on the county web site:

u201CTo the agitators and anarchists who want only to bring a dark cloud to this event, let me be clear: criminal activity and civil disturbances will not be tolerated and enforcement actions will be swift.u201D

What political convention would be complete without an Anarchist Scare? The feds are warning us about u201Canarchist extremistsu201D plotting to use u201Cacid-filled eggsu201D and other infernal devices to disrupt the smooth flow of the expected in Tampa. And Fox News u201Creportsu201D:

u201COn Tuesday, Tampa police confiscated bricks and pipes found on a rooftop several blocks away from the site of the Republican convention. Graffiti associated with the anarchist movement was also found. Castor called the discovery “disconcerting but … not surprising.u201D

Bricks, old pipes, and graffiti – on an urban rooftop? Why, it's unheard of! Surely this is evidence of a criminal conspiracy of unprecedented proportions. I'm surprised the Governor hasn't called out the National Guard. Although I'm not at all sure how those u201Cacid-filled eggsu201D are supposed to work: wouldn't the acid eat away the egg before it's thrown? Perhaps I'd better look up the recipe in my autographed copy of The Anarchists' Cookbook.

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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