By Brent Oleson
In 1988 I had the privilege of attending the Republican National Convention as a 17 year old starry-eyed Delegate. I caucused that year for Congressman Jack Kemp. The Kemp and Pat Robertson folks joined forces to send National Delegates from Iowa to the Convention in New Orleans, much to the dismay of party regulars and establishment types.
Twenty-four years later, here I am again headed to a Republican National Convention as a National Delegate. This time I caucused for Congressman Ron Paul and his campaign was successful in capturing a majority of Iowa’s National Delegates, much to the dismay of party regulars and establishment types.
I think the Party benefited from the influx of the newly energized evangelical social conservatives in 1988. I think the Party can similarly benefit from this new influx of energized libertarian-leaning Ron Paul supporters.
A “liberty” movement is afoot to establish a wing of the Republican Party that believes fiscally conservative means that the government needs to control and cut spending in ALL phases of appropriations, from the trillions of dollars spent on entitlement programs to the trillions of dollars spent on military adventurism overseas. This movement believes in individual liberty and keeping government out of our personal lives and how we live those lives. The movement is suspicious of government initiatives like the Patriot Act, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), TARP bailouts, and the federal government intervening in every facet of our lives. Finally, the movement is especially concerned with our nation’s monetary policy and the negative influence that the unelected Federal Reserve has upon our financial future.
Delegates to the National Convention who come from this movement are starting a brand new conversation within our Party. It’s a valuable conversation to have. Like Senator Barry Goldwater, Governor Ronald Reagan, and Pat Robertson before him, Congressman Ron Paul is ushering in new ideas and new people to the Party. I think that is a good thing and I think the Iowa Caucus process allowed that to happen.
So, this week at the Republican National Convention, Iowa will be represented in large part by activists from this new “liberty” movement. Some in our Party will think it’s embarrassing to the Iowa Caucus process. Others in our Party will think it’s a testament to how the Iowa Caucuses have given new ideas and candidates a national platform. Most of us headed to Tampa think the latter.
Regardless, it should be a great week as we formalize our Party’s platform and nominee. Here’s to hoping both the platform and our nominee recognize that this new movement should not be kept at arm’s length, but embraced. Conversely, I hope that these new activists also remember that you don’t get everything you want in one fell swoop. If those two things can happen, it will be a successful Convention with everyone leaving to support our Party to victory in November.
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