This Saturday was a mix of clarity and confusion, hope and despair, and fun and agony.
For the uninitiated, the Campaign for Liberty is the outcome of the meteoric Ron Paul presidential run this last election cycle. The idea is to harness the grassroots momentum of the Texas Republican into a sustainable political force. Paul’s supporters met in Minnesota during the Republican National Convention to devise this plan and agreed to hold conventions in each of the 50 states in early 2009 to decide what to do next. [Edit: Only Texas supporters are holding a convention.]
Each of the 31 Texas senatorial districts is holding meetings to elect delegates for the Texas CFL convention in late February. The Metroplex was first, and as a consequence there was confusion not only among the attendees but the organizers as well. This was my first real political toe-dipping, so I am significantly behind most others when it comes to the business of politics. And I am definitely humbled by the experience.
Everything is up for grabs right now. The CFL made it official that it has no intention of chartering state organizations, but rather liaison with quasi-independent state organizations to varying degrees. That range of cooperation itself is still being debated. An organization could, with approval, borrow the CFL name and likeness, or it could have little or no connection to the CFL. For me, that is the major question to be answered at the Texas convention in the next six weeks or so.
Approximately 140 people met at 9:30 Saturday morning in downtown Dallas with a real sense of optimism and disorientation. The original plan was for nearly 10 times that attend. But in the last few months, those projections have been cut in half many times over. There’s a cyclical drop in interest, especially after a loss. I think a contributing factor had to be the lack of communication on behalf of the organizers and the attendees.
From my perspective, it was well understood that the convention would break down into each of the senatorial districts. This had been stressed time and time again. But after the introductions and question-and-answer period, one organizer gave a short speech on why the yet-to-be-named Texas organization should not become an issues-oriented campaign. That is something I personally agree with, but any effort to be objective was totally disingenuous on behalf of the organizers. Another organizer attempted to make a motion to the non-deliberative body for additional donations. Soon a few in the audience were calling for motions during this period. Others didn’t know why they had to be split into senatorial districts at all.
The benefit of a central pre-convention for the Metroplex was to answer any confusion. But many if not all of the questions remained, and few more came about. If it had to be done all over again, it would have been simpler, cheaper, and faster just to organize 31 separate meetings before the state convention. Some of the most pertinent questions, like cost, date, location of the state convention are still yet to be finalized.
Back Home Again
I’m a newer participant, so this didn’t hit home for me as much. But many people commented just how much they missed being around other “Ron Paul people,” as they called it. A lot of resources have been committed to this effort, and it’s a positive note that it was not in vain.
There were three prominent points that were discussed in my senate district meeting. The first stressed why this liberty movement was so successful: its spontaneity and optimism. The second was that a successful strategy is going to have to inspire and and mobilize again those supports we have lost track of. Third, any strategy must express what an individual can do to make a difference. That could mean assigning a precinct to a person to distribute fliers or gather voter registration. We have to give people something to do and let them know they are not alone.
After the district meetings, many of which lasted until about 6 p.m., a lot of us Educators of Liberty folks met up to talk about what happened. We had missed our regular Saturday gathering so it was only proper.
So I’ve covered the clarity, confusion, hope, and despair I mentioned up top. The only real agony was sitting on my bottom all day, but it was worth it, and I got to eat some good BBQ for lunch.