A Fork in the RevolutionSubmitted by Kurt Wallace on Mon, 06/11/2012 - 10:19
Rand Paul's endorsement of Mitt Romney tests his father's movement.
It's Friday and the King Dude is on the air. Normally, Mike Church uses his early morning Sirius program as a platform to bash the faux conservatives he calls "Decepticons." But this time he is criticizing Rand Paul, the Tea Party senator from Kentucky. Church pushes back against a friendly listener who disagrees.
"If the goal is the U.S. Constitution as it was enforced, kind of, during the Jefferson Administration or during the Pierce Administration or during the Tyler or Cleveland Administrations, pray tell, sir, how do we get there if we cannot keep people like Rand on the straight and narrow?" Church asks.
The night before, Rand Paul went on television and endorsed Mitt Romney for president. "My first choice had always been my father," Ron Paul's son told Sean Hannity. "I campaigned for him when I was 11 years old. He's still my first pick. But now that the nominating process is over, tonight I'm happy to announce that I'm going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney."
"My dad has a legion of young followers who are on the Internet," the younger Paul said. And many of those young followers were hopping mad. "Rand is dead to me," one wrote at the popular website Daily Paul, a clearinghouse of information about the libertarian Republican's campaign. "He never should have done this." The opening comment on a thread discussing the Romney endorsement said, "Sorry Rand, but you CANNOT make a deal with the devil." A poster on Alex Jones' website called the senator a "wolf in sheep’s clothing."
The Atlantic's John Hudson dubbed it the libertarian equivalent of the folk purists' reaction to Bob Dylan going electric. Some of these modern-day Pete Seegers directed their ire toward Ron Paul himself: "We will never vote for Romney or your flimsy son."
These are the growing pains of a young movement, but the dissension is about more than an endorsement. After the high-water mark of Iowa and New Hampshire, Ron Paul's campaign strategy focused on integrating his supporters in the Republican Party. That meant storming state conventions, capturing delegates, and winning party leadership positions.