The hijacking of the Nevada Republican convention by Ron Paul supporters was not exactly a stealth attack. Let’s begin with the premise that people who unselfconsciously declare a revolution are very likely committed to make something happen.
Beyond that, all the indications were there. Although the GOP numbers were dwarfed by the Democratic Turn-Nevada-Blue campaign, and remained in its shadow for the purpose of news coverage, Republican pre-caucus registration surged. The overwhelmingly unifying characteristic about the new registrants was their support for Ron Paul.
How about the Washoe County convention? Fully a third of those present were Paul supporters, and they were not shiny, happy Republican attendees, but rather the in-your-face variety, pushing a string of unsuccessful and time-consuming fundamentalist libertarian amendments to the party platform. At last, the proposals became so frivolous that a Paul campaign official and one of his local stalwarts took the most vocal of their activists aside, and told him to give it a rest.
The most significant (and under-analyzed) sign that Nevada’s “Ron Paul Revolution” wouldn’t peter out — Paul’s second-place caucus finish behind Mitt Romney, and ahead of now-presumptive nominee John McCain, who still has only lukewarm support from the party’s base.
And what can be said about the established institution that knows a revolution is brewing, and fails to fend off the attack? In this case, the phrase that comes to mind is, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”
Now comes the once-luminous Republican Norma Desmond, batting her giant false eyelashes and twirling her beach umbrella, assuming, ridiculously, that she’s still as commanding as she was in her prime, as the silent screen legend. The Ron Paul revolutionaries are her Joe Gillis, dressed as her boyfriend in the elegant clothing she provides, taking refuge in her mansion. For his own selfish purposes, Joe indulges the delusions of the no-longer alluring diva, who’s oblivious to a new world turning outside the walls of her compound.
How did the Nevada Republican party become Norma Desmond? First, by living in a state of apparent denial. Second, by cutting off communication with the outside world. Or perhaps they never were inclined to communicate, and now that the GOP’s best days seem to be in the rear view mirror, nobody in the party knows how to do it.
Many Republican politicians, as the Reasonable Reporter has previously noted, are loath to interact with the media, and conduct such interactions grudgingly when they deign to engage in them. The party has been slow to adopt advanced communication technology. It also seems blissfully unaware that in the street, there is the kind of disdain for its core philosophies that can be addressed only with vigorous communication.
Even in a year when they acknowledge they’re fighting for their lives, the Silver State’s Republicans can’t muster a communication strategy. Their missives are occasional, and mostly inconsequential to the day’s events. They tend not to try to drive the news, which is, by the way, an endeavor never abandoned for long by the Silver State’s Democrats, who are quite skilled at it.
Who can expect grassroots enthusiasm, when there’s such tepid public outreach from the organization? Recall that when Norma Desmond finally appeared in person at MGM to confront studio executives, the guards at the front gate of the empire her stardom helped to build didn’t know who she was.
The Ron Paul revolutionaries know they’re on a suicide mission, but they don’t care. They are there, no matter what they say, to disrupt the nomination process. In the end, they, like Joe Gillis, will float face down in the pool at Norma Desmond’s mansion, riddled with bullets from her gun. Norma, having snuffed the discordant element in her life, will descend the grand staircase, preening for the news cameras, convinced that they’re capturing her close-up for the movies, rather than her final exit from Sunset Blvd.