Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AUGUSTA — References to Austrian economics and resistance to a "one world government" will remain in the Maine Republican Party platform for the next two years.
On Sunday night, after many delegates had left the party's prolonged and tumultuous state convention at the Augusta Civic Center, supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul rejected a compromise platform that had been crafted over four months, and opted to maintain the tea party platform that was adopted in 2010.
"It's a message from those who are disenfranchised, those on the fringe, that the more established party members didn't listen to them," said Matt McDonald of Belfast, a Ron Paul delegate to this summer's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Paul's supporters took over the weekend's two-day state convention, electing their own chairman and getting a majority of Paul delegates elected to attend the national convention. Party leaders have said that Paul's supporters violated party rules and that their 20 delegates may not be seated in Tampa.
Two years ago, tea party supporters from Knox County surprised the convention by gaining enough votes to support their platform, which also calls for term limits for members of Congress, the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education and the rejection of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This year, the party tried to include Republicans of all stripes in writing the new platform, said Platform Committee Chairman John Frary.
"The Platform Committee contained all flavors of Republicans, from tapioca to Tabasco sauce," he said.
But Paul supporters who stayed until the end of the convention Sunday night rejected the new document that Frary hoped would eliminate references to things that have to be explained to the public.
"They voted for the 2010 platform, so now we once again have Austrian economics," Frary said.
McDonald said Paul supporters believe in the concepts of Austrian economics, which include a hands-off approach by government even in times of economic depression.
In an interview with Fox News last year, Paul said the Great Depression lasted 17 years because of too much government intervention in the economy. The congressman from Texas has consistently opposed recent bailouts of major corporations.
Two years ago, establishment Republicans mostly ignored the platform adopted by the tea party once the convention was over. Now that Paul supporters have more seats on the state committee, McDonald said, they will be able to push for support of their ideas.
"We have people in leadership positions who do support Austrian economics," he said. After electing their own convention secretary and chairman, and getting a majority of delegates, keeping the tea party platform was "the icing on the cake" for Paul's supporters, McDonald said.
The platform that was rejected included several paragraphs highlighting Republicans' legislative accomplishments and goals achieved by Gov. Paul LePage, including tax cuts and fewer regulations. It proclaimed allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and called for employees to have the right to decide whether to join or pay dues to a union.
"The basic principle was to not put anything in the platform that had to be explained," Frary said. "All I wanted to feature was consensus."
Both platforms can be found here.
State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org