FREEPORT — In response to criticism of the recent Republican State Convention, recall that when the state party held its 2010 convention in Portland, it was poorly conceived and implemented. The proceedings were chaotic with poor communication among the important participants.

A county committee took control of the agenda and replaced the state committee’s platform with one of its own. People in the hall were unable to follow events and officials were hard-pressed to maintain order. That event should have served as a wake-up call for those who would plan, manage and run the next convention.

Those lessons and recent developments in Maine politics obviously escaped the attention of those who designed and managed the 2012 convention in Augusta.

One significant development occurred in February when Ron Paul came to Freeport. He addressed a huge crowd that filled the space between L.L. Bean and Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern. He brought an energy and vision to the crowd that produced an excitement which infected caucuses around the state over the next few days.

Paul talked passionately about the values, freedoms and principles that have served us so well and for so long, creating a society of unlimited opportunity and equality for everyone.

In 2010, we had 12 Freeport Republicans attend the town caucus. We wound up with six or seven delegates actually attending the state convention. In 2012, we had 75 people at the Freeport Republican caucus. We elected our allotted 19 delegates, along with several alternates.

These numbers were extraordinary because Democrats have controlled the town and dominated elections for generations.

Ron Paul energized many people, but not just Ron Paul activists. The new Freeport Republican Town Committee is a dynamic group of all ages with diverse political views.

We should pay attention to what is happening in Maine. The tea party made the big difference in the elections here in 2010. Add the Ron Paul enthusiasm and something truly significant might be evolving.

The Constitution is the common ground bringing people together: the biggest tent imaginable.

Despite the clear direction signaled by the founding document, we are forced to watch our Sen. Susan Collins cast the only Republican vote for President Obama’s Buffett Rule, or ponder Sen. Olympia Snowe’s deciding vote to bring Obamacare out of committee to the floor and its subsequent passage.

How could these “Republicans” vote for the infamous Dodd-Frank travesty or for TARP and Obama’s stimulus program? How could they oppose the continuation of the Bush tax cuts?

Increasingly, Maine’s senators have been supporting Obama’s big government and debt-expanding spending plans. They’ve consciously undermined their own party’s efforts to control those disasters. Yet Snowe audaciously complains about a lack of “bipartisanship” in Washington.

So, though the town caucuses held across the state in February provided ample evidence with which party officials could have planned a smoothly run, successful event, they apparently weren’t paying attention. Or they chose to ignore the statewide swell of support for a back-to-basics approach favoring a limited federal government in keeping with the founders’ vision of enumerated powers.

Well over 2,000 people were left in a quarter-mile-long line outside the Augusta Civic Center on a cool, raw morning. Many were in that line for two hours. It took over three hours to document the delegates and alternates. Consequently, the convention started at least two hours late. Had it been raining on Saturday or Sunday, the event would have been a complete disaster.

The initial conduct of convention business was awkward and hard to follow. The packed hall created difficult acoustical conditions — some segments of the large crowd were noisy and inattentive — adding to the difficulty of maintaining order and attending to business.

However, after the closely contested election of Ron Morrell as convention secretary and Brent Tweed as chairman and the transfer of the convention’s conduct to these new officers, the proceedings took a noticeable turn for the better. Contrary to many reports, Tweed handled matters smoothly and competently even though the whole agenda was seriously behind schedule.

The controversy over the handling of the rest of the convention was really the result of the original flawed planning, the use of inadequate facilities and an agenda that was unrealistic in design, size and scope.

Nevertheless, now Maine Republicans are in a position to seize this new energy and use it productively, should they have the sense to do so.

Tom Crotty is chairman of the Freeport Republican Town Committee.

— Special to the Press Herald