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GOP plays some Calvinball

September 2, 2012
The Herald-Star

To the editor:

By the time this letter is published, the Republican National Convention will have passed. According to reports at the time of this letter's composition, Ron Paul will not be delivering an address. This may seem like nothing unusual to many; however it is worth noting that by the rules of the Republican Party as they existed all through the campaign season, Paul had earned the right to be heard. In fact, he had earned enough delegates and had the potential to sway other delegates so that he could have potentially wrested the nomination away from Mitt Romney. At least, that's how things might have played out if the Republican Party wasn't intent on transforming the democratic process into a game of Calvinball.

Calvinball, as some of you may recall, was a running gag in the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbs by Bill Waterson. As one such strip famously noted, "The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can't play it the same way twice." This certainly seems the rule for the RNC and especially for Mitt Romney, who previously demanded the tax returns of his political rivals but now insists that it's unsportsmanlike for his opponents to make the same demand of him.

Meanwhile, surrogates for the RNC are busy tweaking the rules for voters in other states, such as Pennsylvania, Florida and even here in Ohio. Many have noticed that the justifications for these rule changes seem to have little or nothing to do with the effects of the rules themselves. One such person, strangely enough, is Republican state Sen. George Campsen III of South Carolina, who quite plainly answered, "Correct," when it was noted that none of the examples of fraudulent voting he gave in support of the need for a challenged voter ID law were actually addressed by the law.

You see, in Calvinball, the rules aren't there to make it fair. They are there to help the player making the rules to win. Paraphrasing Hobbes, "No sport is less organized than RNC politics." So whether we're talking about voter ID laws designed to disenfranchise likely Democrats, or polling hours which are shortened in Democratic neighborhoods and extended in neighboring Republican ones, or after-the-fact rules that strip a delegate's autonomy at the party's "nominating" convention, never accuse the Republicans of not playing by the rules. Because not-playing-by-the-rules is the rule when you have an R after your name, and as Calvin once noted, "This game lends itself to certain abuses."

I guess the big question then is how the heck did Refalka not win the gold in dressage?

J. David Core


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