When the core value of a political party is hate and bigotry, then it should be no surprise that its internal battles lack decency and civility. Take, for example, the Republican presidential caucus yesterday in St. Charles County, Missouri. St. Charles County has been one of the faster growing counties in the nation since the 1970s, and it grew primarily from "white flight" when the housing in North St. Louis County became more integrated. St. Charles County is separated from St. Louis County by the Missouri River. In the late 1980s, they voted not to be part of a regional light rail system, well, you know why: "those" people might ride the light rail out to their neighborhoods. It's a relatively affluent, middle to upper middle class place, and while like any place, there are some good folks there, there also are a lot of Republicans. During the 2008 election, McCain and Palin came there for rallies several times. Barack Obama drew 100,000 people under the Arch in downtown St. Louis City, while Palin or McCain drew a few thousand in St. Charles County.
Yesterday, the Republicans held one caucus for the entire County (in contrast, St. Louis County, with a million people, broke their caucuses up to the township levels.) So between 1000 and 2500 people (depending on who you ask) showed up to a high school to pour out their anti-Obama hate, but hatred eats you up.
So what happened? The Police had to come and closed the caucus, sending everyone home, and arresting a few:
In St. Charles County, which was to have been the biggest single prize of the day, the caucus was shut down before delegates were chosen after a boisterous crowd objected to how the meeting was being run, including an attempted ban on videotaping. Two supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul were arrested.St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"It was a joke. It was a complete joke," said David Nelson of St. Peters, who participated in the St. Charles County caucus.
The caucus in St. Charles County, which was held at Francis Howell North High School in St. Peters, was adjourned after police said they were going to 'shut us down," according to Matt Ehlen, the Republican activist who was named chairman of the meeting. Police said 2,500 people showed up, although organizers put the number at fewer than 1,000.
"For the safety and well-being of the attendees at the caucus, we had to adjourn the meeting," Ehlen said.
However, several individuals at the caucus said much of the consternation revolved around Ehlen himself. Ehlen became chairman after a voice vote, but the head of the county GOP organization failed to recognize any other candidate.
"All of sudden he's the chairman and the place goes nuts," said Tim Finch, a Paul supporter from Dardenne Prairie. "This is not how it's supposed to work."
Some of Paul's supporters also were irked by an announced ban on video recording, with organizers asking police to help enforce it.
When the objections reached a fever pitch, the meeting was shut down without any delegates being awarded.
One caucus participant accused Paul and Romney supporters of "colluding" to make it impossible to conduct the meeting. Adrian Boyd, an undecided Republican from St. Peters, said both groups were so loud, they drowned out the public address system.
Ron Paul 3/17/12 Supporter Arrested Outside St. Charles County, Mo. Caucus
This has to help Republican enthusiasm. :-) Nothing like a bunch of people feeling they were screwed by their own party!
Not to be all Obi Wan Kenobi and all, but this is what happens when you go to the dark side.