Time to bring back the smoke-filled room

Did everybody have fun at those Saturday morning Republican caucuses?

I almost didn't go myself, figuring the "Stick with the unprincipled RINO Bob Dole-George Bush-John McCain-Mitt Romney" lemmings already had their done deal.

The 16 members of my precinct who actually bothered to show up Feb. 4 were expected to squeeze their adult butts into those molded chair-and-desk thingees in which sixth-graders now sit in little squares. (Wouldn't want them to actually sit facing the teacher's desk. That would be so 1940s.)

And then we waited.

No one had brought us an instruction sheet or even the presidential ballots. Some party volunteer with a name tag showed up and told us that stuff would be forthcoming. His only other bit of information: "Your votes here are binding."

"How will they be binding?" I asked. "What's the punishment for a delegate who goes to the convention and votes differently from how we want?"

"All I can tell you is your votes are binding," the gentleman said.

"They're not binding," I replied. "When we did this four years ago, our delegates went to the state convention and tried to put together national convention delegate slates different from those they were handed, so Sue Lowden and company told them they were out of time, they hadn't paid for the room past 6 o'clock, everyone go home, we'll reconvene later. But they never reconvened, and we have no idea who chose our delegates to the national convention. Sue Lowden and Beelzebub, for all I know." (For the record, Sue Lowden was once a courageous state senator.)

"Well, if you think they're going to cheat us and not pay attention to our votes, maybe you shouldn't be here," the gentleman said.

Smartest thing I heard all day. I believe I've gone through my last such farce.

In fact, when you finally go to the polls on Nov. 6 and vote for Gary Johnson or Barack Romney or Willard Obama, even that vote won't be binding. They won't tell you, but what you're really choosing is a slate of electors who will convene as the Electoral College and choose our president.

In 1972, Richard Nixon won the popular vote in Virginia. Among the electors expected to ceremonially cast one of Virginia's electoral votes for Nixon was the late lawyer and television producer Roger MacBride.

But he didn't. MacBride decided California Libertarian Party nominee John Hospers would make a better president -- at least there was a chance Hospers would obey his oath to "protect and defend the Constitution" -- so MacBride cast his electoral vote for Hospers.

History remembers MacBride -- who for his courageous act was named the Libertarian Party's 1976 presidential nominee -- a "faithless elector." But as David Boaz wrote in an obituary in Liberty magazine, "faithless to Nixon and Agnew, anyway, but faithful to the constitutional principles Rose Wilder Lane had instilled in him."

Binding, schminding.

Our chair-gal asked if everyone's mind was made up, or if they wanted to hear speeches. A loud sentiment was voiced for "no speeches."

Since we had to sit around for more than an hour, though, there was some chatter. The two oldest gentlemen in the room allowed as how they couldn't vote for Ron Paul, because he'd called the prisoners held at Guantanamo "alleged" terrorists.

A young lady across the room -- almost certainly the only other Ron Paul voter -- volunteered that maybe he used that word because no one had determined their guilt -- not even a military tribunal.

The two older gentlemen allowed as how they didn't need any of that due-process malarkey. "Sometimes you just have to use your head."

They're not entirely wrong. If you're actually at war, with people shooting at you or trying to blow up your buildings, the correct response is not to apprehend your enemies, assign them public defenders and allow them to turn your courtrooms into bully pulpits.

Problem is, Congress hasn't declared war on anyone since 1945, and our vastly expensive, "nation-building" foreign wars are doing more harm than good.

I volunteered the opinion that -- while you don't have to be a veteran to be president -- I might invest a little more trust on an issue like this in a candidate who's actually served. Have any of the current five candidates ever served in the armed forces?

The general opinion in the room seemed to be that none of the four GOP candidates had served.

"Actually," I said, "Ron Paul was a flight surgeon, which means he was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. I think I'd trust him not to strip our defenses to the point where we'd be in any danger."

It was amiable chatter. No one's mind was changed. After sitting around for 90 minutes, the little ballot slips finally arrived and Precinct 2711 voted Mitt Romney 7, Newt Gingrich 6, Ron Paul 2, Rick Santorum 1.

Mitt Romney gave us socialized medicine in Massachusetts with RomneyCare.

Mitt Romney banned firearms, even for Utah permit-holders, at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics so as not to frighten the foreigners, despite the murders committed at the 1972 Munich Olympics precisely because of the Victim Disarmament rules in force there.

And Mitt Romney giddily signed a ban on semi-automatic rifles in Massachusetts in 2004, declaring "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. ... They are instruments of destruction for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."

Like redcoats? I believe Gen. Gage told the Minutemen pretty much the same thing in 1775.

Others have called for Nevada's caucus system to be replaced by a government-run, voting-machine primary. While this would more accurately reflect the way the two branches of the Republicrat Party have gone from private associations to mere subsidized adjuncts of the state, I disagree.

I think participation is still way too high, as it is.

I believe we'd be more likely to end up with a principled, smaller-government president if Nevada's Republican designee were chosen by Dean Heller, Sharron Angle, former state Sen. Ann O'Connell, Mina lobster farmer Bob Eddy and a randomly selected cattle rancher and brothel madam meeting in a smoke-filled room in Wells or Austin, with tie votes to be resolved through the use of pugil sticks.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "The Ballad of Carl Drega," and "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.