The Ron Paul Movement

Jim Geraghty thinks Ron Paul is a non-movement, and his votes aren’t going to translate into support for other GOP candidates.

 I think that if and when Ron Paul ceases his presidential bid, his supporters will go in a thousand different directions, including many saying “to hell with politics.” They’re not inclined towards compromise, and they’re not going to be harnessed by half-a-loaf or even eighty-percent-of-the-loaf candidates. In other words, Ron Paul’s support is non-transferrable.

Ron Paul has the most traction I’ve seen a libertarian minded candidate get, but I think the war has a lot to do with that.  I have given up on libertarians for the most part, even though I still lean pretty heavily in that direction.  My disdain of gun control grew out of a generally libertarian attitude, but I’ve given up on the other aspects of libertarianism, because I’d prefer to focus my efforts on just seeing a few bits of my libertarian ideals adopted by candidates who can win.  I think that’s the only real way to be successful in politics, because politicians represent the aspirations of the various interest groups they represent, and those interest groups won’t always agree with each other.  People complain about always having a “lesser of two evils” choice, but the political process almost guarantees it.

If Ron Paul’s candidacy represents a real and permanent movement within the GOP, I think it might be able to turn into something.  It surely would drive the party, and its candidates, to adopt some more libertarian ideas.  But I agree with Jim that’s not going to happen.  When Ron loses the nomination, his supporters will scatter, and so will all the political capital they have built.  Libertarians need to be interested in playing the dirty game of politics if they want to come out of the political wilderness, but among libertarians, I don’t see too many indications of that.

14 thoughts on “The Ron Paul Movement”

  1. Libertarians need to gather in one or two states and secede. Same with Democrats and Republicans.

  2. I have voted “lesser of 2 evils” and have watched my country slide into the abyss. The onus is not completely on the people with more libertarian ideals. The Republican party shares some of the onus. If they want the votes, then put a candidate forward who exhibits a decent percentage of the desired traits. Oh, and make sure that the candidate actually follows through on what he promised when he gets elected.

    The Democrats have it easy. They campaign offering socialism and payouts to the various constituencies, and they follow through. The Republicans campaign on support for gun rights and then instead of working to reduce the infringements, they work to slow down the number of added infringements. The Republicans also campaign on smaller government and lower taxes. Oddly enough, I haven’t seen much of either even with a Republican President and a Republican controlled Congress.

    Look, if you want my political capital then give me an actual CHOICE. Hillary vs Giuliani is the same as a choice between being buggered with a lubed up telephone pole or buggered with an unlubed telephone pole.

    Ron Paul is the first potential Republican candidate that I have seen in the past 20 years who I could vote for and NOT have to scub myself vigorously afterward.

  3. The Republican party shares some of the onus. If they want the votes, then put a candidate forward who exhibits a decent percentage of the desired traits.

    Why should they? Libertarians have never been able to deliver reliable votes. That’s exactly why if Ron Paul’s loses the nomination, and his supporters bolt out of the party, and don’t participate anymore, this whole thing will just be a flash in the pan. If you want libertarian candidates, libertarians have to work hard to get the party to front them. They don’t, so the party doesn’t.

  4. The reasonwe who are unpure idealogically vote for the lesser of the 2 evils is that the office of President is *important*. Especially with this one, I don’t believe that the Republic can necessarily survive a Hillary presidency; while it has a better chance of surviving (say) a Guiliani presidency.

    This isn’t Class President, folks – the person who wins matters.

  5. I’ve seen the anti-NRA crowd going after that, but the answer is pretty simple: Ron Paul was not present at the Celebration of American Values event.

  6. Just because he wasn’t present at a meeting doesn’t justify not listing him as a candidate. The NRA would be hard pressed to find another candidate who actually believes his job is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

  7. Agreed. But that web page was for Celebration of American Values, which Dr. Paul did not attend. Why would they put him on the list of candidates that were present at that event when he didn’t show up?

  8. “Libertarians would rather be pure than electable.”

    This is a true statement, but I am not persuaded that much of the support for Ron Paul is even close to libertarian. Among the Ron Paul supporters that I have talked to in the last few months, or whose rantings I have seen on the Internet or my local newspaper include:

    1. Someone who left the Democratic Party to support Ron Paul because the Democrats weren’t pro-gay enough. (I have some very bad news for her.)

    2. Someone locally who insists that Federal Reserve Notes are not lawful money, and therefore he is not required to pay property taxes, and anyone that buys land with FRNs is engaged in fraud.

    3. Someone who insists that 9/11 Truthers are more acceptable than people who are pro-choice on abortion. (And I’m part of that majority that thinks Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, and that making abortion difficult, although perhaps not impossible, would be a good thing.)

    4. And people wearing John Birch Society T-shirts!

    Ron Paul might well be a libertarian. But a lot of the crowd that I run into backing him seem like much of the hangers on that I would often run into when I was a Libertarian Party activist in the 1980s–people that had no clear ideology at all–but liked to be part of movements that couldn’t win, but would make them feel important and special.

    A friend who lives in the Bay Area tells me that Ron Paul bumper stickers are all over San Francisco–a place that is about as antilibertarian as any American city can be.

  9. Mr. Cramer,
    I would say you are wrong. The many supporters of Ron Paul that I run into are libertarian or libertarian leaning Republicans. You will have a big surprise after the New Hampshire primaries.

  10. You guys are really going to be let down. I don’t lend much credence to polling, but it usually can at least get you ballpark figured. Polling in New Hampshire has Romney in the lead with 34%, followed by a three way race between Giuliani, McCain and Huckabee at 15, 15, and 14 percent. Paul is polling at 8%. Now, I might buy that Romney could get upset by any of the other three, it’s possible. I’m not buying Paul is going to surge suddenly above Romney.

    There’s going to be a lot of disappointed Ron Paul supporters, I’m sorry to say. I have a soft spot for the guy, I’m not unrealistic about his chances.

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