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Ron Paul

The Iowa poll results took a while to sink in.  Mitt Romney is leading in Iowa, but Ron Paul is well within striking distance of an upset win.  The commentators are coming out of the woodwork to define Rep. Paul as someone on the fringes, but it may be too late with the Caucuses just a day away and everyone’s attention focused on the holidays.

Ron Paul may be the big wildcard in the election cycle, but not just because of this stunning poll result.  The more he and his supporters are marginalized and underestimated, the more powerful they become.  The game of expectations is clearly favoring a surprise on his part – and that could define the rest of this election season.

Support for Paul may not be centered firmly in the Republican Party, but rather more among independents.  His positions on the budget are about as hawkish as they come, as is his call for the dissolution of the Federal Reserve (a position similar to the opposition to the Bank of the United States that defined the Jacksonian Democratic Party 190 years ago).  Yet his overall isolationist call for the US to withdraw internationally is roundly derided by the party hierarchy as “1960s radical” or even worse.

Should the party be afraid of Paul?  The answer is a firm yes, but only because they have empowered him by ignoring and marginalizing his (very) loyal supporters.

The Republican nomination cycle is defined in the early stages by Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.  These three together will narrow the field and show who is viable going forward.  If Ron Paul gains a strong second or even wins in Iowa, he goes on to New Hampshire where Romney should score an overwhelming victory – but Paul is in second, 41-15 percent.  South Carolina will probably back the Christian evangelical candidate, currently Santorum, but the race for second place is much less clear.  Another strong showing for Paul there and he will survive to go on.

The reason this candidacy is important is that the Tea Party contingent, for lack of a better term, could rally around Paul and stay strong going through the process all the way to the convention.  If Romney can’t possibly lock it up, the Christian vote will probably do the same thing.  A deadlocked 3-way split would equal chaos in the Republican field.

Sound unlikely?  The problem with Ron Paul is that the hardening of his supporters makes his candidacy a crusade – something they will want to take to the convention if they possibly can.  He represents a natural fault line in the party that is growing as the establishment (like the Democratic establishment) seems increasingly out of touch with mainstream voters.  If the Christian vote takes the same path there may not be an y consensus candidate that unites the whole party.

Support for Paul has been hardened by the attempts to first ignore and now marginalize his positions.  Isolationism, for lack of a better term for it, is probably growing among voters as the Depression sinks in.  Why should we take care of the rest of the world when we have trouble taking care of our own?  A free and open discussion of our role would answer that question and place the USofA in an appropriate global context – but that isn’t happening.  Paul, and his positions, have been simply shot down as irresponsible without much explanation.  That may not sit well with people who don’t necessarily share Paul’s views but are at least intrigued by them.  What is the establishment afraid of?

Naturally, once we pass the early stages there will be plenty of time to engage in the debate that Paul will force.  But if they don’t take Paul and his loyal fans seriously, they risk empowering him even more going forward.  It is potentially a huge mistake that could cost them dearly.

We will all see.  But for now, what the nation and the Republican Party needs is an open discussion of Ron Paul and his libertarian brand of conservatism.  Is it popular enough that ignoring it will only give it room to grow?  What do you think?

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20 thoughts on “Ron Paul

  1. Hmmmm. Santorum is a genuine creep. But Ron Paul? I don’t think he’s consistent or rational in this thinking, but he’s right often enough. “Isolationism?” This is surely preferable to what the US has done in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Mark Thiessen says in the Washington Post that his opposition to the assassination of Bin Laden, etc, is “nutty.” Lets think for a minute. Bin Laden was a bad guy, but assassinating him was clearly a war crime. Opposing a foreign policy based on war crimes is “nutty?” I don’t think so.

    • Alan, this is exactly what I mean about their attempts to marginalize Ron Paul – they really do make him stronger. And I don’t think the Big Boyz know how much their fear comes through when they do it. It makes ordinary citizens who are looking for new ideas much more interested in the man that the crooks fear.
      Oh, and I totally agree on Santorum – I can’t believe he’s catching on at all, so I really don’t want to predict he’ll be in it for the long haul even as a factional minority player. But there you have it.

  2. I think you are right on here. I’m not a Ron Paul supporter but I think he has a lot to say and will get to say it no matter what the pundits want. Support for Ron Paul is a measure of how out of touch the establishment is and he makes a great protest vote if nothing else. I bet he catches on just to make the establishment squirm and it will be great!

    • Thanks – I hadn’t thought of him as a pure protest vote, but that could give him more pull. Why not? Perhaps he is a measure of general dissatisfaction.

  3. I don’t care about foreign policy. What I know is that Ron Paul is the only one who is speaking out on the budget, tax code, and other important fiscal policies. He is pretty far out there on the Fed but there is no way he would ever get support to abolish it so that is not a real worry. There is a lot in what Ron Paul says and I think he does deserve to be heard. The idea that silencing him makes him stronger is intriguing and it may be true. I hope that comes to pass so that they stop.

    • Interesting take. I wonder how many people do care about foreign policy – probably not many. I think the real key for Paul are the people who are dissatisfied and looking for something new. I also think you’re right on banning the Fed, so I rarely think of it as a possibility as well.
      What I usually say to Paul’s supporters is that I agree with them on about half and vehemently disagree on half, but the stuff we agree on is some powerful reform. If we worked together until we got to the point where we fought like cats and dogs I think there’d be a lot of really good stuff accomplished.

  4. They are afraid of Ron Paul for obvious reasons and that is reason enough for me to caucus for him when I get the chance. Can’t wait!

    • Hey, we have one supporter here! We should sit down and have a long chat sometime – we’d have a lot to fight about, but it’s the fun kind of fight I’m sure.

  5. The entire pool shocks me. I wouldn’t vote for any of them, nor do I believe I could make a super candidate out of their parts. But that was not your question. If the Party wants to push Paul out, they need to invite him to the party; I’m sure he’ll alienate the mainstream voter once he’s got more national exposure. Isn’t that why we have debates?

    • That would be logical, yes, but I think that perhaps some of the comentators here were very wise in pointing out that they are afraid of his message. They could be right.

  6. Erik: your mention of the present Fed Reserve Bank(s) controversies and those of the First and Second Banks of the United States is intriguing–the similarities are clearly there. All countries need central banking, regulation of ordinary banking, control over circulation of currency, capacity for counter-cyclical actions, and so on. These functions have to be carried out competently or a lot of pain results…The Tea Party right wingers, per usual, are yowling about a real problem, but proposing a mirror image of the real solution. We need deep reforms, which Obama is not serving up, not abolition…..

    • Thanks! But … yes, there’s a lot more to it than we see on the surface. I agree that the Obama people are interested in Reform, but they aren’t pushing it nearly hard enough. I think that’s the ticket right now – the first party to successfully claim they are the party of reform will be in power for the next 20 years. If we fail to create any such party / faction, I agree that a lot of pain will result for a lot of reasons – one of them the rise of people like the Paul faction.
      I do think that the Paul people have a lot to add to the debate, but generally I don’t want them to have a lot of power. The problem that I see is that we’re still fighting along very narrow left/right lines and need to open things up a lot, which Paulites would do.

  7. “…The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government unprecedented power over the hiring, employee relations, and customer service practices of every business in the country. The result was a massive violation of the rights of private property and contract, which are the bedrocks of free society. The federal government has no legitimate authority to infringe on the rights of private property owners to use their property as they please and to form (or not form) contracts with terms mutually agreeable to all parties. The rights of all private property owners, even those whose actions decent people find abhorrent, must be respected if we are to maintain a free society….” http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul188.html

    Any so-called “Progressive” considering voting for him should be aware of this. Paul would have us still living in the “Jim Crow” era.

    • That is a good addition. Libertarianism has its appeal, but there is reality to contend with as well. What I like about Paul is that he gets us to think – but what I don’t like are many of his conclusions. This is a very cold example of one of them. Was it a big government intrusion? Sure, but it had to happen. Good to do it with our eyes open – but it had to be done.

  8. Ultimately Paul is a Libertarian, and the dirty secret of Libertarianism is that it rejects the notion of democracy at it’s very core. Libertarianism rejects the notion that the needs of a community, society, state, or nation may supersede those of the individual. The logic of libertarian isolationism has nothing to do with pacifism, it’s a denial of the states right to sacrifice an individual in service of foreign policy. The idea that an individual should submit to the will of the majority is an anathema to Libertarians, this negates democracy. Combine this with Paul’s Ayn Randian pseudo philosophy and his history of racism and you have some real questions about why this guy would want to be the president of a liberal democracy, or why you’d want him to be one. Anyone can have a good idea now and then, but the total package cannot be ignored. And your right Erik, this should not be ignored, it should be scrutinized and taken very seriously.

    • Well said, thank you. I do not want “majority rule” all the time for everything, but the needs of a community to work together cannot be ignored either. There is a yin and yang to everything.

  9. Pingback: A Better Tomorrow, Eventually | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare

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