Friday, December 30, 2011

Ron Paul, and What We Aren’t Talking About

Ron Paul is in the news, and he has a serious shot at winning Iowa, so I think it’s time I finally weigh in… though not on what I think of him (I don’t need a paragraph, let alone an essay, to say that I would never support him).

I also have no need in weighing on the question of whether Ron Paul will be the nomi… pffft HA HA HA, sorry, sorry… I couldn’t even finish that sentence. Paul will never be the nominee. Paul has a better shot at winning a Democratic Party nomination than a Republican Party nomination in his lifetime.

But his campaign isn’t empty or futile, and it may have far-reaching ramifications.

One thing to consider is how this will affect the Republican Party. I predict that Romney will be the nominee and will lose to Obama. If this happens, I really think the Republican Party will “soul search,” or whatever it is that evil, soulless trolls do when they reassess things (I guess pray?). If Democrats somehow manage to win 2016 on top of all of this (if I had to guess who could, I would bet it would be Hillary Clinton), I bet the odds of the Republican Party radically altering itself goes through the roof.

One direction the Republicans might take is towards courting Libertarianism. While not a popular ideology among traditional (i.e. old) Republicans, it is the most popular right-leaning, conservative stance among the young. Young people see through the Neo-Con bullshit. People under 35 have no interest in marginalizing gay people, racial minorities, women, immigrants, non-Christians… or really any of the groups that Republicans traditionally rally around hating. If the Republican Party has a future, it’s probably in Libertarianism.

Ron Paul isn’t many things: sane, relevant, informed, electable outside of Texas… but he is a libertarian, and those other four things have never been important for a Republican nominee. Ron Paul may be the model for future Republican presidential candidates, I just doubt he’ll live to see it happen (I’m thinking maybe by 2020, when Paul would be 91).

But Paul isn’t totally out quite yet, so it’s not just about his legacy. Paul won’t be running for re-election to his house seat, which he’s had for so long that he’s probably unsure of how he’ll pack up his office without the help of the slaves who helped him move in. This presidential run is potentially the last election for Paul, and while I am confident he won’t get the nomination, he just might pull a Nader.

If Paul runs as an Independent or Libertarian and draws votes away from Romney, you can ignore [more than you would otherwise] all of that stuff I said earlier. If people blame Paul and the Libertarians for Obama getting re-elected (and don’t kid yourselves, Obama will likely win either way), you can probably forget about Republicans and Libertarians ever getting along. In fact, it might spur the long-stalled rise of the Libertarian Party, which has tried in vain to be politically relevant since the 70s.

Libertarians have often just been people who vote Republican and don’t have the balls to admit so in public, but there are others who have merely identified with the Libertarian ideals while acknowledging the party not currently viable. Many libertarians are basically like me: they abstain from voting, especially for the office of president, not out of a lack of interest, but from frustration at the “choice” we have forced upon us by the lowest common denominators on both sides.

In many ways, I am rooting for Libertarians to come into their own, not just slowly infiltrate the Republican party. While I’m not Libertarian, I do favor Libertarianism over Republicanism, and more than that, I would love for a more diverse political landscape in America.

But it’s all up in the air. I’m merely speculating on what I think could happen. I am confident of one thing, however: Ron Paul will leave a mark on American politics that will far exceed his results in this, probably his final presidential bid or political race of any kind.


  1. Arrgh! Write shorter posts so readers are tempted to make comments too long for the filter! Cutting it up into pieces:

    (1 of (probably) 3)

    I am forced to disagree with you on some (but not all) of your analysis.

    First off: I could see Paul being the Republican nominee. It would take an unlikely combination of events, but it could happen. It works like this: the theocratic fringe keeps resisting Romney because he's a Mormon (which is sensible) and they want a "real" Christian (which isn't). They continue to swap between the various theocratic candidates without coalescing. With only a week or so to go, the Rovian controllers of the money-and-noise machine start to worry. If Romney can't claim a clean victory, they're going to look very, very bad. Plus, in four more years even more of their dupes will have died of old age, while Paul has a lot of younger supporters. So Rove cuts a deal with Paul: in exchange for giving him the nomination, he'll promise not to touch military funding or speak against it. Suddenly the right-wing media (Fox, CNN, and all Murdoch-owned or -inspired newspapers) fill up with op-eds pointing out how Ron Paul has always been a borderline theocrat, along the lines of Reagan. (Which is true -- just for example, despite proclaiming himself a civil libertarian, he thinks abortion should be illegal, and his justification is his religion.) Since the right wing is a bunch of mindless sheep, they suck it up and support coalesces around Paul. Oh, and Rove or one of his assistances has a little "chat" with Romney, just to make it clear that he's toast. First act ends with a strong curtain if you are on the side of horribly dirty politics.

    Further, I don't think Obama is necessarily a winner in 2012. I don't even think he's a guaranteed winner if Romney gets the Republican nomination and Paul runs under a third party. An awful lot of people who supported Obama the first time around have major buyer's remorse. This is because he has done essentially nothing he said he would do while -- and this is important -- actively pursued goals which are the direct opposite of what he said he would do. (If you already agree, you can skip the next paragraph, which is a series of examples.) (Oh, and Hillary Clinton -- as Obama's supporters foresaw -- is exactly as bad as Obama. There has been no policy of Obama's which was so hypocritical or ill-thought-out or just evil that Clinton has been willing to criticize it. It's pretty clear that, had she gotten the nod in 2008 and gotten elected, things would be pretty much the same as they are now.)

  2. (2 of (probably) 3)

    Health care? Before the election, he said in a speech that single-payer was the only sensible way to go (which it is) and said that any reform would be transparent. Then he made a backroom deal to kill off single-payer before the process even started, followed by repeating the act with the public option, before passing Mitt Romney's old healthcare plan, which was based on a proposal by Newt Gingrich! That's certainly not what Obama's supporters wanted, although many of them have convinced themselves otherwise since then. Iraq? We're only "getting out" because we reached the end of the period when the Iraqis agreed never to prosecute our soldiers for war crimes, as negotiated by Bush, and only because Obama was unable to get any of the players in Iraq to agree to an extension. We'll still have a massive presence, including lots of mercenaries. (And we're certainly not going to investigate the people who lied us into the war in the first place, no.) The banks? Obama has persistently refused to prosecute the people who destroyed our economy, and has championed Bush's TARP so much people often attribute the program to him. Civil liberties? Can you imagine if Bush had used an unmanned drone to deliberately kill an American citizen without a trial? The Democrats would never in a million years let that one pass, but Obama has actually done it, and you hear nary a peep out of the DNC. In a thousand ways both great and small (trying to weaken the international anti-cluster-bomb treaty, continuing Bush's "signing statement" policies, seldom if ever speaking out about our now-regressive income tax policies, etc. ad infinitum), Obama has been as bad as Bush was, although perhaps not quite as bad as Bush might have become if he had somehow been elected to a third term.

    People expect a politician to abandon promises. That's why we're all so cynical about politicians. They don't expect politicians to actively work against the ideals they were courting when elected. Obama has done exactly that, and his representatives (such as Rahm Emmanuel) have periodically given out statements insulting anyone who disagrees or who pays enough attention to see what's happening. So I think there are going to be a lot of Democrats -- how many I don't pretend to know, but even the party leaders who are contemptuous of actual liberals used to admit it's at least 10% -- who are either going to stay home on election day, or will not vote for the Presidential contest, or who will vote for someone other than Obama. A lot of these people would be willing to vote for Ron Paul, actually, although there is a massive campaign on within Democratic circles to stop that.

  3. (3 of (okay, paragraph breaks forced it) 4)

    The Democratic anti-defection line -- which you can see parroted with very little variation on any left-ish news site or blog with significant reader commentary ( is a typical place) -- boils down to: "look at these specific incidents Ron Paul's history! He's a corporatist! He's a racist sexist theocrat!" Which is of course bad, but if you examine his record since becoming president, Obama is even more of a corporatist, and at least Ron Paul is an OBVIOUS racist sexist theocrat. If Ron Paul were elected, the entire Democratic Party would be constantly on the lookout for anything he did which was racist or sexist or theocratic. (So would some of the Republican Party, such as Mitt Romney, just for the sake of revenge.) I doubt Paul would even bother to try anything on those fronts, because my impression is that while those may be his real beliefs on those subjects they aren't his major policy interests. But he probably WOULD fight hard to tackle military spending, which is increasingly the thing dooming the country. (Not only does it generate taxes/debt but having an overfunded military causes the government to want to use it in order to justify the funding. We're currently bombing how many countries? Five? Six? It's hard to keep track!) He might very well actually investigate some of the frauds and crimes committed under Bush and Obama, and even see that people get punished. And if the opportunity arose, Paul would probably appoint some real civil libertarians to the Supreme Court, which it desperately needs. (Even right-wing ones, as long as they're honest.)

    Moving onward to the next point: I don't think the Republican Party will bother to court big-L Libertarians. The move does not make sense from either direction, so to speak.

    First, look at it from the perspective of the money-and-noise machine (a la Karl Rove): the Republicans have sold themselves as the pro-military party. At any given moment, the number of votes they will pick up by going actively after Libertarians, even if they picked up all of them, is smaller than the number they would lose by ceasing to support an ever-growing military. But you can't realistically support the military while being Libertarian; it's both the major source of taxes and debt (over 50% of the discretionary budget -- and once post-budget appropriations are thrown in the number becomes much greater than 50% of discretionary SPENDING -- is military) and anti-civil-liberties (go ask Bradley Manning -- oh, wait, you can't; well, then, maybe you can talk to some of the 75% of the occupants of Gitmo who our own military admits are innocent but won't release because it might make them look bad... oh, yeah, you aren't allowed to do that, either).

  4. (4 of (finally) 4)

    And then you have to consider the big-L Libertarians themselves. Most people consider "Libertarian" (in an American, big-L context) a label for "Republican but unwilling to admit it" for the very good reason that the overwhelming majority of them always vote Republican. Keeping in mind that government debt, sooner or later, becomes more taxes, anyone who voted for Reagan and the two Bushes -- while not voting for Carter and Clinton, both of whom moved towards balanced budgets -- clearly doesn't REALLY care about the fiscal principals to which Libertarians lay claim, and getting in bed with the authoritarian religious, military, and anti-drug right wing to do so forfeits the social principals. So big-L Libertarians have spent the last several decades proving that as a group they are either utterly dishonest about their principles or so stupid that they are easily fooled, and either way I can't see Karl Rove saying "hey, let's alienate the rest of our base by explicitly going after a bunch of people who have proven that they are going to vote for us anyway."

    I also don't see a resurgence of the big-L Libertarian party happening. The party is tainted by... well, in addition to the previous paragraph, see anything Ayn Rand wrote. There are a fair number Democrats who could easily be wooed away to a third party with a civil libertarian, balanced-budget-by-military-cuts platform, but they are the ones who are actually capable of thinking and of reviewing the evidence, and the massive historical failure of right-wing big-L Libertarian thinking (look at the huge number of times deregulation of industry has led directly to fraud, pollution, and increased prices) and action (big-L Libertarians voting for Reagan and Bush) will prevent them from ever joining up. And without them, the big-L Libertarians might as well just continue to be synonymous with Republicans. Some of them undoubtedly will. I suspect that a certain number of them will finally make the mental connection that they have more in common with left-wingers than right-wingers and eventually seek common ground with the Green party, or else try to start a new Green-ish coalition party.

  5. The reason I think Romney will win the nomination is the same reason I think Obama will win the election: money. Romney has the most of it among the Republicans, but Obama has the most overall. I'm much more confident that Romney would be the nominee, maybe 90% sure, whereas I'm more around 60-70% confident Obama will win the election.

    Also, don't blame me for the length of your response... my essay was 690 words, and your reply is over 1700. Not that I care how long your response is, and I wish I could remove the comment length limit, but I can't.

  6. Nope; blame Google, who are computer geniuses but can't figure out how to allow long comments. Or, ironically, searchable comments.

    Then again, Apple doesn't make blogging software, so they don't have anyone to steal ideas from like they did with Android.

  7. Damn you Google... who am I kidding, they oppose SOPA, I can't stay mad at them.

  8. They oppose SOPA out of self-interest, because if it passes (and is upheld in court) their search results will eventually end up containing nothing but a couple of paid advertisements followed by a several repetitions of "this item was redacted because of possible SOPA violations; click here to see the removal request", and nobody needs Google's help to find more advertisements so they will lose their main revenue stream. (Like Microsoft, Google only has a relative few products which actually make money, and use those profits to try to break into new markets by subsidizing products which can't compete on price.) I'm not sure it's worth forgiving them their increasingly monopolistic and evil tactics, even if they are, by happenstance, against SOPA.

  9. Vicar, you didn't make a comment on this post, you wrote a post of your own, which is what blogs of your own are for. Get a blog (if you don't have one already) and in future post your incredibly long essays there with a link back to the post you're responding to.

    As for Google, I'm ready to kiss their ass for their anti-SOPA stand (I only hope they are ready to really go all out on it and don't chicken out).

  10. "whatever it is that evil, soulless trolls do when they reassess things (I guess pray?)."

    priceless. omg laughing so hard


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