Is Ron Paul Good For Libertarians?
This past Sunday he hit a political respectability jackpot, with a long, thorough, serious, and critical-but-respectful profile in the New York Times Magazine. Most of the Ron Paul press tells, however questioningly, of a politician dedicated to severely limited government that doesn’t want to interfere in our personal lives, doesn’t want to investigate us and control us, wants to abolish the income tax, and to bring troops home and dedicate our military only to actual national defense-a politician against the federal drug war, against the Patriot Act, against regulating the Internet, and for habeas corpus.
Still, many libertarians are either ambivalent or actively unhappy with Paul’s campaign and the public attention it has gotten. They feel either that Paul is not libertarian enough in all respects, or are unhappy with linking libertarianism to certain aspects of Paul’s rhetoric, focus, or past. You’ll hear: If, after this campaign, whenever anyone thinks of libertarian, they think, oh, you are like Ron Paul?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?will that be good for libertarianism in the future? And would you feel personally comfortable with it?
My question is, “Well libertarians…what else ya got?” Seriously, as if you have ANY shot at getting this much traction in the forseeable future. If you want purity, go buy some soap. If you want a voice, expect to have to do this thing called “compromise.” It’s about progress, not perfection, and since you haven’t been able to get the message out through your own channels, Ron Paul is remixing that message and doing it for you. Don’t complain…campaign!
And to get a sense of HOW out of touch “traditional” liberatarians are…just read these two sentences and you’ll know what I mean…
One prominent version of Libertarian Ron Paul Anxiety comes via noted and respected anarcho-legal theorist Randy Barnett in the Wall Street Journal. Barnett has decades of hardcore libertarian movement credentials behind him and is one of Lysander Spooner’s biggest fans. (Spooner, the 19th century individualist anarchist, famously declared the state to be of inherently lower moral merit than a highway bandit.) But the mild obstetrician, family man, and experienced legislator Ron Paul is too radical for Barnett in one respectÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?the respect that is key to most of Paul’s traction to begin with: his no-compromise, get out now, consistent stance against the war in Iraq.
Barnett is eager to dissociate libertarianism writ large from Paul’s anti-Iraq War stance, claiming that many libertarians are concerned that Americans may get the misleading impression that all libertarians oppose the Iraq warÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?as Ron Paul doesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?and even that libertarianism itself dictates opposition to this war. It would be a shame if this misinterpretation inhibited a wider acceptance of the libertarian principles that would promote the general welfare of the American people.
First…Randy who? Lysander what? Unless you’re a student of politics, those names mean nothing to you. Remember, you all may want limited government, but to get that you’re going to have to have mass appeal.
Second, Paul is popular because of his message, and that includes his anti-war stance. It may be isolationist, but it still falls directly in line with what I’ve encountered as traditional Libertarian ideology. Correct me if I’m wrong here.
But hey, if the Libertarian movement is okay with being the GOPs lapdog then keep being scared of Ron Paul. Keep thinking he could hurt your cause. Keep allowing think tanks to define your party’s platform.
But if you’re interested in getting out from under their thumbs and becoming a viable 3rd party, pick a popular horse and, for the love of all that is pratical and viable, ride the damn thing! It doesn’t mean you’re going to win this time, but remember what Goldwater started and Reagan realized.
That is all.