What About Ron Paul?

But what about Ron Paul?”

This was the question asked in a monumental comment thread on one of our posts last Tuesday.

That thread, which at publication time has over 85 comments, was at times informative, anguished, and accusatory, but mostly just confused—exactly the tone of Ron Paul’s main base. (We thank Reddit for the traffic, but remind the dear souls at r/ronpaul that Ken’s Welcome Week hook-up post still got more eyeballs.)

Ron Paul is an interesting politician. His supporters are clearly among the most vehement in American politics, but possess an intellectual streak that other cultish candidates clearly don’t garner—you won’t see a Sarah Palin supporter churning out several 400-word comments in response to a student blog omitting her in a list (which, by the way, we also did — Palin was not on our list, and nobody complained).

To Ron Paul supporters, Rep. Paul is a man of ideals. And his record is exemplary, at least in terms of sticking to those ideals — Paul has repeatedly been on the losing side of elections, pushed legislation with no support, and generally put his money where his mouth is. The guy just doesn’t fuck around with politicking, and that’s pretty respectable (and rare) in Congress.

That tenacity, combined with the fact that his politics revolve around a strain of “leave me alone” libertarianism which is quite popular now (although the world has changed to fit Ron Paul — he had said the exact same things for decades to deaf ears), makes Ron Paul’s presidential ambitions justified. For a certain demographic (young, monied, educated, disaffected) he is the ideal candidate, though some blind spots like his staunch opposition to abortion and his questionable stance on the Civil Rights Act are overlooked. For everyone else, the response been polarizing.

Part of the furor of the Ron Paul movement is the disproportionate lack of media attention. Put simply, the mainstream still regards him as a little wacky. When he finished in a close second in the Ames Straw Poll vote — a questionable barometer of popularity that everyone makes a big deal out of — he was barely mentioned in the media coverage. Whether it’s a conspiracy, oversight, or (in our writer’s case) the conclusion that he isn’t a viable candidate, the media does not like Ron Paul. This, of course, only serves to galvanize the movement, at the risk of making it become really frigging crazy.

The question is, can he win? His supporters are louder than those of any other Republican candidate. This is the perfect climate for his ideals. The polls seem to show that he is, for the first time, on relatively equal footing with the mainstream Republican candidates. That said, the GOP will be hard-pressed to nominate a political outsider, given their preference for coiffed-do social conservatives with penchants for populism. The fact that he is opposed to monied special interests, while admirable, doesn’t really help his electioneering either. Unless Ron Paul enjoys a groundswell of support from a conservative base as-yet-untapped, such as rural voters, I don’t see the GOP nominating Ron Paul.

Then again, we have 20 months until the election. In September of 2007, Rudy Giuliani was the clear winner of the polls, with 34% of the vote (Fred Thompson was in second with 22%, but only because he announced his candidacy that same week). Ron Paul seems fringe now, but a year is an eternity in politics. By next September he could be facing President Obama, or a political pariah.



20 Comments

  • Henry Cameron
    September 1, 2011

    While I don’t agree with every part of the article, it was nice to read something that wasn’t severely slanted against Dr. Paul from the start.

    As for the Civil Rights Act issue, I urge the author to read into the subject a little more. He simply said he wouldn’t have supported it because it’s a flawed method that wouldn’t work. He vigorously supports equal rights for ALL Americans, but knew this bill would not achieve that for it’s intended audience, which it did not. Granted the racial climate in this country is far better than it was in the mid-60′s, the wealth gap and earnings gap are still vastly disproportionate in terms of race. Minorities continue to make up a huge percentage of the lower income families, despite all of these government interventions that claim to be helping.

    Also, the author claims his lack of coverage of Paul after Ames was due to the fact he is not a ‘serious’ candidate. What would the author call Michelle Bachman? If she’s considered serious, then please keep that adjective away from Ron Paul.

  • The Dangler
    September 1, 2011

    Great article, just enough snark to keep me happy. I would only comment on one bit…the folks that would benefit the most from a Ron Paul presidency would be the poor and middle class.

  • Ra Russell
    September 1, 2011

    “Palin was not on our list, and nobody complained.”

    When did Palin announce her candidancy?

  • Bill Simmons
    September 1, 2011

    He has the highest donations of any other Republican candidate from ACTIVE DUTY soldiers. Are they part of that “monied, educated, and disaffected” constituency?

  • George Robinson
    September 1, 2011

    Dr. Paul is PERSONALLY staunchly opposed to abortion (he is an OB/GYN and has delivered thousands of babies). POLITICALLY though, he feels that according to the constitution, regulation of abortion is not a role of the federal gov’t and should be left to the states to decide.

  • George Robinson
    September 1, 2011

    In regards to Civil Rights, he also feels that it is not the role of the federal government to interfere with private business. The Civil Rights Act restricts freedom, it does not preserve freedom.

  • Bill Leydig
    September 1, 2011

    In order to make it happen you are correct, we need democrats to come over and register republican, or it can’t, or probably won’t happen. I’m fairly independent and if your like me you realize the (2) party system is rigged and not reflecting “us” the people. It has to stop and we are about out of time! Ron Paul shouldn’t scare democrats he will leave you alone and let your state decide, so if your state is bluer than blue you have no worries about Ron Paul touching your precious abortion, or welfare or green thinktank. We are so bankrupt you stand to lose it all with a dollar crises anyway and if that happens we lose it all. He will will be more like a cool bankrupt trustee than anything, but he will save our dollar and audit the FED and we can see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Our troops need us to stop this madness in the middle east and I know democrats will get on board with that. FYI, we are pretty cool people and don’t care what you do as long as you don’t hurt anyone while doing it.

  • Ricardo Picardo
    September 1, 2011

    Yes, the primary election is far away. But, Ron Paul’s true battle begins before that. In many states, the Republican caucuses to elect the Republican Presidential nominee begins around February 2012. The New Hampshire GOP primary is in January.

    I’ve been trying to find out when/where my local caucus is going to be (never attending before) and it’s hard to find out. And on top of that, when the local caucuses finally elect delegates to the state convention and then to the national convention, those delegates will be “undeclared” for a specific GOP candidate (in a few states). This gives leeway for corruption, where delegates can vote for nominees other than who they were supposed to. It’s hard to fight for the candidate you support, when the system is corrupt. The way Ron Paul will win is by winning so much support that it makes the system look ridiculous if another candidate is nominated. Can you see why Ron Paul supporters could go “crazy?” I feel crazy, but we can persevere.

  • Roger Tilleux
    September 1, 2011

    I applaud your well rounded comment peice: straight forward, unbiased reporting. Thank you for the fair treatment on both pro and con views of Ron Paul. However, I would like to offer a clarification (fleshing out may be a better term) of Dr. Paul’s positions on abortion and the Civil Rights Act.

    Regarding abortion, Ron Paul has clearly stated that, politically, the abortion issue does not fall under FEDERAL government jurisdiction. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal gov given authority to legislate or judiciate on abortion. This includes federal funding of abortions, which RP wants to end. He will not seek to outlaw abortion at the national level. Politically he says that it is a State’s issue. Philosophically he says that it is not a government issue at all, at any level of government. It is a society issue. Until society answers the question (and there is universal agreement on the answer) of “when does life begin?”, then the government has no legal starting point at which to take up the defense of an individual’s right to life. Right now the default is “at birth”. His personal view is that life begins at conception. However, Dr. Paul’s track record sjows that he does not try to force his personal views through politics.

    Regarding the Civil Rights Act, his position is straight forward: it violates the private property rights of business owners (which is also one of our basic civil rights). The civil rights which the Act is supposed to be protecting are already protected under the Constitution. The only thing that was missing in the sixties was the government acting to uphold the existing protection of individual’s rights to not be violated in their property, persons and liberty. Everyone had (and has) a right to utilize public spaces and services on an equal basis. By the same token, everyone had (and has ) a right to exclusive control of their own private property. Even though business owners who descriminate towards their customers based on race or creed or religion are wrong headed, they have the right to do so with their private property. Violent acts against property, persons and liberty should simply be defended against under the authority of the Constitution (proper role of the government). No additional legislation is needed. The Civil Rights Act enabled defense of one group’s rights in violation of another group’s rights. The important point so often missed is that rights belong to INDIVIDUALS, not groups.

  • Joe Jones
    September 1, 2011

    Can he win? Yes I think so. It’s not much different than Reagan really. Who in 1976 ran as a republican independent, only getting 1 electoral vote and 1% of the vote. But in 1980, it was a different story. The political climate is also similiar.

    But I think the more appropriate questions is: Can the GOP win without him? And that is a big glaring “No”.

    The GOP will not let go of it’s failed foreign policy. This is the same foreign policy that started to cost them votes in 2006. The same foreign policy that cost them the election in 2008, and if they think about trying it again – will be the same foreign policy costing them the election in 2012.

    The republican base has done nothing but shrink over the past 6 years. The only new people really coming into the party are supporters of Ron Paul. Take the Iowa Straw Poll. Record turnout – but if you take away all the Ron Paul votes, it’s well below 2008.

    Last I looked, 72% of Americans are against our current foreign policy. How in the world do these people think they are going to get elected with such an unpopular foreign policy? Foreign policy is among the most important issues for a presidential election.

    And then you have Obama, who was elected on changing the foreign policy. He did not do that and instead expanded on it. That will hurt Obama in the next election – but ONLY if he is against someone like Ron Paul who represents change in foreign policy. Obama will just say he is working on it, blah blah blah. That’s still a huge step up from the candidate who is saying the current foreign policy is the right one. They are not going to switch from Obama to someone in the GOP. And are they really even disagreeing with Obama’s foreign policy?

    And economically, the GOP doesn’t have much gain either. Because this stuff started under Bush, and they all supported it then. Of course, Ron Paul was the guy warning people before it was all about to start, and has intelligent responses to these questions.

    Ron Paul is the only republican with a chance in hell for the general election, and the GOP might as well be taking orders directly from Obama with this so called “Game Plan” of theirs.

  • Ron Nottage
    September 1, 2011

    Well it seems to me that the media is afraid of the truth of the people voting an it has done much to quiet the public on his ability to get peoples attention
    There is time and he has the supporters out who could make a difference
    in the months ahead. Let the media be quiet and let the people speak than the media will look like a fool
    Ron Paull
    2012

  • Dan
    September 1, 2011

    He can and will win. The GOP has nobody as real as Ron Paul. The msm and the Dems want Perry or Romney because they can totally destroy their records. That can’t do that to Ron Paul. The main topics of the 2012 election will be the economy, jobs, the defecit, and War. Ron Paul is 100% correct in each of these. People can get all the info they need from other sources than the msm. it is obvious the msm has already made their minds up and only serve to promote their choices. People are slowly waking up and I believe it will be in time. F the LSM, Really.

  • Moises Garcia
    September 1, 2011

    While I do appreciate much of the article you have here Mr. Lipzits, I would say a more neutral use of diction regarding his civil and abortion stand should have been considered. Stating: his STAUNCH opposition to abortion and his QUESTIONABLE stance on the Civil Rights Act are OVERLOOKED, creates a negative connotation with readers who have not researched that aspect of his reasoning and most will not do their own research we all know that. In my opinion it undermines Ron Paul supporters implying we overlook that issue or don’t care simply because we are such deep rooted supporters. I thank the others here who have brought to light that aspect with great reasoning. Now, to my point, there is a reason why Ron Paul has an “exemplary” political voting record and why “His supporters are clearly among the most vehement in American politics”; the reason he always stands for the philosophy of liberty. You see, people who follow Ron Paul begin to learn about what it means to have liberty and that the constitution was written to protect the people from government not the other way around. Today, the government uses the constitution to justify things like the patriot act, the federal reserve, super congress, ect. and that is a distortion no other politician speaks about. Once people get a grasp on that they tend to not leave support for Ron Paul not because they see him like people see celebrities; No, they see him as the philosophy of liberty and freedom which everyone can agree with because it was what the country was based on only 200 years ago. It’s that simple. Oh yes, and we write 400+ word messages because we know more than talking points and shaky rhetoric. Thank you.

  • Berlin Brown
    September 2, 2011

    You still didn’t fix the last article with potential presidential candidates.

    You only created this article because you are back pedaling.

  • Kevin Ye
    September 5, 2011

    Why is nobody concerned that Ron Paul embraces Austrian economics? Nobody in the intellectual economics community takes it seriously anymore. >.>

    • Roger Tilleux
      September 6, 2011

      Actually, Keynesian (mainstream) economics has failed on every level for the last seven decades. It is the Keynesian approach which people are finally realizing which does not work. Only the Austrian School correctly explains and predicts the impact of intervention into the market (i.e. the business cycle, devaluation of currency, malinvestment, corrective market activities which Keynesians do not allow, etc.). Keynesianism is what has created the mess, Austrianism will get us out. It is only the Keynesian adherents, like Paul Krugman, who still cling to their dead philosophy. The “serious economists”, as you put it, are the Austrians.

  • Kevin Ye
    September 6, 2011

    No. There IS no competition between Keynes and Austrian economics because Austrian economics is not taken seriously in the slightest.

    The competition is between Keynes and Neoclassical economics. Giving Austrian economics credibility is ridiculous and not worth the effort.

  • Kevin Ye
    September 6, 2011

    Also, I’d like to add something. AE is dogmatic. It’s based on an ideology that comes more from rejection of mainstream economic principles (they’re mainstream, in my opinion, for good reason).

    All the things that Austrians do is this: “OH HEY PROBLEM WE AUSTRIANS TOLD YOU SO”, and then never offers any real solutions whatsoever.

    In short, it’s impossible to prove that AE principles work.

    • Roger Tilleux
      September 6, 2011

      The solutions which the Austrians offer is that the government and the Fed need to stop interfering in the market. The intervention is what causes all the problems. Manipulation through regulation, taxation, protectionism, manipulation of interest rates and money supply, corporate favoritism (bailouts and subsidies), all these actions are creating uncompetitive markets, devaluing the currency and lead to malinvestment. Central planning cannot work, as history has shown, but central planners keep trying the same failed policies over and over. They love Keynesianism because that is the approach which actually enables central planning. It is only about power, which is the real goal: power for the central planners vs power for the individual. The most absurd claim by Keynesians, after decades of failure via unprecedented intervention and manipulation is that they did not do enough! Ridiculous!

      Austrian economics is not dogmatic, it is logical, based on deductive reasoning through real life observation and confirmed by its ability to correctly predict outcomes of all the wrong actions which the Keynesians make. The scientific methods of the physical and natural sciences cannot be applied to human action (economics), because human action is subjective, not objective. A falling object will always obey the law of gravity (objective), but people do not react the same as others or even to themselves (at other times) to identicle or even similar situations. Their economic decisons are based on SUBJECTIVE values, which can change at any time. There are no mathematical laws which are able to describe or predict the behaviour. Keynesian “math” works from false premises. It does not take into account the importance of the STRUCTURE of capital, labor or supply and demand. Somehow they believe that lumping everything together into aggregates and then applying hoodoo math will magically result in a correct assessment og and prediction of the market. That is not is not good science, especially (and ironically) from the viewpoint of the methods which they try to emulate, i.e. natural and physical sciences. Thoae discipline require specific detail in order to calculate correct answers. Keynesianism cannot accomplish this because it uses the wrong methods. If you’re interested, there is about 130 years worth of published literature available on Austrian economics, written by the Austrians themselves, at mises.org. The literature is free to download and you will find a much better argument for the Austrian view than I can provide. There is extensive material which clearly debunks the Keynesian (central planning) dogma. F.A Hayek was even awarded the Nobel prize for his analysis of the business cycle (if one actually puts value into the Nobel Prize- after all, Paul Krugman got one and Obama as well, for Peace no less, even though he’s got us engaged in SIX wars now).

      And if Austrian economics has no worth, how do you explain the fact that they (including Ron Paul) correctly predicted the crash in ’08?

  • Kevin Ye
    September 6, 2011

    There were plenty of people that were predicting crashes. And to be honest, given all of the wrong answers Austrians always give, it’s not surprising that they get one thing out of the box right. In other words, even a broken clock is right two times a day.

    The problem with saying Austrian economics is “logical” is that’s where all of your assumptions lie. You take logical analysis as if it’s actual fact and economics, when reality, you’re just assuming everything based on a set number of random ideologies that don’t make any sense.

    On top of that AE is easily incorporated into most mainstream economcis anyway. You’re arguing that government and the Fed stop intervening? That’s been said by people for years, and it’s not unique. Your other solutions are untestable, and you never offer any unique answers to problems.

    In other words, this:

    “And of course, Austrians wonder why all of academia rejects them — it’s because they strawman the hell out of every academic theory (Keynes, Neoclassical, etc) and try to make themselves join the conversation without contributing anything important.

    I highly recommend no one bother with the mises.org bullshit, it’s a complete waste of time unless all you want is an amateur understanding of free market ideology — which, no matter how people slice it and dice it, is not Economics.

    I personally do not buy into any specific ideology when it comes to thinking about economics. It’s a shame that people always have to bring ideology and mess up and dirty what economics is all about”

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