Friday, January 13, 2012

Not on the fringe anymore: the Ron Paul Effect

Persistence has paid off for Ron Paul. That's rare in politics, usually repetitive attempts at election create fatigue of one sort or another.

The fact that Ron Paul is still in the thick of things after his second place finish in New Hampshire, and a strong third in Iowa, is evidence that his message resonates with many Republicans. Why not, of the six candidates remaining in the GOP race, he is the only one that has policy ideas significantly different from those of the incumbent Democratic President Obama. That is an insult to those five other GOP candidates, but welcome to the world of collectivist, mainstream thinking.

In the US, a deep and never ending recession seems to have a grip on "main street" even though government statistics show that weak growth is occurring in some parts of the economy. Jobless rates are still high, many American workers have given up.

The housing market has yet to recover from a collapse that Rep. Paul and other "Austrians" predicted some years ago.

The price of gold has hit new highs as the American dollar continues to lose value, again, as predicted by Ron Paul and other Austrians.

The endless, pointless and expensive wars that Americans are entangled in, has made Ron Paul the darling of soldiers and combat veterans alike because of his anti-war stance.

This time Ron Paul is playing an important role in the election cycle because “he’s giving American voters a choice – for much smaller government, much lower taxes, eliminating government debt, bringing our troops home – choices the Republican and Democratic Party have refused to give them,” says Carla Howell, executive director of the US Libertarian Party.

Most importantly, Ron Paul can no longer be dismissed as 'fringe' by establishment Republicans because of his message of constitutional limited government.

Give a listen to what these two libertarians said about Ron Paul this week after New Hampshire:

Most importantly in the States, Ron Paul has succeeded in uniting some of the disparate factions of libertarianism. This despite recent attempts to discredit his cause by dragging up yet again, the newsletter scandal of years ago.

Because libertarians everywhere focus on principles rather than pragmatism, they have had the tendency to 'shoot themselves in the foot' during US elections. Though most libertarians agree on 95% of the issues, they get hung up on the 5% that they disagree on, and never seem to unite. To get a feel for what I mean, the video below does a pretty good job of describing historical differences in the American conservative and libertarian community, and what Ron Paul has done to unify them. Have a look:
 
Of course for Canadian libertarians, like me, living beside the American media elephant, Ron Paul is, and has been a blessing, in the non-religious sense of course. Not just here in Canada, in Australia, in Europe, everywhere libertarians exist, a new awareness in the media and the population has taken root. The spillover effect could be considerable and positive for all libertarians everywhere, if we capitalize on it; and we must.

A well know conservative writer even credits Paul with a remarkable achievement. Charles Krauthammer refers to Ron Paul's second place finish as the biggest story coming out of the New Hampshire Primary. He goes on to suggest that if Ron Paul stays in the race until the GOP Convention in August: "Libertarianism will have gone from the fringes — those hopeless, pathetic third-party runs — to a position of prominence in a major party." And, "the Republican convention could conceivably feature a major address by Paul calling for the abolition of the Fed, FEMA and the CIA; American withdrawal from everywhere; acquiescence to the Iranian bomb — and perhaps even Paul’s opposition to a border fence lest it be used to keep Americans in. Not exactly the steady, measured, reassuring message a Republican convention might wish to convey. For libertarianism, however, it would be a historic moment: mainstream recognition at last." 

That could be the legacy of the Ron Paul effect, and 2012 could be a new beginning for libertarians and classical liberalism. I'm reminded of a great line from one of my favourite movies, Inherit the Wind: "An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral!" Ron Paul has been instrumental in exposing the libertarian idea.

2 comments:

  1. "Why not, of the six candidates remaining in the GOP race, he is the only one that has policy ideas significantly different from those of the incumbent Democratic President Obama."

    Oops, I think you meant to say, "from the other GOP candidates." Although you'd be wrong on that, too. Paul agrees with the fundamentals of conservative orthodoxy: decreasing taxes on the rich, slashing services to children and the needy, eliminating corporate regulations, militarizing the border with Mexico, undoing civil rights legislation, undermining GLBT equality and women's reproductive rights, and on and on. The reason he is resonating with republicans is because he is a republican endorsing republican policy positions...with a few unusual exceptions that overlap with progressive positions (esp. ending the drug "war"). Interesting to note: David Duke supports all the libertarian positions that Paul does (except ending the drug war), although Duke is a bit more blatant about his bigotry. And also like the other GOP candidates, Paul displays no understanding whatsoever of economics...in his speech on Tuesday, he actually claimed that inflation is driven by the national deficit, an idiotic claim. Sorry, but Paul is a flimflam artist that is ultimately driven by his nutty Christian ideas about the superiority of white males.

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  2. No oops, I said what I meant.
    To call a libertarian a "bigot" just shows a misunderstanding of the philosophy.
    Inflation is driven by the national debt (not deficit), because government attempt to mitigate the debt by devaluing the dollar by effectively printing dollars. Its "legalized" counterfeiting done by the US Fed. Ron Paul opposes the Fed and prefers real money based on the gold standard.
    Nutty Christian have nothing to do with it. It's a common red herring that atheists (not this one) use to dismiss economic ideas they don't understand.
    Ron Paul is the most well versed economically of all the candidates, including POTUS Obama and his advisors.

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