Friday, May 18, 2007

Ron Paul: the Case Against, Part 1

Ever since Rep. Ron Paul announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President, a great many people in the Libertarian Party have endorsed him or otherwise praised his campaign. Some are even saying that the Libertarians should not have a Presidential candidate, but rather endorse Ron Paul and try to fuse with the Republicans to ensure Paul's nomination and election.

I oppose Ron Paul's nomination, for Republican, Libertarian, or any party.

I've been called to support my accusations against Ron Paul- first, that he's used Libertarian events to try to destroy the Libertarian Party and merge it with the Republican Party; and second, that he's a racist. This post contains the first bit of evidence that turned me against Ron Paul, waaaaaay back in 2000, when I was still new to the party and toeing the anarchist party line despite my better judgment.

Before I post this, let me bring up something else: Ron Paul not only has repeatedly rejected any calls to a third-party candidacy, not only has he deliberately avoided references to his third-party ties (he was the Libertarian 1988 Presidential candidate, for those who didn't know)... but if he files for the Republican primary in many states, including Texas, he becomes ineligible to appear on the November ballot as an independent or the nominee of any other party. Not all states have this law, but enough do that Ron as the nominee of the Libertarian Party (or, more likely of late, the Constitution Party- Dr. Paul is strongly anti-immigration and anti-abortion) would not be on enough state ballots to challenge a majority of votes in the Electoral College.

But that's not why I'm against him. I'm against him because I just plain don't trust him.

The following essay was circulated through Libertarian channels back in 2000, as the election between Bush and Gore approached:

Making a point, or Making policy

Education is not enough: Third-party campaigns serve a useful purpose, but when the time comes to craft public policy, the real work happens inside
the two-party system. Take it from a guy who ran for president on a
third-party ticket

By Ron Paul

A tradition has developed at Republican conventions in recent years: Factional warfare breaks out at the convention, often during platform debates, and inevitably, somebody threatens to walk. Often it's the social conservatives, perhaps under pressure to give ground on the abortion plank, for example; and before long, the talk turns to the viability of a third party.

I have taken that walk; I was a Republican congressman from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s. I was the Libertarian Party nominee for President
in 1988. More recently, I returned to public life in a successful run for the U.S. Congress as a Republican in 1996. What I learned about third-party politics might be helpful here; I learned that a quixotic run can be educational, in the long run, and even enlightening for voters. But under the present system, it cannot be successful at gaining elective office. I left the Republican Party largely because of a sense that the party was moving away from its commitment to limited government. Having been one of the first members of Congress to endorse Ronald Reagan for President in 1976, I was disappointed that during his administration we were failing to reduce the size and scope of government. I decided that if the Republican Party would not cut government under President Reagan, there wasn't much hope that we would do so under a leader less committed to the principles ensconced in the party platform.

A disillusioned early Reaganite

Seeing little hope of a real commitment to the reduction in government coming from within the Republican Party, I decided it was time for me to look for another vehicle to spread the message of limited government. In going to the Libertarian Party, I found a body that seemed more strongly committed to the ideal of limited government. I should point out that in changing parties I did not in any way alter the principles for which I stood, and the same can be said about my return to the GOP.

Value of third-party efforts

It's here I learned the real value of a third-party run-at least under the present system. My candidacy allowed me to present a clear agenda to voters. The White House was never really within our grasp; a third-party campaign is seldom designed to seek electoral success. But it is possible to accomplish major educational goals in so-called minor parties. For example, while the Republican candidate was talking about "no new taxes" in 1988, I was able to talk about ending the income tax altogether. And within a few years, we had a chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee actually calling for the same thing.

However enlightening for the electorate a third-party run can be, it is
not likely to be effective at winning offices. There are exceptions, of
course. Celebrity candidates (such as Ross Perot or Jesse Ventura) can attract
some attention and meet with some success.

But by design, the current electoral system hampers third-party runs. Not only do polls and media coverage consistently suggest that third-party candidates are unlikely to be elected, but statutory limitations and a tangle of rules can make it difficult for third-party candidates to qualify to have their names printed on the ballots.

But for now, we still have an environment that tends to discriminate
against these minor parties. And that's why I'm back in the GOP. The goal of educating the electorate is a worthy one, but if our desire is to have a more immediate political impact, it seems to me that involvement in one of the "major parties" is essential.

In the year 2000, it is extremely unlikely that anybody other than Al Gore or George W. Bush will be elected president. One of those two individuals will have the power of nominating justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and deciding on whether, for example, partial-birth abortion legislation will
be signed into law.

Both of these things are so important that education is not enough. Those who would see life preserved, and a riotous court bridled, must seek to be effective.

-Ron Paul is a member of Congress from Texas

If you read that carefully, and remember that this essay was targeted at people supporting third-party candidates like Harry Browne, Howard Phillips or Ralph Nader, the overall message becomes clear: If you really want to support freedom, you'll vote for Republicans. Third parties don't get anything accomplished in the short term.

I don't have documentation to hand, but after that I had heard that Ron Paul, when invited to speak at events, would circulate before and after his speeches and ask individual attendees to support Republicans and consider joining that party as part of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

It certainly doesn't help matters that, from 1999 to 2002 if memory serves, Paul's chief aide was Eric Dondero, who has actively worked for the destruction of the Libertarian Party... and, incidentally, who STILL supports George W. Bush.

So, there's the first bit of documentation. I'll keep digging, and when I have more, you'll see it here.


cuthbert1776 said...

That's quite a stretch.

It seems that Dr. Paul was, always the pragmatist, was trying to actually affect change in the NOW in a framework that existed in the NOW, rather than continue doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Once again, this is what he is doing NOW, working to change within the framework of what exists, rather than using energy on changing the framework.

It is too bad his frank talk about the way things are upset you and derailed your chance at participating in the last shot this country has at liberty.

Dr. Paul knocked rudy off his tracks in the same way.

I think people just tend to freak on truths they don't want to hear.

And, before you go storming off in defense of the "New" Libertarian Party, is it worth your time? I let my membership lapse, because they dropped several planks and softened others in their platform in an effort to compromise and have a better chance at power.

Ron has kept his principles intact, and is pushing for others to follow him, rather than following others at a hope of becoming popular.

Who is truly worthy of support here? Who you support is up to you. I choose to support Dr. Paul's bid even as a Republican, and would do it no matter his party. I realize (as Ron may be waking the nation to) that we should vote for the mand and not the party.

I will support Ron Paul, and my rigid libertarian (note the small 'l') brain will allow me to sleep in good conscience.

Whatever your choice, I hope you are able to sleep well when all is said and done.

Good day.

ElfNinosMom said...

The fact that Eric Dondero was closely associated with Dr. Paul is, in itself, enough to make me think twice about supporting Dr. Paul.

Kris Overstreet said...

Cuthbert: When Ron Paul came out in support of George W. Bush, whom he HAD to have known was no friend of liberty from his time as Texas governor, that showed me he had abandoned principle.

I believe that Libertarians should be flexible on principle in order to get elected, but I do NOT believe principle should be abandoned entirely... and Dr. Paul, by taking ANY Republican over ANY Libertarian, has done just that.

There's also the fact that, if you hadn't noticed, his presence in the Republican Party has done NOTHING to make it less an enemy of freedom, or to slow down the growth of government size and power.

John P Slevin said...

You can think again, ElfNinosMom.

Eric Dondero was closely associated with the LP, at the National organization level. Does that make you or any LP activist suspect?

Ron Paul doesn't deal with Eric Dondero.

In the congress, Ron Paul is, by definition, associated with all kinds of weird your favorite whipping person/congresscritter (Kennedy, or any of those frequently mentioned to be worthless or who favor absurd, pro big government policies) then ask yourself, is Ron Paul without merit because some other congresscritter is a slime?

To be consistent, you'd also have to say that every Libertarian seeking election to congress was a slime; that is, to be consistent with your guilt by association premise.

No current LP presidential aspirant ever has been elected to partisan office. Most of them have never SOUGHT partisan office. ONLY in the LP does any of these people have the chance to be taken seriously, gain a following, a following of like-minded, sometimes well intentioned, and ALWAYS completely ineffectual people. (I stress ALWAYS in the oontext of the LP as a whole, which ALWAYS has been utterly without merit---some good people and a very, very few good activists at any given time, yes, an effective national party, NEVER).

Overstreet has it right. To interpret Ron Paul's letter to other libertarians as some kind of plot to disrupt the LP is absurd; that quite obscure and virtually irrelevant supperclub consistently defies any attempts to improve itself.

Anonymous said...

I did a Google search for Ron Paul, and found the following blog that has a bit about Dondero. I don't have any way of gauging it's veracity, but it's interesting enough to raise questions: