Which Way for the Paul Movement?

Writing in the New York Times, Brian Doherty, author of a recently published book on Ron Paul, asks the question: “For the Ron Paul Wing, Now What?” In the midst of an otherwise insightful and sympathetic piece, we get a disapproving reference to a lawsuit against the Republican National Committee by one of Paul’s supporters, and this:

“While Ron Paul has no future in politics, the Ron Paul machine and his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, will. That’s why the political pros in the Paul movement don’t appreciate acting-out like Richard Gilbert’s lawsuit. That’s also why Rand Paul risked the wrath of his father’s hardcore fans by endorsing Mitt Romney, just as soon as Ron Paul admitted he would not win.”

Gilbert’s lawsuit, which contends the RNC cannot legally bind pledged delegates to vote for Romney, and Rand’s embrace of the warmongering, anti-libertarian Mitt Romney are related — how? The link is only in the minds of those alleged “political pros”– the same ones who ran insipid campaign ads, consistently played down foreign policy issues, and sucked up to Romney early on.

Basically reiterating the line being put out by Rand Paul’s apologists, Doherty writes:

“Senator Paul knows he needs to reach beyond his father’s 10-15 percent base in the primaries to more mainstream, red-state, talk-radio Republicans. He can’t do that by marking himself as a traitor to the party. So he stands behind nominee Romney and plans to actively campaign for him.”

Appealing to “red state talk radio” Republicans is code for selling out on the vital foreign policy issue. Sen. Paul claims he had a personal meeting with Romney and that he was reassured that President Romney would conduct American foreign policy in a “mature” manner — whatever that is supposed to mean.

As for this business about being considered a “traitor”: George Romney never endorsed Barry Goldwater. Indeed, he spent a good deal of his energy branding the party’s 1964 nominee a reckless extremist.  He went on to run for president in 1968, and, far from being considered a “traitor,” went on to serve in the Nixon administration as HUD Secretary. George H. W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation conferred on the elder Romney its Lifetime Achievement Award. You can’t get much more Republican than that.

If there is some rule that all Republican officeholders must formally endorse and campaign for the national nominee, then it apparently doesn’t apply to the Romneys. (Then again, this is precisely why Romney’s candidacy is doomed from the start: the widely held view that the Romneys of this world live by different rules from the rest of us.)

In any case, Doherty’s own views, rather than those of the Rand Paul circle, come across loud and clear when he writes:

“On the one hand, Ron Paul’s refusal to run as the candidate of a third party shows that he sees his cause’s fate linked with the future of the Republican Party. On the other, his refusal to endorse Romney shows that if they want to help shape that party in a more libertarian direction, he and his supporters can’t just go along to get along.”

In endorsing Romney, who has learned nothing from a decade of futile and draining wars, the younger Paul is going along, but one wonders how far along it will get him. By tying himself to a loser like Romney, the ambitious Rand is likely to cut himself off from the very elements he’s seeking to appeal to — who were never that enthralled with Romney to begin with, and still aren’t.

In the meantime, Sen. Paul is alienating his national base — and, worse, splitting and disorienting the movement his father built. It is an absolute disgrace, and one that will not go unchallenged. If the good Senator thinks blood is thicker than ideology in libertarian circles, he is very much mistaken. In a movement devoted to individual liberty, the idea of a hereditary leadership seems more than a bit odd: by endorsing Romney, he has forfeited his claim to lead what he calls the “liberty movement.” He has, in short, become just another Republican Senator, albeit one with a particularly lean and hungry look.


30 thoughts on “Which Way for the Paul Movement?”

  1. Don't blame Rand, blame Ron, for depriving War Party opponents with a popular third party presidential candidate with a national media presence.

    Anybody who thinks that Rand's decision was made without Ron's approval is, I think, politically naive about the Pauls' political strategy, which, from day one, has laid the groundwork for Rand's sellout.

    Before the sellout, Ron had become the only credible antiwar voice visible on mainstream TV. If the American peace movement is lucky, at best, Ron will take his voice back to CSPAN, while the American peace movement shrivels like a brittle leaf in October.

    But don't despair. The BRICS nations can, if they want, buy and sell America. Though the American peace movement will have no say, BRICS' soft diplomacy may, in the long term, bring relative peace. At best, BRICS' creditors may call in the American military industrial complex's bad loans.

    1. Plus, here are some positives:
      +The neoconservatives don't run the show anymore. While still having influence, they no longer shape the thought of the Right. Definitely more like the Old Right.
      +Future generations of Republicans will be less hawkish.
      +After a war, the artificial trust in government fades away; as the war-fever subsides, groups like the ACLU will take a more aggressive stance against the surveillance state.
      +Israel is a subject of legitimate criticism in mainstream outlets, even if the debate is timid by radical standards.

      This was the work of people of all political stripes. Now, for the negatives:

      There are many negatives. Still, the positives should be bourne in mind.

      1. "The neoconservatives don't run the show anymore. While still having influence, they no longer shape the thought of the Right. Definitely more like the Old Right. "

        Possibly in the long long run, although I'm not so sure, in the meantime don't we hear that Romney is looking to appoint neo-cons to his cabinet. If Romney wins he probably has as much power to drive his party in the neo-con direction as Obama had to destroy the anti-war sentiment on the left.

    2. One more thing: the Ron Paul movement did suck a lot of energy away from other initiatives. Wendy McElroy & co. do have a point.

    3. BS. Ron would tell anyone, Rand included, that he should do whatever he thought right. Ron's whole campaign has been to be nominated on the floor and Rand is holding out hope to the Romney camp that letting RAND speak there will mollify Ron's supporters, rather than wave a red flag at a bull. It will be interesting to see how many delegates from Paul dominated states are even there for Rand's speech.

    4. After spending most of his life promoting the cause of personal liberty and personal responsibility, I hardly think that Ron Paul would forbid Rand from endorsing Mitt.

      I doubt if Ron Paul approved of Rands decision, but he would most certainly have approved of his right to make that decision.

    5. I'm way past this. there is always hope, and I see a Libertarian Candidate for President right next to Obama and Romney on the ballot. Do you Think Ron Paul's career is over if Gary Johnson wins the Executive Branch? we already have 35% National as of last December that supports the platform, we only need to win over 10% from the Democrats and we still get Ron Paul in the White House.

    6. "Anybody who thinks that Rand's decision was made without Ron's approval is, I think, politically naive about the Pauls' political strategy, "

      Sorry but that's horseshit. Rand's a grown man making his own decisions…albeit evil.

  2. One option is to support people who vote no on stuff (who cares what party) like sanctions with Iran. Allow them to share their thoughts with a like minded audience regardless if they are libertarian or not. If I didn't get to know Ron Paul then I wouldn't have been his supporter. He deserved the attention he got and others deserve it too.

  3. I appreciate Ayn Rands Observation when Good compromises with Evil, Evil wins.
    And that is true when your coming from a position of good,
    But when your coming from a position of evil – then it is good that wins.

    The short term – what do we do – what do we want?
    What we do is not fragment and piddle away the political capital we have earned by demanding all and getting nothing – we focus laser like on a few things to get from Tampa — we want to make the republican party palatable to us and the independents or we are all sunk come November – Annual AUDIT of the FED for one. Long term – keep doing what we have been doing, go where the sinners are (republican party for one) move in to positions of responsibility and act responsible. Responsible to the rights of the individual, responsible to the Constitution.

  4. Rand has his own way of approaching things in contrast to his father. But I think there has a rush to judgment on him. Of course other leaders can and should emerge, but if Rand is advancing the cause of peace, even if in a different manner than his father, he should be given his due.

  5. ". In a movement devoted to individual liberty, the idea of a hereditary leadership seems more than a bit odd: "

    Or family ties for that matter as the campaign manager (and presumably Rand's campaign manager in 2016) is Ron Paul's son-in-law Jesse Benton.

  6. Rand Paul seems like a nice guy…but his political career, from my perspective, is finished; unless he reinvents himself to be something that, at the very least, no one today would recognize (which seems unlikely at this point). He still may be able to be a Kentucky Senator until he decides to leave, or dies (whichever comes first), but I have no real insight of how the internal workings of Kentucky politics operate. My main point is that: I think the man has reached his ceiling.

    To be clear: there's nothing wrong with this, and being a US Senator from Kentucky, or any State for that matter, is a 'success' in and of itself…I'm just saying Rand has hit his political ceiling from my objective analysis of the situation…

    I don't see this as either a 'good' or 'bad' thing…and if you want to get "ideological" about it, then: Rand played the game and lost. He has no one to blame but himself…

    Again…this is what I'm taking away from the situation from a sober, objective, disinterested perspective. I am more than willing to 'bet' if anyone is interested…

  7. "Appealing to “red state talk radio” Republicans is code for selling out on the vital foreign policy issue."
    IT IS? No, it's NOT! Stop being such an irrational sophist, Raimondo. Rand wants to turn the red state talk radio Republicans into libertarians! He thinks it can be done. Imagine if he's right. You'll feel pretty stupid, then. Won't you?!

  8. "and, worse, splitting and disorienting the movement his father built", that's what YOU'RE doing Raimondo. Rand is growing the movement into a revolutionary force. He is not to be co-opted. He practices the Machiavellian school of politics, as opposed to the masturbatory loser school of which you are a member.

    1. Machiavellian as unprincipled state centralism and Libertarian which is principled minimal government are antithetical. It reminds me of Commies saying the state will wither away *some day* if you trust us with absolute power now, but of course that never happens, and neither does a compromiser grow a spine and principles once compromised, it's a pipe dream shared by Rand Paul fans, O-bots, and Commies.

  9. As I commented on Brian Doherty's article, the Ron Paul wing should not throw away their vote on Romney. Nothing is going to change with a Republican or Democratic win. The change the Ron Paul enthusiasts will only happen when they put their support behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Gov. Johnson is pro-Liberty, just like Ron Paul but Johnson is younger and more energetic. Only Gary Johnson will carry the Ron Paul Revolution. Get to know more about Gov. Johnson at http://www.garyjohnson2012.com.

    1. http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/04/21/gar

      Allow me to show respect for Anti-War.com by thanking them for their generosity for publishing (only in the comments, not in their main body) candidates readers write about. These readers are perhaps young, and so believe unprovoked war is fun, rather like a video game, which is in stark contrast to blogs of those who are acquainted with the senseless and barbaric madness of war. I shall be blunt. War is Hell! Gary Johnson is as far removed from a sensible foreign policy as Mitt Romney. We are not speaking of Ron Paul Light in Gov. Johnson, but instead, Mitt Romney Lite. On the matter of politics, perhaps it is best summed up for 2012 by a commentator: "It will be rigged!"
      RON PAUL 2012! All kinds of false "data" about him, yet he is never false, nor is Mrs. Carol Paul, who shared that they did not know that Rand was going to Romney until 1/2 hour before the broadcast. There was no "strategy session" of father and son.

  10. Why does Rand have to be the standard bearer for the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party? Seriously. Let someone else rise to the occasion. There are other libertarians besides the Paul family. I mean, what are we? North Korea?

    I'm with Mr. Flood above. Gary Johnson. What would happen if Ron Paul endorsed Johnson? You get:
    -The Ron Paul Revolutionaries
    -Disgruntled Republicans
    -Disgruntled Democrats
    -A large segment of Independents
    People would vote for him if they thought he would win. FWIW, I'm voting for him. Every vote makes a difference.

  11. "In the meantime, Sen. Paul is alienating his national base — and, worse, splitting and disorienting the movement his father built. "

    Actually Raimondo is the only one fracturing the base. Rand Paul has nothing to do with it.

  12. The dialectic process is ugly, at best.

    I expect Rand to represent his constituents, not his conscience.
    Why anyone should think that the voters of Kentucky should be the new
    libertarian standard bearers (by default) is beyond me.

    Maybe Rand knows a thing or two about Kentucky?
    This "national base" that Raimondo refers to is as fickle as the weather.
    They loved Ron, now they despise him. Go figure.

    1. You will see. Rand shot himself in the foot. Whatever happens to his "career" (hmm where would he today be without his father?) people remember a traitor. I know. I am a grand neice of Peggy Shippen, who married Benedict Arnold. When she left for England afterward, the English, whom her husband had spied for, dispised each of them, because they were folks who pretended to be one thing and were another, even though "working for" the King! Being a betrayer just will not fly in politics or in families.

      1. "Traitor" is a little harsh, don't you think?
        His "career" is up to Kentuckians, not the national stage.
        But you're right, "we'll see."

  13. . . . and to continue from above;

    National federal politics will always be a ruse, and a disappointment.
    Just as Lew Rockwell describes it, it is nothing but theater.
    His advice is the best I've heard: stop participating in it.

    Ron educated millions. Rand may actually use that momentum
    to make a difference if he can stay in office, and that is entirely
    up to Kentuckians not some "national base."

    1. Willb, I disagree – people of various backgrounds still support Ron Paul – not Rand.

      1. Yes, you're right of course. But I am reading a lot of angry commentary
        from prior supporters who now want Ron's head, and a refund.
        As a consequence, Rand is getting double dose of hostility.

      2. I strongly support Rand. I have been incredibly impressed how he has handled the crazies that are ruining the freedom movement.

        1. Agreed. Many of those in the campaign for liberty have turned their true colors now
          that Ron is no longer their sacrificial host.

          I live in Ron Paul's fighting 14th district and have been voting for him all these years.
          It has been a pleasure to support him and we are saddened he's leaving.
          America was damn lucky to have him but not only that, they were damn lucky to have
          the support of the 14th district who kept him in office all these years.
          I hope Kentuckians have cause to be as proud of Rand as we here in Texas have
          been of his Father. It's up to Rand, and ol' Kentuck now.

  14. Gary Johnson is not a sell-out  and perhaps more a phony. Personally, I’d  rather waste my vote on Obama (NOT!) than vote for the likes of this sophomoric ex-governor of New Mexico. His single “libertarian” pet issue, where he has hanged his libertarian  credentials upon: Legalization of marijuana. Unfortunately, his principled marijuana legalization stance is based on a cost/benefit analysis and not on self-ownership. As governor, not once did Johnson save a single soul from further incarceration. Governor Johnson with a simple flick of a pen could have paroled hundreds from the suffering caused by these racist, immoral unconstitutional laws. Yet, during his entire political triathlon, (two terms!) he never once paroled a single non- violent victim of these horrendous drug laws. So many lives disrupted and destroyed.  Especially, so many young men and women’s lives totally turned upside down at such an early age.  They were left incarcerated, abused, and their future livelihood handicapped by a felony record that would follow them the rest of their lives.

    It follows why I think Senator Rand Paul and ex-Governor Gary Johnson are different sides of the same coin. The obverse, you find a man who’ll compromise his Father’s  legacy  for a chance to sit at the round table of power, influence and avarice. He’ll have spent his inheritance for a lotto ticket’s chance to sit amongst the chosen elite. To break bread with the powerfully  rich, the political movers and shakers of the leviathan beast all in the name of liberty.  Rand will neither sit at The Table, and at best, he might be allowed to sit next to the table. To be petted and handed little morsels and crumbs and with a pat on the head and told:  “Your a good little boy, now go back and sit in the corner”.  Lapping it all up as he returns to his designated spot. 

    The reverse side, you have a man who never soldout-since he doesn’t have any goods to sell.  His practiced libertarian beliefs are as deep as the air guitar is to musicianship. Lots of air, with little substance with dubbed in music mimicing technical expertise. When  in fact, his only note is the monotone of a  flatline cardiograph. His need is not to sit at the table of powerful elites. His first needs are to learn the basics. To learn how to correctly use the cutlery placed before him and not crush crackers into the finger bowl and pretend to enjoy his “soup” as his fellow table mates ignore the naïveté but chuckle within with purulent disdain wrapped with a smile of inner satisfaction.
    Thus, Gary Johnson is the perfect Libertarian party presidential nominee. Smoke and mirrors for ideas, devoid of principles and probably oblivious of libertarian non- aggression axiom. Mr. Johnson doesn’t even understand the fundamentals of what it is to be libertarian. His manifest ignorance of libertarian class theory fundamentally trumps and stomps his creditability into the dirt. Without this basic libertarian understanding no one is qualified to represent themselves as a libertarian without fully understanding what this war is all about: The class warfare between the ruled (producers) and rulers (political classes) and with it the spoils of war Vs. the productive right to be left alone to produce and to keep the “spoils”  of our hard work and efforts from our mutual voluntary exchanges. Johnson would never understand we are victims of a ruling duopoly political class.

    Possibly, the deeper difference between Rand Paul and Gary Johnson is their degree of naïveté and Machivallian ambition. Gary Johnson is  no prince. Either he is honest or just plain dumb not to play that kind of game Rand Paul is currently engaging. Rand is playing footsie under the table to get a place at the table and all he’ll get is a peck on the cheek from the  “one -percenters” from whom he seeks approval.  While they ramrod his bent-over principles out the window. 

    Rand’s rudder looks like swiss cheese and will haplessly ply his trade to any port that will take him. Unfortunately, the Port of Liberty is blockaded and he helped block his own passage to safety by supporting Romney. In two months, we’ll find out if his Electra complex will remove him from his inheritance or find his ship sunk  from  his smitten respect for Mitt Romney. For now,  his ship has a huge leak and is in danger of sinking. The larger question to ask: Is Rand’s moral blow-hole  flaw self-cast or is it a deeply imbedded character defect? The former can be put right, the latter only worsens as ambition guides his path. 

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