Is Ron Paul Good For Libertarians?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in General Politics

The most clueless question of the day ironically comes from Reason magazine…

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?â€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 respectâ€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 warâ€â€?as Ron Paul doesâ€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.


This entry was posted on Friday, July 27th, 2007 and is filed under General Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “Is Ron Paul Good For Libertarians?”

  1. Peter Hughs Says:

    Ron Paul has answered all questions asked of him and has answered them clearly and without spin. He is not a libertatrian or a republican he is the rarest breed of honest politians… This is the president America deserves! To read for yourself go to:

    http://www.ronpaul2008.com

  2. goldenequity Says:

    Do your OWN homework.

    NOBODY explains Ron Paul
    BETTER than Ron Paul himself!

    Here is an interactive audio archive of
    Ron Paul speeches and interviews as a resource in chronological
    order.

    http://www.ronpaulaudio.com

    http://www.meetup.com/

    Meet-ups are advancing support from “the web” to the streets!

    “Supporters form these meet-up groups…this is what’s unbelievable…
    I mean we can’t even take the credit for it, because our office is
    too small and we are growing so quickly!!!
    —-Ron Paul answers Q&A Phoenix Sky Harbor airport (June 15)

    Form or join a local ron paul meet-up.

  3. Anthony Says:

    Libertarian presidential runner, Steve Kubby yesterday, endorsed US Representative Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican Party’s 2008 presidential nomination.

    He did this,not because he wanted to, but because 70% of the Libertarian party wanted Ron Paul for President, Stop Writing this Nonsense!

    Ronpaul2008.com

  4. bret Says:

    Lysander Spooner was cool, Randy Barnett is certainly not.

  5. Robert Says:

    Randy Barnett is so cool.

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    To all Ron Paul supporters who comment here:

    1) I will start deleting these comments if they don’t pertain to the post. The first two look very much like Ron Paul spam.

    2) If you do respond to me, please read the whole post. Anthony sounds like he’s telling me to “Stop Writing this Nonsense!”, even though I’m chiding Reason magazine and saying that Ron Paul is viable. Huh? So either Anthony didn’t read my post all the way through or he did and didn’t get that I was saying Libertarians should get behind him. Either way, it’s annoying. Read the post and respond in kind.

    Thanks.

  7. John Says:

    “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.”

    Well said, Justin, well said.

    Go Ron Paul!

  8. Lila Rajiva Says:

    Justin -

    If that’s the Reason piece from today, Brian Doherty seems to be supporting Paul. He is listing the reasons why he thinks someone like Barnett doesn’t and saying they aren’t good reasons, since an antiagression position is very crucial to libertarianism.

    “Have we ever seen a national political figure better in libertarian termsâ€â€?better on taxes, on drugs, on spending, on federalism, on foreign policy, on civil liberties? And for the pragmatic, cosmopolitan, mainstream libertarian: Why is Ron Paul the place where making the non-existent best the enemy of the good becomes the right thing to do?”

    He ends by asking why it is that the best libertarian politician around shouldn’t be good enough for libertarians….

    At least that way my reading.

    Lila Rajiva

  9. Brian Miller Says:

    As a Libertarian, I certainly don’t believe “Ron Paul is the best we have.”

    As for being “GOP lapdogs,” I don’t quite buy the notion that if we support a social conservative far-right Republican who hates gays, wants to ban immigration, and ban abortion — but who doesn’t like the Patriot Act and Iraq — that we’ll suddenly “be relevant.”

    Libertarians typically win debates when the audience is reasonable people who carefully think through the issues. Though American politics is hardly that forum, we shouldn’t have to abandon our dignity and the human rights of people who Republicans don’t like in order to make a mark on US politics.

    Supporting a Ron Paul candidacy simply relegates Libertarianism — a vital political philosophy that has strong currency in the national conversation — to some dusty corner of the losing, increasingly irrelevant GOP. . . when Democrats are just as badly in need of some Libertarianism as the Republicans who gave us Guantanamo, gay marriage bans, and warrantless wiretapping.

  10. Paul Eres Says:

    I don’t think it’s a compromise. Yes, some of RP’s stances aren’t in line with the Libertarian Party, but none of their candidates have ever been in line 100% with the Libertarian Party either — including when RP ran as a Libertarian! Every single one of their candidates has disagreed with the official Libertarian Party manifesto in one or two major ways, because people are individuals and have unique viewpoints. So considering that I don’t think it makes sense to say that supporting RP is a compromise.

  11. Jim S Says:

    And they can’t even get his stance on some issues correct.

    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.

    In fact Ron Paul couldn’t care less if the government interferes in your personal life so long as it’s the state government, not the federal government.

  12. badmedia Says:

    What makes Ron Paul different from libertarians, and what has me excited about him, is that he not only understand the constitution, but he also understand that we have worked ourselves into quite a mess.

    So to get back to what libertarians want(back to the constitution), we have to start cleaning up the mess, otherwise there will be major problems. We can’t just take people who depend on the government off it over night.

    I don’t see it as a “compromise” as your article suggests. I know what you mean though. Rather, I see it as a good plan that will set us in the right direction to eventually get a country that can successfully go back to following the constitution. I think those libertarians who don’t support Ron Paul, just don’t realize it is a plan to get us back in the right direction.

    I will still vote and support the libertarian party on the local levels, because I think that is also needed, since most republicans are no longer conservatives. But my choice for president is the man with the plan and the right message, Ron Paul.

  13. Jill G Says:

    Thanks for a good article. It looks like you have a pretty good spam filter on here, but I still bet you get a ton of Ron Paulites responding. We are addicted to him and will search endlessly for people talking about him. Geez, if the MSM realized what we would do to hear more about him… I think we may even need to start a 12-step program for the addicts.
    However, I do disagree with your statement: ‘Still, many libertarians are either ambivalent or actively unhappy with Paul’s campaign and the public attention it has gotten.’ Do you have a source for that statement?
    Regardless, I believe if we can get RP’s message out there we have a fighting chance. Again thanks for taking the time to write about Ron Paul and giving me a quick fix.

  14. James Harry Schaeffer Says:

    • I was hoping Randy Barnett’s recent book on the libertarian movement would have answered a question that I have about how, when, who and why…Reason Magazine turned against the libertarian movement. When Reason came out against Harry Browne during his 1996 and 2000 runs for President, I was puzzled. I did notice that both Virginia Postrel and Nick Gillespie were writing articles in a Forbes publication (ASAP I think). Reason did give favorable coverage to Steve Forbes Presidential efforts. A coincidence, I presume (I’m one of those coincidence theorist that Larry McDonald spoke about). I do wish someone could explain how various libertarians are turned to act consistently against any libertarian gaining a highly visible political position, where the message about very limited government would be heard in our nations political conversation. Ron Paul has for the first time (in my lifetime – I’m 66) in his current Presidential bid brought the message of Liberty and a Constitutionally limited government before the general public.

  15. G Says:

    Jim,

    Dr. Paul has stated numerous times that he does not like the government interfering in things like marriage, drugs, etc (though not abortion, as he sees that as a violation of the fetus’s rights, which is a completely seperate debate). Unfortunately, the federal constitution does not allow the federal government to keep the states from interfering in those matters. Per the 10th amendment, if a power is not delegated to the federal government it is passed to the states, and to the people.

    Which brings me to my next point about the article which the author mentions… Libertarians often have great respect for the rule of law, recognizing it as being necissary for liberty. The US Constitution is the law of the land, and is undoubtedly a very libertarian document. It is, however, most certainly not a purely libertarian document. It doesn’t protect as many of the people’s rights as it could, and Dr. Paul himself has stated he believes the bill of rights did not go far enough. So you cannot both respect the rule of law, and guarantee all rights to the people at a federal level unless you amend the constitution or ignore the rule of law. So its silly to call anyone less than a libertarian because they pick one side over the other when the sides of the issue are mutually exclusive.

    I agree with the author. Pursuit of idealogical purity is fine and dandy, but it has no place when trying to implement your ideology. Pursuit of an ideal means you take whatever steps you can to bring yourself closer to that ideal, but it does not mean you dismiss anything which is not pure.

  16. Pacer Says:

    Quoted from above: “In fact Ron Paul couldn’t care less if the government interferes in your personal life so long as it’s the state government, not the federal government.”

    Well, I’m pretty sure the U.S. Constitution provides that states may not violate the federal bill of rights, so there are some nationwide limitations on state government tyranny too. On top of that I’ll give you two more reasons why state gov’t is preferable to federal gov’t: 1) your voice, vote and campaign support count more at the state level; and 2) if state law (or lack thereof) became really adverse for someone, it’s much more feasible for them to change states than to change countries.

    I seldom hear the term used anymore, but I’m quite fond of how the states were described as the “laboratories of democracy.”

  17. Ron Holland Says:

    Ron Paul Is Right About the Federal Reserve – Please consider signing & promoting the Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition

    Today in August 2007, the world financial systems and investment markets, real estate and the availability of credit are all under direct assault due to past actions of the Federal Reserve in the United States.

    Read and sign the Ron Paul Is Right – Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/fed/petition.html

    Please link to the petition and forward this message to your friends and help the general public wake up during the current financial panic conditions to the problems we face from the Federal Reserve and Ron Paul’s solution.

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