Why Ron Paul matters as a Republican.

By mw | Related entries in Libertarian, Republicans, Ron Paul

Leading a third party? Not so much.

I often get post ideas after responding to comments in Donklephant. So it is with this post, and while I may be covering some old ground, bear with me. I am going to pull on a few different threads, then try to knit those threads back together and try it on for size.

After adding my two cents (well actually $100) to the Ron Paul “money bomb”, timed for Guy Fawkes day I had an entertaining exchange with commenter Dos in Justin’s Money Bomb post earlier this week.

While much of the reaction in the blogosphere and MSM to Paul’s fund raising effort was amusing and interesting, none was more entertaining than the sniping between Andrew Sullivan and David Frum.

Sullivan:

“A $4.3 million haul in 24 hours. Good enough to rattle Frum. Frum tries to belittle the achievement by comparing it to Ralph Nader’s $8 million fundraising in 2000. But over half that in mere hours? The Ron Paul phenomenon is real. The Christianists and neocons will decry it because it affects their power over the GOP. And because when a conservative stands for freedom again, it resonates and threatens them.”

Frum:

“Just noticed that Andrew Sullivan opines that I am “rattled” by Paul’s haul. Personally, I think it is Andrew who has been “rattled” by being caught in yet another of his careless or reckless errors and inaccuracies. But for the record, he’s [SIC] my view on the Paul candidacy… It would be interesting to know how many of today’s Paul donors were Nader donors then… Of course I am saddened to discover that many thousands of Americans have rallied to a candidate campaigning on a Michael Moore view of the world… Ron Paul is Nader, not Perot.”

Frum’s post is one of the odder things I’ve read in a while. In a short post he manages to compare Ron Paul to Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and Howard Dean, but draws a distinction between Paul and Ross Perot. Well, I guess I have to be happy with the last. I always thought Perot was a few bricks short of a full load.

FrumFrum apparently thinks that anyone who is against the Iraq war, regardless of their views on other issues like constitutional protections, fiscal responsibility, and individual freedom, is a Nader/Moore liberal Democrat. It is an absurd assertion.

David Frum is either confused or deluded about who is supporting Ron Paul. I am one of the very Ron Paul supporters that saddens Frum, and no – I never contributed to or voted for Ralph Nader. I don’t particularly agree with Michael Moore either (although I enjoy his movies). Howard Dean does nothing for me. Fact is, Paul is as close to a polar opposite of a Nader/Moore liberal as one can get. And, as I have stated here before, this particular Ron Paul supporter is committed to voting for the Republican nominee regardless of who the GOP eventually nominates. I’ll even vote for Frum’s favorite – Giuliani, although he does not even make my top 10 stack ranking, and personally would prefer not to pull that lever.

My rationale is familiar to readers of my blog and occasional posts here. I vote for objectives like good governance and fiscal responsibility. Those objectives are documented to be accomplished by divided government, and divided government can only be maintained into 2009 by electing a Republican President. A crap Republican president with a Democratic majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate, will govern better than a great Democratic President and a united Democratic Congress (see LBJ). So on February 5th, 2008 – I’ll be voting in the California Republican primary for Ron Paul, and hoping for the best.

Let us dig a bit more into the mind of Frum. This from a Cato Unbound series six months before the midterms, initiated with a David Frum essay and concluding with his summary:

Future of the GOP: It’s Up to the Democrats

Ross’ question about the future of “fusionism”—the longstanding alliance between libertarians and social conservatives—is a very profound one. Let me suggest a couple of thoughts that may help us think it through together.

  1. While strict doctrinal libertarians have always been a vanishingly small minority in America (cocaine vending machines anyone?), the libertarian disposition or tendency is large and strong.
  2. So long as the Democrats (or anyway the Democrats’ northern leadership) remained effectively a social-democratic party, libertarian-leaning voters had no choice but to support the GOP.”

Not really. As documented in a prescient Cato Institute Policy Analysis and post-midterm election observations, the libertarian swing vote did indeed have a choice. The study quantifies the “libertarian swing vote” at about 12%, and we did see it swing just enough in 2006 to elect a Democratic Congress and a divided government. As Frum correctly points out, the “libertarian disposed” swing vote is small. It is, however, more than large enough to swing national elections with our evenly divided polarized political electorate.

In a couple of recent posts, Justin returns to a favorite theme, promoting the thesis that Ron Paul can have a bigger impact by forgetting the Republican Party and launching a 3rd party effort. I think this notion is mistaken and was glad to hear Paul repeatedly say he will not take that path. He ran for President on The Libertarian ticket in 1988. The result “On the ballot in 46 states and the District of Columbia, he placed third in the popular vote with 431,750 votes (0.47%), behind Republican Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis.” - wikpedia. Justin thinks this grassroots fund raising prowess would translate into a powerful 3rd party movement. It won’t. That sub 1% total represents the hard core voting upper case “L” LIbertarian Party vote. If he ran as a Libertarian again, he’d be close to the same total.

My best guess is that 80% of the electorate are reliable partisan voters. That includes self deluded styled “independents” who nevertheless always vote for one party or the other. The maximum available pool of independents who will actually switch parties between elections and consider voting a 3rd party for President is no more than 20% of the electorate. Perot pretty much set the high water mark in recent history when he tapped virtually all of the independent vote in 1992. A wildly successful third party can only act as a spoiler. Perot elected Bill Clinton. If the electorate is polarized and balanced enough, even a pathetic third party failure, like Ralph Nader in 2000, can have the same effect. Nader elected GWB.

What I think we are seeing, is that 12% moderate, independent, libertarian swing vote documented by Cato beginning to coalesce around Ron Paul. Frankly, my quixotic hope, was that exact vote could organize around a principle of voting for divided government, thereby supporting practical libertarian objectives. That hope is dashed. The libertarian swing vote is organizing around Ron Paul. It is not big enough to get him the nomination. It is big enough to cost the Republicans the White House, if the “Cato libertarians” (now Ron Paul Republicans) do not stay in the Republican fold. Ed Morrisey got it absolutely right:

“What does this tell us? The libertarian impulse may have stronger legs than anyone recognizes. It certainly seems more individually vibrant than the “values voters” segment of the Republican Party, which hasn’t even produced a candidate in this election, let alone this kind of impromptu grassroots effort… Beyond Paul and his flaws, the Republicans had better start paying attention to these voters. Like it or not, they represent a passion that seems to have left the GOP in recent months, and even if they skew young and may not vote as promised this cycle, they will eventually. Rather than continue to write them off, Republicans have to find a way to address them…”

I’ll be more explicit. Republicans cannot win the Presidency without the libertarian swing vote. The libertarian swing vote is coalescing around Ron Paul. If the Republicans alienate the libertarian swing vote by continuing to make bonehead moves like banning Paul in Iowa – they lose the White House. If Republicans find a way to retain most of that vote regardless of whether Paul wins the nomination – the Republicans keep the White House. The way to retain that vote is for the Republicans to move in a libertarian direction and find their inner “Ron Paul”. This is the meaning of Ron Paul – Republican.

So, let’s correct David Frum’s essay title -

“The Future of the GOP? It is up to the libertarians”

x-posted and x-cerpted and completely re-written from Divided We Stand United We Fall”


This entry was posted on Sunday, November 11th, 2007 and is filed under Libertarian, Republicans, Ron Paul. 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.

64 Responses to “Why Ron Paul matters as a Republican.”

  1. mw Says:

    I am on a holiday, and to paraphrase Mark Twain –

    “I’m sorry this post is so long, but I did not have time to make it shorter.

  2. NH Says:

    Good job. Plain and simple, if Ron is the nominee we beat Hillary. If Rudy is the nomineed we are under another reign of terror.

  3. david from texas Says:

    Excellent analysis!

    Great article.

    I have voted a straight Republican ticket for every national election since the early 1980′s. I do not consider myself a libertarian, but I support Ron Paul. The Republican party has lost its way, and it better find a way to get the libertarians to support them again or else the party will lose everything.

  4. Kevin Houston Says:

    To quote a character in Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi classic “Dune”

    “He who can destroy a thing, controls that thing.”
        Maud D’iib

    In this case, the thing is the GOP’s win in 2008. Ron Paul will not run as a 3rd party. If he is not the GOP nominee, most of his supporters will not vote Republican. They will vote Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, or write in Ron Paul’s name.

    But if you really want to guarantee a Hillary Clinton win, continue to treat Dr. Paul unfairly. While I might stick around and vote for the GOP candidate (even {retch} Giuliani) on the principle of divided government, I will absolutely vote for Hillary {double retch} Clinton if the Giuliani win is because of vote fraud or back-room machinations at the convention (like what happened at Tx straw poll)

    To the GOP: Mark my words, and mark them well. Play fair, or practice saying “Yes Madam President.”

  5. pilby Says:

    whoa!! banning Paul in Idaho?? what do you mean by that? i live in Idaho and am campaigning hard for Dr Paul and i have no idea what you’re talking about. it there’s something afoot, i’d like to know about it asap.

  6. mw Says:

    Philby -
    I am sure I don’t know what you mean.

    You must have read that wrong.

    Go back and read it again.

    Ergh. I hate it when that happens.

  7. Darryl Schmitz Says:

    Great analysis! You are absolutely right.
    I think the same thing goes for news networks. Fox News has irreparably damaged their “fair and balanced” reputation for allowing the Hannity Hit Squad to smear the Paul campaign. They’ve now cemented their new reputation as propoganda arm of the State. Goebbels would be impressed.

  8. Nathaniel Tucker Says:

    Moore believes in socialized medicine. Ron Paul wouldn’t even accept Medicare and Medicaid. Obviously, Frum is a loud mouth ignoramus – the worst kind of ignoramus.

  9. [email protected] Says:

    Fox News is banning ron paul from the debate in Iowa as they have instituted a rule that you have to be polling above 5% nationally to be able to attend.

  10. Jim Carter Says:

    I too have voted and been registered in the republican party for over 25 years and the surprise to all who say Ron Paul supporters are mainly Libertarians are in for the biggest surprise in United States of America history, what?
    Dr. Paul will be our next President and he will bring a lot of candidates with him who will be serving the Constitution and the American people.

    Great article !!!!!!

  11. Jackson Says:

    Good analysis! I support Ron Paul even though I don’t think he will get the nomination. However, when the GOP looses the white house, they will do a lot of soul searching. I believe if Ron Paul has a strong showing that soul searching will include a more libertarian bent. Thus, I am not wasting my vote.

  12. Andrew Says:

    You miss some elements of politics here. The reason Perot was a successful third party candidate is he brought legitimate issues to the forefront which needed and could be addressed. Perot is what gave us Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich who worked diligent to cut Federal spending.

    Ron Paul merely resurrects the Pat Buchanan crowd of isolationism.

    Reasonable people can differ on the Iraq war, but the fact remains that removing him was the last option left after all other options resulted with problems. If Ron Paul had genuine solutions, his candidacy would flourish but right now it is more of grievance movement than anything else.

  13. Paul N Ca Says:

    I am a conservative Republican who voted for Bush in 2004 (to my sincere regret). I am a die-hard Ron Paul supporter now, disgusted at what has happened to the party. I used to watch Bill O’Reilly every night until he smeared Dr. Paul one night several months ago. From that day on, I stopped watching O’Reilly. If Fox bans him from Iowa – I will stop watching Fox. Period. If the GOP continues to ban Dr. Paul from the debates and pulls other such stunts – I too will vote Democrat in the next election.

  14. Pier Johnson Says:

    If this “Frum” guy is going to use [SIC], he should learn what it means.

    SPELLING IN CONTEXT.

    His use of [SIC] after the correct contraction “he’s” reveals that he suffers from retarded intellect.

    If he cannot get basic English down, how can anyone his your false beliefs masquerading as smart opinion?

    Americans suffer from an overplus of morons given a soapboax upon which to reveal their idiocy. This “Frum” joker does not disappoint.

  15. Eric Says:

    Actually, Ron Paul is more in line with the old school religious right than any other presidential candidate ever. Once Huckabee drops out and they start giving Paul a second look, watch out.

  16. Scott McDonnell Says:

    The neocons are in self-destruct mode. They are at the point that if Ron Paul says the sky is blue, they will argue that it is red. I have watched in several forums where they circle-jerk for the neocons and long-time members of those forums are doing a double-take and saying WTF??

    I mean, they attack EVERYTHING Ron Paul says, even the most accepted conservative stances, in fact even when Ron Paul is in agreement with their beloved candidates. They are anti-Ron-Paul, period. If he said it, it is wrong. It really is hilarious, but it is great to watch people suddenly wake up and look around and the people they have been associated with. They are seeing a bunch of big-government socialists. This has been most apparent on Free Republic.

    I say let them keep doing it. I never thought the neocons would destroy themselves so easily.

    Also, oddly, I have noticed that it is the Guiliani supporters that are the quickest to accuse others of being a liberal. Does this sound like hypocrisy in it’s finest? They are supporting an ADMITTED Liberal and do not hesitate to hurl the liberal label at those opposed to Guiliani.

    I will not vote for Guiliani for the same reasons I will not vote for Hillary, Obama, or Edwards: He is a liberal. And I don’t have to accuse him of being it; he has admitted to it himself.

  17. Scott McDonnell Says:

    “His use of [SIC] after the correct contraction “he’s” reveals that he suffers from retarded intellect.”

    Pier, huh? The correct word in that context was supposed to be HERE’S, and it was MW that added the [SIC] because it was the wrong word. Look at it again.

  18. Justin Gardner Says:

    I hear what you’re saying MW, but I don’t think Ron Paul shouldn’t run on a third party ticket just so we can have divided government. If you want divided government, you should be hugely in favor of any viable third party movement, especially a Libertarian one.

    And let’s face it, since the POTUS make the decisions to go to war, where to send our troops, etc., it’s not just about divided government anymore. This is about our future credibility as a democracy, and if you like what Ron Paul is saying, siphoning votes from the GOP nominee, who will inevitably be pro-war, pro-torture and anti-civil rights, is good strategy.

    What do you think?

  19. Justin Gardner Says:

    One more thing…

    Justin thinks this grassroots fund raising prowess would translate into a powerful 3rd party movement. It won’t. That sub 1% total represents the hard core voting upper case “L” LIbertarian Party vote. If he ran as a Libertarian again, he’d be close to the same total.

    Yeah, if he was just relying on L voters. But he wouldn’t just pull them in if Paul is indeed a “message” candidate. Remember Perot? He was a message candidate and he got 19% of the vote even though he didn’t technically run.

    As for your 80% reliably partisan vote, well, quite possibly. But look at what you’re saying. That still leaves a good 20% open for RP to capture, which is 20% more than he would get if he loses the GOP nom (which is the likely outcome) and stays at home during the general election. And if that 20% could then give rise to Ls running for local, state and national offices, wouldn’t that be worth it to ensure divided government from here on out?

  20. Roger Says:

    I’m a conservative and I’m voting for Ron Paul because he’s for small government and is pro-life. I can’t give a damn on what his position on returning to the gold standard, ending the war on drugs etc etc.

    Ronald Paul looks most like Ronald Reagan. Period.

  21. RAZ Says:

    You are dead wrong about the “Christian right” and “values voters” not supporting Ron Paul or not having a candidate. That candidate is Ron Paul. Only phoney “Christians” fall for phoney candidates who pander to them with their talk of values. Ron Paul is the very definition of values, as he never bends to pressure or changes his opinion based on what is popular. He only votes for something when he believes it is the right thing.

    Real Christians believe that you must only wage war if it is a just war. Ron Paul does not support this war because it is an act of agression with no clear enemy or objective. Real Christians believe that you must allow people freedom of conscience to do and say what they believe. Ron Paul is the only politician who truly supports personal liberty. Real Christians believe that life is a sacred gift that must be protected. Ron Paul has the most life affirming voting record in Washington.

    If there are enough voters out there who actually HAVE real values, then Ron Paul will be the clear choice.

  22. Carolyn Says:

    I’ve been a Republican for a long, long time. (I’m 65) But I will tell you this: If Ron Paul (the only “winable” Republican candidate) is not the Republican candidate, I am going to vote for Hillary. Why, you ask? Because it really doesn’t matter what other candidate wins the White House because the lot are all the same and it would give me great pleasure to “stick it” to the party for ignorning and smearing the best candidate in my lifetime. Of course, I’ll be sure to be safely out of the country before she takes office!

  23. CaneCat5 Says:

    If the Rebulican Party contiues this treatment of PP I will vote Dem. down the line. I am not going to support a party that is trying to silence the American voice and take away our choices.

  24. Mikey s Says:

    wow, I’ve been reading some blogs recently and I like your article. I like Dr. Paul and, really, his supporters are a motley crew of people from different parties. I recently attended a Meetup meeting for a local group, and roughly half are life-long Republicans, a quarter Libertarians, and the rest are Constitiutionlist, Libertarians, anarchist, independent, etc. (i fit in the independent, btw). You are correct, mw, the libertarians hold the GOP’s future as now I’m leaning more libertarian than before.

  25. LPM Says:

    I am voting for Ron Paul. If he doesn’t win the GOP nomination then I will write him in. This same action, combined with the like actions of the rest of Ron Paul supporters who will either write in Dr. Paul or vote for Hillary out of spite, will translate to a large victory for the Democrats. I don’t want National Health Care, or most of anything Hillary is selling, but I won’t support a party that treats my constituency as a joke – we will have the last laugh as Hillary accelerates our economy into the void… perhaps THEN we can get back to our constitutional restrictions on government, and maybe have a truly democratic national voting system to replace the current tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum choices.

  26. Jim Says:

    I’m a long time Republican although I have to admit I did vote for Ross Perot. The last candidate I actively campaigned for was Barry Goldwater in 1964.

    I also listen to Rush, Hannity, O’Reilly, and the (fair and balanced) Fox News, although it’s becoming harder every day. I sincerely believe that Ron Paul is the best candidate the Republican party has had for years. Although I could never vote for Hilary, I would have to write in Ron Paul’s name before I could vote for the continued spending and empire building of the remaining crop of non-conservative Republican candidates.

  27. Justin Gardner Says:

    As I skim through these comments and others on posts of my own, Ron Paul supporters consistently say they’ll vote for Ron Paul regardless. That should tell us all something about whether or not Paul should go 3rd party. If he doesn’t that’s up to him, but trying to change the GOP from within? Really? It seems like he’ll have wasted a lot of people’s time and energy when what they really want is a Libertarian party in the first place.

  28. Vote for Hillary Online Says:

    Ron Paul doesn’t have a chance at all to win the presidency. If you want to check out a real candidate with real values, check out Hillary Clinton. You won’t be disappointed.

  29. Vote for Hillary Online Says:

    Ron Paul really doesn’t have a chance at all to win the presidency. If you want to check out a real candidate with real values, check out Hillary Clinton. You won’t be disappointed.

  30. barry b. Says:

    I haven’t considered voting for Hillary to spite the Republican party for their treatment of Paul – I don’t blame the Repb Party – they want to keep the power they have acquired. That’s the problem with Ron for both dem and repub base – Paul try’s to restore POWER away from the government and towards the people – there are just too many people with their hands in the cookie jar to like that one. Paul won’t be the repub nominee – if you think so then you don’t understand how this country is actually ran. Paul will be stopped one way or the other. I won’t vote repub or democrat – will either be Paul write in or third party/independent.

  31. Rich Paul Says:

    I’ll be voting Libertarian if Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination. I am not interested in whether Guilianni is a larger or smaller evil than the HillBeast. I just don’t care. Libertarians, you see, have one advantage.

    If the Republicans and Democrats continue running this country into the ground, eventually it will end in economic collapse. When the government cannot pay it’s soldiers and police, or when the money with which they are paid becomes worthless, that government’s days are numbered. It doesn’t matter if the government collapses through the financial bankruptcy of the Social Security system, which is beginning to approach it’s moral bankruptcy, or through finally going too far in the “eternal war for eternal peace”, which we have been fighting since Wilson’s pointless rush to drag us into WWI. (We did take a break, during WWII, to fight an enemy which was actually a threat to us, but that war might well not have happened if we had not gotten involved in WWI).

    One way or the other, Libertarians fight hard to try to prevent this collapse, but if and when it happens, I’m going to head up to New Hampshire, America’s most Libertarian state, and try to get as many like minded people to do the same. I don’t need for all of America to be free. If you people want to live under fascism or socialism, have fun with it. All I want is one small area where I can be left alone, and pursue those things which matter to me. And it may well be that the collapse which the moronic policies of left and right are driving us to will be my last chance to get it.

  32. David M Says:

    A three or more party system is not viable in America, that’s true. A third party could replace one of the two dominant parties if it becomes sufficiently irrelevant and out of touch. The GOP is heading that way, though it’s probably still a long way off. I have been a Republican all my life but the party has lost me. It has one chance to get me back, and that’s with a Paul nomination. Absent that, I’m gone. The GOP is unrecognizable at this point.

  33. david from texas Says:

    Hey Hillary supporter… Get a clue.

    Ron Paul DOES have a chance to win the presidency. Saying that he “doesn’t have a chance at all to win” is LUDICROUS. Perhaps you didn’t pass math class in elementary school, or perhaps you didn’t even go to elementary school… Go find a math teacher… a REAL math teacher (one that educated himself/herself in spite of the limitations of the lumbering bureaucracy of the U.S. dept. of Education) and ask that teacher why Ron Paul really DOES have a chance. Hint: if the man is running, and if he is on the ballot… yep, he does have a chance. Look up the definition of the word “chance”.

    Learn to educate yourself instead of relying upon Hitlery to speak for you.

    Go back to Hitlery and tell her that that her “real values” doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. If she does not understand what that means, then tell her to ask someone about it at the dept. of Education.

  34. Mark Says:

    To the paid staffer of Hillary Clinton:

    You’re gonna need to hire a lot more people to run around feigning support. The only thing Hillary Clinton values is getting elected, just like most politicians. She just happens to be better at it. Ron Paul has REAL UNPAID PEOPLE screaming from the rooftops that their guy is the best. REAL people showing up to events, websites, and donating money. The rest of the campaigns have paid staffers. With any luck, Hillary’s socialist utopia isn’t coming here any time soon. To the GOP and Fox News- Quit trying to shut Ron Paul out of the media. I know I’ve abandoned fox for CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC. I used to only watch Fox, but after their treatment of Ron Paul they can KMA. Fair and Balanced My a$$.

  35. Richard Winger Says:

    Ron Paul has never said he “will not” run for president in November outside the major parties. All he has said is that he doesn’t intend to do that. He is making a statement about his state of mind. He is not saying what he may or may not do in the future. Anyone can have no intent to do something today, but tomorrow there may be new intentions.

  36. john b Says:

    His message is powerful and larger than one person or one party. Dr. Paul said he will also run for Congress, so we will see him in one capacity or another.

    For the future of this nation, I want Ron Paul to be our President.

  37. crw Says:

    I have a slightly different take, now that I’ve thought about things a little. In general, I think mw’s support of divided government is correct, and supported by the empirical evidence. However, for 2008 I think it is more imperative that if Paul doesn’t get the GOP nomination, the presidency switch parties to either a 3rd party or the Democrats. Why?

    Simply put, I think any Republican other than Paul will move to bury the wrongdoings of the Bushies. I.E. we will see a raft of pardons, abuse of executive state secrets powers, and abuse of the Justice Department to cement the cover up. They’ll have every partisan reason to do so (quid pro quo, and wanting to cement party power). And they’ll have the support of the GOP minority in Congress to stymie any effort at real accountability. On the other hand, a Dem (or President Paul) will have every reason to throw the worst abuses of the Bush administration into the open, either because of a truly principled stand for civil rights or because of a partisan gambit to permanently discredit the GOP leadership and shatter their coalition.

    As said, I normally would support mw’s goals. Objectively, divided government immediately delivers the results I, as a moderate libertarian want (namely reduced government spending growth and a dramatic slowing of any new initiatives, which buys us time to educate the public). This year, however, I think unraveling the very real damage the Bush administration has done to our constitutional framework must take priority. If that means suffering 2-4 years of single party Democratic rule, so be it. If that means voting for a Libertarian/write in Paul, so be it. Unless the Republicans nominate Paul, they will not get my vote. I doubt the D’s will either, especially if they nominate Shrillary, but there’s no way I’ll vote for Ghouliani or Mitt “Double Gitmo” Romney.

  38. mw Says:

    “.. it’s not just about divided government anymore. This is about our future credibility as a democracy… As I skim through these comments …and others on posts of my own, Ron Paul supporters consistently say they’ll vote for Ron Paul regardless. That should tell us all something about whether or not Paul should go 3rd party. If he doesn’t that’s up to him, but trying to change the GOP from within? Really? It seems like he’ll have wasted a lot of people’s time and energy when what they really want is a Libertarian party in the first place.” JG

    Well, almost by definition – organizing the “libertarian disposed” is a cat herding exercise. Paul’s message serves as an organzing point for what MIkey S correctly calls a “motley crew” (me among them). Among them (in these comments) you also see a lot of unhappy Republicans who want to see their party pulled out of the neocon ditch and back on the straight and narrow traditional conservative road. I just don’t see this crew holding together under the weight of Party structure.

    You pull this crew out of the two parties in 2008, it will function as a spoiler and assure the election of united Democratic government with a potential supermajority in the Senate.

    To your (and crw’s) point – that we need to have an Dem government to undo the damage caused by 6 years of single party Republican control. Well – I guess I have to infer from that I’ll need to start working on electing an All Republican government again in 2012 and 2014 – specifically to undo the damage we most certainly will see from the probable united Democratic Government.

    In just the last 10 months of divided government, we have seen clear if incremental improvement in the damage done by six years of united Republican Party control. It will continue at a faster pace with the almost certain bigger Dem majorities, regardless if the White House stays R.

  39. mw Says:

    “You are dead wrong about the “Christian right” and “values voters” not supporting Ron Paul or not having a candidate. That candidate is Ron Paul.” – RAZ

    I am not sure if this was directed at me, as I don’t think I said anything about “values voters” in the post, but then I don’t see any such reference in the comments either.

    However, I’ll agree that Republicans cannot hold the Presidency unless they field a candidate that can maintain the historically successful fusion of the traditional social and fiscal conservatives. I recommmend Ryan Sager’s book “The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party” which has informed many of my opinions on the subject.

  40. Justin Gardner Says:

    I’m not saying we need a Dem government, but where your divided government idea breaks down is when it comes to the Oval Office and the use of military force. And are you really sure that Dems are going to be voted in and have a super majority in the Senate? What if they only had a razor thin majority where the government was effectively divided anyway? I’ve definitely always felt your thesis is intriguing, but when you stick hard and fast to any one ideal, there are bound to be flaws.

    Again, I think you should work to pull the Libertarians out of both parties so you can achieve true divided government.

  41. Cleaner44 Says:

    Ron Paul can no longer be labeled a “long shot” candidate. He has clearly has surpassed John McCain and is now a “top tier” candidate. I have created a website to support this statement.

    Please visit http://www.thecaseforronpaul.com and judge for yourself.

  42. Richard Wicks Says:

    I sent $500 on the 5th, and another $500 on the 11th, and I would never, ever send a penny to Ralph Nader.

    How bizarre that Frum thinks that people from the pretty far left would be the main contributors to Ron Paul.

    Does he even understand anything about Paul’s positions? Geesh, it doesn’t seem like he knows anything about Paul at all to make such a ludicrous statement and he probably doesn’t. Paul basically wants to get rid of every social program there is, or at least give the states control over them and fund them. What sort of Naderite would be in favor of that? Heck, Federal Safety Standards for CARS would be gone if Ron Paul had his way (and me too).

    Nader doesn’t have, well, anything, in common to Paul when it comes to initiatives for Federal government.

  43. crw Says:

    To make myself perfectly clear, single party Democratic rule is definitely not my first choice. My problem with voting for any Republican candidate except Paul stems from an observation:

    All the people really pushing the Imperial Presidency abuses in the Bush administration are graduates of the Nixon administration. In my opinion, there’s a certain Nixonian element in the party leadership that was never really expunged. Reagan and Bush Sr. were evidently strong enough leaders to keep this element in check, but as Bush Jr has demonstrated, we cannot rely of strong presidential leadership to keep the Nixonian tendency down.

    The way I see it, at this juncture, Republicans have two choices. Clean house themselves (aka the Ron Paul alternative) or have the Democrats do it for them. I am not at all convinced the power of Divided Government will be good enough to clean out the rot. Congress, after all, does not control the Justice Department and has real trouble enforcing even basic openness in the face of a truly aggressive administration. And Congressional Democrats have been remarkably reluctant to use their big guns to really put the pinch on the Bushies. Wake me when they have the Sergeant at Arms actually arrest some key administration figures refusing subpoenas.

    Divided government is good for a few things. It’s good for controlling spending growth. It’s good for ensuring any major federal initiatives have bipartisan consensus (from a libertarian perspective this may not be so great. It just makes the expansions of government power harder to overturn). It’s good for generating a lot of hearings. It’s not so good at putting criminal administration members in jail or delivering the harsh rebuke needed to stop these encroachments of presidential power once and for all.

    As said, Ron Paul would actually be principled enough to go after the Bushies. Also, we can be damned sure Ron Paul wont bring any of the Nixonians into his administration because he’s so far outside the establishment. Any other Republican candidate? Not so much. From my perspective, getting the Nixonians, and their proteges like Addington out of positions of power is paramount. My order of preference for doing so would be 1) Ron Paul wins as a Republican. 2) Ron Paul wins as an independent (maybe he can pull a Lieberman and go Independent Republican) 3) A Democrat wins the presidency.

    I really don’t think the GOP is going to fully realign back to its traditional conservatism until the rot that started with Nixon is completely eradicated.

  44. Lark Says:

    The biggest underlying threat to our still-sovereign (barely) constitutional republican form of governance is so-called communitarian law… which stems from the little-known socio-political theory, communitarianism.

    With even a cursory understanding of how language in the law itself has undermined our supposed, once proudly-held values of individual freedom, it becomes clear we’re being set up to be co-opted by elitists hell-bent on totalitarian control over all of us – including our money… privacy… and, eventually, even our property.

    Their dreams of empire and one-world government are on a fast track. So let me be as straightforward as I can: Under our present circumstances, Ron Paul is more-than-likely the LAST best “hope for America” – just as his campaign says.

    The times are indeed calling for meaningful action NOW… to alert the controlled mainstream news media… to the fact of our constant displeasure for its obvious biases… and to alert an ever-distracted, complacent, or confused citizenry too… of the “clear and present danger” before us.

    Therefore, I contend a Paul presidency matters in more ways than even the most astute observers among us truly realize.

    And George Wallace, for all his faults, was right: “There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties!” (1968 – American Independent Party)

    A review of American history since the illegal 1913 enactment of the 16th Amendment will reveal this essential truth: This nation is in the clutches of a secretive, closed-door cabal of international financiers led by the Fed – - who’ve been allowed to literally print money out of thin air… for all this time since.

    I guess any one of us could lead a one-world government if we had this enormously fortuitous license to steal, couldn’t we?

    “Besides,” they might say, “who needs the competition anyway?”

    IMHO, it merely prevents their overall objective… of controlling our disquieted minds… completely.

  45. Lark Says:

    The biggest underlying threat to our still-sovereign (barely) constitutional republican form of governance is so-called communitarian law… which stems from the little-known socio-political theory, communitarianism.

    With even a cursory understanding of how language in the law itself has undermined our supposed, once proudly-held values of individual freedom, it becomes clear we’re being set up to be co-opted by elitists hell-bent on totalitarian control over all of us – including our money… privacy… and, eventually, even our property.

    Their dreams of empire and one-world government are on a fast track. So let me be as straightforward as I can: Under our present circumstances, Ron Paul is more-than-likely the LAST best “hope for America” – just as his campaign says.

    The times are indeed calling for meaningful action NOW… to alert the controlled mainstream news media… to the fact of our constant displeasure for its obvious biases… and to alert an ever-distracted, complacent, or confused citizenry too… of the “clear and present danger” before us.

    Therefore, I contend a Paul presidency matters in more ways than even the most astute observers among us truly realize.

    And George Wallace, for all his faults, was right: “There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties!” (1968 – American Independent Party)

    A review of American history since the illegal 1913 enactment of the 16th Amendment will reveal this essential truth: This nation is in the clutches of a secretive, closed-door cabal of international financiers led by the Fed – - who’ve been allowed to literally print money out of thin air… for all this time since.

    I guess any one of us could lead a one-world government if we had this enormously fortuitous license to steal, couldn’t we?

    “Besides,” they might say, “who needs the competition anyway?”

    IMHO, it merely prevents their overall objective… of controlling our disquieted minds… completely.

  46. abe Says:

    I see all these people ripping on hillary, and rightfully so, however we have lived under a president who along with the republicans have expanded the federal government by almost 30 % since taking office/majority. We HAVE been living under a version of hillary, one thats dumber than hell, and gave us medicare part D and Iraq ( she voted for these things ). I mean, GWB makes billy looks like a fiscal conservative. I wouldn’t be suprised if Hillary and the democrats ran a more fiscal government if they ever control of the whitehouse. It really does kill me to say this.

    republican leaders over the past 7 years, along with the majority of republican politicans should be ashamed of themselves as they have shot the credability of the party, something Ron Paul is working overtime on trying to rebuild. I also place the blame on “conservative” talk radio, those air heads have dumbed down the base, and dumbed down the debate in this country, especially that clown sean hannity.

  47. abe Says:

    I see all these people ripping on hillary, and rightfully so, however we have lived under a president who along with the republicans have expanded the federal government by almost 30 % since taking office/majority. We HAVE been living under a version of hillary, one thats dumber than hell, and gave us medicare part D and Iraq ( she voted for these things ). I mean, GWB makes billy looks like a fiscal conservative. I wouldn’t be suprised if Hillary and the democrats ran a more fiscal government if they ever control of the whitehouse. It really does kill me to say this.

    republican leaders over the past 7 years, along with the majority of republican politicans should be ashamed of themselves as they have shot the credability of the party, something Ron Paul is working overtime on trying to rebuild. I also place the blame on “conservative” talk radio, those air heads have dumbed down the base and dumbed down the debate in this country, especially that clown sean hannity.

  48. Dave Says:

    “That still leaves a good 20% open for RP to capture, which is 20% more than he would get if he loses the GOP nom (which is the likely outcome) and stays at home during the general election. And if that 20% could then give rise to Ls running for local, state and national offices, wouldn’t that be worth it to ensure divided government from here on out?” -Justin Gardner

    If the changes that Paul is advocating don’t come about during the next term local politics won’t be making much difference in the overall scheme of things. It will be more than five years from now before another administration takes office, and believe me, by then it will be too late for a lot of things.

  49. mw Says:

    Justin,
    Wanted to respond to your last comment, then will leave you the last word.

    “… where your divided government idea breaks down is when it comes to the Oval Office and the use of military force.”

    I’ve heard this argument before. What I find interesting, is that I’ve heard it from both sides for the same reason. From the right – We need united government because fighting the war is so important. From the left – We need united government because the ending the war is so important. Now from the moderate center with you – its a clean sweep. I just don’t buy it. If we had divided government in 2002, we would have probably found a different way to deal with Saddam. We always get better decisions with divided government. Even in matters of war.

    “are you really sure that Dems are going to be voted in and have a super majority in the Senate?”

    I am not sure that the Dems will achieve a supermajority in the Senate (60 seats). It is a real possibility, but I expect they will fall just short. I am sure that the Dems will expand their majority in the Senate. There are 33 Senate seats contested in 2008. Of these, 21 are held by Republicans and 12 by Democrats. Simple numbers lead to a simple conclusion – the Republicans have more at risk, and the Democrats have many more opportunities to take seats than Republicans. This is a crushing structural advantage for Democrats.Particularly with popular Republican incumbents like Warner and Hagel retiring putting their safe seats in play.

    What if they only had a razor thin majority where the government was effectively divided anyway?

    “Effectively divided’ does not count. As CRW said – “empirical evidence supports the divided government thesis.” Well, it only supports it if we use the same definition for divided government all the time. Not Republicans divided against themselves. Not Democrats divided against themselves. One definition – The party that controls the executive does not have a majority in both the Senate and the House. Change the definition, there is no empirical evidence.

    “I’ve definitely always felt your thesis is intriguing, but when you stick hard and fast to any one ideal, there are bound to be flaws.”

    Sure. I argue the thesis strongly in posts and comments, but I do not think that divided government is the be-all end-all. It is after all, simply a “means” to a moderate libertarian “end”, and it is the “end” that is important. I’ll quote myself here from one of the Donklephant lost posts:”Ultimately, I see this voting tactic as highly effective, but short-term and self-limiting. Maintaining divided government has real benefits in terms of governance, and the primary benefit of successfully implementing this voting tactic is to move the country toward libertarian objectives. As a side benefit, it could serve to establish the moderate libertarian center as a self-aware, broadly recognized and organized voting block [The Ron Paul candidacy is doing the same thing]. Objectively, divided government only slows the growth of the state, with no evidence that it can actually begin to reduce it. One way to describe the situation is that the “Divided Government vote” stands down when the “Moderate/Centrist/Libertarian vote” stands up. Ultimately, if the divided government constituency is co-opted and eroded because Democrats and/or Republicans are wrestling with each other to prove who are the better, more effective moderate/libertarians, and can prove this to a skeptical, rational, empirical moderate/libertarian swing vote … well then our job here is done.”

    “Again, I think you should work to pull the Libertarians out of both parties so you can achieve true divided government.

    Even if you could pull this 12% into a 3rd party, it would either pull more from Republicans [in 2008], thereby act as a spoiler to elect a united Democratic government, or pull equally from both parties and render the libertarian swing vote politically impotent. It is only by getting this vote to consciously swing between parties based on libertarian objectives, that this constituency can achieve real political clout, and only when there is a highly polarized, roughly balanced partisan electorate. Like, um … now.

  50. Jim S Says:

    Moderate libertarian is an oxymoron. The creature does not exist in spite of mw’s constant claims to the contrary.

  51. Agnostick Says:

    PRIME TIME TV LISTINGS FOR TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th, 2007

    8pm EST/7pm CST

    FOX NEWS
    Live from Iowa, a debate between select Republican presidential candidates. Hosted and moderated by Fox News infotainment personalities.

    CNN
    Larry King Live
    Scheduled guest this hour: U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)

  52. mw Says:

    Jim S.
    I use this terminology to describe the voting block identified in this analysis. I don’t particularly care what you call this group. Perhaps “libertarian leaning moderates” is more accurate. They are the 12% of the electorate that are fiscal conservatives/ social liberals, truly independent (will actually vote for different parties) and inhabit the moderate middle of the political spectrum.

    They are real. They vote.

    What do you want to call them?

  53. Agnostick Says:

    mw, didn’t you just describe Centrists?

    I consider myself a type of Centrist. That is to say, I’m not “in the middle” on every issue. I lean heavily to one side or the other on some issues, and when everything is weighed out, I’m in the middle. I’m a “Centrist of Averages,” I guess. :p

    –Ag

  54. mw Says:

    Agno,
    I expect you are actually typical of this group. Me too. In terms of actual human beings that hold moderate middle of the road views on every issue – I’ve never met one. We are all “Centrist of Averages”.

    I do want to clarify that I am not the one describing this group. They are described and quantified in the referenced Cato Institute Policy Analysis. I’m just invoking and proselytizing them in my argument.

    In an evenly balanced highly polarized partisan electorate, I think they are the most important voting block in America, specifically because -

    1) They are willing to change parties and if …
    2) a plurality of this group vote in concert…
    3) they determine the outcome of National elections.

    The block is not big enough to elect their own candidate, but are big enough to pick the President.

    I said at the beginning of this post that I often get my ideas in the comment threads. Here is a post idea:

    Name this Voting Block.

    Some suggested names so far…

    Centrist of Average [Agnostick]
    Moderate libertarian [mw]
    libertarian leaning Moderate [mw]
    Libertarian Disposed [David Frum]
    Libertarian Center [Brink Lindsey]
    Purplish, Libertarianish, Centrist [Brink Lindsey]
    Figments of mw’s imagination [Jim S]
    LSW (Libertarian Swing Vote) [David Boaz]
    Others?

  55. crw Says:

    “Effectively divided’ does not count. As CRW said – “empirical evidence supports the divided government thesis.” Well, it only supports it if we use the same definition for divided government all the time. Not Republicans divided against themselves. Not Democrats divided against themselves.

    FWIW I don’t buy into this notion at all. For me, the calculus is one of weighing relative risks against my priorities. Divided government outcome as classically understood is definitely a strong positive factor for a candidate. All other things being equal, divided government is always going to be superior as long as we have a party system.

    Of course, all other things are not equal, and that’s why I’m having such trouble with this election. Yes, divided government is a plus. But so is the chance to hold these nerf herders who’ve sullied our constitution and perverted the definition of conservatism. For the most part I think the one cancels the other, and so it becomes the turd sandwich vs douchebag scenario for me. Hence I’ll just vote for Paul regardless, because he’s the best libertarian candidate right now, and a strong showing by him in the general will send a clear single that hey, there are a lot of libertarian votes out there!

    OTOH, if the Dems nominate Hillary I’m voting for divided government no matter what, because I just don’t trust her to set things right or hold anyone accountable. Also, if the Republicans nominate McCain I may vote divided government, because I think he’d be honorable enough to at least push for power in the open, instead of secretly snatching it. Hence divided government would be more effective. In either of those hypotheticals I’d prefer Paul to stay home or work from the sidelines building a more robust libertarian movement.

  56. crw Says:

    clarification: In the first paragraph I mean don’t buy into the notion of “effectively divided” – ie a party divided against itself.

  57. crw Says:

    Name this Voting Block.

    Libertarian Minded Pragmatists – that’s how I typically describe myself.

  58. Agnostick Says:

    “Libertarian Minded Pragmatists – that’s how I typically describe myself.”

    LiMP

    :p~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    [sorry, no way I could resist that!]

  59. Jim S Says:

    Ah, there’s the problem. The Cato Institute is involved.

  60. mw Says:

    Right Jim S,
    Understand your point completely. We should just accept your drive-by comments, as opposed to a fact based research study that references every data source, explains every assumption, and exposes every step in the analysis used to derive its conclusion. Got it.

    Sorry to see the facts don’t fit your world view. Please continue to ignore them. I don’t want you to get upset.

  61. Jeanette Says:

    Hillary having real values? What a laugh! She has really BAD values.
    I’m a Christian, and Ron Paul has the values I’m looking for. That aside, I like his policies on just about everything. Health freedom, war, economics, you name it, he has a sound stance.

    I’ve traditionally been Republican. Ron Paul gets my vote.
    Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independant…
    He is the only good candidate out there, period.

  62. Brian Says:

    Brilliant strategy there, GOP. Piss on the candidate who’s bringing in new voters into your party. Those young voters who show up at Paul’s rallies and join the Meetup groups? THEY’RE THE FUTURE OF YOUR PARTY, EFFING IDIOTS.

    If the GOP DOES NOT reach out to libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and independents who had enough of the war, stick a fork in them, they’re history like the Whig party.

  63. Michele Says:

    You Ron Paul supporters have really got me looking seriously at him. He looks like the only light in a dark tunnel. I’m ready for a revolution.

    I applaud all of you who have gotten the info out there. Very cool!

  64. Donklephant » Blog Archive » David Frum’s problem is still obvious. Says:

    […] This is not new, but it gives me an opportunity to recycle a favorite graphic I first used in November 2007. I suspect I’ll have the opportunity to use it again between now and the Republican […]

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