The latest campaign from the Ron Paul movement seems to be going around to every forum and message base and blog comment area and posting a link to a letter which presents their version of a reasoned argument about why the Republican Party should reject John McCain and support Ron Paul instead. It’s an interesting document, because it encapsulates in a nutshell a broad selection of the misinformation and delusion which grips many Ron Paul followers, and it also exposes some of the ways in which their John Birch Society inspired agenda deviates substantially from traditional libertarianism.
Like most initiatives in the Ron Paul movement, I have no idea who is behind this letter or who supports it, but it’s typical of much of what comes out of the movement. It’s currently got almost 4000 signatures; clearly a lot of people take it seriously, so it’s worth examining in detail, or at least worth a look at some selected points.
In reading these criticisms, directed to some degree at Ron Paul and to a greater extent at his deluded followers, please keep in mind that I campaigned for Paul in 1988, donated to his Congressional campaign and voted for him in the Texas GOP primary. While I do not believe that Paul is a true libertarian, he is an important voice for liberty and certainly plays an important role in helping to move the Republican Party towards a more pro-liberty position. But his good qualities do not excuse his past or present mistakes or justify the excesses of his followers.
The letter begins by listing the reasons why they think McCain is a weak candidate for the presidency. Some of the points are valid. Others are quite strange.
Senator John McCain is a pro-war candidate. National polls show that 70% of American voters are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, a large number of the voting public will vote against Senator John McCain based on this fact.
This is a bit of interesting spin. McCain has never presented himself as ‘pro-war’ — that’s just their interpretation. The actual war in Iraq is largely over and McCain is not currently advocating any other new wars. That McCain supports keeping troops in Iraq until the country is past its current troubles is more of an anti-war position, since our presence there reduces the level of violence and the risk of Iranian invasion and a full-scale war.
The Scott McClellan book might become a bigger issue for Senator John McCain due to his close ties with President George W. Bush.
Pure wishful thinking. The one thing everyone agrees on about the McClellan book is that it contains nothing resembling a smoking gun. Plus it doesn’t contain anything about McCain, and the idea that McCain has close ties with Bush is just something they want people to believe and not supported by the facts. McCain and Bush actively hate each other.
Senator John McCain and his temper scares most Americans and opens up the potential that he could say or do something rash, further jeopardizing Americans and American interests.
I haven’t seen widespread terror of John McCain running amok and harassing the citizenry. His much ballyhooed temper seems to be restricted to such terrible crimes as getting snippy with rude reporters. This is hardly an issue of concern.
Senator John McCain admits he knows very little about economics. This comes at a time when our nation is on the verge of huge financial issues with growing debt, escalating oil prices, devaluation of the dollar, and huge trade deficits and ever expanding borrowing from China.
Putting aside the fact that our trade deficits are smaller than they have been in decades, McCain’s lack of knowledge in economics is no more of a threat to us than Ron Paul’s colossal ignorance of foreign policy. Any leader can rely on the advice of experts. McCain has a virtual army of economic advisors, all of whom have records of supporting budget cuts and limiting government spending. I’d rather have a president who admits his ignorance and seeks good advice than one who thinks he knows everything and advocates crackpot economic schemes which would have disastrous results for the economy.
Inevitably the letter then goes on to explain why Ron Paul is a better choice than John McCain.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul has / had a huge young voter following and would bring those independent voters back to the GOP and away from Senator Barack Obama.
Based on his showing in the GOP primaries his current following is of about the same size as when he ran for president as a Libertarian. A couple of million voters nationwide. They’re very vocal, but in numbers they’re comparable to the supporters of a typical third party candidate.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul would steal ALL the thunder from Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party, delivering that lost 5-8% back to the GOP.
Here they seem to have forgotten that they take Ron Paul a lot more seriously than the rest of the world does. In reality, Bob Barr is a much more credible candidate, even running as a libertarian, than Ron Paul is. He has a more balanced voting record, more of a reputation as a serious politician and is more likely to have the managerial and political skills needed to actually run the country and work with Congress. He’s also much younger, a better public speaker, a lot more personable than Paul and has an actual sense of humor. They also massively overestimate the support the Libertarian Party gets in elections. Barr will be lucky to top 1% on that ticket.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul would maintain the constant, core GOP voter. Those who want “Party Unity” and a GOP Presidency would unite behind Representative Dr. Ron Paul.
Why? All they’ve shown him thus far in the election is scorn and open hostility. A lot of them would be more likely to vote for Bob Barr or Barack Obama, or they would draft a third candidate. The Paulistas seem not to understand that Paul holds positions and has associations which are absolutely unacceptable to a great many Republicans, an awful lot of them in positions of power. They might gradually be persuaded to moderate some of those views, but they aren’t going to accept a candidate with whom they are at odds on so many issues.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul has garnered the MOST contributions from our military of any GOP contender. That alone speaks volumes.
Last I checked our government wasn’t run by or for the military, nor are there enough military votes to win an election. In any case, Obama has received more military contributions than Paul overall. By this logic we should support Obama.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul can fill the coffers of the GOP, just look at his fund raising successes at the end of last year.
While Paul’s fundraising was impressive for a fringe candidate it was less than a 10th of what the top two Democrats raised just in the primary. He would never be able to compete with Obama’s fundraising machine, even if he somehow managed to convince corporate contributors to back him.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul is a man of principle, the Constitution, and TRUE core Republican beliefs. He understands our economic issues and our international situations.
While I agree that Paul himself is true to his principles, I’d submit that Ron Paul supporters wouldn’t know a true Republican belief if it bit them on the ass. Their anti-corporate, anti-capitalist populism is totally alien to the traditions of the GOP. They’re more like anarcho-socialists than Republicans or even libertarians. As for Ron Paul, he has some good ideas and some questionable ideas and many of his views are poison to mainstream Republicans. To them he’s an inflexible ideologue who subscribes to a variety of extremist views which would make a terrible basis for national policy. His interpretation of the Constitution is highly selective. He seems not to recognize terms like “public welfare” and “common good” and rejects the long history of Constitutional scholarship and jurisprudence on which most law is based. His understanding of the economy is based on fringe economic theories which most serious economists do not consider credible. The Washington Post offers an interesting look at what would result if his plans were implemented. As for foreign policy, it’s an area in which Paul has no experience at all and his foreign policy would basically amount to isolationism which would have disastrous economic and political repercussions.
Of course, in all of this they neglect to point out some of the other negatives which many bring up about Paul. For example, they completely overlook Paul’s support for the reactionary conspiracy nuts at the John Birch Society and his tolerance of supporters of the reprehensible 9/11 Truth movement or the fact that he raises money on white supremacist websites and has the endorsement of racist leaders like former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, White Aryan leader Tom Metzger and Stormfront Fuhrer Don Black. That’s a lot worse than McCain’s endorsement from marginally crazy Reverend John Hagee. And let’s not forget Paul’s years of racist newsletter articles a scandal he just hasn’t been able to get away from. These points of criticism can all be countered, if only by pointing out that most of them are the result of misdeeds by others in Paul’s name, but Imagine some of those issues raised as smears in a campaign commercial when Obama goes negative.
So the letter makes very little sense. We already know that McCain is not an ideal candidate, but despite subscribing to very appealing ideals in some areas, Paul has baggage which makes him unacceptable to a lot of Republican voters, plus he didn’t win the popular vote in the primary and doesn’t seem likely to be able to claim enough delegates to mount a serious challenge either. Asking the GOP leadership to intervene and dump McCain for Paul is just laughable. They might draft some more credible alternative candidate if they thought it was necessary – it might even be someone who leans libertarian — but the truth is that they’d rather have the tens of millions of independent and Democrat votes which McCain will draw from Obama than the couple of million fringe votes which Paul will draw from the Libertarians and various extremist groups.
We all want change for the better and would like to have a nation which honors liberty and individual rights as a first priority. The hard truth is that you can’t accomplish those goals with every branch of the government under the control of a Democratic party dominated by socialists and internationalists. They’ll throw away our sovereignty and our rights and there will be no one to stop them. To even begin to get the changes we want we have to stop those who want to change our nation for the worse first, so we at least still have a country we recognize to fight for. To do that we have to get someone elected to the White House, even if they have shortcomings. McCain may not be perfect, but unlike Paul he is electable, and at the very least he will slow the march of socialism and tyrrany and buy us some time.