The Ron Paul Phenomenon As A Sign of Anti-Big Government Sentiment

The New York Times Magazine has a lengthy article on Ron Paul, showing both his strengths and weaknesses. As I do not believe Paul has any realistic chance of winning either the Republican nomination or the general election, I’m less interested in what we learn about Paul as opposed to what we learn about America. This can be seen in the conclusion of the article:

Whatever the campaign purports to be about, the main thing it has done thus far is to serve as a clearinghouse for voters who feel unrepresented by mainstream Republicans and Democrats. The antigovernment activists of the right and the antiwar activists of the left have many differences, maybe irreconcilable ones. But they have a lot of common beliefs too, and their numbers — and anger — are of a considerable magnitude. Ron Paul will not be the next president of the United States. But his candidacy gives us a good hint about the country the next president is going to have to knit back together.

Ron Paul fills a gap left by the major candidates. The Republican Party has become completely taken over by authoritarian war mongers, with most of them also theocrats (or at least pandering to the religious right for support). While we do hear opposition to the Iraq war from the Democrats, there is less talk about civil liberties, limited action to hold Bush accountable for trampling on the Constitution, and the candidates totally run away from the concept of separation of church and state as they try to appear more religious in the hopes of picking up votes. On economic issues, there is the fear that The Wall Street Journal is right that Edwards “holds sway over party’s agenda.”

Currently the Republicans have no other candidates representing their now dead social liberal branch. The “Starbucks Republicans” and “South Park Republicans” have no other choice in their party other than Ron Paul. While many years the Democrats have included a fiscal conservative in the Paul Tsongas tradition, this year’s candidates look more towards big government positions. Barack Obama sometimes shows the ability to look beyond traditional leftist Democratic views on economic issues but remains too nonspecific as to the details of his policies. Bill Richardson talks of being a pro-growth Democrat, as well as opposing the war, and has attracted some attention from libertarians, but so far has been unable to adequately get out his message and differentiate himself from the other candidates.

This leaves Ron Paul. I suspect that some who express interest in him would have second thoughts if he could actually win, but the knowledge that he will not makes him a safe choice for those who want to send an anti-big government message. This will remain a force among those who vote both Democratic and Republican, and might possibly even express itself as a third party option in 2008.

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25 Comments

  1. 1
    Bill O. Rights says:

    Thank you for an excellent overview of the political scene. And glad to see Ron Paul getting more exposure in NYT article.

    Still there are some optimistic signs that Ron Paul might surprise some people. We can only hope…

    Ron Paul places 1st or 2nd in every straw poll, debate, and active participation survey.

    Ron Paul is 1st in YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Meetup, Google, etc. The old media is just too slow to realize what is happening.

    Ron Paul has the most contributions from U.S. military personnel above all other candidates. So support the troops and vote Ron Paul!

    ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage only measure name recognition. Over the next six months Ron Paul will gain name recognition and people will learn about who Ron Paul is. Most people who learn about Ron Paul become major supporters.

    Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were doing about the same in the ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage in their elections. Ron Paul has tremendous momentum and his support is growing exponentially. The other candidates are stagnant. Only Ron Paul’s support is growing and will continue to grow!

    Visit YouTube and search Ron Paul to learn more…

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter comparisons don’t do much for Ron Paul. Carter and Clinton represented the mainstream of their party and didn’t have a strong front runner to contend with. Paul’s views differ from the vast majority of Republican primary voters and there are a few Republicans with a strong base of support. If it ever came down to it, the anti-Paul vote would be much larger than the pro-Paul vote in the GOP.

    The on line measures mean litte. Ron Paul supporters don’t have other options and have decided upon a candidate. The traditional Republican vote is greatly divided and the majority of Republican primary voters neither join groups like Facebook or are decided on a single candidate.

    On line support is also misleading and poorly representative of caucus and primary voters, as we saw with the collapse of Howard Dean in 2004.

  3. 3
    Buckwheat says:

    “While we do hear opposition to the Iraq war from the Democrats”

    Now we do, but how did Hillary vote before the war?

    Ron Paul was always against it, and in fact gave impassioned speeches on the House floor against it. They’re on youtube.

  4. 4
    Buckwheat says:

    “Carter and Clinton represented the mainstream of their party and didn’t have a strong front runner to contend with. Paul’s views differ from the vast majority of Republican primary voters and there are a few Republicans with a strong base of support.”

    Who is the “strong front runner” Paul has to contend with? Giuliani? McCain? Romney? Fred Thompson? It’s not a heavyweight roster, is it.

    Paul’s views differ from the Republican Party establishment’s views. Where the rank and file stand is less clear, but the military donations stats were intriguing.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ron Paul does have the advantage over Clinton on the war if we go back to their original positions. The same is true with regards to Edwards.

    Giuliani, McCain, Romney and Thompson are all much stronger candidates for the Republican nomination than Paul.

    The military donation stats were interesting, but also keep in mind that McCain also did well among them. If anything, the stats do show some opposition to the war among some of the troops.

  6. 6
    NH says:

    This is ridiculous…so you think I work 4 events per weekend here in NH because I don’t want him to win or thinks it’s ‘safe’ to do it? You’re nuts.

    Unreal.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Nobody is saying you don’t want him to win. It’s only sounds ridiculous as you are misrepresenting what is said in the post.

  8. 8
    badmedia says:

    Ron Paul will win. If you think otherwise, you aren’t paying attention, and/or you know little about politics and the importance of a big grassroots campaign.

    You also fail to realize that ron paul thus far has spent less than 1 million dollars. What you see is all grassroots, and the other candidates only dream about getting this kind of support for free.

    Ron Paul is built from the ground up. With a huge base. The others are built from the top down, big money to get support, as shown by the amount of money they spend. Again, if you don’t see why Ron Paul is doing better, you don’t know much about politics. Ron Paul IS the frontrunner at this point, no matter what the media says.

    Also, while McCain did come close to paul, the overall contributions to anti-war candidates in the military was 70%. Which is about in line with the overall public on the issue.

    You show him 3rd in the money – take out romneys own personal funds, and he is 2nd. #1 would be rudy, who only got 6% of his contributions from small donors, compared to over 45% for ron paul.

    Why people are looking at polls that are only mildly accurate in a general election with 2 or 3 candidates this far ahead of the primaries is rather strange IMO. As history has shown – even with McCain, they don’t mean much at all right now.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m quite aware of how little Ron Paul has spent. What he has achieved is impressive–but no where near enough to win a major party nomination. The polls aren’t the issue with regards of Paul’s inability to win. His views remain too different from those who vote in Republican primaries, and Paul’s grass roots support isn’t enough to over come that.

  10. 10
    Richard M. Connelly says:

    Ya, I’m old enough to remember how we were told by the media and the experts that Ronald Reagan would never be in the White House either. The experts are going to be proven wrong about Ron Paul too! He and “we the people” have just begun to fight!!!!

    Ron Paul Revolution!!!!!!!!!!!!

    http://www.RonPaul2008.com

  11. 11
    badmedia says:

    Since when did following the constitution and obeying and following what it says become bad?

    The republican base lost nearly HALF it’s base due to the war. If you don’t think those people will come back for a man like Ron Paul, then I don’t know what to tell you other than – wait and see.

    I can’t remember the numbers of the top of my head, but check into the # of people who donated to all the campaigns, and you’ll find Ron Paul somewhere in the neighborhood of 17%.

    He IS going to win. There is no doubt in my mind. Ron Paul supporters are voters you can’t buy, and the support is the kind of support money can’t buy. And it’s becoming more and more evident everyday. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have written this article. 🙂

  12. 12
    badmedia says:

    And that 17% is with the media being largely against him, and minimal exposure. They think they are hurting the Ron Paul campaign, but all they do is expose to everyone who supports Ron Paul their true nature, making his supporters even more determined. The other candidates don’t have a chance.

    Besides, when was the last time the MSM was really right about something? Same people who said Iraq had WMD, same people who said “liberators”, same people who said Iraqi oil would pay for the war. ETC. Get ready to add “2008 election” to that list if they continue their current path.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Since when did following the constitution and obeying and following what it says become bad?”

    I never said it is anything bad.

    “The republican base lost nearly HALF it’s base due to the war.”

    The opposite occured because of the war. Most of the sensible people have been driven out of the Republican Party, leaving a bunch of authoritarian warmongers voting in Republican primaries. There are still far too many of them for Ron Paul to stand a chance.

    “Ya, I’m old enough to remember how we were told by the media and the experts that Ronald Reagan would never be in the White House either”

    The two are hardly comparable.

  14. 14
    Doug says:

    The polls are meaningless. Ron Paul’s base is fired up and growing by the day. In six months, he will be a top tier candidate.

    In the primaries, his fired up supporters will turn out at a much, much higher rate than everyone else. Primary turnout is usually less than 20%. If Ron Paul’s supporters turn out at an 80% rate, he gets a 4x multiplier over his poll numbers. He could win, even if he never tops 10% in the polls.

    Think an 80% turnout number is unrealistic? Has any candidate ever received this much effort per supporter, ever?

  15. 15
    bret says:

    How are Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul “hardly comparable”??

    In fact, we are facing a similar currency crisis, perhaps even larger now. I was at the Spartanburg and Greenville events this weekend: packed houses cheering and applauding wildly for sound money and no income tax. If you had asked me 5 years ago if I ever thought I would see such a situation, I would have laughed you out of the room.

    We all just have to get to work spreading the message, it sells itself.

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    “In the primaries, his fired up supporters will turn out at a much, much higher rate than everyone else”

    That’s what the Dean people were saying in 2004–and they even led in the polls but were still not able to win.

    “How are Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul “hardly comparable”??”

    Reagan was the obvious nominee in 1980, and Republicans stick to their usual patterns. Reagan showed he could get a significant amount of votes when he challenged Ford, even if unable to beat an incumbent. Reagan’s views were representative of the party, and the GOP had even nominated a more conservative candidate than Reagan in the past. Reagan was a governor, as opposed to a Congressman and was known nationally. Reagan was one of hte most skilled politicians of the 20th century. There is no comparison between Reagan and Paul.

    “In fact, we are facing a similar currency crisis, perhaps even larger now. ”

    The economy today is nothing like it was in the 1970’s, plus these are not the major issues this year.

  17. 17
    Alexis says:

    I have been a democrat all my life. But now I am behind Ron Paul 100% and have converted my democrat friends to be on the Ron’s bandwagon. We all believe he is what American needs to fix this country issues.

    I don’t think the media wants to recognize what is going on because they are bought by the “big business candidates”.

    alexis

  18. 18
    b-psycho says:

    Call me crazy, but IMO the reaction to Ron Paul’s campaign could open the door for a re-radicalization of the libertarian movement. I’d be fine with that myself, though the more reformist types would be scared pale.

    Way I see it, people are throwing down the gauntlet here — “limit this government or else”. If you don’t want a stubborn, sizable chunk of the populace seriously contemplating what a post-State America would look like, politicians need to be handcuffed, Bush & Cheney literally so. An undeniable statement has to be made that our rights are non-negotiable & violators will never again be tolerated.

  19. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’ve never seen Ron Paul as a force for radicalization of the libertarian movement. I see him more as a hybrid of a libertarian and a social conservative.

    Wait, I see you say “re-radicalization.” You may be right here. I think of the libertarian movement as it was thirty years ago. In recent years much of it has been assimilated by the Republicans, and even Ron Paul could be a force for re-radicalization.

  20. 20
    b-psycho says:

    Exactly. It was reluctantly brought in to the “conservative” tent, and is currently being kicked out.

    You want an idea of what I mean by re-radicalization, look at how Murray Rothbard & co. were operating around the pre-fusionism period. They were attempting an alliance back then too — with the anti-state parts of the hard-Left.

  21. 21
    Ron Chusid says:

    I saved this for another post, but in writing about Pall I’ve often thought of the long term consequences.

    What do the Paul supporters do assuming I’m correct in predicting he will not get anything near the amount of votes they expect? It is hard to see them being loyal Republicans and backing thier party’s winner. (If I was a GOP leader I’d be questioning Paul’s loyalty to the party and pressing him for a pledge to support the nominee and encourage his supporters to do the same should he lose).

    Would Paul jump ship and run as a Libertarian again? If not, will the Libertarian Party candidate benefit from what Paul has done?

    Will many Paul supporters back the Democratic winner as the best shot of having an anti-war candidate win? That will depend a lot on the nominee. Richardson already has some libertarian support (but remains a real long shot.) Edwards will have a real tough time attracting any libertarian support, between his previous connections to the war and Patriot Act and his current populist economic policies. Clinton will also hve problems here, but I could see Obama managing to find a way to bridge liberal ideas with libertarian ideals.

    (I think I will promote this to a main post.)

  22. 22
    b-psycho says:

    Would Paul jump ship and run as a Libertarian again? If not, will the Libertarian Party candidate benefit from what Paul has done?

    Something you might want to see on that front: in a recent poll, Ron Paul absolutely annihilated all current LP contenders — both overall and among 2004 LP candidate voters.

    I’d say the answer to both your questions is the same. Paul is by far the only credible choice they have, without him the party is dead, period.

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    Ron Paul has the most name recognition and the LP would do the best with him unless they could come up with some other well known peson. However that does not mean they are dead. They will have difficulty getting much over 1% of the vote unless they have someone like Ron Paul, but that is the position they have been in since they were formed.

    Paul’s supporters back him due to their beliefs, not simply due to the individual. Many of them might prefer Paul as LP candidate, but will also be open to considering another LP candidate if they are dissatisfied with the major party candidates. It is possible that a consequence of Ron Paul’s candidacy could be increased Libertarian votes this year regardless of who their candidate is.

  24. 24
    Atvdude says:

    Ron- Keep bloggin and convincing yourself you know what your talking about. LOL!!

    I support RON PAUL because he is HONEST and all you have to do is watchin him a bit… I don’t agree with MOST of his personal opinions.. His views leave room for us to disagree and still peacefully co-exisit.

    America needs a Doctor now and not a Lawyer… in fact FOR FOUR YEARS it needs HONESTY.. RESTORE AMERICANS IDEALS ABOUT AMERICA.. And to show the world we care… I didn’t know Ron Paul till after the famous “cause we are over there”… But I have thought like that for YEARS.. NO ONE IN EITHER PARTY HAS THE CONVICTION TO SPEAK TRUTH.. because of FEAR that it would be unpopular.. or the Republicans would bash Dems as weak..
    Well guess what.. There is NO DIFFERENCE in reality between ANY of the DEMS positions on Iraq and the Repubs.. They all hem haw around about things… Dr. Paul says.. We marched em in.. we can march em out.. the reasons for going were wrong.. so the reasons for staying are wrong.. we know if Iraq does fall apart its NOT BECAUSE WE LEFT.. ITS BECAUSE WE INVADED..

    Geeze.. You would think a limited High School education would see the logic in those statements….

    LET Dr. PAUL WIN.. YOU HONESTLY THINK HE COULD DO MORE DAMAGE TO THE COUNTRY THAN HAS THE BUSH REGIME??

    Yeah I WILL BE VOTING IN REP PRIMARY FOR FIRST TIME.. AND RUNNING AS A DELEGATE FOR RON PAUL..

    Smoke that in your pipe!

  25. 25
    Ron Chusid says:

    Atvdude,

    “Keep bloggin and convincing yourself you know what your talking about.”

    And you can keep writig comments and concince yourself you know what you are talking about. You would have far more credibility if you actually read the opposing viewpoints and responded to them rather than attacking strawmen.

    “There is NO DIFFERENCE in reality between ANY of the DEMS positions on Iraq and the Repubs.”

    Position of many Democrats: We should have never gone into Iraq, and we should leave.

    Position of most Republicans: Supported the invasion, and want to stay indefinately.

    And you think you will be taken seriously by saying there is no difference here?

    “the reasons for going were wrong.. so the reasons for staying are wrong.. we know if Iraq does fall apart its NOT BECAUSE WE LEFT.. ITS BECAUSE WE INVADED..”

    That’s also the position which has been argued here and by many Democrats. That hardly gives reason to vote specifically for Ron Paul.

    “OU HONESTLY THINK HE COULD DO MORE DAMAGE TO THE COUNTRY THAN HAS THE BUSH REGIME??”

    Nobody’s saying that. Again, quit arguing against strawmen if you want to be taken seriously.

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