Nominate Ron Paul To Change the Debate

John Derbyshire considers whether the Republicans should nominate Ron Paul because it is not likely that any Republican can win, but they could change the discussion of political issues with Paul as their nominee. He quotes extensively from email he received from a Paul supporter recommending this, comparing the effects of a Paul candidacy with Barry Goldwater in 1964:

There have been at least two times in the history of our Republic when the losing candidate for president has had a greater effect on subsequent history of his party and country than the winner. Such was the case in 1928 when the Democratic party had the guts to nominate Al Smith; and again in 1964 when the Republican party nominated Barry Goldwater. Both changed the face of American politics for generations after.

“In regard to Ron Paul, I suggest that his candidacy, like the hopeless candidacies of Smith and Goldwater, would do more to focus the debate about the importance of our founding principles—about who we as a people are, and what our real interests are—than any other Republican or Democrat running.

There is no doubt that having Ron Paul as the nominee would dramatically change the debate. The problem with this strategy is that it wouldn’t change the debate in the direction those running the Republican Party want. The email notes:

Let’s consider the stifling bureaucracy that you so clearly describe in your article. Not one of the other candidates can do a thing about it once elected, without a real campaign discussion of it. Indeed, despite all the rhetoric, under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, the size of government, its intrusion into our lives, the entangling web of federal programs and the budget deficit all grew immensely.

Despite the rhetoric, the Republicans have become a party of big government. They do not want to change this along the lines that Ron Paul advocates. Nor do they want an isolationist foreign policy to replace neoconservative imperialism.

Ron Paul is no Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater was too outspoken, and had the added problem of running in a year where LBJ had a tremendous advantage over any Republican. However Goldwater’s ideas were representative of a major portion of the Republican Party. All it took was a more articulate proponent of conservativism such as Ronald Reagan for them to be successful. In contrast, the Republicans have already driven out those with other ideas such as libertarians. Unlike the case with Goldwater, they do not want to move in a direction toward the ideas of Ron Paul.

Even though they realize they are at a disadvantage, I doubt most Republicans have totally given up on the hope of retaining the White House, or the thought that the Democrats might yet find a way to give up victory. The author of the quoted email is right that nominating Ron Paul would provide for a much more meaningful debate, but unfortunately it would not be the debate that most Republicans really want. If Ron Paul somehow does win, it will be due to an insurgency dominated by those out of the current Republican mainstream, not as a matter of strategy from the current Republican leadership.


  1. 1
    Buckwheat says:

    “There is no doubt that having Ron Paul as the nominee would dramatically change the debate. The problem with this strategy is that it wouldn’t change the debate in the direction those running the Republican Party want…Unlike the case with Goldwater, they do not want to move in a direction toward the ideas of Ron Paul.”

    Well, the Republican Party *establishment* has become neoconservative, favoring wars and big domestic spending.

    With the Republican voters, it’s different: they’re sick of the neocon wars, sick of neocon big government spending, sick of neocon soft-on-illegal-immigration policies (Bill Kristol: “I’m even soft on illegal immigration.”).

    They’ve had enough and that’s why they’re rallying to Ron Paul.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I fear Republicans have the establishment they have because of the voters they have and there aren’t anywhere near enough to rally to Ron Paul. Paul suppoters represent a very tiny fraction of Republican voters.

  3. 3
    Bill O. Rights says:

    Americans want change in Washington!

    The American people are against those in Washington starting illegal preemptive unnecessary wars, spying on the American people, and spending money they do not have. That is why disproval ratings of Congress and President are at historic lows. Americans want change! Americans want a leader who actually believes in the Constitution which is incredibly rare in Washington these days.

    70% of Americans want us out of Iraq and want change.

    Ron Paul is only republican candidate against the war.

    Ron Paul only needs about 30% vote from republicans sick of the war and abuse of powers to win in republican primaries.

    Ron Paul is not against war as a pacifist.

    Ronald Reagan said that “Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first.”

    Ron Paul is just against illegal preemptive unnecessary wars that make America and the world less safe.

    Ron Paul can win.

    Ron Paul has over 30,000 registered volunteers. More than all other candidates combined (maybe more than any candidate in history). And more registering now at

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

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

    Ron Paul is 1st on YouTube, Meetup, MySpace, Technorati, Alexa, Clickz, Google, etc. The old media is just too slow to realize what is happening.

    Do not listen to the so called ‘Scientific Polls’. Ron Paul is not included in the cleverly woven questions pollsters are asking. This has been well documented.

    Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were doing about the same in the ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage in their elections. ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage only measure name recognition. Over the next six months Ron Paul will gain name recognition. Most people who learn about Ron Paul become major supporters.

    A big problem with our electoral process is that the old media generally supports the richest candidates (who got their money from special interest). Those are the worst candidates because they are owned by special interest and lobbyists. Hopefully the internet will help restore balance and choice.

    Dr. Ron Paul is the only major candidate not owned by military-industrial-complex, corporations, special interest, lobbyists, etc. Fix the system and vote Ron Paul. And tell everyone you know. Now is the time to set ourselves free.

    The American people know that something is very wrong in Washington. The American people want change!

    Visit YouTube and search Ron Paul to learn more…
    Join the Revolution — Vote Ron Paul!

  4. 4
    dsentell says:

    It would be a brilliant move by the Republicans to keep the White House by endorsing Ron Paul.

    Unfortunately (for them), he does not support their agenda.

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