Paul Meltdown Accelerates

When it became apparent that there is something seriously wrong at very least with Ron Paul’s judgment as to who he associates with, and likely as to his actual beliefs, I expected to see an increasing number of potential supporters distance themselves from Paul. The tipping point might be coming even more rapidly than expected. I noted on Tuesday that many libertarians are finally having questions about Paul due to his ties to extremists. On Wednesday I looked at Paul’s poor attempt at damage control on race which resulted in further questions as to whether his campaign is ready for prime time. By late Wednesday Paul was facing a new round of negative blog posts due to his continued affiliation with advocates of 9/11 conspiracy theories.

The latest round began after The Jawa Report noted that Ron Paul appeared yet again on the radio show of “Troofer” Alex Jones. This was the last straw for The Liberty Papers:

For some more pandering to the Troofers and other conspiracy theorist whackjobs. I’ll listen for anything of note, but as of now, I’m done with Ron Paul.

The Ron Paul campaign has unfortunately become a gathering place for 9/11 “Truther” morons, racists, neo-Nazis, Southern secessionists, fascists, conspiracy theorists, wannabe authoritarians, Birchers, and nativists that I do not want to be associated with. Worst of all, the candidate himself knows about these err….outside of the mainstream supporters and he refuses to publically repudiate them and refund the donations from the most high profile ones. (No Lew, I’m not calling for Ron Paul to do background checks on all of his supporters, just refuse the donations from the high profile scumbags). If a candidate thinks its alright to make common cause with these people, especially one who is running a “principled” campaign on restoring liberty, than I have to question his conscience for aligning with these people at best and question his ability to lead at worst. I’ve come to the conclusion that a Ron Paul candidacy unless he repudiates these people who do not share the belief in liberty, will harm the overall freedom movement by giving the impression to the American people that “freedom” and “liberty” are just code words for fascism, racism, and conspiracy mongering like the “New World Order” and the “North American Union”.

The precedent is there. Ron Paul needs to follow it for entire freedom movement’s sake.

Until then, this classical liberal is not a part of the Ron Paul Revolution.

Publius Endures asks, Why Ron, Why?

Plenty of commenters, myself included, have pointed out that Ron Paul could either be the best or worst thing to happen to libertarianism in decades. In order for him to be good for libertarianism (and for that matter, the country), he has to either win or, more likely, make people think. Continuing to seek out the support of 9/11 Truthers and nutcases is the surest way to ensure that his appeal remains exceedingly limited and to ensure that libertarianism as a philosophy becomes irreparably associated with these nutcases. In other words- actively seeking out the support of these people hurts both the Paul campaign and the libertarian philosophy more generally.

What make this worse is that it shows Paul’s priorities- he would rather spend time chasing the votes and support of a tiny number of 9/11 Truthers than chasing the votes and support of the millions of libertarians, disillusioned Republicans, and disillusioned Democrats. It’s simple math, really: he has limited resources. Why spend those limited resources on a small group of whack-jobs than on a large group of people who have been hungry for a politician speaking the language of freedom ever since Reagan left office?

I sincerely hope that what he said tonight was strong and indisputable against the 9/11 Truthers. If it wasn’t, I am going to need some serious convincing to return to the Paul camp. My support will either go to Obama, Thompson, or, just as likely, no one at all.

While I see no reason to consider Thompson, or unfortunately any Republican this year, the thought process of considering people from each party, as well as no one at all, mirrored my view before the Republicans moved to the extreme right on social issues, and advocated a disastrous foreign policy, in recent years.

Bitsblog writes:

The question is, repeatedly of late when Ron Paul was going to denounce the tinfoil crowd led by Master Troofer, Alex Jones. The answer, apparently is “not very soon”.

Which is approximately the same time he’ll have my support. The screaming about this has been going on for weeks now, and frankly there is no longer any excuse whatsoever for him not to break that association. On that basis there’s no reason for any sane individual to support of any longer. Game over.

At first the question was whether Paul was sane. Next the question will be whether anyone who supports Paul is totally sane. Of course simply reading the comments from his strongest supporters who spam the blogosphere already provides a clue on that one. The bottom line is that people want to be certain that the person they vote for as president is sane and rational. Paul seems to go out of his way to encourage doubts. Furthermore, people who advocate for political and ideological views do not want to have their views associated with racists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists. I expect an increasing number of libertarians, classical liberals, and paleoconservatives who have considered supporting Paul to realize that association with Ron Paul will act to discredit their views and make it difficult to be taken seriously. Paul can be the candidate of libertarian ideas or can be the candidate of right wing extremists and conspiracy theorists. He cannot be both and it is increasingly clear which path Paul has chosen.

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27 Comments

  1. 1
    Mark says:

    Thanks for the link, Ron. The weird thing about this whole movement is that I feel like the hard-core Alex Jones netroots have almost singlehandedly pushed me from die-hard Ron Paul supporter between April and October, to lukewarm supporter in October and early November. Tonight’s appearance told me that Paul values their support more than any other group. As I said over at Liberty Papers- I have repeatedly stuck my neck out for Paul, managing to avoid a single ban, winning over converts for the Paul campaign, and generally defending him against all sorts of critics. Of course, the primary reason those critics were so harsh to begin with was that they were themselves frustrated with getting shouted down every time they committed crimethink with respect to Paul. In other words- I’ve spent the last several months trying to undo the damage caused by these people. To then be essentially told that their self-destructive work was more valuable to the campaign than my (and others’) constructive work….well, that’s a bit hard to take.

    One other thing- my potential support of Thompson is based more on the fact that I like his laziness than on any of his policy positions. My belief is that if you can’t elect a real libertarian, the next best thing is the guy who’s too lazy to do anything at all.

  2. 2
    Joe S. says:

    According to a Zogby poll, 51% of the American public wants Congress to probe Bush/Cheney about the 9-11 attacks (see http://zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1354).

    The ranks of ‘trufers’ has therefore already passed a majority and will likely keep on growing, at least until President Bush satisfactorily explains why he ordered the military to stand down on 9-11 so as not to intercept the hijacked airliners.

  3. 3
    Marc Scott Emery says:

    A number of minor bloggers, looking to staunch the support for Ron Paul, are in mock indignation about a $500 donation from the white supremicist group Stormfront to Ron Paul’s campaign. As a supporter of many avowedly libertarian causes, I’m supposed to be aghast at Ron Paul’s campaign for taking the $500.

    Well, I’m not. And no one else who’s come aboard this growing Ron Paul Revolution freight train is getting off, either. Where you’ve seen doubt is from the people who had never committed to Ron Paul, and their doubts are pretty flimsy material compared to the gravitas of this very important primary election campaign.

    As one of the political leaders of the 30 million North Americans who consume marijuana, I am totally excited about a Ron Paul Presidency. Ron Paul, by his consistent voting record, has voted against the budgets of the White House Drug Czar (ONDCP), the budget of the DEA, has co-sponsored bills to support state’s rights to medical marijuana, and is chief sponsor of the 2007 Industrial Hemp Act.

    On television at the PBS Orlando debate for African-Americans, Ron Paul promised to repeal the entire federal war on drugs that imprisoned and arrested 320,000 African-Americans in 2005 alone over non-violent drug offenses. This modern incarnation of the Jim Crow laws ruins families, takes away voting rights, fills prisons, drains the Treasury and lures yet even larger numbers of minorities into the lucrative prohibition drug trade each passing year.

    Ron Paul promised in the Detroit Free Press to end mandatory minimums, to pardon all the non-violent drug offenders, and free them from jail. This would emancipate more African-Americans from bondage in an 8 year Ron Paul Presidency than even Abraham Lincoln was able to do with the Proclamation.

    Clearly, millions of African-Americans, Hispanics and stoners will be at large, with their voting rights restored, in a Ron Paul Presidency. With Giuliani, Clinton, Obama, and Romney, et al, this mass incarceration of African-Americans and minorities would continue.

    Clearly it would be advantageous for David Duke and/or Stormfront to support any candidate other than Ron Paul if they expected a racist agenda from a Presidential candidate. In fact, Rudolph Giuliani as Mayor had 283,000 people arrested in 8 years for marijuana-related offenses, 78% were Hispanic and African-American. Remember ” Giuliani Time “? Those who want a racist agenda will support these authoritarian strongmen who have a track record of actually hurting minorities.

    Marc Emery
    Publisher
    Cannabis Culture Magazine
    POT.TV

  4. 4
    rhys says:

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that a Ron Paul candidacy unless he repudiates these people who do not share the belief in liberty, will harm the overall freedom movement by giving the impression to the American people that “freedom” and “liberty” are just code words for fascism, racism, and conspiracy mongering like the “New World Order” and the “North American Union”.”

    This seems to me to be the heart of the argument. This is self-serving crap. If you care more about other’s perceptions of you than freedom, then you don’t really care about freedom. You can only have one master. Bow to people’s perceptions or bow to the truth. Don’t expect that these are the same.

  5. 5
    RonPaul33 says:

    Paul Meltdown Accelerates. When it became apparent that there is something seriously wrong at Ron. http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=2406

  6. 6
    Jake says:

    I’m not a racist/anti-semite/nazi, etc. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories.I consider myself a liberterian. The truthers? so what they are entitled to their free speech.
    So if Ron Paul went on a liberal show he somehow becomes a liberal? Don’t give me that crap. There are plenty of Ron Paul supporters who are not evil nor crazy. You are selfish, you know why? Because You are afraid of putting your own reputation at risk. You have placed your reputation before doing the right thing. Weak. I hate being associated with troothers and racists, etc. But I want to know I did the right thing not the easy thing when I’m on my deathbed. The groupthink media and top tier candidates will always try to make us look kooky. Sadly the Constitution is now kooky. Ron Paul has lit the fire of liberty in campuses all across the nation. I was on my way to becoming a liberterian and Ron Paul sealed the deal. If fighting for the Constitution is kooky then call me a kooky. I’ll take kooky over coward any day.

  7. 7
    Fluffy says:

    The simple fact of the matter is that 95% of the anti-Paul sentiment on the blogosphere arises from one sentiment and one sentiment only: bloodthirsty warmongering tinged with slobbering torture-craving.

    5% of the anti-Paul sentiment comes from liberals who hate his economic libertarianism more than they hate the desire of the non-libertarian right to torture captives and slaughter Iraqi [and Iranian] children.

    That means that 95 times out of 100, if you manage to find a blogger who is feigning “concern” with the Paul candidacy over some issue, they’re full of crap, and what they’re REALLY angry about is that Paul wants to stop them for torturing Arabs and shooting Arab children dead in the street.

    The 9/11 Truth people are dead wrong on the facts. They’re looking for a conspiracy that’s not there. But the way in which they’ve been painted as somehow being the most reprehensible people in America is just absurd. They’re people with one stupid idea. Do you know how many Huckabee supporters think the Earth is 6000 years old? Isn’t that idea AT LEAST as stupid as thinking there’s a conspiracy covering up 9/11? But I don’t see anyone calling for Huckabee to ritually denounce those among his supporters who think the Earth is 6000 years old. The Giuliani campaign has staffers and advisors who want immediate war with Iran. Isn’t that idea vastly more horrible than a bunch of people who think something stupid about 9/11? Thinking something stupid about 9/11 won’t get anyone killed. Electing someone who takes foreign policy advice for a bloodthirsty scumbag like Norman Podhoretz will. You really have to get some perspective.

  8. 8
    Good Lt says:

    Thanks for the link!

    The Ron Paul Devolution Continues…

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark,

    “Of course, the primary reason those critics were so harsh to begin with was that they were themselves frustrated with getting shouted down every time they committed crimethink with respect to Paul.”

    Yes, if Ron Paul ever had any chance his “supporters” have certainly helped to blow it for him. A blog post or article which might even be primarily positive about Paul will result in a ton of angry comments and email if there is the story includes anything at all which isn’t entirely 100% positive about Paul. The irrationality of their comments doesn’t help their cause either. The result is generally even more critical comments in future writings.

    Interesting theory on Thompson. Unfortunately I don’t think Thompson’s laziness will help. The result very well could be others in his administration taking advantage of this to push their agenda, as the neocons did under Bush. That might be an even more extreme situation due to the influence of Cheney but I would not count on a Thompson administration taking a nap for four years.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Joe,

    The use of polls to defend the 9/11 conspiracy theories has many faults.

    First of all, opinion polls do not alter reality. If 95% of the country were to believe an idiotic, unsubstantiated theory, it would still be an idiotic, unsubstantiated theory.

    The polls are also misleading as they throw in a wide variety of beliefs. I might answer yes to questions regarding more investigation but that wouldn’t mean I buy any of the conspiracy theories. There are many complaints about the investigations among those of use who have no doubt that it was al Qaeda and not an inside job responsible for the attacks. The questions relate to Bush’s incompetence in ignoring warnings about the attack and warnings about al Qaeda passed down from the Clinton administration, as well as his poor handling of the situation in the first 24 hours after the attack.

    You might briefly get attention by questioning why Bush “ordered the military to stand down on 9-11 so as not to intercept the hijacked airliners” but that one is quickly dismissed by the answer that he didn’t.

  11. 11
    Mark says:

    The reaction to the David Bernstein fiasco is in my mind, exhibit A1. That post was comparatively neutral on Paul and quite critical of all the other candidates. Yet he was immediately called a fascist, war-monger, etc. by the “Rockwell Brigades.” Before you knew it, Bernstein was involved in a full-scale blog war just for one throwaway paragraph.

    As for Thompson- my support of him would still really be the lesser of many evils. But I could at least hold my nose and pull the lever for him if for some reason he was the candidate against Hillary. One other thing I find appealing about Thompson- he’s occasionally been willing to stand up to some of the extremists within his own core of supporters, as with his opposition to a pro-life constitutional amendment.

    Obama, on the other hand, I could easily see myself supporting since he’s at least willing to question Dem orthodoxy on economic issues like Social Security.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark Scott Emery,

    When you write off objections to the contribution from white supremacists as mock indignation from minor bloggers you show how out of touch with reality Paul supporters are. The indignation is real, and most voters, not only minor bloggers, understand why this is wrong.

    As long as Paul’s campaign and his supporters fail to understand this Paul has a very low ceiling for possible support. Jumping on his bandwagon hinders rather than helps your attempts at reforming the drug laws.

    Rhys,

    “If you care more about other’s perceptions of you than freedom, then you don’t really care about freedom.”

    I primarily oppose Ron Paul because his polices, as opposed to his rhetoric, would lead to a decrease in freedom as I’ve discussed in previous posts. Neo-Nazis groups support Paul because they understand that the election of Ron Paul is the easiest way to bring fascism to America.

    Beyond my objections to Paul for his anti-freedom positions, you must remember that this is an election campaign. You cannot win a campaign if you ignore perceptions. A candidate who would lose by a landslide surpassing that of Goldwater and McGovern is a losing proposition.

    Jake,

    “So if Ron Paul went on a liberal show he somehow becomes a liberal? Don’t give me that crap.”

    Nobody is saying that, and if the future comments containing such “crap” from you and other Paul supporters who will not be put through. You only demonstrate the weakness of your campaign by the repeated reliance on such strawman arguments by Paul supporters.

    “If fighting for the Constitution is kooky then call me a kooky.”

    Ron Paul is not fighting for the Constitution. He is fighting for a view of the Constitution which would result in decreased freedom and which is contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers, as I’ve discussed in previous posts.

    Fluffy,

    “The simple fact of the matter is that 95% of the anti-Paul sentiment on the blogosphere arises from one sentiment and one sentiment only: bloodthirsty warmongering tinged with slobbering torture-craving.”

    You ignore the fact that in recent days opposition to Paul is increasing from libertarians and others opposed to the war.

    “That means that 95 times out of 100, if you manage to find a blogger who is feigning “concern” with the Paul candidacy over some issue, they’re full of crap, and what they’re REALLY angry about is that Paul wants to stop them for torturing Arabs and shooting Arab children dead in the street.”

    Can Paul supporters write a comment without using “crap” or similar words? What this comment really demonstrates is that Paul supporters do not accept the fact that most people have real disagreements with them. This dismissal of all other viewpoints is why Paul supporters are not taken seriously.

    As for Huckabee, he has received considerable criticism for his anti-science views. While such criticism is certainly valid, and I’ve also posted on this topic, it is irrelevant to this point. Another common tactic of Paul supporters is to ignore serious fault’s from Paul or his supporters by pointing to a fault of other candidates. This provides zero defense of Paul and only highlights the lack of a meaningful defense.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark,

    I was glad to see Thompson oppose a Constitutional amendment on abortion but that doesn’t change his overall opposition to abortion rights.

    Agree Obama would be the most likely to question Democratic orthodoxy on economic issues, at least among the supposed top tier candidates. However I am not happy with Obama primarily looking at rising the cap as the fix for Social Security. I’ve also been looking at Richardson, and would take a closer look at Dodd due to his stress on Constitutional issues if not for the fact that his campaign isn’t getting off the ground at all. As at present most of the candidates other than Clinton and Dodd are boycotting the Michigan primary, I am leaning towards voting for Dodd primarily as an anti-Hillary protest vote.

  14. 14
    RonPaul33 says:

    Paul Meltdown Accelerates. When it became apparent that there is something seriously wrong at Ron. http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=2406

  15. 15
    jmklein says:

    Wouldn’t an accelerating meltdown result in an accelerating decline in fund raising in polling?

    Or are you just wishing his campaign was melting down?

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Not at all since 1) Paul’s fund raising remains based upon a tiny base, increasingly from the neo-Nazis he panders to as opposed to any degree of widespread support, 2) Paul is already doing quite poorly in any real polls which aren’t subject to manipulations by his supporters, and 3) I’m writing of a phenomenon which has taken place in the last three days which would not yet be seen in either fund raising or poll numbers.

    Paul supporters would be taken much more seriously if they weren’t constantly attributing motives to others and instead attempted to actually engage in rational discussion. Of course this is part of the same mind set which makes them so prone to promote a variety of conspiracy theories.

    If Paul’s campaign was thriving I’d write about that. However in reality this is a campaign which is imploding due to its many mistakes.

  17. 17
    jmklein says:

    Well, we’ll see at the real polls come January. I have a feeling a certain primary is going to be spammed.

  18. 18
    Mark says:

    On the abortion issue- obviously an area in which there are a wide array of legitimate libertarian opinions, so not really worth debating. My point was more that Thompson is at least willing to keep his own counsel on some issues, regardless of what his “base” says.

    I don’t like Obama’s fix for SS, but at least he understands the problem, something I blogged about here
    Given his overall persona, I think he’d at least be willing to listen to other solutions, if not implement them. The big thing with Obama is that I view him as the one candidate with a realistic shot of winning where I wouldn’t have to hold my nose to vote for him. It would still be the lesser of evils, but the difference between him and just about any other realistic candidate is pretty dramatic.

  19. 19
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark,

    For me opposition to abortion rights excludes a candidate from consideration. My criteria isn’t whether a position isn’t a legitimate libertarian opinion. First of all I don’t believe any ideology is right all the time and will not make decisions based upon whether they fit any ideology. I’ve found that far too often ideology is contradicted by reality but ideologues of all camps attempt to deny this. Secondly, libertarianism has undergone so many changes in meaning over the past few decades, encompassing such a wide variety of beliefs, that the term has lost most of its meaning. There currently are libertarians on both sides of the abortion issue and both sides of the war.

    It’s also getting to the point where even rationality is an issue. When I checked the mod que after my Thanksgiving guests were gone it was packed with comments from Paul supporters frothing at the mouth (or should I say keyboard?) and making little sense. I especially don’t get why they think there is any point in making arguments based upon distorting what I said and then arguing against that as opposed to what I actually wrote. I’m certainly not going to waste the time putting such comments through and responding. If these people are now what goes for libertarian, I want no affiliation with them.

    I definitely agree regarding the reaction from some on the left to Obama even discussing Social Security–I also had a blog topic on that. Obama has also made a number of other statements which got my attention. I don’t have the exact quote (and wish I did) but I was impressed one time when hearing him talk about both how conservatives don’t understand liberals on economics but also how he gets blank stares from liberals when talking about the concerns of conservatives.

    Another plus is that, although I am a bit bothered how often he brings up religion, Obama has stood up for separation of church and state which is the important thing. While I’m not certain about Obama, I would choose someone like him who both opposed the war and defends separation of church and state over Paul who I only agree with on one of these issues.

    Obama does look the best of the candidates who are believed to have a chance, but I’m not going to rule out others yet. At this point in comparing candidates I’m separating my predictions as to who has a chance from my rankings of the candidates based upon preference. Looking back to 2004 shows the problems of assuming before the vote who can win. I’d choose candidates first, and then decide at the last minute if it makes more sense to vote for a different candidate based upon the circumstances at the time. Even though Paul has virtually a zero chance of winning, I’d even recommend that those who really agree with Paul support him for now and reconsider when it comes time to vote if there are any more viable candidates they would be happy with.

  20. 21
    Jeff Kanter says:

    Ron, et al,

    You just don’t get it. No sense engaging in a harangue with you. It of no matter. What matters is what happens in the voting booth at the Caucuses. Watch and see for yourself, who has support and who doesn’t.

  21. 22
    Eric Dondero says:

    It’s kind of amusing to me to see all these media folks and Ron Paul critics attacking him and his campaign for all these contributions from questionable groups as if this was something new. Ron Paul has a very long history of hanging out with fringe, far-out groups. This is not something that has all of a sudden arisen in 2007 with his Presidential race.

    I suggest for all these media types looking into Ron Paul and his ties to fringe groups, go back a few years. Don’t just look at 2006/07. Go back to the 1990s. Go back to the Libertarian Presidential campaign.

    There’s a lot there yet to be uncovered.

    Eric Dondero

  22. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    Eric,

    I have no doubt that this is nothing new. I’ve long been skeptical of the Libertarian Party (with my interest in libertarianism pre-dating the party). There are a couple of differences now as to why these things are being discussed.

    The first difference is that the war made Paul more significant now than when he ran as the LP candidate. The LP was a small group who got about 1% of the vote and people didn’t pay much attention to them. There were only occasional mentions of them in the news media and they were too superficial to look at these points. The libertarian publications which covered the LP weren’t interested in discussing this. This year Paul is of some minor significance as the only Republican candidate who opposed the war. (I know we disagree on this point, but even though you support the war I’m sure that you can see how Paul gets more coverage as the sole Republican with that view).

    The other difference is the effects of the internet. Without the internet, Paul would get an occasional media story but he’d still be a candidate polling in single digits and would get minimal attention. The internet allows for more detailed coverage of Paul, both good and bad.

    The internet also makes it possible to find out more. Without the internet it wouldn’t be possible to easily pull up the fact that Don Black contributed to Paul. Without the internet we couldn’t pull up old articles he wrote where he expressed conservative views denying separation of church and state and making ridiculous assertions such as that the founding fathers envisioned a Christian nation as opposed to a secular nation. Without the internet we would not see quotes from Ron Paul’s newsletter where he claimed that blacks are prone to violence and are incapable of coming to rational political positions.

    Paul’s faults are also highlighted by the comments of his supporters who spam the internet. While their views are often more extreme than Paul’s and their arguments even more irrational, they still reflect poorly on Paul and reinforce all the negative information which has come out on Paul. Without realizing it, Paul’s supporters ensure that Paul remains a fringe candidate with a relatively low ceiling on his potential support.

  23. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark,

    The word libertarian has become almost meaningless for a variety of reasons. This includes the misuse of the term by conservatives but this isn’t the only problem.

    The first factor which led to the change in meaning was the birth of the Libertarian Party. Back in the 1960′s and early 1970′s libertarianism was primarily used to refer to anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard or supporters of government so limited that it didn’t even have the power to tax. Such positions based on principle were fine for political discussion groups and underground magazines but didn’t make a practical platform for a political party. Many libertarians such as Samuel Edward Konkin III argued against the formation of the Libertarian Party, correctly predicting how it would dilute the position. Subsequently we had Libertarian Party candidates such as Ed Clark campaigning on a platform of reducing government back to where ti was under John Kennedy. Once libertarianism could mean a significant amount of government, it became easy for others who support freedom in some areas to support other government action (including the Iraq war by some or prohibiting abortion by others) while still using the libertarian name.

    When I have called Paul’s campaign more a social conservative phenomenon than a libertarian phenomenon, some bloggers have argued that I am wrong simply because Paul was the Libertarian Party’s candidate. They miss the point that I was using libertarianism in its more strict meaning used before the birth of the party by which the Libertarian Party itself is not necessarily libertarian. If you want to define libertarianism as synonymous with the Libertarian Party then by definition Paul would be a libertarian, but this is a definition which is independent of actual principles and not one I find particularly significant when defining the positions of an individual candidate. Party affiliation is a poor way to describe an individual’s philosophy. Jesse Jackson and George Wallace might have both been Democrats at one time, but their views are certainly quite different.

    Another factor is that libertarians have grown up and lived in the real world. The more consistent and extreme meanings of libertarianism look more realistic when living on a college campus than living in the real world. Many libertarians have moderated their views as they’ve lived in the real world but continue to use the label.

    The word libertarian is also used to describe many people due to the lack of good terms to describe a variety of political positions. Many people don’t fit in entirely as conservatives or liberals. This includes people who are more liberal on social and civil liberties issues and conservative on economic issues. They support more freedom and less government than the status quo on both social and economic issues and therefore the libertarian label is often applied for lack of a better term but this is a distinctly different view from the more extreme libertarians who would support far less government (if any government at all).

    As a consequence of these trends we have the split between Eric Dondero and Ron Paul who both might call themselves libertarians but have opposite views on the war. Both might be libertarians under its current use but neither would be libertarians under the more pure definition of the past. Eric Dondero backs Rudy Guilani, considering him libertarian, but I’d consider Giuliani one of the least libertarian candidates due to his views on the war and in increasing executive power. Bill Maher also often calls himself a libertarian but leans towards John Edwards, the candidate who might be the least libertarian candidate of all when his views on economic issues, social issues, and civil liberties are all considered.

  24. 25
    Mark says:

    Ron:
    I understand what you’re saying, and you’ve obviously got much more of a history with libertarianism than do I (a relatively recent convert, although I’ve spent 30 years with a philosophy most would have called “libertarian”). But much of what you are saying really applies to just about any political label- hence the well-known (in libertarian circles) view of the political spectrum as being at least two dimensional (I would argue it’s really at least three-dimensional).

    Anywho- I just posted a more clear-headed explanation of why this whole Alex Jones fiasco was the last straw for me.

  25. 26
    Ron Chusid says:

    Mark,

    That is certainly true that of labels in general.

    Many of the Paul supporters are arguing with this post with nonsense claiming that Paul appearing on the Alex Jones show is no different from appearing on Fox News or with anyone who supports the Iraq war. They have no concept of the difference between different political views and fringe views.

    Speaking of labels, I’m trying to figure out the classification you use for the blog links on your site. I see you list Liberal Values under The Federalists, along with sites including Andrew Sullivan, Cato, and a Ron Paul site. I’ve also thought of myself as more of a Jeffersonian than a Federalist.

  26. 27
    Mark says:

    Yeah- I need to redo the classifications. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a few days. The trouble is that I misread the first post of yours that I, err, read (same thing with Liberty Papers and some others, by the way). In the last few days, it’s become really clear that labels of any sort are pretty silly. But my frustration with the Rockwell Brigades (who are clearly anti-Federalists) led me to classify anyone added the last few weeks who was a “rational” libertarian as a Federalist. In essence, I made the mistake of not wanting to smear rational libertarians by associating them with the Rockwell Brigades. Sometime this weekend I was planning on redoing the labels to be more appropriate.

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