While watching the debates the one item which caught my attention as worthy of an immediate post was the question to Ron Paul about whether he agrees with his supporters on believing in conspiracy theories. Otherwise the debate came off pretty much as expected. We already knew that the Republicans are a bunch of xenophobic, homophobic warmongers and they didn’t disappoint us. I’ve long felt that Mike Huckabee is the best proponent of social conservativism and the post-debate polls show that more Republicans realize this. He would make an excellent candidate if he wasn’t wrong on so many issues. It will be interesting to see how the the nomination battle plays out as this might turn out into an all out battle between the social conservatives and fiscal conservatives.
While the social conservatives and fiscal conservatives each have strength in the Republican Party, the libertarian component is pretty much dead with Ron Paul destroying any possibility of them being taken seriously. It is particularly a shame as Paul’s brand of libertarianism is hardly recognizable as libertarianism and is far more in the tradition of the Birchers and other far right wing extremists while being quite inconsistent in actually supporting pro-freedom positions. Paul’s belief in a variety of conspiracy theories will keep most from taking him seriously, and unfortunately risks discrediting libertarianism. While I mentioned the exchange last night, the actual transcript is now available:
Q Good evening, candidates. This is Seepser (ph) from Arlington, Texas, and this question’s for Ron Paul.
Now, I’ve met a lot of your supporters online, but I’ve noticed that a good number of them seem to buy into this conspiracy theory regarding the Council on Foreign Relations and some plan to make a North American Union by merging the United States with Canada and Mexico. These supporters of yours seem to think that you also believe in this theory.
So my question to you is, do you really believe in all this, or are people just putting words in your mouth?
MR. COOPER: (Off mike) — Paul, 90 seconds.
REP. PAUL: Well, that all depends on what you mean by “all of this.” The CFR exists. The Trilateral Commission exists. And it’s a, quote, “conspiracy of ideas.” This is an ideological battle. Some people believe in globalism. Others of us believe in national sovereignty.
And there is a move on toward a North American Union, just like early on there was am move on for a European Union, and it eventually ended up — so we had NAFTA and moving toward a NAFTA highway. These are real things. It’s not somebody made these up. It’s not a conspiracy. They don’t talk about it, and they might not admit about it, but there’s been money spent on it. There was legislation passed in the Texas legislature unanimously to put a hold on it. They’re planning on millions of acres taken by eminent domain for an international highway from Mexico to Canada, which is going to make the immigration problem that much worse.
So it’s not so much a secretive conspiracy. It’s a contest between ideologies, whether we believe in our institutions here, our national sovereignty, our Constitution, or are we going to further move in the direction of international government, more U.N.?
You know, this country goes to war under U.N. resolutions. I don’t like big government in Washington, so I don’t like this trend toward international government. We have a WTO that wants to control our drug industry, our nutritional products. So I’m against all that, but it’s not so much it’s a sinister conspiracy; it’s just knowledge is out there. If we look for it, you’ll realize that our national sovereignty is under threat.
Most are well acquainted with the conspiracy theories surrounding the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, and the Trilateral Commission. The NAFTA highway is another plot which exists purely in the minds of conservatives, as Steve Benen has pointed out. After this exchange it will be far harder for Paul apologists to claim that the views of his supporters don’t reflect upon Paul’s personal beliefs.