Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Case Against Ron Paul

Stephen Bainbridge outlines a conservative case against Ron Paul (via Instapundit). Some of Bainbridge's issues don't bother me -- he's a conservative, and I am not. But Bainbridge leaves out the main reason to not support him: he's a kook. He's your crazy uncle, if you have one. Charming, well, I think so. Lovable, sure. Funny, when compared to, say, Mitt Romney, who is the ultimate blow-dried politician. Yes, I'd like to see a Republican Party with more Ron Paul in it. I think that the New Deal and Great Society were big mistakes, and that we'd be a lot better off today with much less government than we have now.

But what Ron Paul and many libertarians don't understand is that Americans are naturally conservative, in the sense that they tend to resist radical change. Sure, they say they want "change," but they want change within a certain range. The real challenge for a serious libertarian is finding a path from here to where we want to be. A way of unwinding the administrative/welfare state.

Even if you agree that we'd be a lot better off with less government -- and I do -- the fact is that people do depend on government programs right now. It's all well and good to say we'd be better off thirty years from now if we adopted more libertarian policies, but if you want to sustain a transition to a more limited government, you have to find some way to ameliorate the transition. And that is a question that Ron Paul seems not to even have thought about.


MikeT said...

I think it comes down to who runs against him. If it is Hillary Clinton, he stands a pretty good chance of holding his own. I think many people would rather have their crazy uncle in office over another Bush or Clinton at this rate. He will also have wide appeal in the blue states with his anti-occupation stance, and in the red states with his views on immigration and border security if he gets the nomination and talks about those views in the debates.

cheerful iconoclast said...

Mike, he's not going to get the nomination. And if he did, Clinton or Obama would eat him for lunch.

MikeT said...

He very well may not get the nomination. In fact, the PTB will fight tooth and nail to see to it that he doesn't get it. Just look at the visceral reaction he gets from most of the "A list bloggers" as the tip of the iceberg. However, I think you underestimate him. There are a lot of liberals out there who would vote for him because they'd seriously consider him the only serious "anti-occupation candidate." I've said this before to friends who think he'd get steamrolled. You might be surprised by how much a straight-shooter who is in agreement with the majority of the American people on the two biggest issues could hold his own against the establishment's favored candidates in a major debate.

My biggest fear would be that if he were to win the election, a lot of conservatives would be idiots and stay at home because they'd be turned off by his stance on Iraq, despite the fact that he is the closest thing to Goldwater/Reagan that they will ever see again.

I certainly don't think he is guaranteed victory, but his views and reputations are very strong, and he's sufficiently different from the Bush side of the Republican Party to not turn off most of the electorate as soon as they see the R next to his name on the ballot. I just don't see any other Republican winning without massive voter fraud this time.

Anonymous said...

I've supported Ron Paul since back in June. Cheerful Iconoclast's post is on point with what needs to happen. I think a lot was learned in this campaign, and hopefully we can start figuring out how to get from here to there.

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