Ron Paul’s Chances

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Ron Paul’s Chances

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Here are some reasons, to be refuted, on Ron Paul’s chances.

I. Dr. Ron Paul can’t win

1. There’s more to life than winning. Even if the Congressman from Texas doesn’t win this time, still, he is spreading the libertarian message like pretty much NO ONE else before him. (Yes, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises popularized libertarianism, but none of them did so in the political sphere). Our refusal to support him can’t help this campaign. I would think that as a libertarian, we would want to help this effort, whether Dr. Paul wins or not. We should all get behind him as strongly as we can. This is perhaps the best opportunity in a long while to introduce libertarianism to the wider public.

2. Barry Goldwater didn’t “win,” even though he got the Republican nomination. But, he set the groundwork for Ronald Reagan, who did win, later on. Even if Ron Paul doesn’t win, if he does well he can set things up for the next libertarian candidate who can potentially attract masses of people to the libertarian message, and then perhaps even “win.” We can all help with this initiative. (I’m not a fan of either Goldwater or Reagan, since I don’t regard either as libertarians; I’m only using them as an example to illustrate the point.)

3. Don’t be sure Ron can’t win. No one, right before the fall of the Berlin Wall, or of the USSR, thought that either of these things would happen, even the “experts.” No one now thinks Ron can win….

4. Here’s the case for Dr. Paul winning the Republican nomination. The Iraqi “police action” deteriorates even further. Ron is the ONLY Republican candidate who will be no Johnny come lately to the anti-war position. Mitt Romney changes his mind on this, but is dismissed as the waffler he is. The others split the pro—Iraqi war Republican vote. One by one they fall out. (Even at this early date, Ron Paul already has more money in the bank than John McCain. Strange, it turns out that the one Congressman who demands fiscal responsibility of this august body is also the only candidate who is responsible with his own money.) Ron sticks it out until the bitter end. He doesn’t need as much money as the others, since his supporters are very committed to him. Let’s say, finally, it is Ron vs. Jailiani (aka: Gulag Giuliani, Il Duce, Benito Giuliani, Ghouliani, Gestapo Giuliani.) Then, a new scandal erupts (Rudy did drugs, was divorced even more than we think he was, harassed even more innocent businessmen, whatever). Dr. Paul wins the Republican nomination.

In their defense, it cannot be denied, the other Republican candidates will say that the war was not a bad idea but it was badly executed, “and here’s how things will be different when I am President.” But the American people are not infinitely stupid (even Caplan does not go that far). They have already heard this sort of thing hundreds of times. By the time the primaries are over and the convention begins, they will have heard it even more. Eventually, enough of them will tire of it, particularly as the body bags mount up.

5. Here’s the case for Dr. Ron Paul winning the overall election, against whoever the Democrats nominate. Now Ron faces, say, a Hillary—Obama ticket. He kicks their butt, again, over the deteriorating Iraqi war situation. There is no way these war-mongering chameleons will be able to attain the mantle of isolationist foreign policy. With a country heartily sick of U.S. Imperialism, the Republicans hold their noses and vote for Ron against the Hated Hillary. The Democrats desert in droves over the war. It is a super “keep clean for Gene” (McCarthy) scenario. Likely? No. Impossible? Not at all. Ron Paul will actually have a better chance in the general election than in the primaries, much like Rudy.

6. Can’t happen? Give me some odds on a bet. (According to some polls, the odds against Ron winning are 200-1). I’m willing to put up $1 against the $200 of all suckers, sorry, I meant takers, that my favorite Texas Congressman will win.

II. Libertarians should be relatively happy with either Thompson or Giuliani, in comparison to any Democrat

Well, maybe this applies to some "libertarians" who believe in pre-emptive war as "defense" and who are weak, to boot, on economic and personal liberties issues. But for real libertarians, the non-aggression principle is and must ever be foremost. That means a strong defense, but not maintaining our stance as policemen of the world. The Thompsons and Giulianis of the world support our present system in which U.S. soldiers are posted in hundreds of other countries as trip wires. Whenever there is a local conflagration, we are involved. This is defense?

We might as well bomb all of New York, since the monster responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh, came from that state, as attack Afghanistan since there was support for the 9/11 monstrosity in that country. A majority of the slaughterers of the innocent on that day (fifteen out of the nineteen) were born in Saudi Arabia; should we unleash weapons of mass destruction on the entire citizenry of that country?

George Washington’s "Farewell Address" was very libertarian in terms of how we should relate to other nations. He said: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” Thomas Jefferson called for: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Said John Quincy Adams: "America . . . goes not abroad seeking monsters to destroy… We favor the freedom of all nations, but will fight, only, to protect our own."

As to domestic policy, Dr. Ron Paul wants to wipe all victimless crimes off the books; can the same be said of Messrs. Thompson and Giuliani? To ask this is to answer it. And, as far as economic liberty is concerned, none of the other Republican candidates even deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Ron.

III. Libertarians shouldn’t be voting for ANYONE, Ron Paul included, since this goes against their principles

Stuff and nonsense.

If a slave master allows his property to vote between a harsh and a more humane overseer, we are to blame to slaves for choosing the latter? This is a perversion of libertarianism.

Murray N. Rothbard was interviewed on this matter by the New Banner in 1972. Yet, apart from the date, and the mention of the presidential candidates of that day, so fresh is his voice he could well have been talking about Dr. Ron Paul, his good friend and confidant.

NEW BANNER: "Some libertarians have recommended anti-voting activities during the 1972 election. Do you agree with this tactic?"

ROTHBARD: "I’m interested to talk about that. This is the classical anarchist position, there is no doubt about that. The classical anarchist position is that nobody should vote, because if you vote you are participating in a state apparatus. Or if you do vote you should write in your own name, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this tactic in the sense that if there really were a nationwide movement — if five million people, let’s say, pledged not to vote. I think it would be very useful. On the other hand, I don’t think voting is a real problem. I don’t think it’s immoral to vote, in contrast to the anti-voting people.

"Lysander Spooner, the patron saint of individualist anarchism, had a very effective attack on this idea. The thing is, if you really believe that by voting you are giving your sanction to the state, then you see you are really adopting the democratic theorist’s position. You would be adopting the position of the democratic enemy, so to speak, who says that the state is really voluntary because the masses are supporting it by participating in elections. In other words, you’re really the other side of the coin of supporting the policy of democracy — that the public is really behind it and that it is all voluntary. And so the anti-voting people are really saying the same thing.

"I don’t think this is true, because as Spooner said, people are being placed in a coercive position. They are surrounded by a coercive system; they are surrounded by the state. The state, however, allows you a limited choice — there’s no question about the fact that the choice is limited. Since you are in this coercive situation, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try to make use of it if you think it will make a difference to your liberty or possessions. So by voting you can’t say that this is a moral choice, a fully voluntary choice, on the part of the public. It’s not a fully voluntary situation. It’s a situation where you are surrounded by the whole state which you can’t vote out of existence. For example, we can’t vote the Presidency out of existence — unfortunately, it would be great if we could, but since we can’t why not make use of the vote if there is a difference at all between the two people. And it is almost inevitable that there will be a difference, incidentally, because just praxeologically or in a natural law sense, every two persons or every two groups of people will be slightly different, at least. So in that case why not make use of it. I don’t see that it’s immoral to participate in the election provided that you go into it with your eyes open — provided that you don’t think that either Nixon or Muskie is the greatest libertarian since Richard Cobden! — which many people, of course, talk themselves into before they go out and vote.

"The second part of my answer is that I don’t think that voting is really the question. I really don’t care about whether people vote or not. To me the important thing is, who do you support. Who do you hope will win the election? You can be a non-voter and say “I don’t want to sanction the state” and not vote, but on election night who do you hope the rest of the voters, the rest of the suckers out there who are voting, who do you hope they’ll elect. And it’s important, because I think that there is a difference. The Presidency, unfortunately, is of extreme importance. It will be running or directing our lives greatly for four years. So, I see no reason why we shouldn’t endorse, or support, or attack one candidate more than the other candidate. I really don’t agree at all with the non-voting position in that sense, because the non-voter is not only saying we shouldn’t vote: he is also saying that we shouldn’t endorse anybody. Will Robert LeFevre, one of the spokesmen of the non-voting approach, will he deep in his heart on election night have any kind of preference at all as the votes come in. Will he cheer slightly or groan more as whoever wins? I don’t see how anybody could fail to have a preference, because it will affect all of us."

IV. If Ron Paul, somehow, wins, he should immediately abdicate, since it is inconsistent with libertarianism to act as President of the U.S.

First of all, there is such a thing as limited government libertarianism, or minarchism. Although I myself am a staunch anarcho-capitalist, I know and respect the other position. Indeed, it is my opinion that the overwhelming majority of people (properly) calling themselves libertarians (I am otherwise a big-tent libertarian, but I personally find no room in our movement for the so called pro-war "libertarians" in the present context) fall into the former, not the latter, category. In this view, there are legitimate functions of government, namely protection of person and property, and to this end there are three but only three legitimate institutions: armies, to keep foreign enemies at bay, not to initiate attacks on them on the grounds that one day they might attack us; police, to quell domestic rights violators, not to arrest people for engaging in victimless "crimes"; and courts, to distinguish between those who perpetrate aggression and those who are their targets. As long as Dr. Paul pared down the swollen U.S. bureaucracy to match these ends, he would be acting in a manner compatible with our libertarian philosophy.

But, second, I go further. I maintain that it would be licit even for an anarcho-capitalist to take on the role of President of a country, any country. I know full well that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that this office in the U.S. veers toward the latter. Nevertheless, it is not a logical necessity for this to occur. As long as the president limits himself to tearing down illegitimate power, he can be acting in accord not only with minarchism, but also with free market anarchism.

Yes, there are very few people I would trust with such awesome responsibilities. Ron Paul is one of them.

I wish to thank the following for help with this article: Max Chiz, Ross Kaminsky, Max Raskin.

Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable.

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