Why I Took Matching Funds and Ron Paul Should Too

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I was the New
Jersey Libertarian Party candidate for governor in 1997. The primary
goal of the campaign was to raise $210,000 by the September 2 deadline
to qualify for matching funds and get a spot in three televised
debates. One of the "strings" in accepting the matching
funds was to participate in three televised debates with Governor
Whitman and the Democrat challenger, Jim McGreevey, who was a state
senator and mayor of Woodbridge at the time.

Those were
the rules. Raise the money, apply for the matching funds, and get
the funds. The funds were used by us to spread the message of limited
government, free enterprise and personal responsibility throughout
the Garden State and expose millions of New Jerseyans to libertarian
ideas.

Mission accomplished.
We were all over television and radio and before newspaper editorial
boards. On Election Day, we received nearly 5% of the vote or about
113,000 votes. Whitman won by about 21,000 votes, receiving less
than 50% of the vote, thus ending any chance she had for national
office. (She still hates my appearance in the debates, because I
showed the world she was and still is a big government Republican.)

If we had not
raised the minimum amount to qualify for the matching funds, I would
not have been in the three debates, and we would have received much
less than 1% of the vote. And the libertarian message would have
been silenced in this campaign, for all intents and purposes. Because
of the exposure I received during the 1997 campaign, I have become
the unofficial spokesperson for libertarianism in the State of New
Jersey.

Keep in mind,
the New Jersey election commission (ELEC) denied our original application,
because of a slight technical issue regarding an interpretation
of the rules. We then had a hearing with an administrative law judge
who ruled in our favor. The election commission subsequently approved
our application on September 19, more than two weeks after our application
was first filed, and about six weeks before the November election.
In just six weeks, we created a buzz in the state, because we played
by the rules. We reached millions of New Jerseyans and Americans
because one of the debates was televised on C-SPAN, and we had the
funds to pay for radio and television ads.

Ron Paul has
been in nearly a dozen debates and forums. Yet, there are tens of
millions of American who do not know who he is. Only exposure in
the MSM will change that. One way would be to obtain the federal
matching funds to get his message out to the general public, not
just GOP primary voters. Independent voters could play a major role
in some of the early primaries. Whatever the rules are they cannot
be very onerous or come with many strings attached.

The
Ron Paul campaign should accept the matching funds with a clear
conscience, because Dr. Paul would be playing by the rules of the
game. After all, he accepts a taxpayer funded congressional salary
and taxpayer funds to run his congressional offices. If Ron Paul
supporters do not want him to obtain matching funds because they
are “tainted,” they should also demand he depend on voluntary contributions
to pay for all the expenses, including salaries, of his DC and Texas
offices. Clearly, that would be an unrealistic application of libertarian
principles.

It seems if
libertarians or traditional conservatives play by the rules of the
game, the MSM call them hypocrites, and if we want to reduce or
abolish the welfare-warfare state, we are called extremists. In
short, we can never “win” or “please” the media elites and the pundit
class. So let Ron be Ron.

Finally,
if the campaign will not accept matching funds, then all the Ron
Paul supporters in America will have to step up to the plate more
than they have already. During the past week, Paul supporters have
shown they can rise to the occasion when they are called upon. I
estimate that if the Paul campaign raises $30 million in the fourth
quarter ending December 31, he will definitely win the GOP
presidential nomination.

October
2, 2007

Murray
Sabrin, Ph.D. [send him mail],
is professor of finance in the Anisfield School of Business, Ramapo
College of New Jersey, where he is executive director of the Center
for Business and Public Policy.
He is the author of Tax
Free 2000: The Rebirth of American Liberty. Sabrin’s weekly column
appears Monday on USADaily.com,
and he blogs on NJVoices.com
and ShapTalk.com.

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