It’s about 8 o’clock on Saturday night, and Murphy’s Taproom is going nuts with flash bulbs and cheering…
About 10 minutes earlier, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a lithe 72-year-old obstetrician running a quixotic Republican campaign for president, arrived at the bar with a wide-eyed state policeman in tow. You would have thought Bono had come to Murphy’s. Young and old crushed to the door, waved their arms and stood on chairs to get a glimpse of the man….
After circling the room with his security, Paul is again bombarded with chants. “Speech, speech, speech,” holler his supporters. The congressman climbs onto a chair, looking giddy. “You have gotten rid of my skepticism. I was a skeptic,” he calls out. “You are the campaign. I have joined the revolution.”
There is a roar. The ‘What’s Next’ Series
So went a Salon.com article on the Ron Paul Revolution in early December. Those of us who have seen Dr. Paul speak on multiple occasions – and at this point I’d guess that’s most of us – recognize the bit as a standard component of his stump speech and one of the most integral, not just to the speech but to the campaign, to the man, to the movement.
Today, The Revolution is at a crossroads. Our own spinning giddiness has to meet the road of reality. Ron Paul is not going to win the Republican nomination. Ron Paul is, more than likely, never going to be President. Frankly, Ron Paul has never had much of a chance to do either, as most of us probably recognized from the very beginning.
These are not somber facts, or ones we should apologize for; the deck has been so handedly stacked against us that no one campaign was ever going to be enough. But our saving grace, our common thread, our guiding purpose, is that neither of those goals are, or have ever been, the point at all.
The point, all along, has been the realization that we – we – are out there.
And that we can still create American revolutions.
There is a heated debate going on right now about what Ron Paul should do with his Presidential campaign. Some suggest he ought to run on the Libertarian ticket. Others urge him to stay Republican and end his run at the convention. Still others say he should run independent or on some as-yet-unnamed third-party ticket and keep this thing going until November. A few say he should drop out now and concentrate on his own re-election.
All of these suggestions are interesting, and have merit, and are worth debating. But the truth is Dr. Paul will surely make his own mind up as to what path is right for him, and the movement that his singular courage and integrity has spawned.
The question we need to be asking is what we ought to be doing. The answer is something that is not mutually exclusive with any of the options that Dr. Paul has open to him.
What we ought to be doing is beginning to build up, and elect, more Ron Pauls. To begin electing our own candidates – Revolution candidates – to the House and the Senate.
The task is both enormously difficult and stupidly simple.
Difficult in that it requires Dr. Paul’s leadership. Nobody is going to agree 100% with any candidate, and everybody will have qualms with anybody put forward. There is not going to be another Ron Paul. But we need to begin putting single-issue differences aside and start pushing forward candidates who advance the cause that Dr. Paul has led us in championing. These candidates will vary from district to district, from state to state, from party to party, but if they’re willing to stand with Dr. Paul in Congress, and if Dr. Paul is willing to endorse them, then we ought to be willing to put aside our own partisan tics and ideological crib-sheets and start working towards something that, taken as a whole, can make a real difference. Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, it doesn’t matter. If they’re willing to sign on with The Revolution, than all of us should be prepared to sign on with them.
How this is managed, of course, remains to be worked out. It might be a good idea, in the beginning, for Dr. Paul to found and personally staff his own PAC – something similar to the Republican Liberty Caucus (if not that exactly) – and seek out and personally put his stamp of approval on candidates as he sees fit. We should keep our Meetups, our organizations, our connections, and begin to orient them towards identifying and supporting candidates all across the country. It is not enough to be satisfied with playing the role of mere critic. We need to begin the machinations necessary to advance our own agenda. It is not enough to sit back and sound off from the comfort of the sidelines. We need to actively get in the game.
The fight starts, of course, with Ron Paul himself. Let’s all, hand-in-hand with his constituents, make sure that he retains his House seat for as long as he seeks it. Call it a “first order of business."
But beyond that the candidates, already, are out there. Readers of this site know well Murray Sabrin, who is running for Senate in New Jersey. He represents the first Senate candidate endorsed by Dr. Paul. His campaign, like all of ours will be, is an uphill climb, but there are already efforts underway to help him on his course. A money bomb has been scheduled for February 29th, aptly called Scholar For Freedom. A Senator Sabrin, needless to say, would be an incredible step forward for The Revolution.
Likewise in The House – and perhaps less well known – is Jim Forsythe, running for Congress in New Hampshire, also endorsed by Dr. Paul. Anybody who worked in New Hampshire knows Jim well; I’d go so far as to say that nobody in The Revolution has worked harder for Dr. Paul than Jim Forsythe. A PhD in Aerospace Engineering, a successful business owner, a veteran Air Force pilot who flew tours in Bosnia, Iraq, and Somalia (and a founder of the Military for Ron Paul Meetup), Jim is running for Congress as a Ron Paul Republican, and his too is an uphill battle. A money bomb has been organized to support him also, Fly To Liberty, scheduled for the 21st.
Put both of those dates on your calendar now.
Those are just the two endorsed by Ron Paul. There are already many more of us stepping up to the plate, even this year, to take the Revolution to its next phase. Foot soldiers in the Revolution all over the country are coming forward, running for delegate, state houses, and larger races. It was never going to be enough to push Dr. Paul to a great showing (and, despite what the hand-wringers or mainstream analysts might say, Dr. Paul’s run has already been extraordinary, re-writing the book of what is possible for strict constitutionalists and libertarian candidates working within the major parties). Dr. Paul has proved that liberty candidates can raise money. That there is a veritable army out there willing to fight for the cause. He was at his most competitive among the young, among the independents, among new voters. Most importantly, he has shown that what’s necessary to succeed in these ways is to create the networks, to bring us together, and to channel us. That is a role he can retain long past this election.
These current candidates – Jim and Murray and the myriad of others – are just the opening salvo in what could be a true Revolution.
Here’s what’s key: all of these races will be tough slogs. As we’ve discovered with Dr. Paul, resistance to liberty, to the constitution, to free markets, to peace, runs strong.
But even if we lose, if we fight, we win.
As Dr. Paul has shown, to win a single campaign is not always the end-all-be-all. The first order of business is to draw the forces of freedom out, to advertise that there is still a place for them in the political landscape, to bring our voices to the national conversation, and to use those voices to persuade. This has been phenomenally true of Dr. Paul’s campaign; indeed it has been the central truth of it – all of us, I expect, have had the experience of attending a Ron Paul event and being amazed at how many and how varied we were, after years of us all, individually, feeling alienated and lost in the dark in the realm of contemporary politics. And the experience of marveling, in spite of ourselves, at how powerful the message truly is.
But it’s even more true for other campaigns. Congressional candidates who lose, but who show an ability to raise money and to viably compete, gain respect and a place at the table, for themselves and their ideas. Most people who lose congressional campaigns but lose well are put on a bench for the party, and the next time they run, they find more support than they might have otherwise expected. The more we run Ron Paul candidates, the more we begin to remake the respective parties from within. And the more we win, the more we begin to reshape Congress, and the national paradigm with it.
Imagine if, upon Ron Paul’s retirement (many years from now, we hope), he is no longer Dr. No, a single voice in a choir of statists. But if he is instead the elder statesman of a small but powerful and vociferous caucus: 20, 30, 50 Ron Paul congressmen at his side, a contingent in the Senate as well. To get there requires that all of us stay active, continue pressing our advantage, but it is possible.
I said it would be stupidly simple as well.
It would take Ron Paul another 10–20 million dollars to be reasonably competitive in this Presidential race. All of us would be willing to front that money to him in a heartbeat should he so ask it of us.
But a million dollars makes a candidate for the Senate instantly competitive. A half a million dollars vaults anybody into viability for a House seat. The need is different for every district and state, but the point is that 10–20 million, dispersed to candidacies every two years for a variety of seats, can, in short time, go a long, long way.
There are many candidates out there deserving of our efforts who will otherwise never be a blip on the radar for the major parties – which means we will never be a blip on their radars. If we begin to show a select group of them even half of the time, effort, money, and creativity we’ve shown for Dr. Paul, we can change America.
This is already beginning. Sites like Liberty Congress.org and Paul Congress.com have begun to spring up, and projects like the Liberty War Chest have followed. But to truly succeed at turning our movement’s focus, we need to all begin pivoting towards these and related endeavors, we need to work as hard as we have for the Presidential race, and we may well need the leadership of Dr. Paul himself to do so.
It is time to move from this run for President to this run for liberty.
It is time to begin thinking beyond one campaign, and to start thinking about where we – again, we – go from here. To go from one campaign to many.
Because it was never about the Ron Paul campaign.
It was always about the Ron Paul movement.
And The Revolution starts now.
Brad Porter [send him mail] is a freelance writer and public policy fellow, as well as a blogger for The Crossed Pond, named one of the 10 best blogs for political coverage in 2007. He’s been a director for The Free Assembly for Constitutional Thought and a longtime Republican activist. He currently lives in Pittsburgh.