Some Historical Perspective for Ron Paul Activists
by Ryan McMaken
Recently by Ryan McMaken: 6 Myths Catholics Tell About Libertarians
I’ve been somewhat surprised by the absolutely hysterical reaction among some RP activists to Ron Paul’s announcement that he’s shifting resources toward winning more delegates instead of blowing it on straw polls in new primaries. In some of the forums, alleged "supporters" are hurling insults at both Ron and his staffers.
I remember how after 2008, some people I talked to pledged to "never give money ever again" to Ron Paul because he "wasn’t serious" about winning. These people think elections are all that matter, but that’s not how political and intellectual movements work. The election of numerous libertarian candidates will be a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator, of the success of a libertarian movement. The population still isn’t there. Although it will be.
It’s absolutely unbelievable that some people who claim to be champions of freedom are now viciously badmouthing a man who can claim much credit in making libertarianism a household word – as it now is – and has been instrumental in building the most important challenge to central banking and the warfare state in a century. All of this is in addition to taking control of the GOP machinery in numerous states and cong. districts.
I might also note that I turned on the tele the other day and there was Ron Paul talking about central banking. Note to newcomer activists: I know it’s hard to believe, but before RP’s 2008 run, there was once a time when libertarians weren’t on TV regularly talking about Austrian free-market economics and the evils of war. I swear it’s true. Cross my heart and hope to die.
Politically, Ron Paul is doing what the Religious Right successfully did 20 years ago when it became a major force in the party, and he’s rebuilding the intellectual infrastructure of the American right wing in a way similar to what Buckley did in the 1950s. Except, where Buckley only pretended to be for the rule of law and limited government, Ron Paul is the real thing. And Paul’s even doing it without CIA money, unlike Buckley. RP’s the continuation of the old libertarian movement that existed in opposition to war and the New Deal before it was hijacked by the conservative apologists for the state.
Except now, instead of being composed of a few dozen guys who could all have met in a small hotel ballroom, the movement for peace and freedom is a huge nationwide movement.
Anyone who, like me, teaches people in their twenties can already see a huge change. The ideas of libertarianism have a credibility they have not had in decades, if not not since the late 19th century when Herbert Spencer was a best-selling author in America.
Those of us who have been involved in the libertarian movement for more than ten years can see a huge difference, and those who have been around for decades undoubtedly see even more. Nevertheless, I can understand that a younger person, or a person who has never been politically active before, might view one presidential election as some kind of end-all-be-all of the freedom movement, but it’s not.
The Ron Paul phenomenon isn’t even close to being done re-shaping the American political landscape, yet amazingly, some people seem to think that not running TV ads in California somehow signifies a lack of seriousness on the part of the Paul campaign. Only a complete lack of experience and historical perspective could lead one to such conclusions.
Ryan McMaken [send him mail] teaches political science in Colorado.