In 2006, libertarians who were fed up with Republican excess either threw their support behind the Democrats or stayed home on Election Day, resulting in a wholesale victory for the Democratic Party as it took over both houses of Congress and a majority of governorships and state legislatures from the GOP.
There’s no reason to expect libertarian-minded voters to play any less significant a role in the outcome this year, especially when they have a candidate in Ron Paul who is continuing to gain momentum for two important reasons: 1) libertarians finally have a candidate running on a major ticket who represents many of their views, and 2) there is no ideological difference between any of the leading Democrats or Republicans when it comes to the federal government they all believe in the virtue of the paternalistic, centralized state; they merely differ in how it should run our lives.
Not only will it be the natural inclination of Americans to vote for a Democrat after almost eight years of an unpopular Republican president, but 13 to 20 percent of self-described libertarian voters nationwide will almost certainly either refuse to vote altogether or give their support to an independent or Libertarian Party candidate in November if Paul isn’t the GOP’s nominee. Given Paul's enormous popularity, this will be more than enough to tip the scales in the Democrats’ favor, and the Republicans’ defeat will only be more lopsided if Paul decides to run on a third-party ticket.
If Ron Paul weren’t the only anti-war candidate in the scrum, perhaps this reasoning would be different, but don’t expect any self-respecting libertarian to side with Clinton, Obama, or John Edwards. Also take into account that Paul is the only Republican candidate who appeals to young people and liberals and independents alike, precisely the types of voters a Republican needs to attract in November.
By this rationale, only Ron Paul can prevent us from hearing Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama take the oath of office come next January. Certainly a Paul nomination may not necessarily guarantee a Republican victory any more than a McCain or Huckabee nomination would, but failing to nominate Paul will surely result in a loss at the polls.
Which brings us to an interesting question: Would the GOP prefer to have a Democrat in the White House for the next four years if a victory would mean a Ron Paul administration?
As if it were a mystery, this article by David Limbaugh confirms the motivation of today’s conservatives: war. A “true neoconservative,” explains Limbaugh, “favors a more energetic role for government in domestic policy and a more proactive approach to foreign policy.” Limbaugh even admits that the neocon may also be willing to invade countries that don’t present a threat to the United States if it means illustrating the “transformative, contagious power of democracy” to the world.
Against all evidence refuting the notion that Iraq posed any danger to us before we invaded, Limbaugh insists that, even today, he and most conservatives still believe that Iraq (the country as a whole, we are to assume) represented a threat to our security before the war began. I suppose if Limbaugh is right about anything, it’s that Iraq is at least a threat to us today. After all, it would be hard to imagine that the Iraqis hated us more in, say, 2001 than they do now, after almost five years of American occupation and indiscriminate killing.
Given the fact that the Republican Party has gone from one that rallied around limited-government principles in 1994 to one that does anything but in 2008, a Ron Paul triumph would obviously be a sweeping rebuke to today’s GOP. It would effectively mark the beginning of the end of an entitlement culture within the party that would threaten the very security and existence of elected officials who have grown fat and happy at the hands of special interest groups that have solicited from them the very government largesse Paul has railed against for years.
In no uncertain terms, Republicans will fight tooth and nail to prevent Ron Paul from gaining their nomination and an electoral victory, especially when a Clinton or Obama presidency would perpetuate the cronyism and wars they so desperately crave.
January 12, 2008