Until Super Tuesday, many Ron Paul supporters believed his efforts to win the presidency were best served by remaining within the Republican Party. They believed the primaries would end in a brokered convention from which Paul could emerge as the "compromise" candidate. Proponents of this scenario argued that Paul must remain a Republican, for history tells us that third-party candidates have no chance of winning the presidency.
The results of Super Tuesday, however, tell us that Paul now has no chance of winning the GOP nomination. Even if front-runner John McCain doesn’t lock up the nomination, a brokered convention of neocon delegates will choose Joe Lieberman ahead of Ron Paul.
Winning the GOP nomination would be a hollow victory anyhow, for the Party hierarchy has shown itself willing to undermine Paul’s candidacy. The already-faltering GOP fundraising machine would be unlikely to shower corporate donations upon a candidate who opposes pork on principle. And given that millions of Americans have become so outraged at this Administration that they have sworn off voting Republican forever, the nomination could be more drag than lift.
Running as a Republican had benefits. The campaign generated media attention and organized followers. But now it’s plain that wresting control of the GOP from the neocons for this election cycle is a lost cause.
Everything changes once Ron Paul goes to a third party, however. He would no longer be an "Also Ran," he would be "The Spoiler." As with Nader in 2000, the establishment parties could ignore him only at their peril. Even if he never rises above single digits in the polls, his ideas would continue to gain a public hearing.
But a third-party run wouldn’t be just about education. There is a good chance Paul could win that way. Yes, historically third parties have failed in presidential elections, but in the past third parties have always represented fringe viewpoints whereas today, the major parties represent fringe viewpoints, while Paul’s views harmonize with those of most Americans.
For example, most Americans want the Iraq War to end. The major-party candidates, however, hold the fringe view that we should continue the war through the next presidential term. In a three-way race, Ron Paul would be the only candidate who agrees with the majority that we should leave Iraq now.
Likewise, most Americans oppose illegal immigration. The major-party candidates, however, hold the fringe view of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. In a three-way race, Ron Paul would be the only candidate who agrees with the majority that we should stop illegal immigration.
The biggest issue in the election is the economy, and yes, unfortunately, most Americans think the solution to the current economic crisis is "more stimulus." However, in a three-way race, the economic ignorance of the major-party candidates would soon be exposed, while Ron Paul has the expertise to coherently explain the interrelationship between spending, deficits, and inflation, and impress the public that he is the only one who engages in analysis rather than pandering.
Thus, in a three-way presidential race, Ron Paul would be the voice of moderation, while the major parties would be seen as hijacked by socialist and imperialist fringe factions. Once this truth sinks in, most Americans will find that Paul is not a "fringe candidate" but instead the only candidate who champions their concerns. (No, Beltwayites, the Constitution is not a "fringe issue!")
It was good that Ron Paul ran as a Republican, but now let’s move on. There’s no point crying over Paul’s failure to win the Republican nomination, as corruption has alienated so many voters that the GOP is in danger of extinction anyway. Better to run as the candidate of a third party, than of a doomed party.
True, history says that third-party presidential candidates can’t win. But long ago, a certain group of revolutionaries contemplated that no colony had ever successfully rebelled from its mother country. Nonetheless, they went ahead with their enterprise, which by all accounts has been successful. Apparently, they were living in one of those major turning points in history for which the old rules do not apply. And you know, they didn’t even have the Internet.
February 7, 2008