On this Independence Day I had wanted to celebrate our freedom and not worry about politics. But I couldn’t finish this article yesterday and I realize our freedoms are being threatened here at home so standing up for liberty seems like a good way to celebrate. And a strategy to move this country and our revolution forward isn’t a bad way either.
Much like many young people in the liberty movement, I was upset with Ron Paul’s loss in the Republican Primary. I did not expect him to win, but I expected him to do better. The establishment had chosen Romney, and Romney it will be. But as the primary season went forward and the old doctor’s delegate strategy began to bear fruit I saw greater hope for the future of the movement. It did not come from the possibility that Gary Johnson, now running as the Libertarian Party nominee would continue the movement. It came from the Ron Paul supporters who began taking leadership positions in the Republican Party.
It mostly happened in small-to-medium population states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Alaska and Minnesota. Ron Paul supporters and Republicans with true libertarian streaks were usurping power in the state-level party organizations. The establishment didn’t like it, but they were having trouble stopping it in spite of their best efforts. It made something perfectly clear: Ron Paul laid the ground for the liberty movement to take over the GOP by the end of the decade. Perhaps his son, Senator Rand Paul would run for president in 2016, easily win the early primaries and use the momentum to carry himself to the nomination. But even if Rand did not do so, it became clear to me how the liberty movement could take control of the party by the end of the decade.
The Republican Liberty Caucus has been trying for 20 years to actually change things in the way the GOP does business and now, for the first time in history, the odds are in their favor. But the threat to the liberty movement comes from within itself. And so I am writing this appeal to the movement with the hopes that I can prevent the liberty movement from dissolving.
Let me first start by saying that political consultant Roger Stone is delusional for putting his faith in Gary Johnson. I like Gary. I wish he’d stayed in the party and ran for US Senate in New Mexico, but sadly he did not go that route even though it would have been an easy victory for him and a boost to our movement.
Have I got your attention? Good. Because I need to be blunt. There is a concept in public choice theory called rational voter ignorance that too few libertarians have ever even heard of. In a nutshell, this ignorance means that the two party system of America will not go away for at least another generation.
The good news, it doesn’t need to for liberty to win in the short-term. When you look at the numbers, its impossible for a third party candidate to gain serious traction, even in the internet age. But could we use those numbers to gain faster results? My strategy suggests we can.
There is a coming generational shift that will make many Americans happy and make some angry: the inevitability of a secular society. Social conservatism, at least from a “we need the federal government to enforce Christian morals” is on life support. And the plug will be pulled soon. The Moral Majority types that took over the Republican Party in the 1980s probably have a half life of about 7-10 years at this point. Ron Paul, using the same strategy that they used in the 80s, brought thousands of liberty-minded Americans, many of them in my generation, to state Republican conventions all over the country. They showed up. They sent liberty loving delegates to the Republican National Convention. And while they didn’t send enough to get the nomination for Ron Paul, it is my belief that the Republican establishment will be shocked at what they see. A proportional decrease in the number of Bible thumpers at the convention versus 2008 and a massive new wave of delegates who are economically conservative but don’t believe the federal government has any more business in our bedrooms than they do in our wallets.
The Republican establishment, first and foremost, is concerned with political power. They are eventually going to see the rise in secularism and begin to ignore the religious right in favor of individual liberty, but this can only happen if we play our cards right.
The Coming Dichotomy
For clarity–mainly to any older generations reading this–I’d like to point out that secularism has become a dirty word in recent years due to the left. It should not be. Secularism merely means the government abides by the first amendment. It means that government policies are unbiased by direct religious influence. Laws cannot be justified just because a religion says so. An individuals liberty is protected if he is doing no harm to another, even if he is doing something that might be dangerous or stupid. It also means the government has no business in dictating to the church how it runs its business.
Secularism has gotten a bad name by those on the left who are anti-religion (usually biased against Christianity more so than other faiths) and support government policies that violate a person’s religious views (like the Obama Administration trying to force the Catholic Church to pay for contraception). This disdain for religion comes from the cultural Marxism in today’s American left.
My generation, often referred to as millennials, is overwhelmingly secular in that as a strong majority we don’t care if same-sex couples marry, we don’t want government to ban all abortion (even if many of us are personally opposed to the practice), we don’t want government to tell 18 year olds they can’t drink, we don’t support the war on drugs, and we don’t like politicians who try to use government to force Biblical principles on us. We’re less religious than our predecessors in terms of our church attendance and even our practice of organized religion. And for those of us that do practice a religion, we’re much less likely to aggressively proselytize it to those who have different views.
As our generation matures and begins coming to power, it will shift society with it and there will be an ideological dichotomy in this country: secular capitalists vs. secular Marxists. I use the term Marxist loosely. No, not all of them will be full-blown communists. But many of them will support Marx-inspired policies: government control of industry, redistribution of wealth, centralized economic planning, etc. Basically the failed ideologies of the 20th century. The cultural Marxists will be anti-religion. But the secular-capitalists are not anti-religion. And I am confident that when all is said and done the forces of capitalism will prevail.
Secular-capitalism is the future we need to restore American greatness. Its a good kind of secular because while its not going to use government to define marriage as between man and woman, its also not going to force churches to perform same-sex marriages against their will. Its going to let the private sector and private individuals solve the complicated social problems that government can’t (and shouldn’t try to in the first place).
Take drugs for example. The country is moving in favor of marijuana legalization. There is still strong opposition to this, but as the great conservative author William F. Buckley Jr. once suggested, drug legalization would not destroy society because there are still societal pressures for personal responsibility.
“And, by the way, there’s no reason not to encourage social sanctions against [illegal drug use], i.e., if you come to work for Mr. Heffner, you can’t take drugs. And if you don’t consent to have an occasional drug test, extemporaneously scheduled, then don’t apply for a job. I’m all in favor of social sanctions for use; it’s the legal sanction that I think is killing us.” — William F. Buckley, Jr. in an interview with Richard Heffner, The Open Mind, August 1996
If a person goes to work high on marijuana or cocaine, they would be fired just the same as they would if they came to work drunk. Its these pressures that prevent society from spinning out of control. The onus is on the individual to be responsible. And most individuals will. The ones that don’t will be irresponsible regardless of the substance’s legality.
We as libertarians understand this. The religious right does not seem to. But the establishment will see things our way not simply because our views are becoming more accepted by society and the “theo-cons” less so, but because they are realistic.
An Appeal to Ron Paul Delegates
When I was an alternate delegate to the Texas state Republican Convention, I saw a strong presence by Ron Paul supporters as well as other Republicans with some libertarian leanings. We stopped the theocrats from putting a plank in the state platform to restore “sodomy law”. We stopped protectionists from removing a market-friendly immigration reform plank. We put planks in the party platform calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System, withdrawal from the UN, elimination of unnecessary EPA regulations and many other Constitutional policies. The end result was far from perfect, but I was amazed how good it was. I was also stricken with fear at what might happen. If those same delegates who helped get this done lose the faith simply because Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee and leave the Republican Party for the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party or just to become independents, then all that work was for nothing. But if they show up in the same numbers with the same enthusiasm at the 2014 Texas GOP convention, they will proportionally be more significant. Since its not a presidential election year, the convention will have lower turnout by the religious right and even the establishment, meaning we would wield more influence.
So those of you planning on supporting Gary Johnson or writing in Ron Paul, I encourage you to read the rest of this article before making a final decision. The rules of the Republican National Convention permit the delegates to choose the vice-president. If there is not unity on Gov. Romney’s nominee, they can try to send their own nominee. I hope all Ron Paul-supporting delegates and all Gary Johnson supporters let it be known that YOU CAN force Ron Paul into the VP slot and you should. And then you should vote for Romney/Paul.
Many of you will criticize me for this and claim that Romney would still be Romney. Well, Romney is like tofu. You cook him in Massachusetts, he’ll be a liberal Republican. You cook him with Ron Paul…well, he might start throwing some bones to the liberty movement. This election is bigger than Romney, Paul, Obama or Johnson. Its about whether or not we are actually going to restore free-market capitalism and individual liberty.
Romney and Obama are so similar on economics and foreign policy its not even funny. But Romney has something that makes him malleable which Obama does not. Romney would have to get re-elected in 2016. The majority of the American people are opposed to more war. So on the foreign policy, Romney is less likely to start another war because it would cost him the election. If Obama gets reelected he will be a lame-duck and if you think he’s been unconcerned with the wishes of the American people up till this point, just imagine how bad he’ll be when he no longer has to give a damn what they think. He is more likely to start another war and will add more to the national debt than Romney. There of course is the prospect of our economy being crushed by this debt and sending us into an economic downturn–as Peter Schiff suggests. With a President Romney, there is a chance of actually taking some of the right steps. With Obama, there is none. Will Keynesianism finally be blamed if Obama presides over this collapse? Or will he blame “obstructionist Republicans” and will the American people buy that? I’m betting the latter and its not a gamble I’d like to take.
We need to win the American people on the issues of the day and I think we are. Most Americans are opposed to more war, are leaning towards proposing an end to the war on drugs, are apathetic to or supportive of same-sex marriage, so if we win them on free-market principles they essentially will become libertarian-minded people! And if the American people lean in our direction on the issues, a hypothetical President Romney will be forced to in order to be re-elected in 2016.
This is not my endorsement of Mitt Romney. I am withholding my endorsement until after the GOP convention because I want to see just how far my fellow libertarian-leaning Republicans are willing to take things. I request of the Ron Paul delegates that you force Mitt’s hand! Its already public record that Romney and Paul are personal friends in spite of their political differences. This suggests they can work together and Romney can be molded in a more conservative direction on the economy and a 10th amendment position on social issues.
Of course this scenario I’ve proposed can only happen if Romney is president. The best way to solidify this is to get him to choose Ron Paul as vice-president. If he were to do so, he would undoubtedly have my vote and I know many Paul supporters who would only support Romney if Paul was his running mate. Independent voters lean positive on their opinions of both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney from the polls I’ve seen. I imagine that those who don’t care for Mitt like Ron and vice-versa. This is the ticket that will send Barack Obama packing!
Romney would have a hard time winning otherwise. Mitch Daniels or Luis Fortuno could help Romney win as well. But some of the names being tossed around like Rob Portman or Marco Rubio I do not believe would solidify a Romney victory.
Let’s go for it! A Ron Paul vice-presidency does two big things.
First, it brings the liberty movement into the mainstream. A vice-president is not easily ignored. Think about it. Every ridiculous thing that comes out of Joe Biden’s mouth is national news. It would give Ron Paul a greater degree of respect than he’s ever had by mainstream America.
Secondly, it is important to remember that while Romney needs to get re-elected, Paul would likely only serve one term. Romney can’t force Paul to resign. Paul will say whatever he wants. And he will use the power of his vice presidency to elect liberty Republicans to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterm election! A vice-presidential endorsement goes a long way in terms of improving name-ID and finances for a congressional candidate. Imagine a few more Rand Pauls in the Senate and 30-40 more Justin Amashs in the House!
It means we can’t be ignored anymore. And the Republican establishment will see how we are replacing the religious right and the war-hawks and they will want to move in our direction to stay in power.
I’ve also considered the proper strategy if Ron Paul is not chosen as Vice-President.
The Statistical Implications: An Appeal to Gary Johnson Supporters
I know many young libertarians who are turning to the Libertarian Party (LP) candidate Gary Johnson and believing that he and the LP are going to continue the revolution Ron Paul started. Hate to burst your bubble, but its not gonna happen. I referred earlier to rational voter ignorance. Just because you don’t like the two-party system doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Its not going anywhere! And the Libertarian Party is not competent or resourceful enough to make a dent in the status quo. A better strategy would be for the entire party to dissolve, disband and all register as Republicans and help people like Justin Amash highjack a major party and oust the theocons, neocons and the Keynesians. I’ve met people in the LP who laugh at me and say that there is a better chance of the Libertarian Party winning than the Republican Party changing.
Please hear me out! You have to consider the numbers game. When you do, you’ll realize why–to paraphrase Andrew Wilkow–I’m right, they’re wrong, that’s the end of the story!
The LP failed to co-opt the 40% or so of the early Tea Party movement that wasn’t socially conservative. They didn’t even co-opt 1/4th of that 40% or so. They’ve never won a congressional seat, state house speakership, state senate seat in a large pop state, governorship, mayorship in a major city. And please don’t give me that “the GOP didn’t for years” crap. 19th century America when we had less than 100 million people in this country, before rational voter ignorance became pandemic, IS NOT a relevant comparison. The LP was started by billionaires–the Koch brothers–and even with the might of the internet they still haven’t accomplished these things.
There’s also the question of financing. Another third party was once started by a billionaire. But it went nowhere. Ross Perot’s Reform Party attempted to present an alternative in the 1992 presidential election and he capped at 18%. Romney and Obama will each raise half a billion bucks before this is over. Gary Johnson, over the course of a year in 2 different political parties hadn’t even broke $1 million. Romney, Obama, even Ron Paul can merely send out a simultaneous Facebook update and tweet saying “send me money” and raise that much in 48 hours. 48 hours vs. a year. Admit it, Johnson is more than a longshot candidate. He is statistically unable to make a difference.
Assume voters are 30% Dem 30% GOP and 40% independent/third party and from past polling we can see the Libertarian Party’s cap at about 3% in general elections. We’ve got 13-16% of the GOP already in support of Ron Paul based on primary results this year. There is anywhere from 2-5 percent more in the Republican with some libertarian leanings on various issues (they had either backed Cain or Hunstman in the primaries).
For this simply arithmetic demonstration I’ll go with the LP-friendly estimate. .16 * .30 = 4.8%. Add that to the 3% cap of the LP and you get 7.8%. Not enough to get Johnson into the debates (15% minimum). Which means he will never get the necessary name ID. He’s trapped in a vicious circle: he can’t get his name ID up without being in the debate, but he doesn’t have enough name ID to get into the debate in the first place. I feel sorry for him, but not too sorry because he hasn’t accepted he’s made the wrong move by joining the Libertarian Party.
Merging Across Parties
Now, consider this. The Libertarian Party is 3% of the voting population. They DISBAND. They all register Republican. Add them to the Ron Paul supporters and the former libertarian-leaning Cain and Huntsman supporters and the liberty wing of the GOP is now about 20%. Its in the territory where it rivals the religious right. Come 2016, they’ll be over 20%
This sends a signal to two groups: the GOP establishment types who aren’t uber religious and are more concerned with winning elections than the social conservatism and the independent voters. The generational shift becomes irrefutably evident to all that secularism is rising and Bible-thumping is dying. The GOP establishment will finally understand the religious right is on its way out and will begin moving more in the direction of the liberty wing. This makes the party look more secular. Independent voters, who are overwhelmingly not socially conservative will be more inclined to join–or, in some cases, return–to the Republican Party.
By the early part of the next decade, you will see a Grand New Party, a party of secular capitalism. One that the Democrats will NEVER be able to stop.
By contrast, if the liberty wing of the GOP break away now, as I fear they might do. If they register LP. If they support Johnson. If they don’t show up at state and local GOP conventions in droves during the 2014 midterm to continue the push that Ron Paul started, then you will see two minority parties. A minority GOP and a minority LP. Both financially broken and statistically insignificant–meaning both unable to defeat the new Democrat majority that is so much larger.
You all know I’m right, and when Johnson fails to break single digits I will say I told you so. But I will also welcome you with open arms to accept my strategy as the most politically viable for the liberty movement. I can only hope that failure to see this now rather than after the November election won’t mean its too late for the liberty movement.
Aaron Alghawi obtained a B.S. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 2012. He is a national board member and Director of Student Outreach for the Republican Liberty Caucus.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.