As liberty voters we’re very lucky this year that we have a better choice of candidates than we have had since the days of Goldwater and Taft. With both Governor Gary Johnson and Representative Ron Paul running some of us are finding it hard to figure out which candidate to support and others are bickering and squabbling over their choices rather than celebrating how lucky we really are. Liberty is catching fire in the hearts of America and this campaign proves it.
At this point, early in the primary process, it benefits us to have as many candidates as possible talking about cutting back the federal government and reclaiming our rights. Right now there are no delegates at stake and no serious establishment frontrunner to focus on defeating. That will probably remain true through the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, where it’s all about exposure and there aren’t many delegates to win. After that the race gets serious and there are more and more delegates to be won. At that point we’re going to have to make a choice of who to throw all our efforts and resources behind and it seems obvious to me that the right choice is Ron Paul.
I’ve reached that conclusion for reasons which are both pragmatic and political, and from both perspective he is the gold standard for liberty in 2012.
Paul’s practical advantages are obvious. He is better known, has a large established base of followers and a national organization which is well established with an extraordinary record of fundraising success. Fundraising will be particularly important in a race where the Democrats have promised to spend a billion dollars. Paul is already all over the media, especially the cable news networks. He is better known than the other hardcore conservative candidates like Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty. He has multiple bestselling books in print and his followers promote him tirelessly. The level of love and support he has generated says a lot about the man and his ideas. Plus we saw his success at spreading his message in 2008 and now he can build on that base to go even further. Paul has shown he’s a strong debater and an energetic campaigner despite his age, and we need that enthusiasm to beat Obama.
Paul also has long-term associations which will benefit him in the election. He has long been a supporter of pro-liberty groups like the Von Mises Institute and the John Birch Society and was a founding member of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has a wide base of support on the internet from groups like Justin Raimondo’s AntiWar.com and Lew Rockwell and the many political writers at LewRockwell.com, and has built powerful tools for communication on his own networks like RonPaulForums.com and for grassroots support in Campaign for Liberty. Plus it can’t be forgotten that the idea of the Tea Party originated in Paul’s 2008 campaign and many Tea Party voters are still drawn to him.
The Right Ideas
On his political positions Paul is also superior. People keep comparing him to Gary Johnson, but it’s a false comparison. They’re not nearly as similar as Johnson supporters would like us to believe and they really aren’t even competing for the same voters. Ron Paul is a true constitutional conservative and it’s a mistake to call him a libertarian, even if he has a lot in common with that movement. Gary Johnson is more of a moderate libertarian. He’s a minarchist who is a liberal on social issues. He’s closer to Ronald Reagan or the old Rockefeller wing of the party on many issues and he’s too liberal on social issues for Republican primary voters. Paul has a more clearly defined constitutional position and an established reputation for standing on principle.
Ron Paul’s positions are more appealing on a number of issues. He’s the only candidate who is willing to stand up and call for an end to the Federal Reserve, which is a dangerous cabal run by foreign bankers with no basis in Constitutional authority. He’s the only candidate who believes in sound money and a return to the gold standard rather than fractional reserve banking. He’s also the strongest candidate supporting states rights and state sovereignty and an end to federal tyranny under the 14th Amendment.
Perhaps most importantly, Ron Paul is the only candidate brave enough to have a foreign policy which admits the mistakes we’ve made overseas and the disastrous and parasitical nature of our relationship with Israel. It is Israel and it’s powerful lobby which have drawn us into war after war and made us the target of terrorism, and Ron Paul would end that relationship and he would withdraw all of our military bases outside our border and stop spending money to prop up dictators and intervene in the affairs of countries all over the world. He’d get us out of the United Nations, thumb his nose at the New World Order, and strengthen our borders to protect our workers and our jobs.
What is absolutely essential for the primary election is that Paul’s personal values can win over GOP primary voters. While he believes that states rights are sacrosanct and is willing to leave many things up to the states to decide, Paul personally believes in fundamental moral values. He believes in the sanctity of human life from conception, opposes the immorality of gay marriage, supports the right of students to pray in school and the posting of the ten commandments on public property. He believes in economic liberty, but also the liberty to practice religion freely and maintain a traditional Judeo-Christian moral code in our society without the interference of the federal government.
It is these values which do the most to differentiate Paul from Gary Johnson, and it is these values which will win him the support of key voters in the religious right so that he can win a primary victory. When traditionalist Christian voters discover that Johnson personally supports gay marriage and abortion and letting the federal government dictate social policy to the states they will turn against him in droves. Unless Ron Paul is there for them to turn to they may support a socially conservative candidate who is terrible on other issues like Mike Huckabee.
Winning in 2012
Gary Johnson is a great spokesman for libertarian ideas, but he is out of step with many in the Republican party and while he might draw Democrats and independents in the general election, he cannot win in a Republican primary because of his controversial views, and you don’t get to the general election without winning the primary. As a true constitutional conservative Ron Paul does not have that liability. Once his message gets out most Republicans will realize that he’s got the right ideas for them.
If you believe in the Constitution, states rights, ending the Fed, sound money and a non-interventionist foreign policy, then Ron Paul is your candidate. He will end the abuses of the last two administrations, cut back the overgrowth of the federal government, get us out of hock to foreign bankers and end the Bush-Obama era of imperialism, torture and murder.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.