Friday, December 28, 2007

The Case For A Third Party Ron Paul Run

The bloggosphere, and now the major media, is awash with discussion about the ramifications of a third party Presidential bid by Ron Paul.

Mr. Paul, a ten-term congressman from Texas, is currently competing in the primaries, seeking the spot as the Republican nominee for President. Despite the astounding level of support that has spontaneously coalesced around him, it remains difficult to imagine that he could actually win the Republican nomination. The reasons underlying this unfortunate prediction have little to do with Dr. Paul, and everything to do with Republican primary voters.

Dr. Paul's positions are based entirely on economics, the lessons to be gleaned through an objective and deep understanding of world and American history, and compelling logic and moral-based political philosophies. Republican voters do tend to have some understanding of economics (at least the economics of the business many of them run, and home economics). This leads to their generally low-tax sentiment. However, they tend to have trouble with logic (they are mostly religious, and religion requires a disciplined, global rejection of logic) and don't do much reading. Their knowledge of political philosophies consists entirely of their preachers' teachings from the Bible. They watch lots of TV. If they home-school their kids, its not to provide a superior classical education, but to indoctrinate them into Biblical notions of creationism and such. They couldn't tell you how Social Security works, let alone explain the convoluted fiat money creation process practiced by the Federal Reserve. They are, by and large, extremely conventional, ignorant, uneducated, and stubbornly unwilling to give-up any of these traits.

This general disposition leads them to be susceptible to a hair-trigger rejection of Ron Paul based on Dr. Paul's desire to send many of their Sacred Cows off to slaughter. For example, they teach their kids that the Civil War was unambiguously good, an indisputable example of America's transcendent goodness. To them, Abe Lincoln is a virtual deity, who only wanted to end slavery. That is, of course, absurd. When Dr. Paul pointed out that the Civil War was likely unnecessary (See Recent Meet The Press Interview), he surely and irrevocably lost a large percentage of the Republican electorate (though most were already Romney, Giuliani, or Huckabee supporters anyway).

Likewise, Republicans tend to believe that an aggressive foreign policy is not only preferable to a non-interventionist one, but the only imaginable course. This is because they believe in the notion that Islamic terrorists could actually take over America or do us significant harm, if we don't maintain a Cold War size military and attack any Islamic country that looks at us wrong. (Could Al Queda, its entire membership massed and armed, even take over Bakersfield from the local population of hicks with their deer rifles? I doubt it.) Dr. Paul's desire to bring our boys (and girls) home seems to them unthinkable, the equivalent of pulling your NASCAR out of the race a few laps early when a thorough ass-kicking victory is all but assured.

Many Republicans also appear to support an expansion of "regulatory socialism," as evidenced by their continuing support for President Bush. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that Ron Paul is simply to logical and non-crazy to appeal to an average Republican.

These observations constitute the first leg of the three-legged stool that supports the notion that Paul should undertake a third-party run: He cannot be the Republican nominee.

The second leg is based on the notion that Mr. Paul's cause, i.e. rationalism, good economic and monetary policy, non-intervention, free markets, can only be advanced by educating the public at large. The concepts underlying economics often involve multi-step logic, a stark contrast to socialist ideas. Republican and Democrat regulatory-socialists have two step logic. Here is an example: Poverty is bad. Therefore, government must take money from people to give to poor people. As you'll notice, there no serious logic connecting those two propositions. Although the premise is acceptable, the immediate conclusion that government must confiscate money from people is essentially plucked out of the air. Any serious non-biased economist will tell you that this conclusion does not fare well under serious scrutiny, mainly because of the unintended consequences of providing welfare, such as incentivising poverty and fatherless households, which in turn leads to other bad outcomes like drug addiction, with the whole mess regenerating in a generational cycle.

Another example would be Social Security: It's nice for people to have a minimum level of retirement security, therefore the government should confiscate people's money and put it in a retirement fund for each worker. Again, this common wisdom is flawed on several levels. First, there is simply no reason to believe that people would not save for their retirement if left alone. Indeed, Milton Freedman won a Nobel Prize in Economics for proving that they will. Of course, a few will not manage to save enough to survive, but that number would be so small that family, friends, charity or at worst a minimal welfare program could care for them. This is hardly a justification for a full scale compulsory government retirement system. And of course, the government does not "save" the confiscated money, but simply spends it and writes itself I.O.U.s. It's like me spending all my savings, and then when someone asks me how much I have saved, saying "I've got $100,000 in assets, all of it I.O.U.'s to myself!"

Understanding these and most other concepts underlying Paul's libertarian philosophy requires people to have a certain level of knowledge, and to apply that knowledge logically. In short, a high-profile third party run would provide a singular opportunity to begin to educate the public about why libertarian social policy is good economics and good philosophy, and why the socialist/regulatory/populist line is bunk.

Third, and by far most importantly, a third party run by Paul could cause the Republicans to lose. The Republican party was, at one time, a party of vigorous debate, where market economics, protection of civil liberties, and non-interventionist foreign policy concepts were accepted and supported by a strong wing of the party (See Taft and Goldwater). The coming of LBJ and the "Great Society" signaled the demise of this wing of the Republican Party which, although it resurfaced for a somewhat pathetic last gulp of air under Ronald Regan, has now all but disappeared.

Ron Paul has the potential to lead us in establishing once and for all that there are enough of us libertarians to make or break the Republican Party. There is only one way to do it: Make them lose, and lose bad. A devastating loss would, with absolute certainty, force them to adopt our principles and put forth candidates that actually supported them. Why? Because the Republican electoral strategy consists of attracting votes from three main constituencies: Christian whack-jobs, aggressive war mongers, and us libertarians. But the Republicans get the Christian vote simply by acting like they are opposed to abortion. The Christians have nowhere else to go. The aggressive war mongers will, likewise, have nowhere else to go.

At this point, you might be thinking: "Well, we don't have anywhere else to go either." I should thus amend my previous comments to state that any of these groups could theoretically vote for a third-party candidate and get their way too. But they are too stupid to do it. They are told by the television that "Voting for a third party is throwing away your vote." And they believe! The war mongers are just as stupid.

But let's face it: Us libertarians are about ten million times smarter than these other groups, and we know that the "don't throw away your vote" line is a cynical lie. Indeed, it has been clearly established by people who establish such things for a living that, by far, the most powerful vote you can cast is vote for a third party candidate that supports your views.

Ron Paul may not have a chance to win the presidency running as a third party standard bearer. But by simply running, and shaking the establishment to its foundations in the process, he would probably end up effecting the domestic and especially foreign policies of the United States more profoundly than any President in recent history. And who knows? He could just win it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch of Reason Magizine published this fine piece, which was also published in the Washington Post, about the Ron Paul movement. I wrote them this email:

That was the single best, most informative, article about the meaning of the Ron Paul movement that I have yet seen. It was at once objective and insightful. A true rarity in the major media. I leared a few things too.
I'm really, really, really, impressed.
Nick Gillespie. Matt Welch. I"m going to remember those names.
Yours very truly,

Wall Street Journal Smear of Ron Paul

The Wall Street Journal wrote this smear piece on Ron Paul's supporters yesterday. I sent the email to the writer:

Editor's comments on the Ron Paul article:
1. "The Paul Brigade" Isn't a Brigade a division of a military organization? Hmmm. Not the word I would have used. Don't see too many reports about the "Clinton Brigade." Well, lets just hope you don't hint that the Paul people (who are the only peace activists around) are militant.
2. "low polling Paul." Same as Regan and Clinton at this phase, and number increasing along an exponential curve. Add a contextual comment.
3. "incendiary comments." Hmmm. Well, incendiary means, of course, something that causes other things to start burning. But a hint that the Paul Brigade is militant??? Naww.
4. "barely registers in national polls." Second time you've mentioned it. I wonder how many more times you'll need to drive home that misleading half truth.
5. Whoop! There it is! Can't get through the story without associating Ron Paul with Guy Fawkes and "viliganties" that "wage war". It would have been a bit more effective if you used the word "terrorist" though.
6. "draws support from antigovernment fringe groups and 9/11 conspiracy theorists". Wow. You just lost me, darling. Question: Does Mr. Paul have MORE support from individuals in these idiotic groups than any other candidate? Why do I get the feeling you have no idea, because you haven't bothered to look for questionable donors to the Establishment candidates.
7. Did you just put "Ron Paul For President" in the same sentence with "white supremicists?" Do you guys sit around laughing while you're writing this crap?
I'm quitting now because this article is a fucking joke.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Response to Ross Douthat

This is a comment I left on The Atlantic website in response to this article by one Ross Douthat.

You are partly correct that Mr. Paul is being ridiculed (not ignored so much any more, we've moved from "ignored" to "laughed at") by the media because he opposes the War. However, its deeper than that.

It's based on the fact that Mr. Paul is a symbol of the demise of the "Establishment".

He is the Internet, and that is killing the Old Press.

He is against the Federal Regulatory and Tax System, which (being written by the lawyers of multinationals) are used to maintain the status quo, to secure members of the "nobility" in their positions.

His opposition to the War is perhaps the ultimate anti-establishment position. Using Wars to gain power and money is nothing new. Julius Caesar used the conquest of Gaul to build his influence and wealth, and that of his friends in the First Century B.C. And he was just following the lead of dozens of Romans before him. "War is the health of the state" may seem like a crazy statement, but it is supported almost invariably by history.

His opposition to Welfare (including Social Security, Medicare, Student Loans, Farm Subsidies, Foreign Aid, etc.) is similar. Welfare payments have always been used by the "patrician" class to gain the support of the populace and other nations in their effort to expand their power, and in their attempts to maintain it. Caesar did it. Augustus did it. They all do it. Any time the aristocratic class needs popular support to maintain power, they turn first to providing welfare (which is invariably money taken from those that threaten to themselves become competing members of the aristocracy, i.e. the "rich". ).

I could go on.

Put simply, we should expect to observe that the entities threatened by Mr. Paul will do everything they can to discredit and ultimately remove his relevance (welfare recipients of all kinds, government employees, members of the Old Press, multinational corporations, the military industrial complex especially).

Conversely, we should expect to observe those that would benefit from Mr. Paul's platform (i.e. everyone else) supporting him, assuming the political rhetoric coming from the Establishment can be effectively countered.

As far as I can tell, that's exactly what is happening. As the signal breaks through the Old Media static, people hear it, and convert to the Paul cause.

Historically, the Establishment propaganda apparatus, along with its control of the police and military, had no real counterbalance. Today it does: The Internet. (Aside: Historically, no Establishment class has tolerated threats to its dominance. One wonders if today's Establishment will be the first to do so. If they don't, we would expect to see them endeavor to regulate the Internet, and do something to try and break up the anti-Establishment citizen organizations that have already arisen.)

I think it's very likely that the Paul movement will continue growing beyond this election, though it may abandon Mr. Paul if he does not win (and make no mistake, he very well could win).

I think what may be considered historically most noteworthy about the Paul candidacy is that it may be the first instance of the people, via the Internet, "nominating" and advancing their chosen leader in a grassroots fashion, rather than the establishment choosing the leader it wants in a "top down" fashion. It's interesting and somewhat disturbing that the candidate chosen by the people is so incredibly repulsive to the Establishment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Response To Another Child

One David Sforza wrote this article criticizing Ron Paul in the U.C. Santa Barbara daily paper. FYI, Santa Barbara is not known for attracting particularly intelligent students.

Your David Sforza wrote an article about Ron Paul.
He attempted to analyze U.S. History. He did a bad job.
For example, he asserts that if the U.S. did not get involved in WWII, "Germany would control the world." Is he suggesting that Hitler could have conquered Russia? China? I certainly assume he's not suggesting that Germany could have EVER successfully occupied the U.S. Facially invalid rhetoric like this makes one wonder whether you have any valid arguments in your arsenal.
He also asserts that 9/11 would have occurred even if the U.S. had pursued a non-interventionist foreign policy. Has he ever read the justifications provided by Al Queda for their attack? All of them were based on our occupation, interference, and attacks on and in the Middle East.
Unfortunately for us, people with reasoning abilities similar to Mr. Sforza's are currently in control of our government.
But at least he has an excuse: It will still be four or five years until his brain is done growing.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

RealUnclearPolitics on Ron Paul's Foreign Policy published this article criticizing Ron Paul's foreign policy stance. According to the author, one Kevin Sullivan, Mr. Paul just doesn't understand the need for our world empire and membership in international organizations like the U.N.

I wrote him this email:

The thing you have to understand about Ron Paul and libertarian thinkers like myself is that, for years prior to 9/11, we were arguing as follows: "We're asking for it, and we're gonna get it. Maybe not today, but before long. How long would you put up with a foreign government that actively supported a totalitarian dictatorship in your country?"
In the days following 9/11, I received not a few emails from Dems and Reps I know with short preemptive messages like: "I don't want to hear it." (Anticipating that I was going to go on an 'I told you so' bindge, although that would have been most distasteful at the time).
I assume you can do the math and understand why people like us do not see 9/11 as evidence that we need to get more involved in policing the world.
To libertarians, the Swiss policy of neutrality, nonintervention, trade, and travel seems quite rational. It has worked well for them.


I've found myself spending lots of time writing responses regarding various aspects of the libertarian movement to media outlets and youtube posters. I thought I might as well start a blog to catalog it all.