He's raised a fortune over the internet by appealing to the libertarian vote - notoriously underrepresented in US politics. He's also got onside with the anti-war vote through his staunch isolationism. I think, when I did one of those 'which candidate should you vote for' questionnaire things, Ron Paul was the candidate suggested to me. He's straight-talking, no-nonsense and on the face of it the ideal candidate for the libertarians amongst us. Two questions - why the hell has he got nowhere in the Republican primaries, and why shouldn't I be supporting him anyway?
The first one is the easier one. Paul isn't really a Republican in the modern sense of the word. He harks back to the Goldwater era of ideological purity that was completely incapable even then of attracting sufficient support to achieve power. The modern Republican party is a coalition of, largely, southern and mid-western social conservatives and northern economic free-marketeers. Paul is neither. The old-fashioned isolationist, economically atavistic (Paul, for instance, supports a partial return to the Gold Standard
for the dollar), ultra-minarchist (he calls for the abolition of the Departments of Energy, Education and Homeland Security - for a start) wing is a fringe of a fringe - the Cato Institute is about as left-field as Republicans get, and they
think Paul is a nutcase.
Why don't I support Paul? He's a nutcase, basically. He named his second son Rand Paul - after Ayn. The slight whiff of paranoid states-rights bigotry
that emanates from the Ron Paul newsletters of the past 30 years is bad enough, but essentially, while I can understand that Paul might appeal to people who either view their libertarianism as the last word in their beliefs - who are not prepared to compromise with the electorate on what they believe to be right, I'm not quite so passionate in my attachment to it. For a start, his actual policies are quite often weird in the extreme (so are Barack Obama's, but there we are) that return to the Gold Standard - really
? I'm not convinced by his call to withdraw from the UN, NATO, the WTO and NAFTA either.
I trend towards the libertarian, I believe that money will do more good in the pockets of the people that earned it, than in those of the Government that tax it. I believe that private enterprise is almost always more efficient than the public sector. But there are limits. Ron Paul is just a touch outside mine...
Labels: Election 2008, politics, US