Ron Paul: The Real Republican

Radley Balko’s has an interesting column at Fox News about Ron Paul this week and he clearly understands the impact that the Paul campaign could have if things go right:

Paul’s presence in the race is important because he’ll put issues on the table that would otherwise be completely ignored. His presence in the primary debates alone will make them far more substantive and interesting than they’ve been in a generation. One example is the continuing disaster that is the drug war, which Paul rightly believes to be both immoral and unconstitutional. Paul also opposed the war in Iraq from its inception. Those two issues alone will differentiate him from every other candidate on the stage.

But Paul can then swing to the right of every other candidate on federal spending, regulation, the Nanny State, and the growth of government. On these issues, he can reliably and credibly serve as the party’s conscience, and browbeat the sitting senators and congressmen running for president for their votes issues like the prescription drug benefit, the surge in federal spending, and the party’s complicity in the corrupt earmarking process.


While Paul probably can’t win the GOP nomination, there’s a chance he can survive deep enough into the primaries to foster a national debate on issues like drug prohibition, as well as force the Republican Party to do some soul-searching, and perhaps reconnect with its limited government, Barry Goldwater roots.

In a way, Paul could have the same impact on the GOP in 2008 that Howard Dean had on the Democratic Party in 2004. Dean didn’t win the nomination, but he did end up pulling the candidates and the party further toward the left, specifically on the issue of the Iraq War. He also managed to get himself appointed Chairman of the DNC and, while I don’t think, that Paul will go that far, I do agree with Balko that Paul could have an impact on the political debate that far outweighs his actual popularity at the polls:

Ideally, Paul’s bona fides on immigration, abortion, federalism, constitutionalism, and limited government will win him credibility with and respect from primary voters, giving him leverage to take principled stands and spur discussion on issues like the drug war, privacy, foreign policy, and civil liberties. He could at least win enough votes and support to last well into the spring, forcing the other candidates to adopt parts of his agenda, and the press to cover his platform.

Of course, things could also go badly:

Under the less optimistic scenario, Republican Party leaders, primary opponents, and the punditocracy punish Paul for his principles, and demagogue his position on Iraq, the drug war, and federal meddling in our personal lives. Talk radio, conservative leaders, and the party machinery dismiss him as an unserious candidate, and primary voters take their cue. Under this scenario, Paul bows out early, the remaining candidates press on with business as usual, and the Republican Party continues down its unfortunate recent trajectory.

Whether that happens depends, as Balko points out, on whether George W. Bush has succeeded in destroying the limited government soul of the GOP.

Related Posts:

Ron Paul For President !
Ron Paul’s Presidential Chances
Ron Paul Votes For Price Fixing Prescription Drugs
A Moment of Hubris On the Ron Paul For President Campaign
Further Thoughts On The Ron Paul For President Campaign
The Ron Paul Interview
Ron Paul: The Least Malleable Republican

  • Kevin

    The problem that Ron Paul faces is that many of the limited government voters in the GOP that would vote for him under normal circumstances, are going to vote against him because of Iraq. That’s why we have so many neo-libertarians backing Rudy Guiliani.

    On the other hand, if Iraq is not a major issue by 2008…..

  • Dave

    Neo-libertarians backing Rudy Giuliani? I’m sorry, but no one who is a proponent of libertarianism would back a statist like Rudy.

  • Kevin


    The neo-libertarians are thinking that because Rudy is fiscally-conservative (yes he did cut taxes, but he was also a big spender) and socially-liberal (they forget though that social liberalism has its own statist tendencies); he’s somehow pro-liberty.

  • T F Stern

    While it may not be politically savy to back Ron Paul; he’s the only true conservative in there with the rest of the pit bulls. I would also rather vote for a man with principles and character, even knowing the odds were stacked against him, just as I wrote today in my own similar article.

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  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Where should the Republicans hold their next conventiion?

    Any gay bar will work

  • Alex Wallenwein

    The GOP has never had a limited government soul. It is the party of Lincoln, who singlehandedly did more to kill the idea of limited government than even both Clintons and George Bush, II. have dared to dream.

    Do not underestimate Ron Paul. He was “redistricted” back in 2002 in an attempt to remove him from Congress – and he won with a 67% landslide despite that fact. The press can silence him by ignoring him as it always has – but he is a force to be reckoned with.

  • Kevin

    It is the party of Lincoln, who singlehandedly did more to kill the idea of limited government than even both Clintons and George Bush, II. have dared to dream.

    That damn bastard. He should have respected the property rights of white Southerners. Those poor oppressed slaveholders.

  • Alex Wallenwein

    “That damn bastard. He should have respected the property rights of white Southerners. Those poor oppressed slaveholders.”

    No, he should have respected the Constitution and the limitations it imposes on government. If government had a real excuse for stepping outside its constitutional bounds every time some does something despicable … well, we would end up exactly where we are today – with the full support of a majority of so-called conservatives, I might add.

    Ron Paul is the anti-Lincoln. I respect him for that, and so will millions of grass roots Republicans who were forced to watch “their” president singlehandedly decosntruct what was left of conservatism, the border, and common sense in the Republican Party.

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