Ron Paul @ CPAC a/k/a Ron Tilts To The Right

I’ve got to admit, I’m confused.

For the longest time, Ron Paul was campaigning as anything other than a conservative. He called himself a libertarian, heck he ran as a Libertarian for President 20 years ago, and, as the great F.A. Hayek reminded us more than 40 years ago, there is a big difference between between being a conservative and being someone who believes in individual liberty.

Nonetheless, Ron Paul, the supposed libertarian Republican candidate for President showed up today at CPAC and called himself a true conservative.

Here’s the video, you be the judge:

Introduction by Bob Barr:

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

  • Rogel

    You can’t be serious Doug. Goldwater was a conservative and very much Libertarian. You can’t ignore the strong historical connection between these movements. Furthermore on all the debates, and on many other public speeches Ron Paul called himself the true conservative.
    There is enough to criticize why do you need to misrepresent?

  • Doug Mataconis

    Misrepresent what ?

    Goldwater was a conservative in 1964, by the 1980s he was saying, correctly, that Jerry Falwell needed a good swift kick in the ass.

    Conservatism, by it’s very definition, is anti-libertarian. Pandering to these people accomplishes nothing for the cause.

  • Rogel

    Misrepresent Paul’s campaign – he presented himself throughout the campaign as the true conservative.
    Yet, Paul didn’t modify his message to the crowd today – So I don’t think he was pandering nor inconsistent in any way.

  • UCrawford


    I take your point, and I think Doug’s off a bit on his assessment.

    “Conservative” isn’t actually an ideology…it’s a coalition of ideologies, generally a synonym for “Republican”, the definition of which has changed dramatically over time. A “conservative” now is almost nothing like a “conservative” of the 1960s. Libertarianism is more of an ideology, which means that libertarians of today are generally still similar to libertarians of that time period. Goldwater was certainly a conservative in his day (his book was entitled “Conscience of a Conservative”) but the ideals he followed were very much libertarian and the two weren’t in conflict because they were connected. Once “conservatism” became dominated by the religious right and distanced itself from its libertarian elements Goldwater very quickly walked away from conservatism.

    I think Doug’s argument is failing to make that distinction, between ideology and party affiliation which causes an apples-to-oranges comparison that undermines any accurate discussion. But Doug is also quite correct that “conservatism” and libertarianism are almost completely incompatible today and that Ron Paul’s trying to bridge a gap that I don’t think can be bridged.

    That’s not to say that this won’t change in the future and that conservatism won’t shift more towards libertarians down the road, but it won’t happen in this election. It’ll require that the chirpy Jesus freaks get their asses kicked in the voting booths first.

  • UCrawford

    he presented himself throughout the campaign as the true conservative

    He’s not a “true” conservative though. Conservatism today is dominated by big-government statist candidates, who use religious overtones in their rhetoric…that’s what conservatives today are voting for. That’s not what Paul is preaching so he’s wasting his time trying to sell himself as a “true” conservative because he’s not, based on today’s standards of conservatism. He is a 1960s-era conservative and sadly that’s not in vogue with the current crop of losers.

  • Jeff Molby

    Following up on Rogel…

    The problem with Doug’s statement is the implication that Paul has somehow flip-flopped and is now pandering to conservatives.

    Throughout this entire campaign, he has billed himself as a “traditional” and/or “true” conservative. By contrast, his opponents are “neo-conservatives” who have “hijacked the conservative movement”. Whether or not his characterization is historically accurate, he has been absolutely consistent about it; he’s seeking to return power to the libertarian wing of the party.

  • UCrawford


    I get what he’s doing, he’s trying to follow the strategy that Goldwater did when he wrested he GOP nomination from big-government conservative Nelson Rockefeller…but it’s a major miscalculation because the conservative base that he thinks he’s preaching to just doesn’t exist right now. They’re voting for neo-conservative candidates because that’s what the majority of today’s conservatives actually want, and Paul’s not a good enough candidate to convince them otherwise.

    I think that’ll change eventually but it just won’t be in this election or because of this candidate.

  • Jeff Molby

    I agree.

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  • oilnwater

    yeah, Ron is a republican. it’s about time you accept that.