Picking at Festering Libertarian Scabsby Stephen Gordon
I honestly believe that Ron Paul is a decent guy and one of the most unique spokesmen for the libertarian movement out there. However, I’m going to write something that one year ago would have filled the comment section below with hate messages from Dr. Paul’s supporters: Ron Paul does not walk on water and he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. Additionally, many of his supporters were among the rudest of people I’ve run into in my lifetime. I’ve also made some close and probably lifelong friends because of Paul’s presidential bid.
Countless times, I’ve been accused of attempting to destroy Ron Paul for pointing out some minor area where I disagree with him or his campaign. When doing so, I was generally accused by his supporters either of being a neocon or of trying to sabotage his campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth on either account. It got so bad that I nearly quit supporting Paul — and I know quite a few other people who did drop out of the Ron Paul movement because of the crude behavior of some of his fans.
As a matter of fact, I was even heavily criticized by Paul’s supporters for paying, out of my own pocket, for a limousine to take Paul to the memorial service of Hollywood-producer-turned-politican Aaron Russo. They thought it looked bad for a presidential candidate to appear to be living a jet-setting life of luxury. I didn’t want a presidential candidate to show up at a Hollywood gig with both reporters and movie stars looking like a homeless man. It was a plain, black limo.
There are differences between each of us in the freedom movement. Some are pro-life, others are pro-choice. Some are open borders and some are closed borders. Some think talk of dismantling the Federal Reserve sounds bat-shit crazy. Some think we should focus on the War on Drugs, others feel it is a losing issue. Some are 9/11 Truthers, or Obama Birthers, McCain Birthers, UFO Truthers, etc. — while others try to avoid these topics. We have differences on both issues and approaches.
Like the rest of us, Ron Paul has some political warts. He ran a campaign which many felt was poorly managed. He didn’t handle the newsletter issue well. Many people felt defrauded because they thought he was running to win and later found out it was an “educational” campaign. Others feel that while Paul is an excellent congressman, he doesn’t have the executive skills to be commander-and-chief. Paul has also managed to put a general libertarian message on national television like nothing I’ve seen in my lifetime.
He’s not the only libertarian-leaning Republican to have some political warts, though. Barry Goldwater lost the 1964 presidential election because of them — and the Daisy ad. I could run through a long list of faults of libertarian-leaning Congressmen, but won’t for the sake of brevity. And political warts aren’t reserved solely for GOP candidates, either.
When Aaron Russo attempted to win the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, he said he didn’t wish to push for a radical drug legalization platform, preferring to focus on medical marijuana. Then he went just as radical as Paul with respect to the Federal Reserve during his campaign and followed this up with America: Freedom to Fascism.
Bob Barr certainly didn’t appeal to the more radical elements of the libertarian movement and the cynical among them still thinks he’s a “neocon” who favors the Iraq War and Patriot Act, despite all that he’s done since leaving Congress to oppose these issues. However, Barr did handle racial allegations much more quickly and thoroughly than Paul did. Michael Badnarik was actually good on most of the issues from a constitutional perspective, but he seemed a bit kooky with respect to his refusal to obtain a driver’s license and for a few things he wrote in an pre-campaign publication.
The definition of neoconservative, for some libertarians, seems to be “anyone with whom I disagree.”
I’ve worked plenty of campaigns and disagreed with aspects of all of them. Even the ones which won. Especially the ones I managed. Reasonable disagreement does not equate with being some sort of traitor.
Face it, folks, we are a bunch of individualists who are going to disagree — and disagree a lot. We will disagree on the issues and we will disagree on the candidates. However, the 2008 campaigns are over and perhaps it’s time to point our guns outwards, as opposed to aiming them at our closest allies. By working together where we can and working apart where we must, we will accomplish a whole lot more than if we waste our time beating each other over the head about minor nuances.
It’s one thing to respectfully disagree or provide advice. It’s another thing to reserve our most powerful weapons for our allies. So long as we continue to fight each other, the oppressive power of the state will continue to increase.
UPDATE: By e-mail request, I’m linking to something I wrote some time ago dealing with the same general topic.