Ron Paul Will Never Be President But He HAS Made a Difference

Those who support the establishment of the Republican Party tend to be irritated that Ron Paul’s supporters kept trying to put his name up for nomination against Mitt Romney at the convention in Tampa even though Paul had no realistic chance of winning. Even very early in the campaign, establishment whores such as Hugh Hewitt were arguing that Ron Paul along with Herman Cain and Gary Johnson should be “exiled” from the debates because they didn’t have “a prayer of winning” the nomination. But are political campaigns, especially presidential campaigns, only about winning the nomination and ultimately, the presidency?

As someone who supported Ron Paul in the primary, I believed his winning the nomination would be the greatest upset in political history to say nothing about becoming the next president. When Terry Moran asked Paul the question: “When you lay your head on your pillow at night, do you see yourself in the Oval Office?” Paul replied “not really.” This is not a typical response of someone who is making a serious run for president.

This isn’t to say in any way that Ron Paul was not making a serious run for president, I think he was. Paul made three unsuccessful runs for the presidency but has succeeded in changing the political conversation. He advanced the ball in ways that he otherwise would not have had he not made these runs for the White House.

The most obvious example of how Paul has changed the political debate would be his call for a full audit of the Federal Reserve. As recently as 2006, the following was written about the Federal Reserve in a book by Richard Brookhiser entitled What Would the Founders Do (Our Questions, Their Answers)*

Everyone likes the Federal Reserve System these days, partly because it seems to work so well. (Not one person in a thousand ever thinks of it, a rough definition of working well.) But suspicion of public banks could revive at any time, for the same reasons that many of the founders were suspicious of them — most people (the founders included) do not understand banks or banking, and some bankers are in fact crooks. (p.92)

Back when this paragraph was written, I don’t think the Federal Reserve was even on my radar and I don’t think I was alone. Maybe the Fed isn’t the top issue for the average voter even now but I do think it’s safe to say more people are skeptical of the Fed especially in the era of bailouts and quantitative easing (i.e. printing money out of thin air). The mere mention of Ben Bernake or the Fed, especially at Ron Paul or liberty oriented rallies bring about boos and chants of “End the Fed!” “End the Fed!” This in of itself isn’t that big of a deal; these are true believers. What is a big deal, however; is that language to audit the Fed has made its way into the 2012 Republican Party Platform. Even more importantly, Paul’s Audit the Fed bill passed the House by an overwhelming 327-98 vote margin. Every single Republican but one supported the legislation along with 89 Democrats.

The bill wasn’t brought to a vote in the Senate but pressure will mount on Harry Reid if the Democrats maintain control to schedule a vote. If the Republicans take the Senate, a vote is even more likely to happen and Audit the Fed would be more likely to pass. If it gets to the president’s desk, the president – be it Obama or Romney will sign the bill, I believe.

A bipartisan bill authored by Ron Paul – who would have thought?

Ron Paul, one man who prior to the 2008 campaign wasn’t a household name, has changed the conversation within the G.O.P. concerning the Fed, spending, constitutional government, taxation, and civil liberties. Though his delegates were mistreated in Tampa, the RNC saw fit to at least try to mollify them with this tribute to the congressman’s career.

Missing from the tribute video was Paul’s anti-war/anti-interventionist views that he has espoused throughout his political career. Paul challenged people to do their own research concerning American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East. He openly challenged the notion that policing the world trying to “make the world safe for democracy” and nation building was in America’s national security interest. Though the Neocons and war hawks are still firmly in control of the G.O.P., more voices in the party are challenging the prevailing view and cautioning Americans about blowback – a term invented by the C.I.A. but popularized by the Texas congressman.

Most important of all, Ron Paul is leaving a legacy behind him as he retires from congress. What will become of the rEVOLution in his absence? A small but growing number of individuals are being elected to the House and the Senate who share many of Paul’s small government/pro-liberty views. Ron Paul’s son Sen. Rand Paul along with Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Mark Kirk, Rep. Justin Amash among others will lead the movement into the future. If the Paul activists continue to fight the establishment from inside** the G.O.P., there is at least a chance that the party will actually live up to its more small government ideals it purports to stand for.

*Basic Books, New York.

**While I understand why some Paul supporters might be tempted to leave the party due to how they have been treated by the party establishment, I would advise against this. The G.O.P. is ripe for a hostile takeover BUT the establishment isn’t going to give up control so easy. If you drop out, you are allowing them to win; this is precisely what they want you to do. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Focus on the Senate, House, and races at the state and local levels and vote your conscience for president (the wonderful thing about voting is that you don’t have to tell anyone who you voted for). After this election, regroup and continue to fight for liberty.

  • Akston

    The RNC broke their own rules, transparently ignored votes in mock-parliamentary charades, and employed dirty tricks to exclude duly elected delegates from participating.

    But this is not why I left the Republican Party two weeks ago.

    The Romney campaign, though assured of their 1144 vote win, were so petty and concerned about a feeble show of non-existent unity that they were willing to deny Paul delegates even a moment to declare votes for their candidate.

    But this is not why I left the Republican Party two weeks ago.

    The RNC added rules to ensure that future conventions will now be completely scripted, and the dominant candidate will be able to unseat whichever delegates he wishes. Future delegates will simply be props, required to cheer on cue. No thought required.

    I began wondering: Why then, would anyone go through the successive elections in caucus states and the great personal expense to attend as a prop? Certainly, there must be opportunities for toadying and rent-seeking, but just as certainly, this will no longer be a deliberative body (to whatever degree it may have been in the past).

    So one could leave this party, yet still vote in general elections. And having been mocked and dismissed, one could choose to vote for candidates of conscience, even in futility. Or one could refrain from voting entirely.

    This is why I left the Republican Party two weeks ago.

    If the Republican Party ever seems worthy of membership again, I may rejoin and vote in their primaries. But for now, they are not worthy, they offer no voice, they employ petty and unnecessary attack on their own membership, and they offer little or no substantive advantage over other big government spendthrift organizations.

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

    – George Washington, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

    George Washington may have had dental problems, but there was nothing wrong with his vision.

  • Stephen Littau


    I think everything you’ve said here is pretty much right-on. The ONLY reason I would suggest working within the GOP is because it has the infrastructure that the 3rd parties don’t. I think libertarians should take a page from the socialists as they have (over time) taken over the Democratic Party (the differences between the socialists and the democrats are not a matter of principle but degree).

    Aside from the shenanigans of the RNC, do you agree with my overall point that Ron Paul has made a difference?

  • Akston

    I do agree with the original post. Two issues come immediately to mind.

    First, questioning whether a strong defense and an interventionist policy are necessarily the same thing has deepened as a national discussion. While many seem to answer differently depending on which party is in power, many others still raise the question.

    Second, how many times do you remember hearing questions about constitutionality before, say, 2006? It had been decades since I had heard anyone raise that concern.

    Paul gave many, including myself, a renewed civics lesson. Which laws are properly established at the federal level? Which at the State level? What does it mean to have Enumerated Powers? Which existed first, the States or the Federal Government? Has America ever been without a central bank? The list goes on and on.