I am sure that I will receive the requisite barrage of emails from Dr. Ron Paul supporters after titling this little essay what I have. I would like to take just a moment to defend myself and ask my fellow libertarian Republicans to hold off on their attacks until after hearing what I have to say. Another small disclosure: I support Ron Paul and am one of those avid folks who are so often belittled for doing so. Knowing this, you must be wondering why I would suggest that my favorite politician should jump ship and abandon his campaign so soon? Simple answer, I think he can do his movement and his legacy much more good by leaving this campaign early.
The much longer answer has several intersecting points. First, the longer he stays in and the more serious a contender he becomes, the more the media will look to undermine him. Second point is the same as the first, only substitute media with Republican establishment. Third, if Ron Paul wins… then what? While there are things that Dr. Paul could change on his own, the American Presidency is built in such a way that no lasting change can be affected unless the legislature does it. Dr. Paul would find himself battling both Democrats and moderate Republicans (and that’s just when it comes to the economy)!
Dr. Paul has been popular with the media for years, mostly because of his anti-party stances on such flammable issues as the war in Iraq and the decriminalization of marijuana. If you remember back to 2008, there was another candidate who had a similar romance with the main stream media, his name was John McCain and we should all remember what happened to that love affair as soon as Senator McCain became the Republican nominee. He went from Maverick to partisan hack about as quickly as you could say liberal bias. Ron Paul also has provided the media with the ammunition to turn their fire on him with the now famous newsletters from the 80’s and 90’s. This will allow the media to taint all of his beliefs and ideas with the specter of racism and anti-Semitism. The work Dr. Paul has done in shedding light on the problems with the Fed, the insanity of deficit spending, and the importance of the free market will be destroyed by a few posts in his newsletter of a decade ago.
Dr. Paul has not been popular with the Republican establishment. Ever. This campaign is doing nothing to change the way he is viewed by his associates in the party. If anything, the current campaign is proving to the establishment that Dr. Paul is more dangerous than they realized and they like him all the less for it. If you pay attention to the Republican corner of the internet you know that the attacks have been almost constant over the last couple of weeks. Always along with the attack is the non-sequitur that I posted in the first paragraph… Dr. Paul’s supporters are fierce attack dogs known for their loyalty to Dr. Paul. The argument is that we complain when Ron Paul doesn’t get covered and we complain when he does. I would argue that it’s a false logic because the Republican blogosphere attacks Dr. Paul differently than anyone else. They don’t call Newt, Rick, or Mitt crazy, kooky, nuts, or insane. If Dr. Paul continues with his campaign these attacks will be stepped up even if the cost is another four years of Obama. The establishment would rather see a two term President Obama than Ron Paul as the Republican nominee for President.
Now let’s pretend I haven’t written any of the above, and Dr. Paul not only wins the nomination but he wins the election as well. Now what? Will he get legislative support to End the Fed? To shut down the IRS? To decriminalize and legalize marijuana and other recreational narcotics? Will Ron Paul find the support to bring our troops home? All of the troops from Germany, Korea, Japan, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq? The only things Dr. Paul will be able to get done are the things which he can be considered an orthodox Republican on – lower taxes (not as low as he wants), less spending (not as little as he wants), less regulation (not as few as he would like). If we are honest, the only way that Dr. Paul would be able to get any work done is by using a device that he himself doesn’t like – the executive order (E.O.). He can use the E.O. legally and with great effect; rescinding previous E.O.’s and signing new ones. In the end though, what will these accomplish? The next President could just as easily rescind the new orders or re-sign the old ones. A Dr. Paul Presidency could very well be a blow to the campaign for liberty simply because Dr. Paul will not be able to get any work done. He will be attacked on all fronts and from all parties in a way no other President since Lincoln has been.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Ron Paul and his supporters, though. The silver lining on being stuck between a rock and a hard place is that you can choose your fate, and now is the moment for the Paul campaign to order their next steps wisely. If I was giving the campaign advice, I would recommend funneling all of their effort into Iowa and making sure that Dr. Paul does as well as he can there. On the night of the Iowa returns, as it becomes clear that Dr. Paul will indeed win, he should call a press conference to announce that he will be withdrawing from the campaign and offering his support to one of his Republican counterparts. The price for his endorsement could be the Vice Presidency, a cabinet position or perhaps simply a guarantee to support the liberty movement. It is in these precarious moments that the most important compromises are brokered – which candidate will take up as much of Dr. Paul’s mantle as possible?
Dropping out early may seem like quitting or giving up. Maybe it is, but it allows for something much more important to continue untainted – the Liberty movement. If Ron Paul walks away on top before he can be painted with some very ugly brush strokes, it helps his legacy and our goals. If the Republican Party sees that a significant portion of the population–both Republican and Democrat–buy into what Dr. Paul is preaching than perhaps he can build some good will with the establishment by causing as few waves in the primary as possible. That good will could be mighty useful when asking the Republican Party to buy into the following: ending the Fed, restructuring the welfare state, revitalizing the federal system and righting the ship of the economy. In the end, for me all the information leaves me with one sad realization–my favorite candidate should drop out after Iowa (New Hampshire at the latest). I was never very good at math but the numbers just don’t seem to add up to anything good if Dr. Paul stays in the fight.