September 2, 2012 3 Comments
I’ve admittedly stayed away from covering or even really thinking about the GOP convention. If I’m being totally honest, I was sort of hoping that about half of more of the GOP would be swept away by Hurricane Isaac, but alas, that didn’t happen. Oh well. I’m not really sure why I avoided it, except that I think I finally succeeded in burning myself out on politics. After all of the GOP shenanigans and the treachery and the drama, I think perhaps I just needed a break from it. I guess I should have tried to endure a bit longer, for now that the proper election season is upon us, I care even less, probably because I see no important differences between the two front runners.
I would, however, like to talk a bit about what happened to Ron Paul and his supporters at the convention. Much like I suspected, the GOP got up to its usual trickery, and the Romney campaign successfully whined and moaned and complained and generally carried on like a spoiled brat until the GOP gave in and didn’t allow many of the Paul delegates to be seated. Maine, in particular, got the short end of the stick, and reports have it that Governor LePage, himself a delegate and GOP member, was not best pleased by this turn of events. In a nutshell, the Romney campaign and apparently the GOP were so scared that Ron Paul might actually make it onto the ballot that they changed the rules of the game at the eleventh hour to disbar him from being in the running. Are people seriously considering these goons to run the country? Is that really who want in charge – a guy who can’t take it on the chin when he loses a mere five states to people that are supposed to be nothing more than insane rabble rousers? Really? If they really believed that, you’d think they’d be better sports about it, wouldn’t you? (Note that I don’t think Obama is any better than Romney, so don’t go thinking I’m at all sympathetic towards him.)
In any event, Ron Paul was shut out from a speaking engagement, although Senator Rand Paul was given a keynote slot on Thursday. I have neither listened to the speech nor read a transcript from it, but I understand he did a passable job of walking the line between bowing to Romney and giving the old school Paul supporters some of what they wanted to hear. I’m fairly skeptical of Paul, Jr. at this point and wonder who he’s really pandering to – us or them? And I think I’m within my rights to have an “us vs. them” mentality right now.
From some reports I’ve heard, Romney’s lot would have given Dr. Paul the Elder a speaking spot, providing that he would allow the Romney campaign to vet his remarks and also give Romney a full endorsement. Dr. Paul declined, and at the end of the convention, essentially denounced (renounced?) the Republican Party. I was not surprised that he wouldn’t bow to Romney’s desires, but I have to admit that, given the goings-on with Rand’s endorsement a few months back, I was a bit more surprised that he completely washed his hands of the GOP. It seemed so much that Ron Paul’s strategy had been to infiltrate the GOP. Perhaps he finally decided that he’d had enough of having it all thrown back in his face? Perhaps, like so many with strong beliefs, he will continue on as a free agent, someone who believes what he believes without paying any lip service to any other group or individual, save those he has already vetted as worthwhile. Perhaps that is for the best.
I think a serious question on everyone’s mind now is, “Who is the next Ron Paul?” The short answer for now is that there is no next Ron Paul. Truly, he is one of a kind. He has done more for the liberty movement than anyone since Goldwater, and I think it could be argued that Paul has done more. Paul has awakened so many to a different mode of thinking, but I do think that perhaps some of those seeds he has sown will takes years if not in some cases decades to bear fruit. A good number of his supporters are young, and it may be some time before they find themselves in positions to take over as the new authority. I could be wrong, but I suspect that’s how some of it may play out.
In a nutshell, I don’t see anyone on the horizon, at the moment, who will be the new “it guy” or “it gal.” Gary Johnson is a great candidate, but he’s not Ron Paul. Rand, in my mind, certainly hasn’t satisfied the requirements as yet. He has a long way to go to prove himself, and I have this feeling that he won’t. Prove me wrong, Rand. I’m unaware of any especially prominent figures in the more extreme sections of the libertarian movement that are in the notion to put their necks out for political office. Forgive me if those sounds snooty, but it seems like most of them are more intellectually oriented, rather than politically oriented or motivated. That isn’t to say that they don’t care about politics, but they seem more focused on education and publishing work of their own, rather than becoming entangled in the cesspool that is Washington skullduggery.
With those factors in mind, the truth is that we don’t know who the next Ron Paul will be. He or she may be a long time coming. They may show up as soon as a year or two from now. But one thing is for certain: I don’t think that person is on the radar yet. And isn’t that an exciting prospect, really? Who is the next Ron Paul? That person could be reading this article right now. It could be you. It could be me. It could be your neighbor. It could be a guy immigrating from Mexico. It could be a single mother working a low-paying job and putting herself through school. It could be absolutely any of us. I think that Dr. Paul has inspired enough people that there will be fresh air breathing life into what was once considered an outmoded and stagnant movement.
I don’t know what direction the movement is going to take. I don’t know if it will reform under the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, or an entirely new party. I do not think that it will come from the GOP. I think real innovation will come from without, and I think that’s where the movement is headed – outward bound. I do know that the fight is not over, and that we need to continue working towards greater goals. I do hope that some of us are able to take significant roles in local and state politics. Initiating change at a local level is our best bet right now. And you never know where that could lead a hard-working person. He or she might just become the next Gary Johnson, Murray Rothbard, or Ron Paul.
But we need people to get involved. The movement shouldn’t die just because Ron Paul is retiring from the public eye. Remember, he was once a normal guy like the rest of us – just a doctor with a big family who believed in a cause. He fought a long time to get where he is now, but that doesn’t mean he’s the only person who could do it or will do it. It behooves me as much as anyone else to heed the words that we have to become the change that we wish to see in the world.
And with that thought, I’ll leave you all with a last question: Where is your vote going, fellow libertarians? Are you going Johnson, writing in Paul, or are some of you voting Romney out of hatred for Obama? I know people who are doing any of the three. I’m certainly not casting a vote to Romney. I don’t care if it is “throwing my vote away.” A vote for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil, and I refuse to condone it. I’m leaning towards Johnson, but it is damn hard for me not to vote Paul.