Permanent rEVOLution

The next generation of Ron Paul Republicans

Amit Singh is 33 years old. If you were tending a bar when he walked in, you’d probably card him. Before his April speech to a slowly filling restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, he ambles around the room, grabbing shoulders, shaking hands, smiling sheepishly. Friends who have shown up to support the unassuming defense industry engineer sit nearby, bemused.

“When he first showed me his website,” says Orrin McNamara, one of Singh’s neighbors, “I said: ‘Is this a joke? Amit for Congress?’ Seriously, I thought it might have been a joke.” He ponders for a moment. “I don’t know what the joke would have been.”

A bit after 7 p.m., Singh walks to the podium and sounds like what he is: a Republican congressional candidate. He talks about a “new vision for a brighter future.” Boilerplate, candidate-from-a-kit stuff. Singh smiles and darts his eyes down when he draws applause and laughs nervously when he takes a swipe at his Democratic incumbent. He doesn’t sound comfortable—until the speech shifts.

“We’ve seen how the politics of fear chip away at freedom at home,” he declares, sounding suddenly sure of himself. “Where are the defenders of freedom today? Where are our Thomas Jeffersons? Where are our Barry Goldwaters? There are a few defenders of freedom, but they are outnumbered, and they need our help.”

Singh has one particular defender of freedom in mind: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). It was Paul’s libertarian-minded presidential campaign that got Singh into politics, first as a donor, then as a Virginia volunteer, and now as a candidate for Congress. A month after watching Paul score 4.5 percent of the vote in the Virginia primary, Singh threw his hat into the ring for the 8th District congressional seat.

By the end of the 2008 elections, as many as 40 self-proclaimed Ron Paul Republicans will have run for national office. The reception they are getting from their state parties ranges from warm embraces to Terminator-like efforts to destroy them. After a year of supporting a presidential candidate the party’s gatekeepers treated like a radioactive performance artist, the Paulites are used to ridicule. They want to carve out a permanent place in Republican politics, regardless of whether the party wants them to be there.

The Ron Paul Republicans come in two breeds. The first and largest category—about half the candidates collected on the aggregating site PaulCongress.com—are utter long-shots. They live either in districts where Democrats could hold fundraisers for the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and still win by landslides or those held comfortably by old-line Republican incumbents. David Wasserman, the House race editor for the Cook Political Report, says these candidates shouldn’t get their hopes up. “You can argue that it says something about the state of our democracy, the nature of the way districts are drawn, or the nature of incumbency,” Wasserman says. “We shut out a lot of viable people in these safe seats.”

Maryland’s Peter James lives in one of those districts of doom, a snaky, overwhelmingly Democratic gerrymander in the black suburbs of Washington, D.C. In the run-up to the February 12 primary elections there, James did the grunt work of organizing the Montgomery County Ron Paul Meetup group while hitting the pavement to win the Republican nomination for Congress. He spent $6,000 and all the free time a computer consultant can wrangle to win a primary against two other candidates—one of them another Ron Paul Republican.

“We had some Libertarian Party activists, some conservative Republicans, and about a third of the people we had were liberal Democrats who didn’t like their party’s candidates,” James says. “I’d go up to someone and tell them I was running for Congress. They’d ask the party. I’d say, ‘Republican.’ They’d say, ‘I can’t vote for you.’ Then I’d say, ‘I’m a Ron Paul Republican.’ And they’d say, ‘Oh! Well, I like him.’ ”

Maryland is ground zero for Ron Paul Republican candidates. Six of the state’s eight congressional districts are held by Democrats; four of the six Republicans running to challenge them were volunteers for Ron Paul. The Maryland Republican Party, which was kicked to the curb in the 2006 midterms, is happy to have them. “We welcome everyone to the Republican Party,” says state party Executive Director John Flynn. “We’re in the minority! Two years ago we didn’t even field candidates for two of these races, so the Ron Paul Republicans are really adding something.”

Like the man who inspired them, Paul’s flock deviates far from the Bush-era GOP’s platform and organizing tactics. When I ask Peter James what he has done to coordinate with the other three Maryland Ron Paul Republicans, he says they’ve talked about launching a viral video or a newspaper. One of James’ “main issues” is “providing an alternative currency,” not exactly a mainline Republican talking point. Flynn doesn’t mind; he shrugs that it’s “one of Peter’s issues.”

Other state parties are less welcoming. John Wallace is a 64-year-old New York real estate broker who started working for Paul, in part, because “he was the only one talking about the North American Union,” an alleged plot to merge the U.S. with Canada and Mexico. Wallace jumped into a primary for a suburban seat that Republicans lost in 2006; the party was backing the millionaire former party chairman Sandy Treadwell to try to seize it back. “I’ll go to one of these county meetings,” Wallace says, “and people will say to me: ‘My God! You’re right on the money. That was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.’ Then they’ll head back to the table and vote for Treadwell.”

Ron Paul himself has endorsed just four of his followers-turned-candidates, and one of them, Jim Forsythe, dropped out of his New Hampshire congressional race in April because he lacked funds and name recognition. The others—including New Jersey’s Murray Sabrin and North Carolina’s B.J. Lawson—have drawn opposition from local Republicans unwilling to take the Paul plunge. (Paul has also endorsed Peter James.)

Paul’s reticence stems from not wanting to see his name attached to some candidate with whom he might not agree. “If you have some name recognition and some money, you have to be careful,” he says. “To say, ‘I’m a Ron Paul Republican,’ and to expect some money and an endorsement from me—I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

The other breed of Ron Paul Republican is neither tolerated as a sacrificial lamb nor pushed away as a nuisance. He is the candidate with a fighting chance for a seat the Republicans genuinely hope to contest. Amit Singh isn’t counting on a Paul endorsement as much as he’s trying to create a local version of the Ron Paul revolution. Mark Ellmore, the Republican candidate who lost the 8th District nomination in 2006 and has been running for it ever since, warns that Singh will “have trouble securing the Republican base,” but that’s as far as the insults go. “Ron Paul supporters are absolutely great for the Republican Party,” Ellmore says.

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  • ||

    This is purely anecdotal, but I still see Ron Paul signs posted here and there.

    I have yet to see a McCain sign.

  • ||

    I have heard, and rejected the proposal that libertarian leaning folks should attempt an insurgency in the GOP. The argument is that more cam be accomplished within the two party framework that can be done via third party activism.

    It's a valid argument and I wish the "Ron Paul republicans" success. GWB and increasingly John S. McCain have convinced me that I'm not welcome in the party. It apperas they would rather suck up to southern baptist creationists than small government proponents.

    Good luck guys. If you do move the GOP back towards fiscal sanity and away from military misadventures I may be back. Unfortunately I believe you will fail. If the Barr campaign costs the Republicans the presidency this November maybe you will start getting treated with respect. Until that happens I'm remaining an outsider.

  • Fluffy||

    One datum that would have fit into this article nicely would be that Michael Goldfarb, Deputy Communications Director for McCain's Presidential campaign, has said that Ron Paul supporters are not welcome in the GOP and that he would rather they supported Obama.

    [He didn't say anything about Barr, but if he's OK with them supporting Obama I guess Barr would be OK too.]

    The activities of state party operatives at state conventions in MN, NV, TX, WA, etc. also make it clear that the GOP doesn't want RPR's in the party. They want them gone.

  • ||

    The Pennsylvania Paulites are meeting in Harrisburg on June 14th to decide a future direction(s). Some have already been frozen out of county GOP leadership while others are committeemen and women and county leaders.
    A good many see non-partisanship as the way to go in the future: back RP-message candidates of whatever party. The question, nationwide, is will the Paulites be able to seize control of the GOP like the Goldwaterites eventually did? I think it unlikely anytime soon.

  • ||

    It apperas they would rather suck up to southern baptist creationists than small government proponents.

    That's because the perception is that there are more southern baptist creationists than small government proponents, and it may be true. With enough exposure, we could change that.

    I was able to vote for Ron Paul on Tuesday here in New Mexico. He got 14% of the vote here (a purple state). He got 25% in Montana (beating McCain), 21% in North Dakota and 17% in South Dakota. I realize these were all late-voting states in which McCain was already the nominee, but it shows that people really wanted to vote libertarian-republican.

  • robc||

    J sub D,

    It apperas they would rather suck up to southern baptist creationists than small government proponents.

    Those arent mutually exclusive.

  • robc||

    creech,

    Did the Goldwaterites really ever seize control of the GOP? Reagan did via coalition with the religious conservatives but the control seems to last all of about 5 minutes.

  • ||

    Why would Amit Singh be inspired by a racist who hoards gold under his bed? I mean, all specific policy positions aside, can't we admit that Obama fever is contagious? -- Beltway libertarian

  • ||

    Reason would do well to cover two Paul endorsed Republicans running in open seat races in Upstate New York. Steven Vasquez (NY-21) and David Gay (NY-25)

  • Elemenope||

    This is purely anecdotal, but I still see Ron Paul signs posted here and there.

    I have yet to see a McCain sign.


    It's funny you mention this. My state went for Clinton, and yet all I ever see are Obama stickers; I even saw one (repeat, ONE) Edwards sticker, and a grand total of zero Clinton stickers.

    Down the street from where I work is the only McCain sign I've yet seen, and it says "McCain 2000", but it is comically sizable. Further down the road the local highway on-ramp had been spammed and then cleaned and then re-spammed with Ron Paul lawn signs.

  • jtuf||

    The Ron Paul Republicans are bringing people to the GOP. Ten years ago, I would have voted for a Libertarian candidate over a Republican candidate hands down. The anti-immigrant Libertarians and the pro-freedom Republicans put a stop to that habit. Now, the Republican and Libertarian candidates will be competing for my vote.

  • ||

    In California, many Ron Paul supporters ran for GOP central committee slots. I was one of those who ran. The election was Tuesday, and I still don't know if I won because I'm a write-in candidate, and write-ins haven't been tallied in my county yet.

    In a nearby county, several "Constitutional Republicans" got elected. They scare me. They talk about being Ron Paul supporters, but they're very statist. They're all Birchers, Minutemen, and crytpo-conspiracists. They want Fair Trade protectionism, and a Big Wall on the border. They want me to join with them, but I'm a libertarian with views that I thinnk would wither their taints if they discovered them.

  • Kolohe||

    One datum that would have fit into this article nicely would be that Michael Goldfarb, Deputy Communications Director for McCain's Presidential campaign, has said that Ron Paul supporters are not welcome in the GOP and that he would rather they supported Obama.


    Fluffy-
    I'm curious, do you have a link? It seems like a pretty boneheaded thing to say.

    The only thing I was able to find with a google news search was this where he infers that that Paul supporters would be likely to vote for Obama (because he sees Paul voters as single issue voters on the war) not that they should vote for Obama.

  • Colin||

  • ||

    Good luck guys. If you do move the GOP back towards fiscal sanity and away from military misadventures I may be back. Unfortunately I believe you will fail. If the Barr campaign costs the Republicans the presidency this November maybe you will start getting treated with respect. Until that happens I'm remaining an outsider.

    The strategy to "take back" the GOP obviously doesn't end in November. In fact, it probably doesn't begin until afterward. If McCain gets his ass handed to him the way GOP congressional candidates are sure to, then I'd say that many of the people dissing the Ron Paul types won't be in a position to do so anymore. That's why those guys in Maryland have already gotten some traction--the GOP in that state is in tatters.

  • ||

    BTW, I'd love it if libertarians could get traction in the Democratic Party, too. But I think the Democrats' coalition-style politics don't lend themselves well to a takeover. Democrats seem mostly interested in getting their own little grab bag from Uncle Sam, rather than promoting liberty.

  • ||

    Keep fighting the good fight, guys.

  • Fluffy||

    Kolohe,

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/03/a_message_to_ron_paul_supporte.asp

    Michael Goldfarb, writing in the Weekly Standard:

    A Message to Ron Paul Supporters:

    ...Let me just say to Ron Paul supporters everywhere, and on behalf of the New Right (by which I assume Paul means the Jew Right), get lost.

    There should be plenty of room for the Paulnuts in Obama's big tent.

  • ||

    robc: Goldwaterites took over parties in the South and western states but never quite succeeded in the East, though I still run into county commissioners and state legislators who professed to be Youth for Goldwater zealots "back in the day." I think it fair to say the first Reagan administration was the product of a Goldwater-dominated GOP. David Stockman, head of OMB, had been a Goldwaterite at Michigan State. You had Goldwaterites writing Reagan's speeches (Rohrabacher, for one). The two top guys at OPM (Devine and Moffit) were ex-YAF Goldwater fanatics.

    Even though Barry won the nomination in 1964, it was hard for many Goldwater supporters to infiltrate their state parties. How much harder will it be for supporters of also-ran
    Ron Paul? And how sickening? To get anywhere up the ladder, you have to prove yourself, which means backing all sorts of cretinous GOP candidates in order to get your own shot. Many libertarians can't stomach Bob Barr; how will they cope with being forced to back the local war-mongering, socialistic RINO or lose their new committeeman post?

  • ||

    BTW, I'd love it if libertarians could get traction in the Democratic Party, too. But I think the Democrats' coalition-style politics don't lend themselves well to a takeover.

    Not to mention the Dem's philosophy of Mo Bigga Government as the solution to every problem.

    Sadly, a philosophy that the Repubs seem to have adopted as well.

  • ||

    The media and the US government lied to us leading up to the Iraq war. Now they ignore the Bilderberg meeting occurring in Chantilly Virginia over the next few days. 125 of the most powerful people in the world...isn't this big political news? why won't you cover it? even mention it?

  • ||

    Is Charles Koch going to Bilderberg this year? who will be the Exxon representative?

  • ||

    To get anywhere up the ladder, you have to prove yourself, which means backing all sorts of cretinous GOP candidates in order to get your own shot. Many libertarians can't stomach Bob Barr; how will they cope with being forced to back the local war-mongering, socialistic RINO or lose their new committeeman post?



    Most Republican range from concerned to horrified at the direction the party has taken. The ideas of small government and individual liberty lie in tatters. Even though they may be skert of foreigners, domestically they still want more than mere lip service to Reagan and Goldwater. If you don't treat these people like the Evil Enemy™, they won't treat you like one either.

    In my county we were friendly towards the local GOP, and they were friendly back. The county chairman came to a meetup and talked to all of us Ron Paul supporters, and even asked two of us specifically to run for committee. Even the token big government Straussian neocon is civil towards us. But in some other counties the Birchers and Truthers got hold of the movement, and stirred up hatred for all Republicans. Predictably enough, their local parties fought back.

    In California as a committee member I don't have to walk precincts for McCain. I am not allowed to campaign for non-Republicans in partisan races, but neither am I required to support the presidential nominee. There are other ways of "proving" myself than to shill for McCain. The Republican Party is not naive like the LP, they know that the universe does not revolve around a quadrennial presidential candidate, and they do not require unswerving loyalty to a rigid ideology.

  • Apaulogist||

    Although it almost made my physically sick to do so, I switched my voter registration to Republican this year. I wish Barr and the libertarian Democrats all the success possible, though. Freedom any way we can get it.

  • ||

    The media and the US government lied to us leading up to the Iraq war. Now they ignore the Bilderberg meeting occurring in Chantilly Virginia over the next few days. 125 of the most powerful people in the world...isn't this big political news? why won't you cover it? even mention it?

    What, are they holding it at the Chantilly Expo Center? I went to a dog show there a few years back. And to think my scared little dog once crapped all over the floor where the future of the world will be decided in the next few days.

  • ||

    Until that happens I'm remaining an outsider

    That's your prerogative, of course. It means you won't be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Hope you're satisfied knowing that you didn't even try to help.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I think the Democrats' coalition-style politics don't lend themselves well to a takeover.

    Are you kidding? Ever heard of George McGovern or Jimmy Carter?

    Every once in a while, the major parties pick a candidate that their apparatchiks fought against, tooth and nail. Hell, the dems' party bosses couldn't even hand the nomination to Hillary Clinton.

    -jcr

  • ||

    To get anywhere up the ladder, you have to prove yourself, which means backing all sorts of cretinous GOP candidates in order to get your own shot.

    No, it doesn't. RP supporters are running for office themselves.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Oh, oh. Mr. Harris knows the location of our little meeting.
    Too bad for you, Mr. Harris. Bwahahahah!

  • ||

    Just remember:
    Things go better with Kochtopus.

  • ||

    Are you kidding? Ever heard of George McGovern or Jimmy Carter?

    I'll grant you McGovern, given that his candidacy was championed by young voters outside of the New Deal establishment of the day. Carter tapped into existing constituencies, even though he cast himself as an outsider. Obama is sort of a cross between the two.

    Thing is, neither McGovern nor Carter said or did much that was contrary to the wishes of the established constituencies. They were perfectly willing to hand out goodies to all the usual suspects. Anything other than shallow "lifestyle libertarianism" isn't likely to go over so well among the devotees of Government Cheese.

  • BakedPenguin||

    One of Paul's advisors went over to the dark side:

    Given the "effectiveness" of the Paul campaign, I think this is a good thing. The only thing that shit campaign got right was the money raising, and there is no way McCain is going to inspire anyone to be able to repeat that.

  • Apaulogist||

    Even without the Koch hate-machine, the corrupting influence of D.C. hasn't been good for Reason's reportage. All their paycheck-vampire cocktail-party friends and lamestream media coleagues don't play well in Peoria, hence the collapse of readership and the rise of the alternative LvM and LRC.

  • ||

    I wish "Ron Paul Republicans" well in their campaigns, but one thing that won't garner any significant traction is this "write-in" campaign for Ron Paul. Apparently, some Paulians are encouraging each other to write Ron Paul's name in on the presidential ballot this November. This goes against Dr. Paul's many statements that he refuses to run a campaign outside the GOP. A write in campaign would essentially make him an "independent" candidate. Are Paulians willing to risk having the GOP establishment punish Ron Paul for running against McCain in the general election? It smacks of bad planning with a potential disaster for Dr. Paul once he gets sworn into the next Congress.

    On a practical matter, trying to get Ron Paul on the ballot as a write in is going to be difficult as it is with these established rules: http://mfoster.com/misc/write-in_rules_2008.html

  • Apaulogist||

    "On a practical matter, trying to get Ron Paul on the ballot as a write in is going to be difficult as it is "

    Uh, I thought that write-in candidates WERE NOT on the ballot by definition.

  • Zimmer||

    You can still sign an online petition telling the GOP that you will vote for the good doctor.

    I quote the conclusion:
    We, the undersigned, pledge to NOT vote for GOP candidate Senator John McCain. We declare that we WILL vote for GOP candidate Representative Dr. Ron Paul as President of the United States of America for the reasons expressed above.

    http://www.lettertogop.com/

  • ||

    I write "on the ballot" as meaning "ballot certified.

  • Gene Trosper||

    I signed the petition, but not to support a write in campaign. I pledged to vote for Bob Barr. if McCain is nominated...and he will be.

  • ||

    Uh, I thought that write-in candidates WERE NOT on the ballot by definition.



    As a write-in candidate myself, I can authoritatively state that (in California at least), you must be registered as a write-in candidate. If you are not a qualified write-in candidate, and someone votes for you, that vote will NOT be registered. You might as well be leaving the slot blank for all the good it will do. At your polling place in November, you can get a list of qualified write-in candidate. I guarantee you that Ron Paul will NOT be on it, because Ron Paul is not collecting signature to be on the ballot.

  • Rick Sincere||

    Amit Singh in Virginia's 8th Congressional District and Vern McKinley, who is running as a Ron Paul Republican in the nearby 10th Congressional District, have each been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus:

    http://tinyurl.com/3vgf7s

  • Mad Max||

    This sounds like it could become a good cop/bad cop situation in trying to get the Republican Party to become more freedom-oriented [and conservative].

    The Pauliticians within the GOP can be the good cop, appealing to the better angels of the Party's nature [giggle]. At the same time, those who want to punish the Repugs at the polls for defecting from freedom principles can be the bad cop. Here's how it might work:

    GOOD COP: This party needs to return to its Goldwater/Reagan roots, move forward in a positive direction . . .

    BAD COP: You're goin' down, GOP. Youre anti-freedom record is going to lead you straight to a whipping at he polls. Your warmongering, overregulating, overspending, anti-life shenanigans are over.

    GOOD COP: But it's not too late! If only you admit that the Bush Presidency was a bad idea, maybe the voters will forgive you.

    BAD COP: After this November, the vultures will be feasting on your flesh, you freedom-hating, nation-building, deficit-spending, unborn-betraying bastards.

  • David IsBell||

    Nevada has a few Ron Paul candidates. Chris Dyer www.chrisdyer.com and Carl Bunce www.carlbunce.com

  • spool||

    Did you know that there will be a group of "Bob Barr Republicans" running for office too? They're called..."Republicans".

  • Apaulogist||

    http://www.star-telegram.com/elections/story/688606.html

    Candidate Paul is still a force in the Lone Star State also.

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  • discount||

    I'll grant you McGovern, given that his candidacy was championed byDiscount Cordless Screwdriver young voters outside of the New Deal establishment of the day. Carter tapped into existing constituencies, even though he cast himself as an outsider. Obama is sort of a cross between the two.

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