Ron Paul Is Not Ending His Campaign for Liberty

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) announced yesterday that he will no longer be actively campaigning in forthcoming primaries. While this announcement was widely played in the media as essentially "Ron Paul drops out"—as perhaps his team should have figured, especially with its injudicious use of past tense about "fought hard"—Paul in fact directly said his quest to rack up as many delegates as he can for the Republican presidential nomination will continue. Indeed, the announcement was more or less merely a public declaration of what had been the campaign's style for the past few weeks, featuring few of the smaller public events that make up a full-fledged campaign and more giant campus rallies. The campaign was indeed likely down to only about a million dollars cash on hand, and seems ill-inclined right now to do more big calls for cash.

Paul's campaign advisors have had to try to play damage control—many, though by no means all, Paul fans around the Internet were dispirited, especially the ones still wanting to rack up big vote totals in states like Texas and California, just to show the establishment what's what.

But as a further announcement from Paul's campaign website stated, "Asked if this is a dropout, Paul’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said, 'Absolutely not! We are focusing our efforts squarely on winning delegates and party leadership positions at state conventions.'"

This announcement happened just a couple of days after state Republican Party conventions in Oklahoma and Arizona were marked by dissention, boos, accusations of illegal adjournment, at least one physical attack, and, in Oklahoma, a rump convention exiled in a parking lot. All that arose from the continued fervor of Paul’s supporters, and not even Paul will be able to stop it. Such tumult is just the latest manifestations of the slow march of Paul people through the institutions of the Republican Party this year, a movement that is about more than whether Ron Paul is personally on the campaign trail.

Indeed, campaign advisor Doug Wead seemed to indicate that ending that sort of loud fighting—which makes the Paul movement seem unbearably wild and feisty for the Republican establishment—might have been part of the goal of the announcement: 

all of this fighting makes Ron Paul nervous. Yes, he is taking on the establishment. Yes, he wants the monetary policy reformed so that the poor and the middle class and even the excluded rich can know the thrill and opportunity of free markets that aren’t rigged for insider trading. But Dr. Paul is a happy warrior on these issues. He is a person who has always believed in a respectful dialogue and debate. As John Tate says, “That is what he wants his legacy to be.”

Shouting people down is not Ron Paul’s way. Winning a battle of ideals based on principles, in a respectful way, is how he approaches the contest and it is how he wants others to approach the contest, as well.

Other chatter around the Paul campaign I heard indicated that an attempt to imbue a more realistic sense of what Paul's actual electoral prospects are moving forward might have been part of the motive for the misunderstood announcement. Regardless, it's unlikely that a mere word from the top will slow down the desire to make as big a splash in the remaining state conventions, and eventually Tampa, as possible.

Of course, many in the Republican Party will continue to be merely aggravated by the Paulites' loud persistence and refusal to get in line behind frontrunner Mitt Romney. But the rise of the movement around Paul, and the past history of such loud minorities within the GOP, indicates the Republican Party should figure out a way to keep the Paul people in the tent—not out in the parking lot.

A year ago, Paul was the presumed least-likely-to-succeed candidate in the GOP field. His radical libertarian bent and his fervent opposition to the GOP’s standard foreign policy positions made him seem anathema to the party’s primary base. Anyway, hadn’t he tried this same trick in 2008, with no real electoral result? His running again was treated by both the party and the media as an easy-to-ignore distraction. Now, Paul is still the last man standing in opposition to Romney—and far from fading, his fortunes both within the party and within the culture are rising.

Politically, Paul has been pulling off wins thought impossible through the winter and spring, when every other candidate had his or her moment as the presumptive leader of the opposition to Romney. Paul now controls the delegation from Maine, and seems on target to do the same in Minnesota, Iowa, and Louisiana. He has also made substantial in-roads in filling delegate slots in Massachusetts and Nevada (though even delegates who are Paul supporters are bound to vote for Romney). Paul supporters hold top leadership positions in the state GOP in both Iowa and Alaska. No matter how many delegates he goes into Tampa with, Paul and his fans can no longer be written off as politically unimportant.

But political importance, as measured in votes or delegates, isn’t the only measure of Paul’s effect. Some have mocked Paul’s presidential runs as ideologically-motivated acting out, not serious attempts to win office. That accusation seems to ring true to some because Paul can gain whether he wins or loses.

Though a Republican congressman and a Ronald Reagan delegate to the 1976 Republican convention, Paul’s intellectual background is in the libertarian movement. He was the Libertarian Party’s 1988 presidential candidate in between stints as a Republican congressman, and his attitudes about government purpose and monetary policy were shaped by libertarian hero economists such as Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard.

The libertarian movement has been driven not necessarily to win political office, but to educate the mass public on the virtues of libertarian ideas. Politicians, most libertarians think, are lagging indicators of public opinion. The real game is shaping that public opinion.

Thus, Paul’s cultural and intellectual victories—a series of best-selling books, launching organizations such as Campaign for Liberty, becoming a positive political signifier on everything from Saturday Night Live to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—can be as meaningful as racking up votes.

And Paul’s status as a cultural hero, especially to the young, is growing. In the past couple of months, he’s pulled bigger crowds than ever at college campuses, including over 7,000 at UCLA, over 6,000 at University of Texas-Austin, and over 4,000 in the rain in Philadelphia. His “Youth for Ron Paul” group now has over 110,000 members in 627 chapters in all 50 states. He is creating a legacy of enthusiastic, giving activists, many skewing young.

The “giving” part should be especially important to the Republican Party. Paul raised $35 million in the 2008 run, and got nowhere electorally. Rather than feeling burned out, his fans have given even more this go-round. Paul outraised Newt Gingrich by $14 million, and Rick Santorum by $16 million.

His vote totals in 2012 also show the Paul phenomenon growing, not shrinking. He doubled his total number of votes, and his share of the total Republican primary vote more than doubled so far, increasing by 6 percentage points, from 4 percent to 10. While his armies are undoubtedly an election cycle or two from succeeding in large number, dozens of would-be federal office holders and hundreds of state and local candidates are running now explicitly inspired by Ron Paul. The first fruition of that strategy was in 2010, with the election of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The Republican Party has seen this phenomenon before—young, passionate, uncompromising activists with a powerful anti-government bent coming into a party whose establishment is confused or aggravated by them, led by a very ideological politician who inspires great personal loyalty and affection. It was the Barry Goldwater movement, in 1960. Four years later their man got the nomination, and 20 years later an exemplar of that movement won the presidency of the United States.

How much hold on the future could this libertarian minority within the Republican Party have, energized by a failed presidential campaign and deliberately following a strategy of occupying positions within the party structure from the bottom up? To answer that, consider Pat Robertson in 1988 and the effect the religious right has had on the Republican Party ever since.

The libertarians could well have success in shaping the GOP’s actual policies in a way the religious right did not. The libertarians' concerns actually represent serious solutions to actual crises the country faces, in fiscal, monetary, and foreign policy, not merely a shrinking reaction against cultural and values change. The cultural values of the religious right are losing their grip on the majority of the American people, while Paul’s libertarian leanings are growing. In a CNN poll from last June, 63 percent say they think government was doing too much, and 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values. That was the highest numbers ever supporting those libertarian-leaning attitudes.

The most important reason Paul’s fans aren’t going away is that they believe that his very serious attempts to rein in government spending and function—his budget proposals are far stronger on instant spending cuts and debt reduction than Romney’s or any other past candidate's—are what the GOP needs to focus on, in the wake of the still-dissatisfied Tea Party movement, and what the country needs to focus on, in the wake of our overwhelming and growing debt.

In 2008, Paul and his people ran an alternate convention called the Rally for the Republic that drew well over 10,000 dedicated fans. Paul has not made any promises to endorse Romney, and despite the studied cordiality with which the candidates have treated the other, he’s unlikely to. That won’t make the Republican Party powers any happier than were those people fussing in the Oklahoma and Arizona GOP conventions. But the activists Paul has energized won’t be going away until the issues of debt and government overreach that inspire them have been dealt with, and from their perspective that won’t be happening no matter who wins in November.

Brian Doherty is a senior editor of Reason magazine and author of Ron Paul’s Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired (Broadside Books).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Diablo III starts in 83 minutes.

  • ||

    I love that this has taken over the internet, I'm getting this update everywhere.

  • jacob||

    The goal should be facetime at the RNC convention. Of course it would be nice if RP got the nod, but that will never happen.

  • jester||

    Paul is apparently ahead of his time. Funny thing, considering how old he is. Yes, yes, election cycles.

    I always thought that waiting for the shit to hit the fan was really a penchant for scat parties.

  • some guy666||

    Ahead of his time? The john birch society was started in 1958, of which Ron Paul acquired all of his philosophical views. How does that make him ahead of his time?

  • BOBSAYSO||

    Come on. And where did John Birch get his philosophical views. Oh, I don't know, perhaps the constitution and Adam Smith.

    Ron Paul is student of the constitution, A.F. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises the Chicago School and Milton Friedmen

  • some guy666||

    Ron Paul is Birchian racist who hides behind the consititution. Libertaranism is a new economic philosophy started by the above paranoid reactionaries. That is it.

  • LogicAndFreedom||

    I'm not sure what your obsession with the John Birch society is. Ron Paul's intellectual influences include Von Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and Thomas Jefferson.

    It seems a majority of "criticism" of Paul comes down to ad hominem smears which are about as relevant as Obama's association with the Weather Underground

  • some guy666||

    Oh boy Libertarians and there so called open minds.

  • hk||

    Oh boy Socialists and their so called intelligent minds.

  • Rich||

    The libertarians concerns actually represent serious solutions to actual crises the country faces

    Unfortunately, it seems only libertarians consider the solutions "serious".

  • Braadacus Maximus||

    You'd be surprised how much a near total economic crash can motivate people.

  • Rich||

    No doubt. But will it motivate them to become libertarians?

  • perlhaqr||

    Not judging from the last time it happened.

  • LogicAndFreedom||

    Yes, because "serious" solutions in Washington DC and the media amount to printing more money and starting brand new wars.

    We'll just trust these people whose decades of "serious" solutions have been so sucessful

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I think he should continue to make campaign appearances, and NOT drop out. Force the rest of the GOP to bag for his delegates, who should refuse to sign on to Mitt's faction of Team Red.

    Too bad no one had the guts to challenge Obama over at Team Blue. Candyasses.

  • some guy||

    RP has limited funding at this point and campaigning is expensive. Instead, he is turning that funding towards gaining friendly delegates and influencing local/state level party elections. He thinks this would be a better use of his remaining funds and he is probably right given that Romney will certainly reach the needed delegate count.

    RP has explicitly said that he will not "drop out" under any circumstances.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Good. I hope he mucks up the GOP works something fierce.

  • sarcasmic||

    Pimp it, yo!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Considering the pandering his offspring did the other day, the purity level of the next generation liberty campaign might somewhat less.

    As for this campaign, why not another money bomb? Are they afraid it might quantify an actual wane in enthusiasm?

  • some guy||

    As for this campaign, why not another money bomb? Are they afraid it might quantify an actual wane in enthusiasm?

    Yes. The Tax Day Money Bomb only gathered about half the goal of $2.5M. He has the funding to reach Tampa, but everyone knows his campaign ends in there. He needs to look as strong as possible going in to that convention.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    Another Money-Bomb is coming sometime soon - I think it is May17th

  • ||

    From a campaign memo released today:

    We will head to Tampa with a solid group of delegates. Several hundred will bebound to Dr. Paul, and several hundred more, although bound to Governor Romney or other candidates, will be Ron Paul supporters.[...]

    All delegates will be able to vote on party rules and allow us to shape the process for future liberty candidates.

    Several hundred, to me, indicates 300+. So, with 2,286 total delegates it sounds like maybe a third or more of all delegates will be Paul supporters. That's pretty amazing. Tampa could be a lot of fun.

  • Bernieyeball||

    "I'm angry beyond belief," said Brian Doherty.
    Ron Paul Biographer...Campaign Shift is Utter Idiocy
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/wei.....iocy_.html
    "How does it feel that Ron Paul kneecapped your book today?" asked Welch.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    "Ron Paul Biographer...Campaign Shift is Utter Idiocy"

    Much to do about nothing

  • BOBSAYSO||

    "Ron Paul Biographer...Campaign Shift is Utter Idiocy"

    Much to do about nothing

  • BOBSAYSO||

    "Ron Paul Biographer...Campaign Shift is Utter Idiocy"

    Much to do about nothing. Yawn

  • Bernieyeball||

  • Bernieyeball||

    Now it works...now it doesn't...now it works...now it doesn't...What do you think BobSS...Is it the CIA or the MIC or the CFL???

  • BOBSAYSO||

    OBAMA AND ROMNEY SERVE THE SAME MASTERS

    Ron Paul is the Anti-OBAMA/ROMNEY CANDIDATE!!!

    The is no such thing as a two party political system in America. The political system in America is a two- headed one-body monster called demo-publicans and republi-crats posing as citizen politicians representing the interest of the electorate. When in reality they only represent each others interests.They scratch each others back to ensure they help each other to be re-elected and fulfill their lust for wealth and power. Of course not every politician is involved in this criminal-cabal. It starts with the party leadership of both parties who are bought and paid for by the real power in this country – a shadow government. The party leadership carefully chooses those politicians that they can trust and convince to join the criminal-cabal and keeps the others in line with threats and intimidation and keeping them in the political-dark.. Who are these power people of the shadow government?

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    In 1963 there was a military/political coup d `etat when those who conspired to remove John Kennedy from the presidency through assassination were allowed to go free through a cover-up that involved the Secret Service – the FBI – the Justice Department – the CIA along with the national security apparati and the Johnson Whitehouse. The national security state murdered JFK.It can no longer be denied that a there was a conspiracy to murder JFK. The conspirators were never officially identified (The men who killed Kennedy are known by those of us who have spent nearly the last fifty years turning over every stone looking for the truth. The book “JFK and the unspeakable: why he was killed and why does it matter” does a great job to put names to this conspiracy. More on that later).

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    The people and organizations involved in the conspiracy in order not to be exposed had to be very wealthy and powerful people with very deep connections inside the government. These people did not assassinate a president and then just walked away satisfied patting each other on the back for a job well done. No, the people who conspired to murder JFK – after the cover-up succeeded- now owned the government and every president since then was their guy starting with LBJ. The only president that they didn’t and couldn’t control was Ronald Reagan. How do I know that Reagan wasn’t their guy? Because they tried to kill Reagan. They had G. W. H. Bush ready to step in to the presidency. ( There is solid evidence that Hinkley can be connected to the Bush family).

    Bush was their guy. Just like Johnson was put on the Kennedy ticket as an insurance policy. Yes, these powerful people after successfully removing a president have been in control of the government through very esoteric manipulation. After you assassinate a president and the entire investigative power of the government covers your ass, you are now the most powerful force in the country and the western world. (Now, these are some pretty wild allegations. I’m not going to cite a shipload of sources.Read the book JFK and the unspeakable, then do what I and a whole lot of other researchers did i.e. hunt the facts down. There out there.)

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    Who are the people and organizations that conspired to kill JFK? You can start with the powerful combine that Eisenhower warned the American people about in his farewell address. i.e. the military industrial-complex.(the MIC)This is a very wealthy and powerful conglomerate that feeds the U.S. military machine and makes huge profits off of perpetual war. This conglomerate includes just about every major company involved in industry e.g. oil – raw material producers – armaments/weapons – material suppliers – manufactures of military goods/machinery and some of the largest American banks. This is a good-ole-boy network that is a revolving door employment source for powerful politicians and former military members. The MIC is controlled by the council on foreign relations (the CFR)

    The CFR is a powerful organization who’s members include top industry leaders of the MIC – the most powerful bankers – former politicians that include former presidential cabinet members and former presidents – secretaries of state – ex-military including military top brass- and the heads of every major mainstream media corporation.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    Kennedy spoke about the MIC and the CFR in a speech at rice university on April 27th, 1963. Although not mentioned by name he spoke of secret societies that held meetings in secret to influence the direction of government policy and who try to manipulate events for monetary gain without concern for the well-being of their fellow citizens. (He may have been speaking of skull and bones as well)

    To understand who the actual conspirators were I can throw out a few names. The names start with Allen Dulles. The former director of the CIA. Kennedy fired Dulles and other top CIA officials. After the Kennedy murder LBJ buts Dulles as lead investigator on the Warren Commission that investigated JFK’s murder. In any real investigation by a real law enforcement agency Allen Dulles would have been at the very least a person of interest if not a bonafide suspect.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    The key to the JFK assassination was the close ties/relationships of Lyndon Johnson and Texas oil barons (Johnson himself was headed for serious trouble at the time. People connected to LBJ were being investigated for criminal activity including murder that would have led back to LBJ. The investigation stopped after the JFK MURDER) Clint Murchison to the PEAK of post WWII US intelligence: Allen Dulles, Nelson Rockefeller, David Rockefeller, John J. McCloy and George Herbert Walker Bush (then age 39) who got escalated up the power ladder due to close family ties with Allen Dulles. (GHW’s dad was hooked-up with the Dulles’ from the OSS days and the beginning of the CIA) Think of Allen Dulles as “Uncle Allen” to GHW Bush. Henry Kissinger, then age 40, a peer of Bushes, may also have been involved. GHW Bush and Kissinger were running the elite Pegasus assassination squads in the 1980′s (google Chip Tatun Pegasus).
    GHW WAS IN DALLAS THE DAY OF THE ASSASSINATION BUT DENIES HE WAS THERE. SAYS HE DON”T REMEMBER WHERE HE WAS. WHO DON”T RECALL WHERE THEY WERE WHEN JFK WAS MURDERED

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    If you think naming GHW Bush a suspect in the JFK murder is crazy then you don’t know the history of the Bush family dynasty. There is an excellent book that covers the genesis of the Bush crime family to G. Jr.’s presidency. It’s call An American Dynasty: Aristocracy – Fortune – and the politics of deceit in the house of Bush. There is solid information out there that builds a prima facie case for GHW Bush involvement in the JFK Murder. The same goes for LBJ. He’s a gimme. You can’t control the cover-up without controlling the next president, or for that matter in order for the cover-up to work you also had to have J. Edgar Hoover in your pocket controlling the FBI and he would have controlled the justice department. Bobby Kenndy being AG was the head Of justice, but at the same time justice was packed-full of Hoover goons.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    CONT:
    Yes ladies and gentlemen this is all true. I know I don’t have it exactly right, but in there lies the truth about who controls this government and the Kennedy assassination was a coup d` etat.
    The only way to take back our government is to take away their power. And, we can do that through the power of the vote.
    Throw the career-politicians out of office. The party leadership has to go if we’re going to clean-up this continuing criminal enterprise. If we can’t get them out in this election get the out in the next and the next, We have to get them out!!!!!
    We can deliver a major blow this election by PUTTING
    RON PAUL IN THE WHITE HOUSE
    If all the people who are convinced that Ron Paul can’t win would stop believing that and
    SUPPORT RON PAUL HE COULD WIN HANDS DOWN
    OBAMA AND ROMNEY SERVE THE SAME MASTERS
    Thanks for your support.

  • kaylanono||

    longchampsingaporebags.com online store ongoing in order to increase, as well as produced a number of well-known baggage journey totes.

  • sweeterjan||

    The kind et ce type est, mais celui qui peut vous amener otre trs heureux delaware les porter dans l'ensemble desainsi quecependant trs confortable etqui vous pouvez porter toute lae. http://www.ecouteursdrdre.com/.....-c-17.html

  • jason||

    He is a major political personlity and he decide not to stop the campaining its a long term statergy by him.

  • Scrapette||

    Let me be the one who dares to speak the unspeakable: I pray daily that Mitt and Ron blow EVERYONE's MINDS and run together. It is NOT so crazy, if you just think about it pragmatically. It is also the only way to legitimize Ron's revolution, get the GOP away from their contensious social censoring, and most importantly, if nothing else, beat the snot out of Obama in a way that not even Soros can stop. If Ron accepts and tells his flock that he will be given the power to develop Fed reform and what department to faze out, that is real influence and is aligned with the GOP's economic goals. It's a historic alignment, a marriage made to really move us forward, not just a hope/change slogan. Why is no one even mentioning it? It clearly warrants debate.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement