Republican Convention 2008

Ron Paul's Rally: Kirchick Bait


MINNEAPOLIS—Yes, that's a brochure for the John Birch Society, festooned with Paul quotes in favor of the group and advertising his coming appearance at their convention. No kookery has been turned away from the Target Center, and you can pick up merch from the late Aaron Russo's Restore the Republic (like his film From Freedom to Fascism) to copies of USA Tomorrow (cover story: "Two Innocent and Patriotic Citizens Dodge 64 IRS Lethal Bullets in a Triumph for Justice and the American Way").

This stuff stands out in an otherwise boisterous, busy rally, with a surprising number of reporters, bloggers like Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald, and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr was mobbed outside talking to sign-waving Paul people.

The content of the speeches: All over the map. I walked into the arena to hear Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips demand that Paul backers nail down John McCain "and Barack Hussein Obama" over the North American Union. "This is the biggest threat to our liberty since the war of Northern Aggression," he rumbled. But he was followed up by presidential historian Doug Wead, waxing kindly about how nice young people are and how Paul "spoke up for me" at the debates.

But back to that brochure. It's truly weird to see a (former) presidential candidate photoshopped into a photo of Robert Welch* by people who like him.

*Fixed this.

NEXT: A 1-in-1,000 Chance* of Gotterdammerung

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I contributed to the Paul campaign (~ $200 and time through my local meetup), despite the fact that I do not and did not intend to vote. I thought his message was a good primer for libertarian ideas and that if enough people were attracted to these ideas, we could bring them into the full libertarian fold. What a waste of time and money.

    1. The newsletters

    2. The decidedly nonlibertarian commercials

    3. A just say yes policy to every kook and truther

    4. A cult-like following similar in kind, but not degree, to Obama worship

    Thanks but no thanks Ron.

  2. My experience has been much like hotsauce’s. I still am a member of my local RP meetup group, which means I still receive group e-mails. It’s really disheartening to see garbage/discussions that LoneWacko would heartily approve of filling up my Inbox. RP created a big, but sparsely populated, tent. Much of what remains in that tent is, well, odd.

  3. Have libertarians become more “Birchist”, or have Birchers become more libertarian? I think it’s the latter. I remember years ago that the Birchers at the local AO bookstore used to go apeshit whenever I suggested legalizing drugs or prostitution. They were caricatures of Nolan Chart conservatives: every economic freedom imaginable, but no personal freedoms whatsoever. But during the Ron Paul campaign season I ran across a boatload of Birchers who definitely seemed libertarians. They took a step backward with their opposition to immigration and trade, but they’ve softened considerably with respect to personal freedoms.

    I think they are salvagable, if only we can cure them of their conspiracism. Unfortunately, the Conspiracy Theory of History is *the* core JBS belief.

  4. Am I being over sensitive to the AP headline, “Hundreds show up for rally…”, then read in the story that 10,103 tickets were sold. Did several thousand people buy tickets and only a few hundred showed up?

  5. Weigel’s reporting is dubious: the fact that literature is being handed out at a political convention — including some that may not have the approval of the sponsor — is hardly “news.” That Weigel focuses on this is all too telling: the Orange Line Mafia is relentless, isn’t it?

    Oh, and it’s Robert Welch, not Joseph. But such obvious errors are only the least embarrassing aspect of Reason’s “coverage” of the biggest libertarian event since the American Revolution.

    When is Reason going to let up on Ron, and start getting back in touch with its ostensibly libertarian roots? Never, I expect.

  6. @other Tim

    The theme of the RNC alternative* gatherings has been: divide expected turnout by 10 and you have a reasonable accurate number.

    *alternative meaning protests, pointless rally’s like the Ron Paul’s, dinner parties, etc

    **really happy to see the RNC gone by the end of the week

  7. Tim-

    Reporters who were actually inside the Target Center, as opposed to random people posting made-up estimates on the internet, noted that attendance was near the expected 10,000 (over or under, I don’t know). Save the ignorant condescension for an audience that doesn’t have the ability to check and see whether you know what you’re talking about, why don’t you?

  8. Liberty minded people ought to run for public offices, even as write-ins.

    Check out my campaign for sheriff –

  9. I agree with #1 from hotsauce, and I also contributed. I don’t agree with points 2-4, but then Ron Paul didn’t run as a Libertarian and I find diverse and enthusiastic supporters to be emblematic of liberty, not in opposition to it.

    Given what I’ve heard Senators McCain and Obama espouse, I still prefer 90% of Congressman Paul’s positions. I see no more philosophically consistent and libertarian options presenting themselves. And since Paul will not be an option, I’ll probably support the candidate who is next closest to my interests. Maybe Mr. Barr, but he’d be a very distant second.

    I appreciate the honest descriptions of Paul’s shortcomings, but I often wonder why some self-identified libertarians seem so reticent to acknowledge Paul’s strengths just as honestly.

    When evaluating all the existing and former candidates of this election cycle, how many were really superior to Paul, warts and all, when measured on a libertarian scale?

    Anyone care to name one?

  10. Well, as someone who was actually in the Target Center the entire day.. the number in attendance was at or above 10,000.. the floor level had no empty seats, the first raised level had nearly no empty seats, even the 2nd deck had a good number of people in it for Ron’s speech.

    As for you people that keep saying it’s all kooks and conspiracy theorists that follow Ron, you’re wrong. Without people like Ron Paul, no one would have the freedom to do any of those things … keep that in mind. More of the same (aka obama, mccain) and we’ll just keep on losing our liberties until we’re a socialist state run by the corporate elites.

  11. Those who so easily discount the “conspiracy theory of history” know little of conspiracy nor history. Pick up a book.

  12. Weigel gets a small slice but quite sensibly he leaves out all the hippies, the homos, aging punks, old pot heads, Indians, Mexicans, pacifists, chicks and really old black dudes along with the anarchists who got pepper sprayed the day before. You know, people who make the “New Libertarian” party leadership nervous. You start letting non-whites and freaks in and you never know where that might go.

    Meanwhile, one of the Bircher kids helped my bisexual mixed race ass with the needed elevators to get my fraight up to my booth. He didn’t even try to burn a cross in front of me or scream “harlot” when I walked by.

    You do they best you can do. You can’t really milk a story out of “Diversity and Harmony.”

    Oh and uh, that Iraq war is really unpopular. Not a hit. Especially among those who would have to fight it.

  13. The Target Center is a basketball stadium setup with three levels: Floor (basketball court), Lower, and Upper balcony. It seats 18,000 without putting people on the floor (court). The Rally for the Republic had more than 10,000 in attendance. They scan your ticket when you walk in. And I saw a few mainstream media reports that it was closer to 12,000. This is a major metropolitan stadium and 400 people could easily move around the concession area, buying hamburgers and sodas, without bumping into each other.

  14. Is the writer of this article really surprised that a libertarian event would have numerous, wacky, and non-mainstream venders? Lots of various groups are trying to promote their idea of liberty and their worldview. I say great and go for it. Who cares? Thank goodness these people don’t feel excluded from the political process. I don’t have to subscribe to their philosophy and you don’t either.

    You’ve got to be joking me if this what Reason magazine calls criticism.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.