Ron Paul: Could He Win in San Francisco?


A long profile of Ron Paul in The Atlantic gives some evidence for Esquire's declaration that "It's impossible to dislike Ron Paul."

As an advocate of libertarianism in the public sphere for over two decades, I know full well most Americans get really annoyed by its consistent application. But something about Ron Paul seems to trigger some recognition in even journalists that this is a guy with a serious, well-intentioned, and possibly vitally important message.

Some excerpts and comments:

"I'm so confident in my philosophy that I think I could run a pretty good race in San Francisco," he told me in his Washington office recently. "What I'd talk about there wouldn't be so much about deficit spending as about personal liberties, military engagement overseas, and the financial crisis. That used to help more in conservative districts. But everybody's worried about it now."….

Paul is also a loner because his ambitions lie mostly beyond Washington. He wants to inspire a national movement, but from the outside. Demonstrating purity of conviction is more conducive to that goal than acceding to ordinary political compromises. Paul's presidential campaign drew a large grassroots following, even while he was being dismissed as a kook, and it made better use of the Internet than any campaign besides Obama's. Like Obama, Paul inspires people of widely varying beliefs to see him as the vessel of their desires. His opposition to the Iraq War, strident criticism of the Federal Reserve, and early warnings of financial collapse, which he derived from the theories of semi-obscure Austrian economists, brought all sorts of people into the fold.

But it's what has happened since the election that has carried Paul from the fringe of American politics toward the center—or, really, carried the center toward him. Two years of economic trauma have fed a nationwide resentment. The clearest sign of this is the loose affiliation of angry conservatives, disaffected independents, Glenn Beck disciples, strict constitutionalists, and assorted malcontents who gather under the Tea Party banner. This heterodox mass distrusts the political establishment and believes the federal government has grown dangerously large. Some believe that it has usurped powers rightfully reserved for the states, rendering many of its actions illegitimate (the Constitution is the sacred Tea Party text). Above all, Tea Party followers share a profound objection to unchecked spending and expanding credit, as successive administrations and the Federal Reserve have done to the tune of trillions of dollars. This effort to stimulate the economy, they believe, has not only failed to end the recession but made it worse.

To address these grievances, Paul was ready and waiting. He is not the Tea Party's founder (there isn't one), or its culturally resonant figure (that's Sarah Palin), but something more like its brain, its Marx or Madison. He has become its intellectual godfather….The Tea Party has overrun the Republican Party everywhere from Alaska to Kentucky to Maine, and a version of Paul's bill to audit the Federal Reserve just passed the Senate unanimously en route to becoming law. Today, on matters of economic politics, Paul is at least as significant as any of the Republicans he shared the stage with in the 2007 South Carolina debate. And has anyone noticed that he's a fixture on Fox News?…

In February, Paul startled the Republican establishment by handily winning the presidential straw poll at the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a big event for party insiders. As the Republican Party swings into line behind him, it has upended the consensus that has prevailed around fiscal and monetary policy since the Great Depression, pressuring the Fed and blocking any additional stimulus. With the Tea Party gathering force, Paul is at last where he has always wanted to be: in the vanguard of a national movement.

I think author Joshua Green is highly overestimating the actual influence of Paul, or willingness to act, if and when in actual power again, in Paulian manner, of the mainstream GOP. That said, I've underestimated the power of the resurgent Ron Paul phenomenon a bit since he first announced his presidential run in January 2007 (when I was, I'm pretty sure, the first national journalist to interview him about it).

Paul is a prolific introducer of bills, usually ones that don't go anywhere. But a few have been prescient. Before the positions were widely popular, he advocated setting term limits and abolishing the income tax. Less popular ideas have included eliminating most federal agencies, ending government funding of education, repealing federal laws against drugs and prostitution (he favors state laws), and cutting military spending.

Ron sometimes pulls the "not federal issue but state issue" thing on drugs when he doesn't want to fight to the death at that moment on libertarian root issues, but the man who told the Conservative Political Action Conference the following earlier this year deserves better drug war cred than Green gives him:

But I do not believe freedom can survive and I do not believe we as conservatives can contribute much if we still think freedom only comes in pieces: that you can protect economic liberty but not personal liberty. Sure, I imagine everybody in this crowd would say, "Yes, protect our right of free speech. Protect our right to our religious values." But as soon as it comes to putting something in your mouth or in your lungs, you say, "You don't have enough sense to decide what you should do, so we are going to use the heavy hand of government, come down and protect you against yourself".

Back to Green:

Paul's independent streak put him at odds with a Republican leadership that ran Congress like a Tammany Hall machine and punished anyone who strayed. Paul strayed habitually. In 2003, his seniority put him in line to chair the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve. To deny him, Republican leaders merged two committees. In 2005, he was again set to assume the top spot. With another merger impossible, a senior colleague was pressured onto the subcommittee so that she, and not Paul, would take the gavel.

"They look at him as a problem," says Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Financial Services Committee and co-sponsored bills with Paul legalizing marijuana and Internet gambling. "Ron said to me in 2005, 'I guess I'll have to wait for you to be chairman, because we never get anywhere around here.'"

I'm cherry picking the good parts. Green does feel it necessary to say he finds Paul sounding "unhinged" when discussing economics–serious feature writers about politics for major national magazines never say things like that about politicians with actual serious national power or prestige (see any number of bipartisan profile rim jobs of "major political players" in mags like Esquire, GQ, and yes, The Atlantic).

The notorious racist bits in his old newsletters get mentioned, but as a parenthetical aside. Green's discussion of Paul's role in a rally in his district at the start that mostly features people annoyed that government isn't doing more for them shows he doesn't really get what Paul is really selling (or that Paul's constituents don't, which actually seems like a rich possibility but not one Green explores). Green repeats the standard story that Keynesians, not Paul's beloved Misesians, are right about the causes and cures of economic downturns.

Still, Green comes to a conclusion that I only hope is accurate in its implied expectations:

Paul says he hasn't decided whether he'll run for president again. But it's hard to believe he won't. He has emerged as a force at the kind of insider events that once ignored him. After winning the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he came within a single vote of repeating the feat two months later at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. In June, he traveled to Iowa to raise money for local politicians, which is what you do when you're thinking about running for president. He was greeted with PRESIDENT RON PAUL 2012 signs.

It does not seem at all far-fetched to think that Paul could have a much greater impact on the race than last time. The Republican primaries are sure to be about economic and size-of-government issues. The subject that hurt him last time, foreign policy, will probably take a backseat. Paul will not lack for resources, thanks to his legion of online donors. Reagan, the Republican hero, once endorsed him. And the party's energy right now is at the grass roots, which also bodes well for him. If his economic message connects in Iowa and New Hampshire—well, who can say?

My February 2008 Reason magazine cover story on Paul's presidential campaign.

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  1. Muffcabbage.

    1. Is that the newest perfume from Courtney Love?

  2. Could He Win in San Francisco?

    Well, I hear a lot of dudes have sucked his cock.

    But no. Paul’s only possibly racist. You have to really hate black people to go over in San Francisco?or to even want to be there.

    1. I’d suck his cock!

      Oh, wait…

  3. Social conservatives.

    /presidential hopes

  4. Social conservatives.

    /presidential hopes

  5. Nothing’s happening for him as long as “he hates our troops”.

    1. Except that now Obama’s in command, a growing number of Republicans are questioning Afghanistan. Whether they’d do this under McCain or not, who knows? But Ron Paul has to look a bit smarter in their eyes regardless.

      1. He can do so without appearing to be a hypocrite, unlike just about every other Republican.

        1. I thought hypocrisy was one of the three legs of the stool of political success in America, along with pandering and three-martini lunches with lobbyists. This could be a serious strike against him.

          1. I think you are right, but it is called flexibility instead, or being a moderate, not one of those darned ideologues who is trying to be consistent all the time.

  6. Uh, no, Ron Paul could *never* win in SF.
    SF worships that hag Pelosi, and I was sure she was in town last week for the ball game, but it could have been the stink from a low tide.

    1. True, though there are plenty of leftists outside SF who don’t like the guy. Their loss.

  7. “If his economic message connects in Iowa and New Hampshire?well, who can say?”


    1. Right with you on this. If only!

  8. Ron Paul staunchly supports the banning of abortion as well as the right of states to criminalize homosexuality*, as long as neither is done at the federal level.

    Yep, that’s going to work really well in San Francisco, or any major metropolitan area for that matter.

    *”Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards.” –Ron Paul

    1. It is called a Republic. It is how it works. And fuck Lew Rockwell.

      1. I’m challenging the premise and title of this article. I’m going to assume that his desire for (local/state) police to imprison gay people might not work in San Francisco. I’m really curious as to what, if any of his policies might be so attractive to the SFO voter as to overcome his positions on gay people and abortion.

        1. the fact that they could live in their own city with their own laws and never worry about the Federal government taking their rights away from them.

          1. You’re completely dodging and ignoring Ron Paul’s desire to have gay people imprisoned at the *STATE* level. I’m assuming this issue doesn’t impact you directly.

            1. Despite Ron Paul’s intentions the 14th amendment isn’t getting repealed anytime soon. You’re concern about this issue and the way you are illustrating it is more kooky than the notion of Ron Paul actually winning anything.

            2. While both positions are bad, there is a big difference between supporting “states’ rights to criminalize homosexuality” and having a “desire to have gay people imprisoned at the *STATE* level.”

              1. He’s pretty angry about Texas not being allowed to criminalize homosexuality. In fact, he feels strongly that the Constitution demands that his state be allowed to do so:

                “Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court last June. The Court determined that Texas has no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because these laws violated the court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Regardless of the advisability of such laws, the Constitution does not give the federal government authority to overturn these laws. Under the Tenth Amendment, the state of Texas has the authority to pass laws concerning social matters, using its own local standards, without federal interference. But rather than adhering to the Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a state matter, the Court decided to stretch the “right to privacy” to justify imposing the justices’ vision on the people of Texas.”

                –Rep. Ron Paul (R) Texas


                1. “Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court last June. The Court determined that Texas has no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because these laws violated the court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Regardless of the advisability of such laws, the Constitution does not give the federal government authority to overturn these laws. Under the Tenth Amendment, the state of Texas has the authority to pass laws concerning social matters, using its own local standards, without federal interference. But rather than adhering to the Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a state matter, the Court decided to stretch the “right to privacy” to justify imposing the justices’ vision on the people of Texas.”

                  How does one reconcile Lawrence with Reynolds v. United States , Davis v. Beason , and Church of Jesus Christ of latter-Day Saints v. United States , which all upheld laws criminalizing bigamous cohabitation?

            3. This is quickly becoming irrelevant.

              1. Sorry. the remark above is intended for the remark below.

            4. Does he “desire” to have gay people imprisoned, or is he simply saying it’s a question to be left to the states to determine for themselves?

              For example, I believe Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided – not necessarily because of its outcome, but because of its reasoning. The Constitution doesn’t say a damn thing about whether abortion is a protected right, and whether abortion should be legal should not be based on a constitutional protection. It should be up to each state to determine. But I do believe that abortion should remain available as a legal medical procedure – albeit with the recognition that it is, indeed a medical procedure and thus subject to legitimate regulation.

        2. Sviluppo|10.13.10 @ 11:19PM|#
          “I’m going to assume that his desire for (local/state) police to imprison gay people might not work in San Francisco.”

          I’ll agree he can’t be elected in SF, but let’s see a cite that he ‘desires’ what you claim.
          I’d say you’re lying.

          1. Just look at the article I cited, with a link, written by “Ron Paul, M.D.”, and never refuted by the man.

            “Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution.” He is a strident opponent of the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court ruling, and favors the right of states to criminalize homosexuality.

            He also voted to ban gay people from adopting kids in D.C.:


            The more Libertarians flock to the Ron Paul camp, the more voters you’re going to lose from the independents and increasing majority of Americans that don’t have a passionate desire to have the federal (or state/local) governments imprison gay people.

            1. Reportedly, you can have lots of gay sex in prison.

            2. Again, nothing what you cited shows that Ron Paul has “a passionate desire to have the federal (or state/local) governments imprison gay people.”

              This is an emotional exaggeration meant to distract people from Paul’s actual position on this issue, regardless of whether he is actually right or not.

              1. I have pointed out, through multiple links to Ron Paul’s published positions, that he prefers that Texas return to a position of being able to imprison gay people. Perhaps he is not passionate about this, but he is certainly vocal about his desire for a repeal of Lawrence v. Texas, and sees no problem with a Texas that can throw gay people (or hetero people committing acts of sodomy, even within the bounds of marriage) in jail.

                1. No, he prefers that we return jurisprudence to a state that permits Texas to do so. There is a big difference.

                2. He expressly characterized laws against sodomy as “ridiculous.”

                  I don’t read any of that as him advocating laws against homosexuality or sodomy in general; rather, he’s advocating a return to the constitutional system under which it is not the federal government’s business to make such determinations.

                  Yes, he might advocate leaving the decision of how to regulate or prohibit sodomy up to states, but that does not mean he believes it should be illegal.

            3. I don’t have a problem with imprisionng gay people. Sviluppo is obviously a fag.

            4. Since that suggests he does not personally support sodomy laws, but considers them constitutional, then there’s no reason to think he would attempt push them on gaytown.

        3. Acknowledging that a state power exists != desire that the state use it.

        4. You are seriously misrepresenting what Paul is advocating. I’d like to think this is because you have difficulty with reading comprehension, rather than a deliberate attempt to confuse the issue by playing to emotionalism, ignoring both Paul’s actual positions and the content of the article you cite. He never mentions imprisoning gays. In fact, Paul states quite clearly that sodomy (read: anti-gay laws) are ridiculous. That would quite clearly conflict with your interpretation. In fact, there is not a single sentence here that could even with a loose reading be construed as advocating the persecution of gays.

          Also, Dr. Paul does oppose abortion personally, but he also recognizes that, as with homosexuality, it does not fall within the purview of the federal government. In other words, his position (and the point of this article) is that the federal government should concern itself with issues assigned to it by the Constitution, with the remainder of government left up to the states or the people, as mandated in the tenth amendment.

          I would imagine that if left up to state voters homosexuality and abortion would be quite protected in the state of California and certainly in San Francisco. If I were a San Francisco voter, I’d take a long look at a candidate who wanted my local community, which is the most gay friendly in the nation, to set its own standards. It would certainly be preferable to allowing a distant government that is not really accountable to me or my local community to adjudicate matters. What appears to be a deliberate attempt by you to misrepresent Dr. Paul’s views is both intellectually dishonest and again, represents extremely poor reading comprehension or outright lying.

      2. That quote is from Ron Paul himself, not Lew Rockwell. Do you support the idea of people being thrown in jail for being gay, as long as it is done at the state or local level?

        That is the position of the Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas GOPs, among others. Yes, to run as a Republican in those states, you have to agree to a repeal of Lawrence v. Texas and assert the right of states to throw gay people in jail. Or straight people for engaging in sodomy, which according to the Gospel of Ron Paul includes any non-procreative sexual acts.

        So, John, do you favor the states’ rights to put even heterosexual men in jail for receiving a blow job from their wives, as long as it’s not done at the federal level?

        1. I’d say the right to privacy and the right to have any kind of consensual sex with willing adult partners are some of the unenumerated rights protected by the Ninth Amendment:

          “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

          And on this issue, I don’t agree with Paul. Unless he comes around to agreeing that these are protected unenumerated rights, he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning anything in SF.

        2. California Penal Code Section 281-289.6 defines sodomy as “sexual conduct consisting of contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another person. Any sexual
          penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime of
          sodomy.” It was a felony, BTW.

          It, just like Texas’s law, was largely unenforced. Perhaps Paul would have worked to overturn it, or not, but to imply that only Texas or Texans had or supports those kind of laws is complete hypocrisy. Of course, after Lawrence, it’s moot – but note the people of California never overturned said law on their own.

  9. the theories of semi-obscure Austrian economists

    “Semi-obscure” being code words for “Nobel Prize winners that I and New York Times writers have never heard of,” again.

    1. People won Nobel Prizes before Obama?

  10. Paul’s way too old, and isn’t a sharp enough speaker to be an actual contender at this point. Better to have him throw his weight behind somebody else.

    I’d rather see Gary Johnson make a run. And by “make a run,” I mean, “steamrolled in the primaries by some clown like Mitt Romney.”

    Politics blow.

    1. I have to agree with you on that after watching his appearance on The Last Word. He was reduced to stuttering and question dodging on things that were relatively easy to respond to.

      Gary Johnson, on the other hand, suffers from a lack of energy.

      1. Yes, unfortunately Gov. Johnson’s speaking style is positively lethargic. Which, interestingly enough, is the opposite of Dr. Paul’s main rhetorical flaw – that he gets over-excited.

        1. Too much interstate commerce?

  11. Funny how the comments get hijacked by people putting thoughts in Ron Paul’s head, as if they could read his mind. The easiest solution for those with ulterior motives is to insinuate he’s racist or prejudiced against gays or blacks.

    In fact, I can’t imagine Ron Paul hating *anybody.* Quite simply, he’s the most sincere statesman in politics today, the kind of which we haven’t seen since the Kennedy era. He rarely seems to be wrong about the economy, and anyone in their right mind would agree with his views on following the Constitution and stopping the empire-building occupations and wars.

    Now if we could just get rid of those Diebold machines…

    1. If you read his actual written words, without trying to get into his head, he’s libertarian on maybe 80% or so of the major issues.

      If you can come up with a national politician who is much closer to 100%, please let me know.


    Jesus, I know you people are desperate to hate him for something, but is this this best you can come up with?


      Yeah that about sums up the entire mainstream, conservative argument against Ron Paul/libertarianism.

  13. Oh, and Ron Paul needs to stop infecting me with his horrible, horrible optimism.

    1. The hope! It burns!

  14. since nullification and states rights lately (SB 1070) has been called codeword for racism is california then a racist state because of Prop 19?

    1. Well I heard all the Democrats in office are against Prop 19. So by default, people that support Prop 19 are obviously racist.

      1. Especially black pot dealers.

    2. Thank you Carl! Spot on!

      If Prop 19 passes (hopefully), CA is pretty much reduced to a “States’ Rights” type argument to defend it.

      Hopefully when the Tea Party and the San Francisco Left are aligned on a purely procedural legal matter, we can dispense with the “racism” meme on decentralizing State power.

  15. I am starting to campaign for Ron Paul right now. I love the guy, finally someone who doesn’t lie to our faces and treat us like a bunch of sheeple. How refreshing to hear the truth among all the propaganda. Ron Paul treats us like citizens and not consumers, big difference.

  16. Ron Paul couldn’t win in San Francisco because at some point, a ‘purity test’ of his views on civil liberties would come up, and San Franciscans would find Ron Paul’s views on civil liberties uncomfortably broad. San Franciscans, like Seattleites have a very narrow, nuanced view of civil rights, often starting with statements like, “I’m all for freedom of speech but…”

  17. I think one of my favorite bits of Ron Paul “freedom” is this:

    “Slavery was phased out in every other country in the world,” Paul continued, responding to the question if America would still have slavery had there not been the Civil War. Paul is on record as supporting a government buyout of slaves despite the following:

    1) The US tried that, it didn’t work.

    2) The Confederacy wanted to extend slavery throughout Mexico and into Latin America.

    3) The Confederacy was considering enslaving lower-class whites, based on how much their “states’ rights” were helping black people.

    4) It’s pretty ignorant to state that slavery was gone, given the many countries in the Middle East and Africa that still practice slavery, along with systems in Brazil, India, and elsewhere that involve the buying and selling of humans or forced labor for zero wages.

    Despite his policies that would actually increase slavery, imprison gay people, and do god-knows-what to women or doctors involved in abortion, I don’t hate the guy. However, I’m always perturbed that libertarians admire him so much based on a simple, “Well, there’s a chance I might pay less in taxes.”

    1. Hey fool, he was talking about state supported slavery. You are a complete ass.

    2. “Despite his policies that would actually increase slavery, imprison gay people, and do god-knows-what to women or doctors involved in abortion, I don’t hate the guy.”

      Really? Then why do you consistently misrepresent his views? When has he advocated any of the above? By the way, maintaining that the Civil War was unnecessary is not equivalent to advocating slavery.

      By the way, your statements as to the intent of “the Confederacy” are absolutely historically wrong. Finding a few people who were advocating what you say does not equate to the entire group desiring something. Seriously, your posts are so replete with fallacious statements it’s almost beyond belief.

    3. my god your right “team america” lets go free every slave around the world now! f!@# YEA!

    4. The tyranny of good-intentions does not truly liberate the forces of slavery, abate the oppression of gay people, nor protect the rights of women and doctors involved in abortion. The illusion of such is simply slight of hand.

      I admire Dr. Paul not because I might pay less in taxes, but because he’s right.

  18. From what I hear from him, the
    chance of a Ron Paul Presidency
    leading to

    – Bringing back slavery in the US – 0%
    – Persecuting gays and lesbians – 0%

    – Ending endless foreign wars – 100%
    – Ending the FED – 100%
    – Reducing the Welfare state – 100%

    My other options….

    Chances of Obama or other Republican candidates

    Continuing endless foreign wars – 100%
    Bowing to the FED – 100%
    Increasing the Welfare state – 100%

    Your choice America….

    1. But it doesn’t matter if slavery would never come back if Paul was elected because there is some alternate dimension where Paul’s vision was applied and the confederacy ruled the world through slavery, guns, abortions for none, and the perpetual genocide of gays. This alternate reality, that we can never visit to prove it exists, is all the justification we need to never consider voting for the racist gay-bashing Paul. Besides, we are better people if we vote for a well-spoken black man to make us feel better about ourselves. We aren’t racist at all. Nope, not even a little…that n&^%^%# just stole my car!!!!!!

    2. Leftists know Republicans aren’t really going to persecute gays or blacks or whatever. They get outraged just knowing that Republicans don’t talk about them positively.

  19. I’m ready to contribute.

  20. It’s most unfortunate that some strains of libertarianism continue to buy into the revisionist theory about “states’ rights.” Worse, that strain have not learned that — no matter how “sincere” or “principled” they may appear — the association of states’ rights with slavery apologism is a third rail that cannot be overcome.

    Let’s not forget the StormFront incident before NewsletterGate.

    Time to really check some premises!

    1. I secede.

    2. Can it, dago.

  21. “It’s impossible to dislike Ron Paul.”

    Unless you’re a Jew. Or black.

    Or worse, a Jewish black.

    1. Yeah living in the past and perpetually ascribing value to some arbitrary skin colors and perpetual ire to other skin colors is the wave of the future. If Martin Luther King was still alive, he would want every white person apologize to any black person they meet on the street forever. Because, you know, they secretly want to enslave them in their devil sister-raping hearts. Bunch of racists, those evil white fucks.

    2. I am an African Jew and was one of Pauls earliest supporters. Everyone knows that every single objection raised to a Paul presidency is unfeasible. The sane members of us don’t view a Paul gas chamber on hi slave run plantation likely. If he was to win the world may be a slightly freer place

  22. What does this mean for Gov. Johnson though? I want to say that it wouldn’t be feasible for two libertarian Republicans to run for the nomination, but now that I’m saying that, wouldn’t it be interesting if that actually happened? It would make the both more than just fluke or novelty candidates.

  23. If only john dennis would win, I would be happy this election cycle.

  24. FWIW, he is now against “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:


    1. Obviously that’s because he hates gays and wants to see them die in combat operations

  25. Anal sodomy? To get a really big surprise google The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Then click once or twice to get the surprise.

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