Earlier this week Ron Paul held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. His purpose was to announce that he was definitely not endorsing John McCain for the presidency and that he wanted to urge people to support third party candidates in the presidential election. On the stage with him were several candidates and political allies and representatives of groups Paul wanted to promote. They were Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party and independent candidate Ralph Nader. Former Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura and John McManus, President of the John Birch Society were also there to lend support. Although invited, Libertarian Party candidate Bob Barr smelled a rat (in the tradition of Patrick Henry’s response to the Constitutional Convention) and chose not to attend.
Although Paul’s ostensible goal was to awaken the public to the idea of party diversity, what he ultimately did was to endorse three third parties with agendas completely at odds with his supposed libertarian beliefs. He ended up lending some of the respect which he has earned with his outsider presidential campaign to candidates with ideas so radical and dangerous that most of the public find them completely unacceptable, not because they are minority parties, but because they are crazy extremists. The only third party candidate with any real mass appeal and the potential to be competitive in an election is Bob Barr and he was smart enough not to take part in Paul’s little dog and pony show.
Just being an underdog does not automatically validate your ideas. If you believe in an oppressive state, the destruction of free enterprise and the elimination of basic constitutional rights, you’re still a bad guy, even if Ron Paul has the poor judgment to give you his stamp of approval. Nothing can make the anticapitalist message of Nader, the theocratic leanings of Baldwin or McKinney’s outright communism appealing to a wide audience.
I agree with Paul that we need more than two dominant political parties. Yet embracing McKinney, Baldwin and Nader just because they showed up demonstrates that he puts the opportunity for cheap publicity ahead of principle. If he stood by his libertarian beliefs he would have sent the statists away and brought in Bob Barr who was having his own press conference nearby, or he would have accepted Barr’s generous invitation to join the Libertarian Party ticket. A Barr/Paul ticket might have generated enough attention and support to actually break the two-party stranglehold in a way that all the other third party hopefuls together will never come close to.
But instead, here’s what Ron Paul the supposed libertarian and avowed constitutionalist endorsed:
Government seizure and equitable redistribution of wealth
A carbon tax on every man woman and child in America
Converting all elections to electronic voting
The reversal of all tort reforms
The elimination of the US Senate
Shutting down all immigration, including legal immigration
A federal ban on nuclear power
Forced conversion of all businesses to worker run collectives
Nationalizing all large banks and media companies
Repealing the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Amendments
Criminalization of homosexuality
A 30 hour work week for 40 hours pay
A federal ban on all pornography
The universal right of states to secede from the union
Comprehensive, taxpayer supported socialized medicine
See if you can guess which candidates support which five positions. We’ll have a test later.
Ron Paul raised a lot of people’s hopes with his campaign, his remarkable fundraising success and his promise to continue to promote liberty from within the Republican party. But now, when the McCain campaign seems to be taking up the reform message, Paul seems to have lost track of his objectives. McCain actually had Phil Gramm call Paul on Tuesday to try to win his endorsement, but Paul rebuffed him and instead launched this attack on the party he is a member of and the beliefs he once promoted. It’s starting to look very much like Paul only supports reform and liberty if he’s the one carrying the torch. If someone else is taking the lead and getting all the attention, be it Bob Barr or John McCain or Sarah Palin, he’d rather be stirring the waters and promoting statist spoilers he doesn’t even agree with.