The 2012 presidential election season has admittedly been absolutely boring for anyone not concerned with Governor Romney's tax returns, yet another President Obama fundraiser, or which candidate loves Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies more than the other. For Ron Paul supporters like myself, it has been incredibly frustrating; without a horse in the race, it's hard to cheer or bet on the outcome.
Given the anemic coverage by the media of key issues, here are a few things Ron Paul supporters can do as the Republican Convention and eventually Election Day approaches.
While technically Ron Paul's name will be on the GOP ballot at the convention, the Republican establishment has made it very clear that there is little room for Paul, his delegates, and his supporters at the table or in the party in general.
Politics is Local.
Tip O'Neill's famous words ring true when it comes to Paul supporters.
While the Beltway Republicans long ago shredded any resemblance to traditional conservatism and the libertarianish rhetoric they love to pantomime, Paulian candidates are making incredible inroads at the state and local level. Beginning with Paul's presidential run in 2008, Paul laid the grassroots groundwork to have libertarians and constitutionalists begin weaving their way into state and local offices. Even the nomination and selection of Tampa delegates, where Paul has done incredibly well, is technically supposed to be a state and local affair.
Paul supporters have had the most success away from the national scene because just like government, elections are better when they are smaller and decentralized. It is much easier for liberty candidates to go door to door in Iowa talking to people one-on-one about important issues than it is running for Senate. That chamber reeks of blood, to paraphrase Senator George McGovern, and Senators Jim Demint, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Congressman Allen West are just more recent examples that rhetoric does not translate into principled votes or change.
While I despise the Republican Party and everything it stands for, in this unfortunate two-(one-?) party system, running as a Republican mayor, assemblyman, or city councilman may be the best way politically of looking forward and changing the beast from the inside. Although politics leaves a bad taste in many libertarians' mouth (including mine), even Murray Rothbard found a need for it, arguing that "For liberty to triumph in the United States (and eventually throughout the world) libertarianism must become a mainstream movement ... Do we want libertarianism to win, to make a big dent in America, or do we not? If we don’t want to win ... Why not simply form a social club and forget victory?"
Vote Gary Johnson!
In the likely event Paul isn't up there as the Republican nominee lampooning the president for his vicious assaults on the Bill of Rights, then the next best hope is Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson - the former two-term governor of New Mexico -- he is, like Paul, a decent and humble man and a great contrast to Obama and Romney. Johnson is nowhere near as principled or well-versed in libertarianism and economics as Paul is, but Johnson's message boils down to the same nuts and blots: more individual liberty, less government control, and peace.
Ron Paul supporters carry a lot of weight and throwing support behind Johnson could potentially provide a multitude of benefits.
With enough support, Johnson could easily acquire the 15% national polling needed to participate in the national debates. This would undoubtedly create some panic in Washington as the debates suddenly become much more interesting.
Despite their animosity, the GOP has to know that it can't possibly beat a sitting president without Paul supporters and the libertarian wing of the party. Support for Johnson from libertarians and conservatives frustrated with Romney would leave the GOP with largely self-inflicted wounds. Johnson would expose Romney as the plastic politician that he is, helping explain to the American people while Romney's economic proposals would lead to massive increases in spending, debt, and deficits.
The Democrats too would suffer. President Obama is delivering on his hawkish campaign promises and bragging to anyone who will listen. All Romney does in response is criticize Obama for not starting more wars. With Johnson in there, suddenly the bipartisan interventionist foreign policy is called into question and honest progressives who actually value peace steal votes and attention away from Obama. And on civil liberties, Johnson received the highest rating out of any candidates from the ACLU.
Even with little chance of winning, Johnson helps change the debate and turn people off from Obamney. This is the same reason why I wanted Paul to run as an Independent candidate months ago.
Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?
Every four years, people who actually believe in something are told that we must "vote for the lesser of two evils." Romney's not perfect, say the conservatives, but Obama must go. Sure, Obama is basically Bush on steroids, but Romney would be worse say the liberals. And they're both right!
That's the problem with this strategy, especially in 2012. Who is actually the lesser of two evils? In Obama and Romney, you have a conservative Democrat facing off against a liberal Republican. There isn't a single issue in which one of them is better on that makes me consider voting for either of them. The rhetoric may differ, and there may be slightly different management styles with which they would run the empire, but their philosophies are cut from the same tired cloth of flexing state power both domestically and abroad.
While some may be tempted to vote for one over the other as their supposed least-worst option, Paul supporters know that defeating evil is not accomplished by voting for it.
Sit Back and Enjoy
And finally, Ron Paul supporters should never hang their heads. The success on the local level and in, most importantly, radically changing the public debate in this country is thanks to the tireless work of so many volunteers, delegates, supporters, teachers, writers, and countless others who cheered Paul on and helped spread his message.
So while with or without Johnson in the national stage, watching Romney and Obama tear each other apart on the most minute of issues is not a bad consolation prize. With our Constitution quietly legislated away, a national debt soaring, millions out of work, and wars without end, a campaign like this will hopefully turn a lot of people away from Republicans and Democrats, help expose their corruption, and leave many looking for concrete answers.
And Paul supporters will be there with parachutes, hands nearly completely clean and free from the ugliness of national politics.