In a recent petition at Change.org, Ron Paul supporters say they are “outraged” at the treatment Paul’s candidacy has received from the GOP at the local, state, and national levels, the press blackouts of the candidate, and dirty tricks at the caucuses used against him. Because of this, they are urging fellow Paul supporters not to vote for the eventual Republican candidate if Paul or his son, Kentucky libertarian Senator Rand Paul, isn’t nominated as the vice presidential candidate. Although I agree with the sentiment behind the petition, the GOP will likely not give either Paul a VP nod, and it would probably not appease Paul supporters anyway. So what will Paul supporters do in November?
The petition is absolutely correct, however, when they point out that Paul supports make up about 15-20% of the Republican Party, and GOP hostility to their presence at caucuses and their libertarian leanings is a recipe for disaster if the GOP thinks that they can win the presidency without a significant percentage of their votes. It is hard enough to defeat a sitting president; offering up a candidate that differs only slightly on major issues will make it even tougher.
There has been much speculation about what Ron Paul will do with the significant amount of delegates he will in Tampa. The mainstream media, never prone to hinder gossip, has suggested that Paul has an “alliance” with Romney where Paul will transfer his delegates over to Romney for a multitude of rumored reasons: a VP slot, cabinet position, speaking role at the convention, or influence in the party platform.
But this “alliance” is completely manufactured; the GOP leadership would never allow Ron Paul to be VP and Romney — being philosophically opposed to Paul on nearly every issue — would probably never even give it to Paul anyway. And even if Paul influenced the GOP platform by having them include, say, promises to audit the Federal Reserve, abolish the Sixteenth Amendment, and scale back the American empire, the GOP has a long history of using libertarian and populist rhetoric to acquire votes, only to expand the federal government once in power.
I sympathize heavily with the aforementioned petition’s frustration with Paul’s treatment from the GOP, but the likelihood of Paul being included in the GOP — or having actual influence among the nominee — is virtually zero. Paul supporters are also fundamentally at odds with much of what the GOP stands for, so they will likely not vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Besides, when both parties offer slightly different version of federal interventionism at home and abroad, who exactly is the lesser of two evils? Without Paul in the race, 15-20% of the GOP will probably stay home, vote third party, and once again be unrepresented.
But that could change if Paul decides to do something that the petition doesn’t discuss: run third party. Paul’s home has never been with the Republican Party, the party elite are openly opposed to his ideas and candidacy. The Libertarian Party, which is on the ballot in all 50 states, has their presidential convention in early May and he could drop out of the GOP race by then and run as a Libertarian.
Although Paul polls very well nationally and draws a lot of support from Democrats and independents, Paul’s uneasiness about having the amount of power a president has in his hands suggests that his candidacy is truly about spreading a philosophy that will outlast this or any election. A third-party run allows him a continued national stage to tell us about the dangers of paper money, empire, and big government — the ultimate final hurrah. Plus, with war fever dominating much of the country, the presence of Paul at the debates will expose the Republican nominee and force Obama to tone down his overseas aggression. In other words, a Ron Paul third-party candidacy has innumerable upsides and virtually no downsides.
Ron Paul supporters should not look to deals, bargains, or comprises within the corrupt Republican Party. The future lies in getting as many ears and eyes exposed to the classical liberal ideas that Ron Paul advances and a third-party run is the best way to accomplish this. And who knows, it might even stop a war or two.