Congressman Ron Paul, Libertarian Party Candidate?

I wrote a piece earlier this year for America’s Right that questioned the excitement the Republican Party has for Congressman Ron Paul, who is running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

(I told you he is running because MSNBC has not found out yet.)

Paul is over seventy, too isolationist and, unlike a lot of other pliable politicians, might actually do what he says he intends to do. A simple example of this has been Ron Paul’s willingness to legalize narcotics; the legalization of marijuana has been advocated by some conservatives–notably the late William F. Buckley, Jr.–but has not been a mainstay of the message promulgated by mainstream Republicans.

So, as a consequence, the inevitable question has been raised: Will Ron Paul run as the Libertarian candidate?

The Congressman was on Sean Hannity’s radio program today saying coyly that he “has no intention of running” but declining to unequivocally rule a third-party run out.  And there is, after all, a Libertarian Party waiting for a candidate. Third parties do not have primaries in the ongoing tradition of the Republican and Democratic parties. Third parties use the old, often mistrusted system of electing a candidate from within the party itself. From what I understand, if Ron Paul were to show up to the Libertarian party convention in May of 2012 and announce he wants to be the Libertarian party candidate, the party could make it so. (Is Las Vegas a good place to be a Libertarian?)

One has to ask — why would Ron Paul want to be the Libertarian candidate? More than likely it would to be to prove a point since, in the end, the history of third parties has been a history of spoiling elections for others without bringing home a victory.

The first experience I had with this was the presidential election of 1968. George Wallace, who has been governor of Alabama, ran as the presidential candidate for the American Independent Party. He failed to win, but he did win five states and forty-six electoral votes — and put Richard Nixon in office. George Wallace ended up being the transitional historical figure in the South’s transformation from the solid Democratic south to the solid Republican south.

Wallace held a grudge against the Democratic party for its handling of civil rights and segregation. The important point is that the south turned to the Republican party; Wallace’s run did not create a separate third party. Today’s Republican and Democratic parties are even more large and inclusive. All too often third parties appear to be narrow, clinging to a singular mindset that limits the number of people who could join them. That being said, in order to win a national election, a candidate has to attract a wide range of voters. For example,the Democratic and Republican parties include members that are pro-choice and pro-life.

Sometimes a political party or movement becomes idiotic in an attempt to acquire members. I remember a Saturday summer evening in the 1980’s when I was walking around a small, urban artsy rock and roll community by a college when a young man handed me a flyer that said, “Become a member of the NAZIS Against Racism movement.” (I will give the college the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe he was not a student.)

Think of how many people have remained in the Republican Party that possess little reason to stay. (Two senators from Maine come to mind.) The inclusiveness of a party allows it to win elections, but it can also give the appearance that the party has no values at all. In the area where I live, for example, people often say, “I am a conservative Republican,” implying that there are lots of Republicans who are not. The same is true, of course, for the Democratic Party — after all, I have heard people say, “I am a liberal democrat.” (I must admit, though, that this does seem redundant.)

I believe that what is worse, though, is when someone runs as an independent. This seems to just be a “Vote For Me” campaign that relies entirely on the personality of a candidate. At least a party gives the campaign more a platform instead of just a personality. It is for that reason that have never held a lot of regard for independent presidential campaigns.

So what is Ron Paul to do? At what point does he withdraw if the primaries do not go his way? After a bad showing in Iowa?  New Hampshire?  How bad is bad?

Paul can win the Republican nomination for president, in theory, but the practical nature of the election process does not make that likely. Therefore, Ron Paul must avoid doing a foolish political move that would put President Obama back in office. But, at the same time, he also wants a public arena for his beliefs. This, after all, may be his last great hurrah — to quietly end his campaign at some point and go home does not seem likely to me either.

I cannot predict what will happen, but the fact that talk already exists about a third party bid tells me a bit of disillusionment from his followers may have already set in.



  1. Jordan Bell says:

    Ron Paul ran as a Libertarian candidate in 1988. He has stated that he would not do it again. The system is too setup for a two-party system for a third party to be effective. If Ron Paul had more airtime and did not suffer from what amounts to a media blackout on him, he could change the game on this.

    “third party bid tells me a bit of disillusionment from his followers may have already set in.”

    I am not loyal to the GOP. They do not represent me or my ideas. Neither do the Democrats. As far as I am concerned today they are one in the same for the welfare/warfare state. This may change in the future. It is certainly different from what they used to represent. If Ron Paul does not win the nomination, I will not compromise my ideas on freedom and liberty and support some statist candidate.

  2. scp says:

    (R) = (D) = Big government. Don’t believe it? Elect Ron Paul president and watch how fast the congress starts reaching veto-proof majorities to spend money. We have a one party system masquerading as a two-party system. The masks will come off if Ron Paul wins.

    The only way a 3rd party candidate can be a spoiler is if (s)he wins. Otherwise, the big government party wins.

  3. Sing the Barney song says:

    “What would YOU do about Iran?” question to Ron Paul Sunday morning a few weeks ago.

    His answer verbatim: “I would like them more”

  4. scp says:

    Foreign policy doesn’t matter – not even a little – if the economy collapses.

  5. Randy Wills says:

    I beleive that Ron Paul is showing himself to be the egocentric (and eccentric), political gadfly, that he has always been.

    For him to even hint at the possibility that he would engage in the Republican primary contests and then, if unsuccessful, run as a third-party candidate in our two-party system, completely disqualifies him. I beleive that the election of 2012 will be the most important presidential election, from the perspective of the survivability of our nation, since that of 1860 and the choice is clear; four more years of “The Worldling”, as I call President Obama, or a new start with whoever the Republican candidate turns out to be.

    If Ron Paul is not prepared to support the successful Republican party candidate in the general election, then stay out of the primaries. It is totally dishonorable for an ostensibly Republican candidate to use the primaries to promote him/herself if, in the end, they cannot support the party’s platform and candidate in the general election and choose rather to syphon off votes in an absolutely innane and meaningless third-party run.

    If he and those who would support him choose that path, let them know beforehand that they may well share in the responsibility for four more years of destructive policies. There is a time for ideology and a time for pragmatism, and any thinking person should know the difference.


  6. Jordan Bell says:

    “If Ron Paul is not prepared to support the successful Republican party candidate in the general election, then stay out of the primaries. It is totally dishonorable for an ostensibly Republican candidate to use the primaries to promote him/herself if, in the end, they cannot support the party’s platform”

    Ron Paul is touting the original message of the GOP; of being fiscally responsible and for having a limited government. The rest of the candidates are statists and will continue us down the same path of Bush and Obama. They are the sellouts.

    And why should Ron Paul support a candidate who doesn’t share his beliefs? And if he doesn’t win the primary and I choose not to vote, I do not share the responsibility of four more years of destructive policies. Only the people who were sold on the snake oil are the ones who are responsible.

    And you are wrong on there being a time for ideology and a time for pragmatism. It is precisely because people have not held to their principles that we are in the mess we are in. There has been too much compromise and vote trading that have pushed forth these destructive policies. All the candidates aside from Ron Paul are lying flip-floppers. How do you know where they will stand? They flip-flop whichever way the wind blows. You are advocating for more of the same. I see people who don’t adhere to their principles as the one who are responsible for the destructive policies.

  7. Randy Wills says:

    To “Jordon Bell”:

    Looks like I hit a nerve with you, but I expected that the Ron Paul “true believers” would strike back.

    I understand what you are saying, and have been in that position myself a number of years ago (remember Ross Perot?). As an evengelical Christian, I have very, very, strong personal beliefs which would disqualify most of the current Republican candidates, but, this is not about satisfying my personal preferences. It’s about making a rational decision for the benefit of the whole, therefore, I stand by my position on the 2012 election.

    A third-party candidate has never done more than split the vote from one major party or the other, ensuring the success of the oposition party. I am firmly convinced that it is imperative that Obama be defeated in 2012, hence my “pragmatism”. It’s all a gamble anyway, I know. Frankly, I am not convinced that any one of the Republican candidates presently in the contest are capable of beating Obama, and, if they do, governing in the manner that both you and I would hope for, but to my way of thinking, I can’t imagine anything worse than four more years of the “Worldling”.

    At least that’s my well-considered opinion, but I certainly respect yours as well.


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