Why So Many Conservatives Don’t Like Ron Paul

It’s no secret that I don’t care much for Ron Paul, but after reading some of the hurt and angry responses from Ron Paul fans to his first place finish in the Right-Of-Center Bloggers Select Their Least Favorite People On The Right (2007 Edition) poll, I thought it might be worth taking the time to explain to them why Paul is so unpopular with mainstream conservatives.

In an effort to be polite, I am not going to be snarky about it, but I should forewarn Paul’s fans and, for that matter, any “Big L” Libertarians who may be reading, that they are probably not going to like what they read. I’m not trying to be insulting, but without a certain amount of bluntness, it’s impossible to get some of these points across.

First of all, a lot of Republicans are strongly pro-war and the fact that Ron Paul is not only anti-war, but has adopted some of the more obnoxious and inflammatory rhetoric of the Left about the war is extremely grating. According to Paul, Iraq is a war for oil and empire, engineered by neocons, and in Paul’s book, we deserved to be attacked on 9/11.

When you aim that sort of rhetoric at people who strongly support the war and feel that it’s justified, moral, and in America’s best interests, it’s guaranteed to generate a huge wave of hostility. Additionally, Paul’s thoughtless, “we must leave immediately, regardless of the consequences,” position on Iraq comes across as poorly thought out. Even if you thought that the war was a bad idea and opposed it from day one, the idea that we can simply extricate ourselves from Iraq immediately because it’s unpleasant, with no consequences, is the sort of thing you’d expect to hear from a 16 year old at an anti-war rally, not something you expect from a candidate for President. Even Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama, all of whom have spent months trying to convince their base that they’re the most anti-war of all the top tier candidates, are saying we may be in Iraq for years to come.

Incidentally, this is a problem with a lot of the things Ron Paul wants do: they’re impractical in the extreme. Paul is an isolationist, even though that hasn’t been the policy of the United States since the thirties. Paul wants to go back to the gold standard, which again, the US went off of in the thirties. Ron Paul also wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve, which was created in 1913.

This sort of thinking, which treats government policy as if it’s an intellectual exercise with easily changeable parameters is, in my experience, a common failing of “Big L” Libertarians. In Paul’s case, it’s almost like his thinking goes, “Let’s assume that the last 95 years haven’t happened. If I could go back in time to that political climate, what changes would I make?”

You can argue that’s how the world should work, but it’s not how the world does work. You can’t simply undo decades of history and culture, with almost no support for doing so in your own party, the opposing party, or from the general population.

Along those same lines, Paul wants to get rid of the CIA, opposes the Patriot Act, and wants to legalize hard drugs. Taking in all those positions in addition to others mentioned earlier just emphasizes the fact that he does not take into consideration how implementing the ideas that he’s presenting will affect the world. In that sense Paul, and for that matter, most “Big L” Libertarians are more similar than they’d like to believe to the wildly impractical, Marxist college professors that conservatives love to snicker at. To people like Paul and these professors, their beliefs seem to be largely divorced from any sort of real world impact that may occur or the political reality that has to be dealt with.

You can win pats on the back for your purity or you can accomplish something in the political arena, but you usually can’t do both. Ron Paul does not seem to have figured that out.

Going beyond that, Ron Paul’s support for the North American Union conspiracy and his winks and nods to the 9/11 truther crowd appall many conservatives. After spending much of the last six years ripping on liberals for tolerating wild eyed conspiracy theorists, it’s embarrassing to many conservatives to have someone on our side, running for President, who’s encouraging people on the Right to behave in the same fashion.

This leads us to the last big problem that Ron Paul has: despite the fact that Ron Paul is polling at somewhere between 2%-4% nationally, he has, for whatever reason, more obnoxious supporters backing him than all the other candidates combined. If you write a column or a post knocking John McCain, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani, you’ll certainly have some people disagreeing with you, some of them strongly. If you knock Ron Paul, you’ll often have hordes of social misfits making obnoxious comments, spamming your polls, touting conspiracy theories, insulting conservatives in general, and doing everything possible to make nuisances of themselves.

That’s not to say that Ron Paul doesn’t have his strong points. He is committed to smaller government, slashing spending, liberty, and the Constitution. However, he also has more crippling flaws than any other candidate running for the GOP nomination and those problems cannot be treated as if they don’t exist or are irrelevant.

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