What Buchanan & Krauthammer Are Getting Wrong About Ron Paul

by John Hawkins | January 13, 2012 5:24 am

Both Charles Krauthammer and Pat Buchanan wrote columns this week admitting that Ron Paul won’t win the nomination, but saying he’ll be winning a great moral victory even when he loses.

It is easy to understand why the young are attracted to (Paul). There is a consistency here no other candidate can match.

Republicans may deplore the GOP Great Society of Bush 43. Paul stood almost alone in voting against every Bush measure. By two-to-one, Americans now believe the Iraq War was a mistake. Paul, alone among the candidates, opposed the war.

And because his campaign is about a cause larger than himself, it is a safe bet he will not quit this race until the last caucuses have met and the last primary has been held.

Prediction: Paul will go into the Tampa, Fla., convention with more delegates than any other candidate save the nominee of the party.

There is a gnawing fear in the GOP that Paul will quit the party when the primaries are over and run as a third-party candidate on the Libertarian or some other line in the November election.

Not going to happen. Such a decision would sunder the movement Paul has pulled together, bring about his own and his party’s certain defeat in November, and re-elect Barack Obama.

Paul would become a pariah in his party, while his son, Sen. Rand Paul, who would be forced to endorse his father over the GOP nominee, would be ruined as a future Republican leader.

Why would Dr. Paul do this, when the future inside the GOP looks bright not only for him but for his son? — Pat Buchanan[1]

Paul commands a strong, energetic, highly committed following. And he is unlike any of the other candidates. They’re out to win. He admits he doesn’t see himself in the Oval Office. They’re one-time self-contained enterprises aiming for the White House. Paul is out there to build a movement that will long outlive this campaign.

Paul is less a candidate than a “cause,” to cite his election-night New Hampshire speech. Which is why that speech was the only one by a losing candidate that was sincerely, almost giddily joyous. The other candidates had to pretend they were happy with their results.

Paul was genuinely delighted with his, because, after a quarter-century in the wilderness, he’s within reach of putting his cherished cause on the map. Libertarianism will have gone from the fringes – those hopeless, pathetic third-party runs – to a position of prominence in a major party. — Charles Krauthammer[2]

It is true that the GOP would very much like to harness the money, energy, and dynamism of Ron Paul’s hard core supporters.

The problem with that is that most of Ron Paul’s hardcore supporters are members of a cult-of-personality, not people who can effectively be co-opted by a mainstream political party. The first thing that should clue people in to that fact is that Ron Paul himself didn’t endorse the GOP nominee in 2008 and isn’t likely to do so this time. If Ron Paul himself can’t deliver the Ron Paul vote to the Republican Party without spoiling his own brand by being a sell-out, how is the GOP supposed to bring these people in? Not to say the Republican Party shouldn’t welcome as many Paul voters as possible into the ranks, but people should realize it’s not something that can be done by adopting an agenda.

From what I’ve seen of Ron Paul, outside of college students, most of his diehard supporters are Big L libertarians, pacifists, conspiracy theorists, and other people on the margins of politics. They’ve come to love Ron Paul, as much as anything, because he’s the one politician who treats them with the respect that they believe that they deserve.

When you start asking the crucial question — which is, “How do you get these people to vote for a Republican candidate?” — the answer is, “Be Ron Paul or alternately, his son Rand Paul.” Beyond that, all you run into is a mishmash of extreme, impractical, or extremely unpopular policies like legalizing crack, getting rid of the CIA and FBI, isolationism, going back on the gold standard, and believing that America is about to be merged with Mexico and Canada. Additionally, although Ron Paul doesn’t seem to hate black people or believe the Jews were behind 9/11, if you do, that’s not an issue for him at all.

How in the world does the GOP incorporate these sort of positions without alienating everyone else? The honest answer is, “You don’t.” Of course, some people may think we should “meet ’em halfway,” but you’ll find that’s not an answer at all. Paul’s extremism and general lack of nuance are at the core of his charm. In a world full of political phonies, he comes across as authentic in a way that few other politicians can manage to pull off because they don’t have a nationwide army of zealots pour money in their district, volunteer to help them, and vote in every online poll they can find no matter what they say.

So, when Ron Paul finally leaves the political stage, a few of his supporters may become absorbed into the party and others may follow his son Rand, but there is likely very little the GOP can do to turn most of them into reliable Republican voters.

  1. Pat Buchanan: http://townhall.com/columnists/patbuchanan/2012/01/13/creators_oped/page/2
  2. Charles Krauthammer: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ron-pauls-achievement/2012/01/12/gIQABS7duP_story.html

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