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January 02, 2008

Comments

Tom

Ron Paul has more support among Democrats, Independents, Constitutionalists, Libertarians, foreigners, and military than any other Republican candidate. He's won the majority of Republican straw polls by very large margins (and it costs money to participate in those polls). He has the two highest single-day fund-raisers in Republican history. He is one of the 10 most searched for items on the internet. He demolishes other candidates on internet polls (which are worthless, but they are about as useful as scientific polls).

What doesn't Ron Paul have in his favor? "Scientific" polls that only are done by telephone calls to mere hundreds of people, and only to people who voted in the last primary season (which was an incumbent year). Polls are mostly worthless. John Kerry was polling at 4% at this stage of his campaign in 2004. Number of donors is a much more telling statistic than polling data.

http://paulcash.slact.net/

Nathan Smith

If Tom is actually predicting a Ron Paul win, can I place a bet?

Seriously, if Ron Paul were to get the Republican nomination, I would have an easy decision: I'd support anyone the Democrats would nominate. Probably many or most Republicans would do the same. I'm a conservative, and I don't like revolutions. Ron Paul takes the libertarian line on the issue where the libertarians are most wrong - foreign policy - and dissents on the issue where libertarians are most right - immigration. Still, it would be sort of fun to see Paul do well, just to highlight the extraordinary ideological diversity within the Republican coalition. I don't want Paul to take third in Iowa, but it would be cool if he took second in New Hampshire.

Tom

Well, I would prefer any Democrat over the rest of the Republican field sans Paul, so Democrat vs Paul would be my ideal scenario. However, if Paul weren't nominated, I would vote for the Libertarian candidate.

Paul may be bad on immigration, but certainly not as bad as most other Republicans. His foreign policy ideas are worth trying. We've tried aggressive foreign policy, and I'm not convinced it's the best way to go. If Paul became president and failed miserably with a more passive foreign policy, then that would certainly vindicate Bush. I for one would appreciate such an eye-opening. Likewise, if Paul's foreign policy turned out to be superior, then there would be a huge paradigm shift in political ideology for the better. I don't have a good intuition about which approach is more practical, or more scrupulous, or just plain more effective. The only way to know for sure (it seems) is to try out different strategies and see which works best along various metrics. That's one reason why Paul's foreign policy platform intrigues me.

Paul is also very intriguing when it comes to his views on the role of government. Most politicians don't seem to think much about what the government is/should be for. Paul has clearly studied the matter to a great extent, and it has informed his Libertarian positions. If a Paul presidency had a chance to end the War on Drugs, that alone would be enough to vote for him, in my opinion. He also wants to eliminate the income tax and the IRS. He wants to cut spending by 80%. He wants to have congressional oversight of monetary policy (in the event that he can't abolish the Fed outright). He wants to privatize social security. He wants to decrease the power and scope of the federal government while increasing the states' autonomy, which is a perfect recipe for free market competition among government policy.

Paul's candidacy offers a real chance to try something new. It's almost irrelevant to me how well his presidency would actually do; the experiment would be worth it in any case.

Tom

Another comment about polls: Howard Dean had a sizable poll advantage that was completely meaningless when it came time to count actual votes.

Nato

I actually think Congressional oversight of monetary policy is a terrible idea, at least on its face. I'd have to look at his actual proposals, however.

Nato

Ron Paul taking 10% of Iowa is pretty impressive, I think. Incidentally, I read some stuff about Ron Paul's position on immigration - he said he was anti-amnesty, but open to liberalization, as long as welfare-state services were retracted. While I don't really agree that this is a productive position, it seems both defensible to me and marginally less bad than most of the other candidates.

Joyless Moralist

Ron Paul has "crank" written all over him, every time he opens his mouth. It's not just the policies; it's his speaking style, the way he answers questions, and so forth. He reminds me of an excited and half-crazed undergraduate -- which actually makes sense, because libertarianism really is a favorite philosophy of the intellectually immature. And like libertarianism itself, Paul can attract a small band of very excited and very loyal supporters, but there is not the slightest chance of his winning the Republican primaries. To say that I'd bet my entire bank account on it wouldn't actually be that impressive given that I'm a grad student... but nevertheless, I would.

Nato

Oh, I would join you in your bet, JM, but I do think Ron Paul may have the ability to influence the dialog and give a voice to some of the disenfranchised independent Republicans. I don't talk to any shortage of Republicans, and a very great percentage of them feel like the GOP is something totally different from what it was 15 years ago. Perhaps it's just a permanent realignment, and these people will simply become Independents or Democrats in the years ahead. This seems especially likely if the Democrats become less revanchist and move on from settling Boomer scores.

Joyless Moralist

Yes, I would agree that the Republican coalition is probably unstable and that a realignment is likely inevitable. Not sure Paul helps to prevent that, though. He seems to be so marginalized by the pundits and other candidates -- more an object of derision or a foil than a serious contender -- that it might only help to drive people away. We'll see, I guess.

Tom

What specifically do you dislike about Paul, JM? His speaking style, his supporters? What about his actual positions? All he wants to do is honor the constitution (fairly strictly), and hearken back to the political philosophy of the forefathers of our great nation. Is that so bad? Why must you denigrate him so?

Joyless Moralist

It's really a question of what there *is* to like, in my mind. Yes, I dislike his speaking style. He doesn't explain things; he rants. I also dislike his positions on most issues. When he starts talking about foreign policy, he spews Michael Moore-esque liberal claptrap. To make things worse, he turns almost every *other* question into a question about the war, even if it isn't. It's just silly.

His supporters I find merely amusing, in the way I am amused by excited-but-badly-confused undergraduates. If they had any chance of getting what they want, I'd be alarmed, but since they don't, I feel no hostility towards them.

Our forefathers were not libertarians, not by any stretch of the imagination. (Though actually, Paul isn't a very good one either... I'm not really sure what he is at the end of the day, except crazy.) If you could transport them to our present time and bring them up to speed on the present political situation, I'm not certain who they'd support, but it definitely wouldn't be Ron Paul.

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