Ron Paul as President. Really?

Was going to put this in the comments to my 1964 post but it got long enough to add as a new post.  Caveat: it should be read in the spirit of someone very much sympathetic to Paul and many of his policy preferences (especially on foreign policy).

The only scenario for Ron Paul becoming President – which I touched on in the previous post – would be him somehow getting the nomination and then something going absolutely wrong in the country/world such that the public votes him in out of desperation as a vote for change.  FDR was mainstream in 1932 but almost anyone the Democrats ran against Hoover was going to win and have the opportunity to reshape American politics during the crisis.  Paul would need a similar atmosphere in order to prevail against a still personally popular President Obama.

Absent that, I just don’t see Paul’s philosophy and policy views appealing to a plurality of the country.  And while I’ve previously discussed the utter importance of macrovariables, I just don’t see those things (as currently constituted) overcoming the problems that would confront a real outlier like Paul.  Obama will have millions and millions of dollars to throw at Paul, and the liberal press will have a field day with his views/past associations once he is seen as a real threat to their views rather than a curiosity (and a curiosity that could derail real Republican threats to their guy).  Together the administration and the media will be able to scare moderate voters away from Paul and into the warm comfort of the status quo.

Moreover, even in the scenario where Paul gets the nomination, don’t the powers that be in Washington Republicanland run a 3rd party challenge that throws the election to Obama no matter what?  Can we really imagine that neocons and the liberal Republicans wouldn’t try to mount such a campaign?  Rudy or Bloomberg, for example?  Heck, guys like David Brooks have been quite positive about Obama anyway, so it wouldn’t take that much to push “moderates” like him into his court as the “prudential” and “conservative” alternative to the “dangerous” “radicalism” and “isolationism” of Paul.

I just see a Paul Presidency as a libertarian fantasy.  But I’d love to be proven wrong given the current possibility of a Newt Romney presidency or Obama the Sequel (with bonus Supreme Court nominees).  But count me as someone who wishes that Paul had pushed his supporters and political oxygen towards someone like Huntsman (who isn’t perfect either).

Of course, Daniels was the real opportunity for liberty-loving Republicans.  So sad…

UPDATE: By the way, since strategic voting isn’t really possible in large-scale elections, don’t feel bad about voting expressively for Paul or any other candidate who “can’t win”
since you won’t be the marginal voter anyway.

10 thoughts on “Ron Paul as President. Really?

  1. The people at Reason have been pretty down on Daniels as a big crony capitalist Republicrat, made in Obama’s own image. Do you think that characterization is false, or just unimportant?

  2. I don’t see Daniels fitting that mold. He’s a politician and thus by definition not pristine. But my read of his career and admittedly brief personal interaction don’t suggest that characterization. Plus look at what he’s done in terms of school choice. He didn’t get the whole hog but he’s moved the ball forward in the right direction. Remember that even Friedman was considered a Red and a sell-out by more pure libertarians like Rand and Rothbard. I can only imagine what they’d think of a real politician given the compromises they need to make to be elected (though this reminds me that we should be really careful of seeing any politician as a savior or Moses who will lead us out of the desert into paradise).

  3. Its a shame,that in my lifetime there comes along a presidential candidate who could really make a positive difference in the history of America, yet will be destroyed by the Political class’s elites. The fact is that the elites can’t find anything to really attack Mr.Paul with except innuendo and false charges of racism and antisemitism. .The man is consistent in his defending of the Constitution and is consistent in his Libertarian beliefs and Congressional voting record. The man has integrity,even as a member of a parliament of whores. The man has more knowledge of economics in his left pinkie then all the other candidates,including Obama do in their collective brains.He’s the right man at the right time to save America from tearing itself apart on the shoals of socialism. Yet he’ll be smeared and torn down by the Political Class who consider him a dire threat to the corrupt status quo. What a tragedy for America..Yet,sometimes miracles do happen. Let’s pray for a miracle.

  4. It’s important to remember what happened in 2008.

    People weren’t sure if the US could look beyond race and elect a Black guy as president. Then, on September 15th, Lehman brothers declared bankruptcy; the largest corporate bankruptcy in history ($641 billion, IIRC). Commercial credit markets froze. They “broke the buck.” The S&P 500 lost 20% in a week. With the problems with short-term paper, there was talk about companies across the country not being able to meet payroll.

    McCain was particularly ill-suited for this. For him, economics was only a secondary interest (and he was transparent about it). But he shouldn’t get too much blame. Given what had had happened to the U.S. under a Republican administered economy, how could the US be expected to “rehire” (reelect) a Republican.

    This is the kind of perfect storm that Ron Paul would need to win the Presidency. Because, let’s be honest, the median American voter doesn’t want to repeal Medicare, Social Security, (hell, all of the New Deal and Great Society) and legalize drugs. Getting rid of the Fed and the 16th Amendment and ending the wars are Paul’s most populist positions, but how can they counteract the many “poison pills” in his platform that would kill him among the American public?

    (The ultimate irony is that he’d never be able to enact those poison pills since the beloved U.S. Constitution requires Congress and the states to go along with changing laws and amending the Constitution, respectively.)

  5. It is interesting that the narrative is shifting from “he’ll never get elected” to “there’s no way he could really change anything, if he were elected”.

    1. Jardinero1:

      Let me say it clearly: He’ll never get elected.

      I say that as someone who really likes RP’s platform.

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