Ron Paul’s Movement Can Make GOP Consistently Conservative
With Dr. Paul’s delegate sweep in Minnesota over the weekend as well as some important victories in other states, it is important to note not only that Paul’s forces are making integral GOP but also what a Republican Party of Paul’s supporters’ making will look like. The entire point of Paul and his movement is to advance principle. The primary point of the Republican establishment is to advance politically, principle has little to do with it. If a Republican beats Obama, the establishment will say they’ve “won.” If that Republican governs pretty much like Obama, Ron Paul supporters will ask, rightly, what did we “win?”
This question is paramount if the Republican Party is to ever become the party of limited government.
A few days ago I came across a column I wrote for The American Conservativeat the beginning of this campaign. In fact, I wrote it before I even joined the campaign. Titled “Constant Conservative Ron Paul” I explained how to the degree that the Republican Party ever becomes genuinely conservative in a limited government sense, it will find itself in-line with the philosophy of Ron Paul.
With our multiple victories in various states over the last few weeks, including over the weekend, it might be worth reexamining what Ron Paul’s rEVOLution is really all about. From April 2011:
When Ron Paul ran for president in 2008, polls showed that Americans-at-large were worried about an increasingly bad economy, angry at Washington for bailing out Wall Street and weary of the Iraq War. GOP primary voters found themselves defending a Republican president who was on the unpopular side of all three issues, supporting a Republican nominee who agreed with him, and having to choose from a Republican field of candidates virtually indistinguishable from their president, their nominee and each other.
With Ron Paul all but declaring his candidacy for president this week, polls show that Americans at large are most worried about a bad economy, Obama’s high negatives indicate a persistent distrust and disgust with Washington, and this president’s three Middle Eastern wars are arguably more unpopular than Iraq and Afghanistan were three years ago.
Yet, even though they will have adjusted their various positions accordingly, 2012 GOP primary voters will generally find a field of candidates willing to bash the White House for basically doing the same things these same candidates once defended a Republican president doing. In fact, most potential 2012 candidates will be as guilty of contributing to big government as the president they’ll criticize. Mitt Romney gave us the blueprint for government-run healthcare. Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich gave Republican support for cap and trade. Rick Santorum ran cover for Bush’s entire statist agenda by touting the president’s alleged social conservatism. Adding ideological insult to injury, most of these candidates still promote an astronomically expensive foreign policy while they simultaneously and contradictorily claim we must cut spending. By and large, these candidates are conservative in rhetoric only, not their records, as has been the case with most Republican presidential candidates for decades.
That is, again, except one.
During the periods when conservatives find themselves not defending big government Republicans and instead choose to stress the need for limited government and constitutional fidelity, they echo the sentiments of Ron Paul. The difference is Paul never changes his sentiment. When conservatives are not defending big government Republicans and instead choose to talk about the need to eliminate debt and deficits, they are repeating the philosophy of Ron Paul. The difference is Paul never changes his philosophy.
Paul’s conservative consistency remains true, even when—and perhaps especially when—his fellow conservatives disagree with him. When conservatives attack Paul for his non-interventionist foreign policy views, the Texas congressman is quick to remind them that it is mathematically impossible to reduce the debt or deficits without addressing Pentagon spending. Cutting NPR, Planned Parenthood and earmarks will do nothing to effectively reduce the debt, no matter how much each might excite conservatives emotionally. Likewise, ignoring the need for military spending cuts will continue to help sustain and grow the debt, no matter how emotionally attached some conservatives are in their support for maintaining the status quo.
Obsessing over Obama’s birth certificate might be fun for some conservatives—but it only distracts from the United States’ economy’s impending death certificate, says Paul. Excitement over a reality TV star with a bad comb-over may hold conservatives’ attention for the moment—another moment wasted, says Paul, by not addressing the stark reality that is our collapsing dollar and economy. Many conservatives draw a battle line between Republicans and Democrats. Paul draws his line between those who support limited government and those in both parties who consider it unlimited.
Indeed, Ron Paul is the conservative constant in US politics. To the extent that the American Right is consistently conservative, it is generally in line with Paul. To the extent that the American Right gets distracted from conservative principles—typically in the name of Republican partisanship or some emotional attachment to a particular aspect of statism conservatives generally like—it finds itself at war with Paul…
Ron Paul is the conservative constant in American politics. In 2012 and beyond, may there be more Americans willing to be as consistently conservative.