Monday, December 26, 2011

A Libertarian Looks at Ron Paul

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I was just going to link to this article on the Saturday Linkaround, but it may be enlightening in view of some of the discussions going on concurrently.

Steve Horwitz at Bleeding Heart Libertarians:

The paleo (libertarian) strategy was a horrific mistake, both strategically and theoretically, though it apparently made some folks (such as [Lew] Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists. The explicit strategy was abandoned by around the turn of the century, but not after a lot of bad stuff had been written in all kinds of places. There was way more than the Ron Paul newsletters. There was the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, which was another major place publishing these sorts of views. They could also be found in a whole bunch of Mises Institute publications of that era... What the media has in their hands is only the tip of the iceberg of the really unsavory garbage that the paleo turn produced back then.

The Paul camp was crying that they did not get enough coverage. Be careful what you wish for!

Through it all though, Ron Paul was a constant. He kept plugging away, first at the center of the paleo strategy as evidenced by the newsletters. To be clear, I am quite certain he did not write them. There is little doubt that they were written by [Lew] Rockwell and [Murray] Rothbard. People I know who were on the inside at the time confirm it and the style matches pretty well to those two and does not match to Ron Paul. Paul knows who wrote them too, but he’s protecting his long-time friend and advisor, unfortunately. And even more sadly, Rockwell doesn’t have the guts to confess and end this whole megillah. So although I don’t think Ron Paul is a racist, like Archie Bunker, he was willing to, metaphorically, toast a marshmallow on the cross others were burning.

At least on libertarian who is willing to state the obvious: Paul knows who wrote the inflammatory things in those newsletters. At the very least, the editor whom Paul chose would have to know and the information would be at most a phone call away.

Even after the paleo strategy was abandoned, Ron was still there walking the line between “mainstream” libertarianism and the winking appeal to the hard right courted by the paleo strategy. Paul’s continued contact with the fringe groups of Truthers, racists, and the paranoid right are well documented. Even in 2008, he refused to return a campaign contribution of $500 from the white supremacist group Stormfront. You can still go to their site and see their love for Ron Paul in this campaign and you can find a picture of Ron with the owner of Stormfront’s website. Even if Ron had never intentionally courted them, isn’t it a huge problem that they think he is a good candidate? Doesn’t that say something really bad about the way Ron Paul is communicating his message?

This bothered me back in '08. Paul would be approached by a 9/11 Truther and instead of telling that person to go "pound sand", he would make conciliatory noises towards them as if he were sympathetic to their cause. Panderer or whackadoodle? You decide.

There is one particularly telling quote about Paul's acceptance of contributions and support from fringe groups:

We can, however, take pains to make clear that some of Ron Paul’s past and current associations are rejected by libertarians who understand the “liberal” in libertarian and whose vision of a free society is one that is so clearly in conflict with racism, homophobia, antisemitism and all the rest that people like Stormfront would never even consider sending us a donation and we would recoil at being photographed with them.

Exactly! If I were a candidate for public office who was being followed by people that I strongly disagreed with, I would do everything in my power to make them understand that disagreement. Then, I would not have to worry about whether or not to accept their support, because there wouldn't be any. To soft pedal your message so as not to discourage contributions and support is shameless pandering. Shouldn't it behoove a leader to make it plain where he stands on what he believes? Me, too.

Cross posted at Say Anything


  1. It honestly doesn't make sense that Ron Paul didn't distance himself from these racist nuts. It is indeed shameless pandering to accept donations and feed into peoples whacked out theories, like those people suggesting 9/11 was an inside job, when there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

  2. Yeah. Paul's standard defense is "I have no power over what my followers believe". But, if he spoke out vigorously about what does does believe and it's not the same thing they believe, would they still follow and contribute? I think not.

    Horwitz said it well when he said, "people like Stormfront would never even consider sending us a donation and we would recoil at being photographed with them." Sadly, that's not the case with Paul.