Ron Paul is unquestionably the choice of silver investors. He alone is a student of Austrian economics. He understands the disastrous consequences of government intervention. He has, almost singlehandedly, raised awareness of the Federal Reserve’s mass counterfeiting and its inflationary implications. He speaks truth to power and opposes war on principle. But he is not above making compromises.
The Ron Paul strategy has been to focus on getting delegates to the Republican national convention. This is, after all, how one wins the nomination. In doing so, his campaign has been very frugal in its use of resources in primary states, instead focusing on caucuses where Paul’s small but dedicated following can make a big difference. Ron Paul broke from this strategy in Michigan this past week, and in doing so, he may have tipped his hand.
Weeks ago, astute observers began wondering if something was going on between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Romney never disrespected Paul on stage, unlike virtually all of the other Republican challengers – even when the field was much larger than four. This was a turnabout from 2008, when Romney and John McCain routinely laughed at and mocked Paul, while Mike Huckabee was conspicuously respectful. Huckabee was trying to get Ron Paul’s supporters, should Paul drop out before Huckabee. Is this what Romney was counting on? It didn’t make much sense.
As time has gone by, more and more pundits, analysts, and at-home viewers have noticed the curious Romney-Paul alliance. Finally, Rick Santorum himself made the allegation. In response, the Romney campaign heaped praise upon Paul, citing his “iconoclasm” in their weak denials. The Paul campaign’s denials have also been week and seem to hint at the possibility. What exactly would Ron Paul expect in return for this massive sell-out of his principles and his people?
The 2008 Sell-Out
In 2008, it didn’t take much. Ron Paul rolled his substantial following into a new organization, the Campaign For Liberty. One thing C4L did was endorse all Republican incumbents in Texas – regardless if there were more libertarian Republicans running against them in the primaries, or Libertarian Party candidates in the general election. (Ron Paul is a life member of the Libertarian Party). As a result, Campaign For Liberty actively campaigned for the reelection of Lamar Smith – the cosponsor of the infamous SOPA Internet censorship bill. What did Paul get in return? A promise that Republicans wouldn’t seek to deny him congressional committee assignments.
Ron Paul is not seeking reelection to the Congress in 2012, but his son – the significantly less libertarian, less principled Rand Paul – is in the U.S. Senate. Some have speculated that Ron Paul may be helping Romney in order to get himself on the Republican ticket as VP – that is highly unlikely. A more plausible scenario is that Rand Paul will be Romney’s running mate – but even that is a long shot. No, Ron Paul’s price is surprisingly and disappointingly low. Perhaps Romney will promise to “audit” the Fed. Some Paul supporters might count this as a victory, but auditing an inherently corrupt institution is a waste of time – what exactly could be found that would make the Fed look worse than we already know it is?
For me, the evidence that Ron Paul is in cahoots with Mitt Romney surpassed a preponderance when Paul spent scarce campaign resources in Michigan – a primary state where he had no chance of winning, or even reasonably altering his proportion of the state’s delegates. Polls showed that Rick Santorum was leading in the blue-collar state, as anti-elitist voters were looking for “anybody but Mitt.” Paul coming to the state undoubtedly diverted a few “true conservative” votes away from Santorum, thereby helping Romney win the state. But if Paul’s true objective were to take the nomination process all the way to a brokered convention, then his strategy should have been to help Santorum win by staying away – after all, Romney could win the nomination outright, with a majority of delegates, whereas Santorum cannot.
Earlier and other evidence: Ron Paul clearly had the Maine caucuses stolen from him, but his campaign has downplayed the importance of a recount. And, a quick glance at Ron Paul’s web site shows a bevy of anti-Santorum information – why attack someone who is mathematically unable to win the nomination? Throw in the way Romney and Paul relate on stage, the fact that they and their wives are friends behind the scenes, and the fact that neither Romney nor Paul will outright deny potential collaboration, and I think an official alliance is more likely than not.
Politics is the art of compromise. But for most Ron Paul supporters, there is no compromise with evil – lesser or not. I imagine Ron Paul will make the case that Mitt Romney is the lesser evil compared to Rick Santorum, and get some minor concession in order to encourage his supporters to vote for Romney. I don’t think it will work, though, as most Ron Paul supporters are more principled than Ron Paul himself is — if I’m right. And I do hope I’m wrong.
Ron Paul is a difficult figure for libertarianism. On the one hand, he has been fighting the good fight in Congress for more than thirty years. On the other hand, there is no good fight to be fought within the corrupt system of politics. Perhaps in encouraging people to find political solutions – rather than apolitical, economic ones – Ron Paul does more harm than good. If Ron Paul is indeed in cahoots with Romney, then perhaps this would be the wake-up call his followers need: that politics is the art of compromise, but the time for compromise has long since passed.