Saturday, June 16, 2007

A third party run for Ron Paul?

While most talk on the web concerned with possible third party candidates for the 2008 presidential election focuses on that dying species, the liberal Republican, mostly in the form of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, I'd suggest keeping an eye on another type of Republican altogether, once (and future?) Libertarian Ron Paul.

Why, you ask, does your CaliBlogger think the still obscure Texas congressman might make a flanking run at the presidency?

First, of course is that Paul's consistently libertarian views put him at odds with Bush's Republican party which is increasingly authoritarian, Christianist, and interventionist. Paul doesn't just mouth platitudes about small government, he actually believes that government has no business meddling in foreign countries, has no business spying on its own citizens, and has no business monitoring what people do in their bedrooms, and who with.

Secondly, Paul, unlike Ross Perot whose Reform Party was more personality cult than political organization, would presumably be running under the auspices of an existing party, the Libertarian.

And while small compared to the major parties, the Libertarian Party is the largest of US third parties, and most importantly, consistently shows the ability to put a candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.

Finally, perhaps because of his libertarian leanings, Ron Paul is an even rarer bird than the liberal Republican, a Republican with actual grassroots support.

While Republicans are typically funded through astroturf groups that are funded by just a few wealthy individuals or corporations, Paul is getting support and interest from that most democratic of modern amalgamations, the Internet. From the Washington Post:

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."

And someone who just speaks his mind would be a refreshing change for Republicans who are more adept at fear-mongering and feigning the sort of flat-earth ignorance that appeals to the knuckle-draggers that form the party's base.

Now to be clear, your CaliBlogger is far from enamored of some of Paul's rather extreme anti-government stances (eliminating the Department of Education), but someone who also advocates the repeal of the Patriot Act and the liquidation of the Department of Homeland Security, is at least demonstrating an appealing level of unaccustomed intellectual consistency.

And the fact that a Paul candidacy would continue the destruction of the crumbling Republican party is only and added side benefit.

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