Thursday, January 5, 2012

Should Ron Paul run as an independent?

Earlier I was talking to my dad about the Republican primary, and he mentioned a possibility that has, for some reason, never seriously occurred to me: the Ron Paul third party run.

I know Paul has said this is off the table, but... is it really? Think about it. Paul's an idiosyncratic quasi-Republican who draws large chunks of his support from voters not inclined to back either of the major parties. His appeal extends far beyond the bounds of conventional red-versus-blue politicking into far regions of the electorate that rarely make their way into a ballot booth. Already, he's forced the GOP to reckon with some of his views by taking part in the primary. But if he were to enter the general, he'd likely also poach a number of Democratic voters and could well throw the election one way or the other. (Okay, he'd almost certainly throw it to Obama, if anyone. But still. The media is equally certain to spend many, many months trumpeting Paul's bipartisan appeal and doing the best it can to convince anyone listening that his candidacy poses a threat to both sides. Certain DC cliques are a sucker for this stuff and would respond accordingly.) Paul's well-known enough that he could make a reasonable case that he belongs on the debate stage with Romney and Obama, a la Ross Perot.

While, for most candidates, third party runs are pointless expressions of vanity -- money sinks that don't do much but risk sabotaging their ideological allies -- Paul's views diverge enough from an ordinary Republican's that running his own ticket makes a certain kind of sense. I don't really think Paul has any great love for or loyalty to the GOP, anyway. So why not maximize his impact and forge through all the way to November?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think Ron Paul will run as an independent and I don't think it is in his interest to.

    Ron Paul sees some problems with America that he hopes will be solved in the future. Unlike a lot of politicians, I think he is fairly unconcerned with whether it is himself or someone else who solves them. I think he also sees his version of America being closer to the Republican party's vision than the Democratic party's vision. That's why he runs as a republican.

    Assuming Obama wins 2012, in 4 years there will be another republican primary without Ron Paul running (he'll be almost 80). During this primary the so called "Ron Paul supporters" will look for a candidate to support. If a republican candidate can emerge with a focus on sound money, civil liberties, limited government, and reduction in military activity abroad they might actually have a shot at the nomination. They would have to be more moderate than Paul, so as to appeal to more mainstream Republicans, but someone with more moderate views in some of these areas (especially defense) and an endorsement from Ron Paul himself would be a pretty legitimate candidate.

    If Paul leaves the Republicans and runs as an independent I think his movement becomes permanently divorced from the Republican party and dies at the end of his run.

    Paul isn't the saviest politician but I think he understands that he will never be president, but nonetheless has been extremely successful at getting people, especially on the right, to talk and care about monetary policy and a more isolationist foreign policy. I think he knows that the best way to keep people talking about those views is to keep them as attached as possible to a major american party.

    That's why he shouldn't run as an independent.