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Is The Ron Paul Movement Over?

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Over at Poligazette Jason Steck ruminates about the demise of Dr. No, and while I do agree that Paul is going to find it impossible to dig out from under the weight of nearly a decades’ worth of newsletters and 1-800 number, I think he started something that will live beyond him. The only question is: in what form?

First, let’s check in with Jason, who slams Paul on states’ rights…

[…] many of Paul’s critics may have long overlooked the critical weakness in Paul’s and his supporters’ claims to be the vanguard of a new small-l libertarian “movement” — that Paul’s “states’ rights” focus is anathema to any reasonable conception of individual liberty anyway. Paul is, in fact, a statist with rather authoritarian leanings — he just prefers that government coercion and infringements on individual liberties originate with the state governments whenever possible instead of the federal government. Big difference. Or not.

While I think that’s an interesting argument, Paul has always said he believes in the Constitution first and everything else second. That’s why he believes in states’ rights. Whether or not you can find your particular freedoms in a state at the point when all those powers are transferred back them remains to be seen, but at least you have the choice to move around and find a state that better suits your needs.

I think Steck digs himself an even deeper hole with this comment…

When combined with Paul’s rigid and coercive positions on abortion and immigration as well as his continual and willful association with openly racist groups like Stormfront (actual Stormfront endorsements here), it is increasingly clear that the authoritarian and even racist underpinnings of the Ron Paul “movement” should have been visible all along. The novelty of an anti-war “Republican” who mouthed some of the politically correct (among libertarians) positions about “hard money” and the drug war was enough to divert many eyes from the weird conspiracy-mongering about a “NAFTA superhighway” and the faintly lingering stench of Jim Crow.

First off, people have been calling 1-35 the “NAFTA superhighway” for years and the company that I just linked says they are “focused on coordinating the efforts of local, state and federal agencies and the private sector to integrate and secure a multimodal transportation system along the existing “NASCO Corridor.”” Integrate and secure? Hmm, sounds like expand and provide little access to.

There are also groups trying to “integrate and secure a multimodal transportation system” starting in Mexico and running right up to Kansas City. It’s not necessarily difficult to see some trends here.

As far as Paul being a racist or hinting at a return to Jim Crow, I really don’t buy it. I think he was just remarkably dumb in the 90s and let somebody co-opt his name to sell hate. And he should take all the slings and arrows that come with that lack of action. But when Jason says he has willful association with Stormfront, well, that’s nonsense. There’s nothing willful about it. I’m sure the dregs of society have donated money to all of the candidates. Are we going to go through all the records of all the contributions and ask the candidates to answer for everybody? “Mr. Romney, a serial pedophile donated to your campaign. Will you give the money back or do you support pedophilia?” I mean, come on Jason…

Again, I do think Ron Paul is over, and that’s mostly due to his judgement. You can’t credibly push a guy for President who has allowed stuff like the newsletter scandal to happen. You just can’t. But the movement has only just begun, and I think in the years to come it will find more credible voices to push the freedom message.

I do agree with Jason on one thing: a lot of the more vocal Paul supporters come off sounding like nuts. Sorry, they just do. So if you’re a reasonable Paulite, take heed of this because you’ll need to do something to marginalize these voices in the future. People-powered campaigns can also be people-destroyed, and if you’re truly thinking about starting a 3rd party movement you’ll need to start locally, work hard and slowly change the system from within. Well, unless your next “Paul-like” candidate is a billionaire. Then it MIGHT be a top down movement like Perot. But those opportunities are rare indeed, and I don’t necessarily see that on the horizon anytime soon.

So question to Paul supporters, where do you go from here? And please be realistic. No “We’re going to win!” comments. This isn’t a time for cheerleading. Inject some reality into your movement. It needs it.