Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters
Awesomeness (by which I define as other people dropping great lines espousing my beliefs) over at Strike The Root (emphasis added):
I believe your efforts in the 2008 campaign will one day be viewed as a turning point in our long fight for a free society. Although the Ron Paul campaign didn't bring us smaller government, it resulted in three huge accomplishments for the libertarian movement.
1. It demonstrated the potential of the Internet to spread good ideas quickly, at little to no cost.
2. It showed that libertarians are more than a herd of disorganized individualist cats and are quite capable of effective political organization.
3. It proved once and for all that libertarians will never accomplish meaningful change by working within the confines of the existing system.
It is for #3 that I am most grateful.
For as long as I've been involved in the libertarian movement, there has been a vigorous debate between those who think we need a strategy of participation, of reform from within, and those who think we need a strategy of secession, of reform by dropping out.
Reform from within seemed so much easier -- it was certainly worth a try. Try it we have. We've been trying with all our might for decades now. We haven't had success.
Even as we libertarians have gained significant traction in the ideological debate, we’ve accomplished very little in terms of actual results. Every day, every week, every year, for many years in a row, government has grown larger and more intrusive. Still, you libertarians who sought reform from within kept your chins up. You held out hope that we would eventually gain some ground if we could just get some access.
With the Ron Paul campaign, libertarians got that access. We ran a candidate with strong credibility both in the libertarian movement and in Washington. We had lots of mainstream media attention and even more alternative media attention. We had full entry in the debates. We had lots of money. At some points in the primary race, we had more spending cash than any other candidate. We had the most motivated, organized, impressive grass roots movement of any political campaign in my lifetime.
It led nowhere.
While I agree at least 80% with this viewpoint, I feel compelled to point out the weaknesses/alternatives. Even if the Ron Paul campaign failed completely to achieve direct political change, it was enormously useful at getting libertarians to organize and self-identify. It also promoted a culture of libertarianism (although perhaps not as much as Robin Hanson's favorite show). I am somewhat skeptical of the power of long-term cultural change (especially without real-world examples), but there are certainly good arguments for this route.
Still, while building a culture of liberty is certainly valuable, without restoring competition to government, I think it will go nowhere.
Read Stewart's followup also - A New Strategy For Liberty - Part 2: Secession in Three Easy Steps