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

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culure change and Ron Paul

Like Barry Goldwater sparked the conservative movement in the 60s that eventually gave the infrastructure and paved the way for Ronald Reagan to get in office, Ron Paul sparked something that very well could result in a major political shift within a decade or two.

But its that cultural change that is the most problematic. Through recent history through even today, culture is whatever TV says culture is. Until the day that Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner start espousing libertarian ideas, I'd say that the majority of TV will never be kind to libertarian concepts, and as a result most people will think of libertarians as conspiracy theorists or worse. We can only hope that internet culture continues to grow, displacing conventional media outlets.

As a "conspiracy" person

Seems to me that the only reasons 3rd parties are permitted to exist is that we are no threat to our owners and function as a pressure relief valve for the people who own the major parties.

It's kind of interesting

It's kind of interesting that nobody has mentioned that Ron Paul is a crappy mouthpiece for the libertarian movement. For those of us who actually follow politics and how the government consistently destroys our liberty, most of us couldn't care less what the guy leading the movement looks or sounds like. But for the sheeply masses, charisma, looks, and personality actually do matter. Face it folks, this republic will be ultimately destroyed as a side effect of increased suffrage for folks who have no interest in its preservation.

Ron Paul

With all due respect, this argument is sadly wrong. Here's what the Ron Paul election proved:

1. It demonstrated the potential of the Internet to spread good ideas quickly, at little to no cost. Since the response was out of all proportion to the relatively small effort (compare to Democratic effort), common sense demands the potential market is much larger than expected. There is a strategy here waiting to happen.

2. It showed that libertarians are more than a herd of disorganized individualist cats and are quite capable of effective political organization. It also showed the Libertarians can make huge inroads into the Republican party. But like any good business strategy, sophisticated polling, marketing, and communication will be needed in a sustained effort rather than just every 4 years.

3. It highlighted how effectively the MSM has counter acted the internet since their shameful display with Dan Rather. They have moved significantly left and more cut throat in response. Opposing political ideas on the internet just got a higher bar. The good news is number 1.

4. It highlighted the incredible barrier to entry that mainstream Democratic and Republican brands represent. Libertarians have a huge mountain to climb, and doing so by separating from the Republican party will make the hill twice as high because of number 3.

5. There is a huge market out there for Libertarian ideas. Those ideas have historically been passively and lackadaisically presented. In today's internet world, that doesn't have to be the strategy anymore.

reply to former

You are right, but part of the problem stems from the fact that third parties love to go straight for the jugular. They love to shoot for the stars, as opposed to going one step at a time. My opinion is that they need to capture positions in the legislative houses of the federal government if they really want to start having an impact on the national policy agenda.

Reply to Ron Paul

I am completely agree with ron paul he said noting wrong .