February 13, 2008
My piece in this morning’s edition of Taki’s Top Drawer on the premature demise of the Ron Paul campaign has already made waves, as I can see in the comments that are already accumulating. It was written before Rep. Paul made his video promoting the idea of a march on Washington, as some kind of ultimate manifestation of the movement he is now telling us must remain inside the GOP. Here is his video message:
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I have to say that I think the idea of a march or rally is not a good concept, and is also a potentially disastrous one. Antiwar marches with tens of thousands of participants are routinely ignored by the media, as are pro-lilfe marches, and most such events which invariably take place within the precincts of Washington, DC. A march is usually a form of expression utilized by single-issue coalitons built around simple platforms, such as “End the War,” “Stop Abortions,” etc., for the simple reason that it’s hard to mobilize tens of thousands of people around a more complex political platform, as befits, say, a political party or an ideological movement.
Aside from courting disaster with the possibility that a Paulian march on Washington might attract lower numbers than Rep. Paul imagines, there is the problem of how to police such an event: who is going to keep away the parasitic fringe groups that have been such a problem (albeit magnified out of all proportion by the Smear Bund)? A march on Washington is a provocation waiting to happen.
Secondly, what does such a march accomplish, exactly, except to make the participants feel good? What political objective is achieved by venturing out into the streets of Washington, DC, in this sort of weather, and waving a sign around for a couple of hours? I’ll tell you what: exactly nothing.
A conference of Paul’s supporters would be a much better alternative, provided it was organized with a specific agenda and wasn’t just another libertarian “event” unrelated to any long-range goal. And if the Paulian movement, if I may call it that, is to have any real significance, it must have just such a goal, which must be nothing less than providing the movement with what it needs so desperately today, and has needed for quite some time, and that is a party of liberty. And not just an electoral organization, but a real party in the old-fashioned ideological sense, one that is oriented toward doing real political work rather than marching around aimlessly in the streets of the Imperial capital.
What got my gander up about Paul’s announcement is that it appeared to throw away what I consider to be the signal achievement of his campaign: the sudden appearance on the libertarian scene of large numbers of dedicated—and even fanatical—supporters who would literally do almost anything for the cause, and would do it, furthermore, with verve and imagination.
Good lord, for decades we’ve dreamed of this, and Ron Paul actually made it happen: to fail to take full advantage of this gift of Providence is a crime. Furthermore, the popularity of Ron Paul among young people is what is especially important, and needs to be taken advantage of before the opportunity slips away. For the substantial youth contigent is the movement’s life insurance against premature extinction—a fate that, prior to the Paul campaign, had been staring libertarianism in the face. For years, there has been no real nationally-organized libertarian youth movement. Today, because of the Paul campaign, there is a large one, much larger than anyone has really gauged. To tell these people that the answer is to work patiently within the GOP, and explain to a bunch of McCaniacs and Hucksterites that we need a peaceful foreign policy and a gold standard—well, one might as well tell them to go home.
Saving the Republican party would be fine with me—if only we didn’t have a much more important task, and that is saving the country. The GOP is too far gone, at this point, in many places, although this isn’t true everywhere. But what is really important about libertarians and their constitutionalist allies working in the GOP is how many activists they can recruit out of it and into their own organization.
Unfortunately, there is no organization to recruit them into. No way to educate them about their Old Right heritage, no activities to get them involved in but a single “march on Washington,” and no serious long-range strategy that points the way to achieving the movement’s real goal, which is the restoration of the old American Republic.
Of course, the Paulian movement has never been centrally-planned and directed from campaign headquarters: quite the contrary, it has been mostly the other way around. And that has been all to the good. For the Paul campaign to start issuing edicts from on high, at this point, seems a bit odd, and I doubt the Paulians will take to it with much alacrity. What they ought to do, in my humble opinion, is refuse to take no for an answer. They should ignore this “march on Washington” business, and petition the campaign to reverse its decision not to go third party. Furthermore, they should enlist the leaderhip of both the Libertarian party, and the Constitution party, to approach Dr. Paul and plead with him to accept the joint nomination of their respective parties. Indpendent groups, whatever their ideological coloration, should also be approached for their endorsement. Presented with such a petition, what politician could say no?
This November, voters who agree with Paul’s politics will have no voice, no choice, and no way to express their dissent from the bipartisan orthodoxy of big government at home and interventionism abroad. Come election day, we will have to stand on the sidelines and watch as others make their case. That abstention will demoralize the remaining Paulians, and render the movement irrelevent, at least in the eyes of a great many of its potential best recruits.
A march on Washington, if it did not coincide with an orderly national conference of Paulian activists designed to set up a permanent organization, would be a march to nowhere.