The straw poll victory of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, with a plurality of 31 percent, spurred a wide range of reaction and emotions. If you weren’t already a fan of the radically libertarian Republican congressmen, his victory wasn’t the thing to make you start taking him seriously.
Many agreed that Paul’s win, if meaningful, could only bode ill for the Republican Party’s prospects. David A. Harris at TalkingPointsMemo thinks Paul’s ascendance means the GOP is determined to give up on the Jews (since Paul has suggested that certain U.S. foreign policy decisions benefit Israel more than they benefit the U.S.). Earl Ofari Hutchinson at Huffington Post thinks Paul’s win means racism and nativism is on the rise in the GOP, as he fantasizes about non-existent race-based jibes in Paul’s CPAC speech.
In the real world, Paul’s speech was mostly about fiscal probity and saving the U.S. from a debt-driven dollar collapse. Paul applied principles of limited government and restrained spending to a place where most Republicans fear to tread: foreign policy. He stressed the vital importance of the free exchange of ideas, including a long shout-out to Eugene Debs, the socialist leader jailed by Democratic god Woodrow Wilson for saying the wrong things, and freed by Republican President Warren Harding.
Paul talked to the assembled activists of the unity of liberty, including the liberty to eat and smoke what you want. He harkened back to old Republican icons (such as President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his military-industrial complex warnings) to give his constitutionalist libertarian version of conservatism a usable past. His talk was rambly, perhaps not ready for prime time, but united by a bracing vision of a government that did only what its Constitution intended it to do. This makes him radical indeed. (The rest is here.)
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Paulpocalypse by Brian Doherty
Here is a great article from Reason that deals well with Ron Paul's CPAC straw poll victory.