There Was No Libertarian Movement

In the 2008 and 2012 elections, GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul emerged as the grassroots hero for libertarian ideas. He was wildly popular online, winning nearly every poll that had his name thanks to rabid youth support, and set daily fundraising records in the form of “money bombs.” Liberals embraced him as the one sane Republican for his non-interventionist foreign policy and staunch defense of civil liberties and while Republicans liked his views on limited government, he was routinely asked why he was running in their party.

Despite the enthusiasm of his supporters, Paul only received 5% of the primary votes in 2008. His criticism of the Iraq War and the growth of surveillance that made him popular in some circles, ultimately proved too much for many Republicans to swallow while Bush was still in office. But then something happened – the global financial system imploded. The bank bailouts, auto bailouts, and stimulus packages that followed resulted in backlash from the right and the left in the forms of The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. With the Democrats controlling the White House and at least one chamber of Congress, the right also became much more distrustful and resentful of government in general. While conservatives praised strong government under Bush, they took a particularly virulent anti-government stance under Obama. The number of state militias drastically increased, the Tea Party was branded as a libertarian movement, and Republican talking heads called the movement the future of the party.

That showed in the 2012 election. While Paul again did not win, he picked up 11% of the vote, doubling his previous performance and setting the stage for his son, Rand, in 2016. Rand took the libertarian standard from his father and made some strong early showings, railing against the country’s targeted assassination program, surveillance authority, and reliance on drones. These gestures put him at the top of polls for the GOP nomination in 2013 and 2014.

It didn’t last. When Rand dropped out of the race in February 2016, he was polling near 3%. How was it that the son of the libertarian stalwart of the past two elections not only didn’t build on his father’s momentum, but polled far below him?

There are a few explanations that might work here. First is that there were simply more GOP candidates (17 at one point) so Paul’s vote share was naturally diluted. Second, Rand Paul ran away from earlier libertarian stances in hopes that his campaign might appeal to a broader base, costing him his core supporters. Third, Ron Paul supporters also liked Tea Party darling Ted Cruz splitting his support between the two and even debating which of them should inherit Ron Paul’s support.

Each of these explanations can account for some lost support that ultimately ended his 2016 bid, but they can also all be explained by one other theory – there were no libertarians. Ron Paul’s supporters were not libertarians, there was no libertarian movement within the GOP, the Tea Party was not libertarian, and there are no libertarians voting in the GOP primaries this election. Continue reading “There Was No Libertarian Movement”

4 Shallow Reasons for the Paul Ryan VP Pick

It’s 1 am on Saturday morning and house parties are currently being ruined by political junkies turning on the news and bumming everyone out.  Mitt Romney has apparently, if it’s to be believed, chosen Paul Ryan as his VP pick.  A not completely surprising decision, nowhere near McCain’s hail Mary of 2008, Ryan ensures that the campaign will have the appearance of being centered on the economy and small government.  Furthermore, we know that most people feel it’s their duty to vote, but not their duty to know one damn thing about the candidates.  For 90% of voters it’s about having a beer with a candidate or how they feel about him, often based on fractured bits of info filtered to them through the news and gossip.  So outside of Ryan’s values and policies, here are 4 other reasons why Ryan may be a good pick.

4. The Youth

Everyone knows the GOP has a problem appealing to young voters, all the polls show it and Fox News pundits are always asking why, often inviting children on to espouse their free market views.  Well Ryan is young, 42, and if he is elected and has to fulfill his real only duty as VP (taking over if something happens to the Prez), he could become the second youngest President ever.  He has a fresher youthful charm rather than the usual old-man GOP staleness.  Ryan distracts from Obama’s youthful appeal, even more now that Obama has the Presidential grey going on.  For many youth this may be the determining issue because they just want someone closest to their age.

3. The Women

Just like men who vote based on beer buddies, women undeniably vote based on looks (men do too to an extent if you remember Palin).  Ryan has rated amongst the top of the rigorously scientific study of hottest members of congress and sometimes, looks are all you need.  Obama defeated McCain, Bush defeated Gore and Kerry, Clinton defeated Dole and Bush Sr.  There’s an obvious relation there.

2. The Clinton Video

Dems have the one big complaint against Ryan in the gutting Medicare argument.  However, Clinton, who is now looking like an awesome President, was on camera praising Ryan’s budget cuts as something that just realistically had to be done.  Their biggest argument against Ryan can be made into a pretty nice ad for the Romney campaign, one that is quite embarrassing to the Dems and makes them look like children next to father Clinton.

1. Ron Paul

Ron Paul supporters are still sort of up in the air on who to vote for.  They can go for Gary Johnston and the libertarians, but everyone remembers Perot and Nader.  Moreover, a lot of people just say they are Ron Paul supporters bc his name is seen as standing for individual independence and that just attracts more wild and free spirits.  Unfortunately they’re still typical voters and don’t pay too much attention.  Some of these people may simply see Paul Ryan and think Ron Paul, after all they are pretty close.  And don’t say people don’t make mistakes like that in the voting booth lest anyone utter the name of Alvin Greene again.