Does the idea of Ron Paul running a fourth time for president seem a little far-fetched to you? Apparently, it doesn’t to everyone in the liberty movement.
Writing last week on Lew Rockwell’s blog, libertarian professor and author Walter Block, made the case for a 2016 Ron Paul candidacy.
“What we’ve got to do, in my view, is DRAFT Ron to run for president in 2016. Libertarianism is alright as I see things, but if you really want to accomplish any thing in life, you’ve got to threaten people with physical violence (I’m kidding, I’m kidding – Lew insists I make this clear). So, Ron, unless you seek the presidency of the US in 2016, you’ll have me to contend with. Ron in 16! Ron in 16!”
He later added:
As far as I’m concerned, Ron should run for President of the US in 2016 in any way he wants. As a Republican, as a Libertarian, even as a Martian for all I care. Of all the present candidates for the presidency, I would support Rand Paul. But only in a lukewarm manner.
With all due respect to Dr. Block, adopting this attitude is far from a good idea. Sadly, it is not only among the people who have been active for liberty in non-political ways (like Dr. Block), that this attitude is prevalent. Unfortunately, I see many libertarians talking about how the only candidate they would support is Ron Paul. I have already written on this site about how pointless I find libertarian purity tests, so this isn’t what this article is about. Rather, I want to address what I see as a dangerous cult of personality that surrounds Ron Paul among some libertarians.
Ron Paul never made his message about him.
When we think about our beloved former Congressman, what do we know about him? He has never made the message of liberty about him, or compared himself favorably to other liberty-minded individuals. Rather, the entire message of Ron Paul’s national presence has been that liberty is universal.
In 2016, Ron Paul will be 80. It is not unrealistic to think that he may live to be 88, but it is rather selfish of us to expect him to spend his retirement going through the exhausting process of campaigning. He’s retired from politics. He’s not done fighting for liberty, but he’s ready to spend time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Letting him do that without pressuring him to run for office again is the least we can do to someone we claim to admire so much.
The liberty movement is about more than Ron Paul.
Ron Paul has certainly done more for liberty in recent years than arguably anyone else. However, if I had to compare Dr. Paul to a biblical figure, it would be John the Baptist, not the Messiah. Ron Paul has spent countless years in government being the “voice calling in the wilderness” for liberty. Where 20 and 30 years ago, Ron Paul had few allies, liberty these days has some pretty vocal supporters in the House and the Senate. Liberty is becoming mainstream. The worst thing the liberty movement can do now is to hold tightly to what brought us here, demanding that an aging defender of liberty keep running for office despite his personal wish to retire, and ignoring the new voices we have today.
The most ironic part of all of this is that many of the diehards who wish to see Ron Paul run again are the people who usually say things like “voting is pointless,” “it’s not about politics,” etc. If it’s not all about politics, then we certainly need to stop focusing on one man running for one office. Ron Paul has done his part. Now it’s up to us to carry the torch of liberty and focus on supporting liberty minded individuals – not just for President, and not just for national offices! Let Ron Paul retire without harassing him to be our perpetual candidate. It’s our turn now.
As someone who respects the public choice school of economics, I think voting is hilariously pointless. That said, Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign was my first exposure to libertarian ideas and I think he has done great work in getting people to move outside the left-right paradigm. Great guy, but certainly not the end-all be-all.
For many of us, it’s not so much that we will refuse to support anyone but Ron Paul (Andrew Napolitano comes to mind as someone I might support), but that he has set the standard for us. Though we may agitate for, and demand, near-perfection (Ron Paul), we may very well, in the end, support a lesser candidate. It’s more that saying, “Candidate X is great in some areas and a completely tyrannical statist in others… but he’s better than the other guys!” seems far too utilitarian and dangerous an attitude. In fact, I believe it is that very attitude that has led us to where we find ourselves today. Demand perfection immediately, though we know it can only come in phases.