How to Keep Ron Paul Supporters In the Fold
by Tom Donelson on December 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM
For Republicans, the time has come to realize that the ultimate goal is to win the White House and form an anti-Obama coalition around the idea of increased economic freedom. I am not a Ron Paul supporter, but I know quite a few and their goals on economic ideas are not much different than the average Republican: free markets work and interventionist government polices, along with crony capitalism, doesn’t. Paul has tapped into groups that in the past would not even consider any Republican candidates. Among the Ron Paul supporters I interviewed included a gay woman who is engaged, a mother of four who proudly told me that her two oldest sons are part of the Paul army and a black entrepreneur. That is about as diverse a group as one can reach. The mother of four added that she even talked a 50-year-old former John Edwards supporter into joining the liberty cause. Long term Iowa observer David Yepsen noted, “This year's polls also show social conservatives caring more about jobs and the economy than about abortion and gay marriage. And, unlike in 2008, social conservatives are divided among several candidates. There's no Mike Huckabee to rally around, nor is there an Iowa political machine that strongly influences voters. Making a presidential choice is highly personal, and in Iowa especially, nobody will 'deliver' anybody but themselves on caucus night.” Yepsen's point is that economics matters as much with social conservatives as it does with Paul supporters.
There is a divide on foreign affairs with the isolationist wing of the Republican Party enjoying a resurgence and even the more interventionist of the Republicans are less hesitant to engage in foreign adventurism. As Yepsen noted, “No matter the outcome, Ron Paul's strength indicates a resurgence of the libertarian and isolationist wings of the Republican Party. Hard times and unpopular wars will do that.”
What can easily be seen is that there is a unifying theme that our economic policies are not working, and most Americans view the country going in the wrong direction. The problem is that there are too many pots stirring their own ambition at the expense of liberty. Gary Johnson has taken his leave of the Republican Party to run for President as a Libertarian, Donald Trump has shown his true color as he has shown self-promotion takes precedence over what is good for the country, and now there is rumor about whether Ron Paul will stay in the Party or run as an independent.
The natural process in a political campaign is to go for the jugular and in Paul’s case, his foreign policy and his old newsletter offers plenty of weapons; but before going for the jugular, the Republicans might want to consider how best to deal with Paul, since his supporters are up for grab and are potential members of a future conservative majority. The reason for many of Paul’s supporters’ allegiances is his dedication to a liberty agenda. Considering that many of Paul’s supporters come from the left and moved right, many of these are distrustful of Republicans, and while the number of conservatives has grown, the number of voters calling themselves Republicans have not.
For Republicans, there is a way to disagree and there is a way not to disagree. It is about going after Obama, and there is one thing that can be said with certainty, the biggest social issue facing us is the size of government. If there was one issue that unites quite a few Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, and social conservatives, it is that the size of government matters and is now threatening our freedom. The Republican leadership might want to take into consideration that this is the most important election in a generation and failure is not an option. To lose will condemn this nation to second class status and the road to serfdom. Paul supporters are outside of mainstream conservatism, but with the right approach and right agenda, we can appeal to enough of them to rebuild an economic free market conservative majority.