As I said in my previous post, I have some sympathy for the beliefs of Ron Paul. I certainly would like to see him win the Republican nomination, if only for the angst such a run would cause the Republican establishment. I suspect that he would not win a contest with Obama, but his losing margin would be smaller than many would predict.
Please note that I said, “sympathy for” and not “complete enthusiasm for” the Ron Paul agenda. I am less than a wholehearted re[love]utionary.
As a libertarian, Ron Paul puts a little too much faith in the universality of peoples and the wonderfulness of free trade. While I have much sympathy for Paul’s distrust of endless wars, and his skepticism of empire, he can be naïve regarding the need to consider foreign threats. Avoiding foreign entanglements is a good thing, but we need to be careful of assuming we can eliminate all threats through peacefully trade. If the neocons overplay the threat of “Islamo fascism,” Ron Paul underplays the problems caused by Islamization of Western democracies (or even Republics). Although against birthright citizenship, he would appear, as his libertarian ethos would entail, to favor lax, or no immigration control (markets and all that).
It may seem strange but I also have much sympathy for Pat Buchanan. Where Paul may be a little too libertarian for my taste, Buchanan may be a touch too conservative. He does understand that nations and communities are more than a collection of economic actors. He realizes that open borders and unfettered immigration is not a good thing. He, more than many Republicans, is willing to discuss the nature, and not the just the level, of immigration. He realizes that free-trade (and especially free trade agreements) are far from an unalloyed good.
If Paul can be naïve regarding international (and even local) threats Buchanan can be a little too cynical. I believe his distrust of neocons and the pro Israel policy of the United States can, at times, lead him astray. The US support for Israel can seem unbalanced (I am not sure it really is that bad), but I am not sure it is entirely due to nefarious Jewish influence. Due to the presence of oil, the Middle East will remain of strategic influence. Israel is a largely democratic and generally pro US (perhaps not quite reciprocating our own love), force.
Between Paul and Buchanan we have the makings of a populist ticket. Both are skeptical of wholesale government meddling in the economy and the world. Both are at least somewhat skeptical of corporate power. Both would tend to favor lower taxes overall, lighter regulation, and far less imperial meddling. I suspect that immigration, trade, and some cultural issues, would cause conflict between them. Paul’s libertarianism and Buchanan’s Catholic conservatism might never be able to square the circle. Perhaps they could come up with a program that both could support, even while not getting exactly what they would prefer. They certainly could end up with a right/center-right program that would appeal to the Republican base and many of the more populist minded independents.
Global peace, local communities, general prosperity.
I gave Paul top billing because is running right now. In many ways, Buchanan might be the better campaigner. I like Ron Paul’s avuncular, nay grandfatherly, demeanor, but it probably does not win elections against hostile opponents. That said, Paul, and his message, does seem to attract young people in a way Buchanan probably could not.
Paul’s problem is that the huge enthusiasm of his followers (voting at straw polls, etc.) does not necessarily translate into general enthusiasm (actual primary votes). Party power and a dismissive media will make it harder for Paul to get the recognition that go to “mainstream” candidates.
I am not sure that Paul winning the nomination but losing the general election would be such a bad thing. It is not as if any president (or congress) will be able to magic away the challenges faced by the United States. As Bush showed, as far as conservatives go, a Republican win is not a guarantee of anything. If a Paul nomination drove the neocons into the arms of the Democratic Party, that might not be such a bad thing. Let them destroy the other party for a change.