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There’s something amiss about a number of Ron Paul campaign’s adherents, many of whom did little to aid the congressman in his third and final candidacy for the presidency. These Paul supporters continue to post attacks upon those who supported other candidates. Many of whom are now, often begrudgingly, supporting Mitt Romney. Other Ron Paulers doubt the electoral viability of Romney, especially in the light of the Republican National Convention and the treatment of the Ron Paul delegates. These Ron Paul voters make up a fair amount of the Republican voting block during the primaries and caucuses, and many will not support a Romney ticket because of the way they were treated.
While the disagreements with the establishment GOP are understandable, these attacks do not help their cause or the political debate in general. It is one thing to have principle, but it is another thing to slam it in the face of those whom you disagree with, thus turning them off to your “brand” of small government conservatism. Name-calling and belittling those who disagree is not a good way to convince them you are right. Dialogue is important. For example, even if two people disagree on foreign policy, perhaps they can agree on the fact that government should not be in the position of “providing” services like healthcare, or that the Second Amendment is crucial to the preservation of a constitutional republic in the United States. In other words, accept that some people will agree on arguments and issues before you can expect them to embrace an entire philosophy.
Ron Paul has respect from people across the political aisle because he advocates for intellectual debate. He talks about issues; not righteousness. To save Paul’s honor, those in the “liberty movement” should embrace his demeanor, not just his philosophy.
The liberty movement loses honor and credibility every time its members allow dogmatism overwhelm idealism. Hundreds of youth served the Paul campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire to spearhead the 2012 caucus and primary season. They made quite an impact on the residents in those states seeing the dedication and the time spent for a set of principles. But every time someone from the movement posts something inflammatory or “trolls” the Mitt Romney Facebook page, a piece of that veneer is chipped off the libertarian brand as their view of the respectable young men and women at their door in January is replaced by the view of an angry middle-aged Paul supporter on Facebook; a person whose net contribution was likely only to donate a few dollars to the campaign.
The movement is not over by any means, but many are acting as if November 2012 will be the definite end of the United States as a country with a constitutional form of government, regardless of who wins. While it can be argued that the country has suffered the loss of many liberties, that is just an indication that people within the movement need to work harder to succeed next time and to work harder to preserve what liberties remain. History tends toward tyranny; it is just a matter of how hard people want to curtail or reverse that trend, whether through political action or civil disobedience, both shown in history to be viable in changing the policies of governments.
In that same breath, the bridges should not be burnt as they still need to be crossed at some point in time. The enemies made now are not likely to help in the future and will be liabilities as opposed to assets. Rand Paul is a great example of reaching out to the establishment with his endorsement of Romney. Regardless of his disagreements with Romney, which are many in number, he was able to build a needed bridge. Even though they are not often respectful of us in the liberty movement, we will need the votes of the mainstream GOP voters when libertarian-leaning candidates run for congress, senate, and are one day nominated as the presidential candidate.
Many others have said it in the weeks prior, but the Paul campaign’s supporters and the liberty movement cannot advance by solely being an echo chamber, and at this rate, that is what it is becoming. Factions within the movement are too many in number to achieve anything viable. Factions must come to a consensus on some basic issues as other political movements do. Basic issues like the Federal Reserve, taxation, on civil liberties, and on foreign interventions overseas, need to be agreed upon. Achievable goals need to be set. And the limits of those goals need to be reasonable.
The libertarian movement that Ron Paul helped inspire and that his son, Rand, and many others are carrying on, cannot move ahead without recognizing the fact that politics is an art of compromise and coalition building. Saving Paul’s honor is going to be the most crucial task heading into the future, as his honor and the honor of the movement he inspired are one and the same.