Ron Paul-- the congressman from Texas who unwittingly launched a vibrant and eclectic political movement with his 2008 and 2012 bids for the Republican Party's presidential nomination-- is focusing his movement's attention and resources on a single-issue long important to him and his libertarian supporters: Internet Freedom.
Ever a proponent of an unregulated, untaxed, laissez-faire Internet and World Wide Web, Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign's promotional materials boasted that Ron Paul "voted against regulating the Internet," long before these became fashionable issues during the recent fights over regulatory bills and treaties like SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA, which would substantially increase the regulatory power of the government over the Internet.
But a new Internet manifesto released Thursday by the Ron Paul movement's non-profit Campaign for Liberty group entitled, "The Technology Revolution: A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto," signals a change in issue advocacy priorities for Ron Paul's burgeoning political machine. BuzzFeed reports:
"Ron and Rand Paul are set today to shift the central focus of their family's long libertarian crusade to a new cause: Internet Freedom. Kentucky senator Rand and his father Ron Paul, who has not yet formally conceded the Republican presidential nomination, will throw their weight behind a new online manifesto set to be released today by the Paul-founded Campaign for Liberty. The new push, Paul aides say, will in some ways displace what has been their movement's long-running top priority, shutting down the Federal Reserve Bank. The move is an attempt to stake a libertarian claim to a central public issue of the next decade, and to move from the esoteric terrain of high finance to the everyday world of cable modems and Facebook. The manifesto, obtained yesterday by BuzzFeed, is titled 'The Technology Revolution' and lays out an argument — in doomsday tones —for keeping the government entirely out of regulating anything online, and for leaving the private sector to shape the new online space."
It's definitely a pivot from the previous focus on global finance and Fed transparency, and it also represents an informal, though decisive passing of the torch from father to son. With his more visible role in the US Senate, Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul (R-KY) is expected to take the lead on the "Liberty Movement's" new crusade as the senior Paul retires from holding public office after his current term in the US House ends. Paul insiders are saying "Internet Freedom will be Rand Paul's 'End the Fed.'"
In an article entitled, "Rand Paul Wants to Save the Internet, Conservative-Style," Mashable reports:
"Paul wants to make preserving the Internet along conservative principles the rallying call of the next generation of conservative voters. Whereas the elder Ron Paul has become a leading voice calling for a financial audit of the Federal Reserve System, the younger Rand wants protecting the Internet from government intrusion to be his own claim to political fame. Sources close to the Paul family told Buzzfeed that Internet regulation (or rather lack thereof) will become the younger statesman’s prime policy objective in the near future. In the first step on Paul’s new digital crusade, the Campaign for Liberty, which was founded by Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul, released a four-page manifesto titled “The Technology Revolution.” The manifesto claims that a technology revolution “is occurring around the world,” largely in spite of wrongheaded government attempts at oversight. Applying time-honored Conservative tenets to the web, the document advocates for less government regulation of the Internet and innovative digital companies, less government intrusion into Internet users’ activity and the abolition of net neutrality. The manifesto ultimately views such a deregulated Internet as a necessary ingredient to economic growth."
The move will accomplish multiple goals. For one, the Pauls, who many commentators are quick to praise as nothing if not sincere, genuinely care about the issue of Internet Freedom and consider an unregulated Internet vital to the interests of a free society in much the same way as they see sound finance and transparent monetary policy as vital. Secondly, the pivot works as a passing of the torch to the young Paul, as mentioned above. Thirdly taking the lead on this issue creates more exposure for the ideas of the Ron Paul movement, as Internet Freedom is a more mainstream and readily understood issue. Finally, Sen. Paul can pursue this policy solution without alienating many in his party as his father has done with foreign policy, and without making powerful enemies in New York City and Washington as the Paul movement has done with its push for Fed Transparency.
With this new push for Internet Freedom, it appears as if the Internet, which has always been kind to Ron Paul, is about to get the favor returned.