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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What Next for Ron Paul?

The New Republic article about Ron Paul that has the libertarian blogosphere abuzz is here. The campaign's response is here.

This is all very troubling. I don't know Ron Paul well, but the language in these newsletters does not sound like him, nor is it consistent with other things he has said over the years. He has condemned racism as collectivist (although admittedly, he has usually followed this statement with a condemnation only of affirmative action) and he has praised Rosa Parks and, I believe, Martin Luther King. He has condemned the "war on drugs" as mainly a war on minorities.

Ron Paul says that he did not write the offensive material, that he had in effect contracted the newsletter out to someone else. Apparently the identify of the ghost writer is well known to some people. See this. In this post Wendy McElroy appeals to the ghost writer: "Will you now do the decent thing for libertarianism and come forward to acknowledge responsibility for the material being used against your mentor?" Good question.

I have no trouble believing that the newsletter was ghost-written. But how could Ron Paul have let the author of this sewage get away with it for so long? He was so busy delivering babies that he never had a clue what was being said in a newsletter bearing his name? This does not speak well of him.

What now? I was tempted to say that with Ron Paul's poor showing in New Hampshire, it doesn't much matter now. But that is wrong. Ron Paul has done a great service in bringing libertarianism (however watered down and distorted as constitutionalism) plus anti-imperialism to a new audience. It would be a catastrophe if these people were now put off by the material quoted in TNR. That is why the damage must be repaired at once. I second Wendy McElroy's appeal. Not for the sake of Ron Paul or the campaign, but for the sake of the libertarian movement.

I recommend Radley Balko's post here.


Dominik Hennig said...

I suppose the TNR-Story is a fake...

Libertarian Jason said...

Dead link on the TNR article... I've been hunting for it all over the place... Maybe they took it down?

Sheldon Richman said...

I just clicked on it and it worked fine. Try this:

It's no fake.

Al said...

I was a Rush Limbaugh conservative back when those things were written and I heard a lot of talk like that on talk radio (though, not from Rush, as I remember). When I took the leap into Libertarianism later in the '90s, I left that kind of crude collectivism behind.

Anonymous said...


I just read all of the newletters linked in the New Republic article. Very little can be construed as anti-gay (as opposed to having a legit. religious objection to homosexuality) or anti-black. It doesn't sound like him. The only thing that troubles me is if he has kept the person around who wrote the stuff.

Anonymous said...

It would be intersting if someone could post all of the newsletters on line to get a better picture of the general content. Were the linked articles (only a few in hundreds of newsletters) at all typical? I suspect not. If a few slipped through out of hundreds, the sin is not quite as great

Sheldon Richman said...

Anon, wishing for a return of the "closet" qualifies as bigotry. The metaphor refers to a time when people were afraid to have their homosexual orientations known because they could become victims of violence, including at the hands of the police. And you don't think referring to blacks as animals and welfare moochers isn't bigotry? We have different standards.

Anonymous said...


I did aay very little. I didn't say none. I agree that what was said counts as bigotry in my book. However, those comments don't "sound" like something that Ron Paul would say. I base this on his writings, public statements and the way he has conducted himself in public life. Of course, he still has to take personal responsibility for what is published under his name. As far as identifying the author of the repugnant parts, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

"He was so busy delivering babies that he never had a clue what was being said in a newsletter bearing his name? This does not speak well of him."

One thing I can say as the son of a busy doctor and have seen the lives of many doctors, they are extremely busy in ways most people would never understand. Their minds during an intense period of practice can be quite preoccupied. I've seen all sorts of stuff, obvious to most people at the time, slip right under my dad's nose, to his own detriment. Which may mean that practicing doctors may not make good presidents.

As to the "ghost writer," I agree. Fess up, confess, so we can all move on.

Anonymous said...

If Ron was too busy to keep tabs on the newsletter, he should have discontinued it. That said, it is fair to say that all of the candidates have made mistakes. Compared to the mistakes of others, Paul has not contributed to the deaths of others, social chaos, economic woes etc. through the Iraq War, Drug War, high taxes and regulations, etc. In that light, his mistake is fairly benign in the scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

The spectacle of pretend (or erstwhile) anarchists rushing to the defense of Ron Paul is among the most absurd theater I have ever witnessed.

Sheldon Richman said...

Jimi G: pretend or erstwhile? What grounds do you have for that charge? Even if you disagree with the anarchist who says that a political candidate could come along who offers some potential to defend liberty or at least educate the public about liberty, you have no cause to call this anarchist pretend or erstwhile because you have no evidence that hey has abandoned his anarchism. I'd expect a higher level of argument here.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on Sheldon! Deny Spooner's logic about voting! Go ahead!

Support for a political candidate is a renunciation of anarchism. Res ipso loquitur.

I feel I have defended my point of view sufficiently.

Call yourself anything you like. There are many languages spoken in this world.

But if you ask me, you would have done your first principles far more good by not getting in bed with Paul. Look where it getting you, by your own admission. Paul may wind up sabotaging the libertarian movement. And you are not even close to being alone in foolishly jumping on the Paul bandwagon.

Chickens coming home to roost if I ever saw it.

Paul is a Statist. The answer to force is not more force.

But to be fair, your work in economics is second to none, Sheldon.

Anonymous said...

Here, this essay states the case pretty well, if the writing is not as concise and well-organized as it could be:

From Strike The Root:

Anonymous said...

And while we're at it, here's a nifty dissection of force -- and voting is force.

Anonymous said...

This old article from 1996 is making the rounds. Wendy McElroy is one of its subjects. Good analysis of voting as pertains to libertarians/anarchists:

I especially liked this part:

"Anyways, to sum up, one can believe that the State can be placated, petitioned, or purchased, at least to some useful extent, and thus one's ballot (among millions), might be part of that supplication. Or one rejects that argument and feels that dealing with the political system in any way other than rejection of temptation is in error and impure. The third way (which happens to be the Agorist position) is that voting is statist (evil, to continue our ecclesiastical metaphor) and should be fought. Burn the polls ye sons of freedom! It is neither accident nor unideological spite that revolutionaries in the jungles and forests of the Third World actively oppose balloting to the extent of leading raids against polls and voters themselves.

Most of these revolutionaries are not anarchist and might even bring in election machinery to ratify themselves once in power; the point here is that they realize that electoral participation is counter-revolutionary. When the guerrillas are in power and want to keep it, they will institute voting mechanisms."

How does this jibe with your understanding of agorism, Sheldon?