Let’s not mince words. Ron Paul may have brought down the Republican Party.
Oh, the GOP will still be around. We will still get to see faux-conservative candidates paraded around during election season as the purported saviors of America from the socialist menace. But the party will never be the same again.
It began during the campaign leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Ron Paul stood alone as the pro-freedom, pro-market, anti-Fed, anti-war candidate. For those voters tired of out-of-control spending, a failing economy, a protracted “war on terror,” and a burgeoning police state, Dr. Paul’s message was a welcome relief amidst the chaos.
However, it was quite obvious that there was no room for non-conformists like Ron Paul within the sacred shrine of the Republican “Big Tent.” He was virtually ignored by the mainstream candidates and the press, and his supporters were marginalized as extremists.
The 2012 presidential race saw more of the same, but this time the GOP establishment had to openly play dirty to win, essentially stealing the nomination for Mitt Romney at their national convention in Tampa. Paul supporters had been relentless over the last four years, and since they had used the rules to their advantage to gain delegates and positions of leadership at the local level, those rules had to be changed. The rule changes implemented in Tampa effectively shift the power from the states to the Republican National Committee and the presumptive nominee, all but guaranteeing that the kind of grassroots movement associated with the Ron Paul campaign will never happen again.
The RNC did pay lip service to a few of Paul’s principles with a video tribute at the convention. (They must have figured it was the least they could do for the man who has been a consistent champion for liberty in Washington for nearly three decades.) It seemed out of place, though, because the GOP establishment’s idea of honoring him up to that point had been to ridicule and demonize him, block him from the nomination process, and completely disenfranchise his delegates. If you watch the video, you will notice they were very careful not to mention his diligent stand against the warfare state. The message of this so-called “tribute” was clear: “Thanks, Dr. Paul, for everything you’ve done. Here’s your four-minute video. Now don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
It is no surprise that Ron Paul has refused to endorse the Romney-Ryan ticket. The majority of his supporters will also refuse. That spells trouble for the GOP, and the party elite know it.
Until now, many conservative- and libertarian-minded voters have believed that while the Republican Party is far from perfect, it is certainly more preferable than the alternative. Better to vote the lesser of two evils. That excuse is now gone. The façade has been torn away, and everyone – that is, everyone who has been paying attention – can see that there is no place in the party for true liberty-minded candidates. If eight years of Bush didn’t convince them, the GOP’s treatment of the Ron Paul faction this time around should be the camel’s proverbial back-breaking straw.
The Republican Party isn’t DOA, but I believe it will continue to decline and splinter as more and more people recognize it for what it is: the opposite side of the same counterfeit coin. And we have Ron Paul and his supporters to thank for bringing that kind of transparency to the political process.