Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why Hasn't Ron Paul Dropped Out?

Some people might read that title and insist, Rocky-like, that the race isn't over until it's over.

My contention is that, if Super Tuesday has come and gone and your caucus results are consistently negligible, the race is over. The states have spoken, and all they have for Mr. Paul is single digits. In my opinion, it has been conclusively proven that Ron Paul is not viable presidential material, at least this time. There's no way around it.

Some point to media bias in the lack of reporting on Ron Paul, but, truth be told, there just isn't that much to say about him. He's losing badly, just like Guiliani and Thompson before him. The difference is, in gentlemanly fashion, these candidates dropped out and let the others pick up their vote percentages. Ron Paul has not only refused to do this now, he doesn't seem to plan on it in the future. This leads me to wonder: what's the idea? What's his master plan?

There are only 2 reasons a candidate stays in a presidential race: (1) He has reasonable hopes of winning, or (2) he recognizes that he cannot win, but wants to use the momentum/funds/fame gained toward some other political end.

A good example of this second point would be the famous Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who ran for president again and again in the 1990's with no hopes of success. Nader was no fool, he understood that he had no hopes of actually gaining ascendancy, but he ran anyway. His goals were to get federal funding for his embryonic party, and to bleed votes from the other candidates. Though he wasn't able to get enough votes for the former goal, the latter campaign was so successful that Nader himself takes some of the credit for George W. Bush's victory over Al Gore in 2000 (Nader's book, Crashing the Party, talks about this in more detail).

While I disagree with Ron Paul ideologically, I don't think him to be an idiot. Surely, he must see his own poll results. The point of this post is not to demonize him, but rather to raise legitimate questions about what is touted by many as a noble or crusading presidential campaign. Ron Paul would be a very naive man indeed if he did not realize that he cannot take this election, so that leads me to conclude that his reason for staying in the race must be some other agenda. But what?

Libertarian though Paul's record may be, he is running this race as a Republican, and it is as a Republican that he shall be judged. Therefore, his purpose in running cannot simply be trying to legitimize some fledgling third party, since he is running as a member of the Grand Old Party. So much for that.

It is also unlikely that he is simply in it for the money, running a campaign to run up donations, then backing out of the race when his caucus results prove unfavorable. I may not agree with Mr. Paul, but I think he's a better man than that.

The only other reason that I know of that a losing candidate stays in a presidential race is to bleed votes from the other candidates. Sadly, I'm afraid that this is what Ron Paul is doing.

Like Fred Thompson, who waited just long enough to drop out of the race to effectively kneecap Mike Huckabee in the South Carolina caucus, Ron Paul knows that he, too, is regularly stealing votes from his fellow Republicans. I believe that this is why he ran as a Republican to begin with, and why he continues to show up in caucus after caucus, splintering his party into a messy 4-way battle. Paul makes no bones about his differences with his party and with his running-mates, and the fact that his touted "man apart" campaign image is slashing at the votes of his colleagues. Ron Paul is running the Pat Buchanan campaign; the stick-it-to-your-party-like-the-voice-in-the-desert campaign, the campaign with nothing to win and therefore nothing to lose.

All this, while the Democratic giants Obama and Clinton loom higher and higher on the ever-nearing horizon.

Paul lacks the pragmatism to see the danger he poses to his party, and the boon he offers to whoever ends up becoming the Democratic nominee. American politics is an inexact science; and even though most of us would love to see the best man win, we don't mind seeing the OK man beat the absolutely awful one.

Clinton and Obama are both pretty awful. I'm OK with Mike Huckabee and I could even come to grips with McCain or Romney if need be. Pragmatically speaking, one of these is going to be the nominee, not Ron Paul.

Mr. Paul needs to take the hit like a gentleman, doff his cap to the other candidates, and step down.


Andy Bodoh said...

It seems that you missed one possible objective falling under your second general chatagory. You make it clear that Paul is storngly at odds with all the other candidates in his party and with the Republican party in general. Isn't this some basis for running, to get his opinion into the public forum? Running as a candidate (and hanging in the race as long as his money lasts) helps him to that end, even if he is not getting the publicity that he wants. Granted, he is hurting the Republican party, but I suspect that he has no love for the party. I would bet that he considers the Republicans and Democrats just two points on a political ruler, and he considers himself as something wholley different, even if using the "Republican" name helps him get what he wants and grants him some legitimacy in the political forum.

Fezzick said...

This is another legitimate option that I overlooked. Shame on me, for not thinking of it and including it.

Many thanks to you, Andy.

healthily sanguine said...

I know Paul has said he will not run third party, but I almost wish he would. This is shaping up to be a pretty awful presidential election all in all.

Brian said...

how about "Principle"?!

I have come to know Ron Paul quite well from reading his many papers and reasons for his principled stance on many issues. You say "I disagree with Ron Paul ideologically" - but I don't know how, I would wish for you to elaborate because honestly... he has the best ideas vis-a-vis any other candidate running this year.

The republicans already have their nominee - they had it in the bag the day Romney dropped out! I see no basis in your argument that he is not hurting the GOP at all, especially with his low numbers! He is simply the embodiment of Hope for many Americans, who have listened to his good word and been won over to truth and reason.

Examine the scenario if my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ himself came down again and ran for president on the GOP ticket... would you accuse him of "bleed(ing) votes from the other candidates"? Should we not all dump Him and vote for someone simply because we think he/she can beat the "Democrats" candidate? I can only speak for myself, but my heart and mind speak for truth in my belief - and only while Ron Paul is on the ticket - can I actually vote my conscious. Give those voters in states with later primaries/caucuses the opportunity to vote their conscience as well!

Ultimately, if you had to put Ron Paul in a category, he is "Republican" through and through - traditional conservative government in the finest sense. The war mongering neocons who have hijacked the Republican party have even less of a right to call themselves "republican" though they may make the majority.

When it comes to foreign, economic, civil rights, human life, and many other policies - Ron Paul has the best answers. He's not perfect, but he's the only one I could support in good conscience!

Ron Paul - the only moral choice

(I would honestly have to write him in otherwise, voting for a lesser candidate is against my moral core.)