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Ron Paul a pariah in Tampa for being right

August 27, 2012 - Mike Maneval
The Republican Party's convention began today, and one of the first stories to surface from Tampa, Fla., is the party's treatment of presidential primary candidate Ron Paul and his supporters.

Rachel Maddow reported on her MSNBC show that the Texas congressman's delegates were shuffled to "nosebleed seats," and one supporter, John Jones of Maine, told libertarian website Reason.com, on Friday he had his status as a delegate to the convention stripped. And the Associated Press reported Monday Paul's remaining delegates are fighting an effort by the party's establishment to bind states' delegates to state-wide winners.

The conventional wisdom that explains why Paul's supporters are being frozen out is the desire to display party unity, and Paul's fervent following, officials with presumptive nominee Mitt Romney's campaign fear, will promote Paul and the political causes popular with his base rather than the Romney-Ryan ticket.

But the next step of contemplation in this conventional wisdom regarding Paul invites one to consider why Paul gets such devotion, and its in large part because Paul's platform differs significantly from the platform of the Romney-Ryan ticket and of the majority of Republicans.

While Paul differs with the Republican mainstream on monetary policy, and on some cultural issues, perhaps on no issue is the contrast between Paul and Republican orthodoxy more stark than foreign policy. In 2008, other candidates sparring for the presidential nomination took turns in primary debates condemning Paul's skepticism for military intervention in scathing, sneering rhetoric. In one such debate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani demanded a retraction from Paul for his principles, while in another Paul was told his philosophy was responsible for World War II.

In that primary election, Paul lost to war hero and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who went on to lose to President Barack Obama. Obama, while not as consistent in repudiating interventionism as Paul, initiated withdrawal in Iraq, during which the rate of U.S. casualties fell rapidly and after which, U.S. efforts to locate and eliminate terrorist leaders - including Osama bin Laden - became a more central component of national security policy, and a much more important and successful one.

And yet, while the tone toward Paul in the 2012 primaries was more measured, or at least less histrionic, the party's final choice is a former Massachusetts governor who seeks further entangling hostility toward Iran. Romney describes, according to USA Today, the prevention of a nuclear-armed Iran as the "highest national security priority," even as the Obama administration continues to preside over military commitments to eradicating al-Qaida - with the top lieutenant of al-Qaida killed by a U.S. strike in June, less than two months before Romney's suggestion of a new top priority.

There probably is a great deal of truth in the role "party unity" plays in the decisions to marginalize Paul and his supporters. But on perhaps the biggest schism between his camp and the Republican mainstream, it's the mainstream who could learn some wisdom at the convention about the counterproductive costs of military intervention.

 
 

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