On February 25, 2007, I contributed $600 to Ron Paul’s campaign for president. Proof (see Robert Benedict). Ron Paul, as you probably know, is the District 14 Republican congressman from Texas seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Ron Paul is a Life Member of the Libertarian Party and was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 1988.
Many Libertarian Party members know and respect Ron Paul. I personally think he is the best current member of Congress and there are no close seconds. His nickname is “Dr. No” in political circles for his record of voting against all legislation that isn’t specifically authorized by the Constitution. (You’d think all congressmen ought to meet that standard, but that’s a separate topic.)
I have great respect for Ron Paul’s uncompromising opposition to the Iraq War: http://www.antiwar.com/paul/?articleid=10862
Many people have contacted me asking various questions about the effects of Ron Paul’s campaign on the Libertarian Party and its potential nominee for president. Some of these people have been outright hostile. Picture someone walking up to me with their fist clenched and arm cocked in a ready-to-punch position demanding, “You Libertarians aren’t going to run someone against Ron Paul, are you!?” (That hasn’t actually happened, but that’s the tone of some of the e-mails I’ve received.)
My first response is, "I've contributed $600 to Ron Paul’s campaign--what have you done?” That’s usually enough to diffuse the tension.
My next response is, “Thanks to election law, there’s no need for this to be a conflict between Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. It’s very likely the Republican nominee for President will be certain by March of 2008 because so many of the state Republican primaries will have occurred by then. The Libertarian Party nominating convention isn’t until May of 2008. If Republicans nominate Ron Paul for President, I expect Libertarians to defect in droves. However, Paul is a long shot for the Republican nomination. For that reason, Libertarians need to continue preparing to have a candidate for president.”
Finally, picture me with my fist clenched, my arm cocked in a ready-to-punch position and demanding, “If McCain or Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, you’re going to support the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, aren’t you!?”
Here’s some additional information specifically for Texans, although some of the concepts apply to many other states as well.
In some states, when you register to vote, you can affiliate with a political party or remain independent without a party affiliation. Texas doesn’t have registration by party. It has open primaries. Voting in the Republican or Democratic primaries, or participating in the conventions of the Libertarian Party or other minor parties, makes you an affiliate of that party for that election cycle. You can only be affiliated with one party. Some people have suggested Libertarians should vote in the Republican primary for Ron Paul. However, under the Texas Election Code, if you vote in the Republican primary, then you can’t participate in any Libertarian conventions, or run as a Libertarian candidate, or act as a Libertarian county chair. Therefore, I recommend that if you’re a Libertarian Party activist who wants to support Ron Paul for president, support him with your financial contributions--but do not vote in the Republican Party primary. Participate in the Libertarian Party conventions instead.
In 2000, 1,126,757 people voted in the Republican Party primary in Texas with 986,416 voting for Bush. In 2004, 678,615 people voted in the Republican primary with 635,948 supporting Bush. In both 2000 and 2004, I estimate fewer than 500 voters participated in the Libertarian Party conventions, and I expect a similar level of Libertarian participants in 2008. Even if all 500 Libertarian affiliates defect to the Republican Party for their primary, that would still have less than a 0.05% impact, which is almost no impact at all. Unfortunately, by voting in the Republican primary, those Libertarian activists would cause the Libertarian Party of Texas to lose its ballot access. We would have no candidates anywhere else on the ballot. The Libertarian Party of Texas would effectively disappear.
In 2004, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik received 38,787 votes in Texas (0.52%). I’m not worried that some of those voters will temporarily defect to the Republican Party primary next year to vote for Ron Paul. But it would be foolish for any of the 500 Libertarian Party activists (candidates, county chairs, and officers) to do the same.
Ron Paul is a long shot for the Republican nomination. He’s being ignored by much of the mainstream media and shunned by most of the Republican Party. I hope he wins—that’s why I gave his campaign $600. But we should not wipe out the Libertarian Party in order to give him an invisibly tiny boost at the primary polls.
What’s much more likely is that the Republicans will nominate another big-government Republican who will follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush. If so, many honest conservatives disgusted with big-government Republicans may come join the Libertarian Party. That would be a nice consolation prize for us.
Most coverage of Ron Paul’s campaign for president mentions his past Libertarian Party affiliation. Whether or not Ron Paul gets the Republican nomination, his campaign is definitely helping to publicize the Libertarian Party. That’s another reason I want to support him financially.
Some of you have asked, “Why doesn’t the Libertarian Party nominate Ron Paul for president, either as a dual nomination with the Republican Party, or separately if he fails to win the Republican nomination?”
My response: “In some states, including Texas, it’s not legal to be nominated by more than one party. Additionally, Ron Paul has expressed that if he fails to win the Republican Party nomination, he is unwilling to be the Libertarian Party nominee. He will seek re-election to his Republican seat in Congress instead.”
For those of you still unconvinced by my recommendations, and still concerned about what action the Libertarian Party might take regarding nominating a candidate for President, I have this advice: the Libertarian Party will make its presidential nomination at its National Convention in Denver in May 2008. If you want to have a voice in that decision, you can do what it takes to become a delegate and attend the Libertarian Party National Convention. I look forward to having you there.