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A Classic Libertarian Ad:

David Beito at Liberty and Power wonders why Ron Paul isn't using his financial resources to project a libertarian message.

Though I was only 13, I still remember hearing a radio ad for Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ed Clark, the most successful (1% of the vote in a five-way race with Reagan, Carter, Anderson, and Barry Commoner) Libertarian Party presidential candidate in its history. It went something like this: "Ronald Reagan says he wants to cut the fat out of government. I want to cut the lean. When I'm president, I'll cut federal spending and federal taxes by 50 percent, and close all American military bases abroad." I didn't quite know what to make of it at the time, but it piqued by curiosity.

I also remember part of Citizen Party candidate Commoner's ad, which was rather less edifying: "Reagan, Carter, it's all BULLSHIT!" I remember Commoner had to sue the stations to get them to run the ad.

Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I may be in a minority here, but personally, I agree with Commoner's ad.
1.17.2008 12:45am
neurodoc:
Imagine that before someone could cast a vote for a particular candidate, they had to demonstrate that they knew and understood the candidate's positions on a variety of issues. Do you think Paul would garner a greater or a lesser percentage of the votes cast in these primaries? I think he would be lucky to get about the same number of votes, many of them cast as protest votes rather than real affirmations of Paul and/or libertarianism, and more likely he would get substantially fewer. (We could, of course, ask the same hypothetical question about the effect such testing to qualify as a voter would have on other candidates' numbers. The other candidates much less of a pure "ideologic" play than does Paul, though. And what Paul is being called upon to do is use his advertising "to project a libertarian message.")

I think that Paul has hit his high water mark in these primaries. The question now is whether he will run in the general election as a third party candidate and how votes he would get then and at whose expense. (Ross Perot made the difference for Bill in '92, didn't he?)
1.17.2008 12:48am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I've wondered about that, too.

1) a Lib candidate has zero chances of winning an election. For dogcatcher, let alone president. He or she might stand in chance in X years, X being somewhere from 2 to infinity, but not now.

2) but the message resonates to a far greater degree. Freedom is, er. actually good.

So why not totally ignore the candidat and push the message? Granted, most parties push "our guy is a nice guy," but it doesn't work here.
1.17.2008 1:03am
JohnAnnArbor:

(Ross Perot made the difference for Bill in '92, didn't he?

And helped to deny Bill 50% of the vote in '96.
1.17.2008 1:05am
alias:
(Ross Perot made the difference for Bill in '92, didn't he?)

I don't know if there's a consensus as to who he siphoned more votes from. My guess is that the ratio of Clinton:Bush votes would have been the same with or without Perot in the race.
1.17.2008 3:39am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Dilan Esper:
I may be in a minority here, but personally, I agree with Commoner's ad.

It's in the category that mathematicians refer to as "trivially true."

Yeah, it's all bullshit. I knew that already. What's your solution?
1.17.2008 7:44am
Mr. X (www):
David Beito at Liberty and Power wonders why Ron Paul isn't using his financial resources to project a libertarian message.


Because he's running in a Republican primary and trying to get the votes of Republican primary voters.
1.17.2008 7:48am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I think he would be lucky to get about the same number of votes, many of them cast as protest votes rather than real affirmations of Paul and/or libertarianism, and more likely he would get substantially fewer.

What makes you think it isn't the kind of votes he's getting now? "Protest votes" from people who know he can't win, but just want to signal dissatisfaction with the mainstream in a way that indicates the general direction in which they want the mainstream to shift.

I think it's fair to say that the reason Paul's decades-old newsletters finally received public attention when they did was that after his surprising Iowa showing Paul stopped being treated as a protest vote and started being as a real candidate. It was then that people started asking questions like "does he have organizational skills?" and "is this 72 year old up to the physical stresses of the job?" and "does he have any skeletons in his closet?" Last one ... whoops!

Up until Iowa Pauls's function was more as an ideological signaling mechanism than an actual potential commander-in-chief, and now he's back to that. Which is why he will continue to garner a substantial fraction of votes, despite his patent unelectability.
1.17.2008 7:55am
Gino:
I don't know what you listen to, but I'm hearing Rom Paul ads on Sirius every day. I caught one on regular radio yesterday too. So it looks like the answer to your question is, he is running radio ads. And they do tend to sound libertarian because the ads tout his record of having never voted for a tax increase, an unbalanced budget, a congressional pay increase, etc.
1.17.2008 9:54am
neurodoc:
It's great to have a perfect record of voting against congressional pay increases, knowing that they will pass without your vote, and then accept the pay increases when they come. Similarly, it is great to rail against pork and too much government spending and vote against those measures, after you have slipped in a bit of pork into the bill to take care of your constituents, as reportedly Paul does. (By way of explanation, Paul gave one of his weirdly disjointed answers to Tim Russert.) I expect Paul regularly votes against increases in judicial pay, ranting against the judiciary as an instrument of the tyranny that "big government" brings.

I didn't know this stuff was distinctly libertarian. I thought it was one version of populism.
1.17.2008 10:19am
ChrisIowa (mail):

I don't know what you listen to, but I'm hearing Rom Paul ads on Sirius every day. I caught one on regular radio yesterday too. So it looks like the answer to your question is, he is running radio ads. And they do tend to sound libertarian because the ads tout his record of having never voted for a tax increase, an unbalanced budget, a congressional pay increase, etc.


These sound very similar to the ads we heard (and saw) in Iowa up to the caucuses. They were on both radio and TV. It may be that the ads are mostly being directed to the locations where they will do some good, and that Beito has not seen or heard them.
1.17.2008 10:25am
liberty (mail) (www):
"Ronald Reagan says he wants to cut the fat out of government. I want to cut the lean. When I'm president, I'll cut federal spending and federal taxes by 50 percent, and close all American military bases abroad."

...

"And they do tend to sound libertarian because the ads tout his record of having never voted for a tax increase, an unbalanced budget, a congressional pay increase, etc. "

There is a big difference between those two. Many republicans like to tout records of never having voted in a tax increase, etc (there is usually a legalistic truth to it, where it is nominally true- worse than just sticking pork in knowing a bill is gonna pass without your vote).

My guess as to why Paul isn't running truly libertarian ads: he is hoping to either (a) actually have a chance at the nomination or at running mate or an administration position or (b) get far enough to become much more well known at which point he can use the remaining funds to put forth an actual libertarian agenda.

Or, similar to (b) there is (c) go far enough and get well known enough to be in the later debates and get his message out there. He is already much more libertarian in the debates than in ads.
1.17.2008 11:34am
JRL:
The potheads have hijacked the Libertarian Party and have destroyed any hope and credibility it may have.
1.17.2008 12:19pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper:
I may be in a minority here, but personally, I agree with Commoner's ad.


It's in the category that mathematicians refer to as "trivially true."

Yeah, it's all bullshit. I knew that already. What's your solution?


Here, here. I think you just hit on the reason why Ron Paul will probably ultimately do the libertarian movement more harm than good. He's almost as bad as the late Harry "Government Doesn't Work, Buy My Book!" Browne in relying on slogans rather than serious responses to important policy questions.
1.17.2008 12:52pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

The potheads have hijacked the Libertarian Party and have destroyed any hope and credibility it may have.


I'd be curious to learn at what point in time you thought that the Libertarian Party actually had any hope and credibility?

My first exposure to it was after the 1992 election when I read their platform railing against the "cult of the omnipotent state" or some such rubbish. As soon as I got to the part about liberating children from their parents, I decided to stick with the GOP.
1.17.2008 12:54pm
Waldensian (mail):

As soon as I got to the part about liberating children from their parents, I decided to stick with the GOP.

Too bad those were your only choices.
1.17.2008 2:05pm
aces:

I don't know what you listen to, but I'm hearing Rom Paul ads on Sirius every day.


Well, you learn something new every day. I didn't know Sirius had ads...I thought it was like HBO, with no bleeps and no commercials.
1.17.2008 2:59pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I'd be curious to learn at what point in time you thought that the Libertarian Party actually had any hope and credibility?

I was pretty much around at the start, and it wouldn't have been then.
1.17.2008 3:05pm
Joel:
aces: the music channels on Sirius don't have adverts, but the news/talk channels, for example, Fox News, do.
1.17.2008 4:12pm
AK (mail):
The potheads have hijacked the Libertarian Party and have destroyed any hope and credibility it may have.

Ironically, it's the libertarian position marijuana that enjoys the most popular support. Legalization of marijuana for recreational use usually polls in the 35-40% range. What else in the libertarian platform polls that high?
1.17.2008 5:34pm
Mark Bahner (www):
...I decided to stick with the GOP.


And how's that working out? When you read the Libertarian Party platform in 1992, federal spending was what percentage of the U.S. GDP? And what percentage is it now?

Answers: About 22 percent in 1992. And in FY 2006...? About 22 percent...?
1.17.2008 6:03pm
Mike Z (mail) (www):
"... Ed Clark, the most successful (1% of the vote in a five-way race ..."

That should tell us something about the appeal of libertarianism.

And Paul would take us back to an isolationist mentality, which might have worked before 1900, but certainly not today.

And certainly not in Jefferson's time: remember the Barbary Pirates?

"... never voted for a tax increase, an unbalanced budget, a congressional pay increase, etc." I doubt you'll find anyone who voted for a pay increase. The increase is built into law (much like Social Security), and they'd have to vote against it. So then, has Paul actually voted against an increase? (Neither has anyone else.)

Even though we know he's a Libertarian, he's never won an election except as a Republican. That's because he knows - as well as the rest of us - that Libertarianism (at least as it's interpreted these days) simply will not catch on to mainstream Americans. Rather, it catches on to the "potheads" that JRL refers to. But I wouldn't restrict it to that group. There are others: Stormfront, Muslims (www.muslimsvoteronpaul.com). Almost any blogger has seen the tidal waves of vitriol that come across whenever their Boy is dissed.

So one question might be, not which ideals does Paul represent, but rather, which constituency?
1.17.2008 6:53pm
Kelvin McCabe:
Thorley Winston: "Here, here. I think you just hit on the reason why Ron Paul will probably ultimately do the libertarian movement more harm than good. He's almost as bad as the late Harry "Government Doesn't Work, Buy My Book!" Browne in relying on slogans rather than serious responses to important policy questions."

This statement is bullshit. First of all, he has more votes so far than both Rudy Guillani and Fred Thompson thus far. Both considered top-tier candidates, one a former "front runner." His message is getting to millions of people, among new donors to his campaign and new registered voters, most of these people are young. He is raising mad loot and as more and more people read or tune into his message the more support he gets. I am fairly confident that he has likely done exponentially MORE for the libertarian message in the last 20 years than anybody else. Of course, he isn't running as a libertarian now-- but that is his label - "the libertarian leaning Republican Congressman from Texas"

As regards serious responses to policy questions - just slogans? It is true, the doc has a hard time explaining complicated things in 20 seconds or less. His opposition to fiat money and the federal reserve deserves more than a minute discussion that the mainstream press wont sit around to hear or report on anyway. But to say he doesn't have an answer is simply not true. He does, its just extremely radical to most people who instantly decry him as fringe!

At that one debate, when asked about whether we are in a recession, he was the only one who answered that we were in one. He is the only that was right.

He has been talking about economic issues literally for decades. As regards pork for his district - his answer was that he has proposed legislation to change the system. His legislation is ignored. He hates the current system, but while its in place, he is going to get his constituents money back for them - which is consistent with someone who thinks the federal government shouldn't have taken it in the first place! In addition, he doesn't participate in the Congressional pension program and he gives money back to the treasury every yr.

His foreign policy is NOT isolationism - its non-interventionism. There is a difference. He wants to trade with other countries - as many of them as we can- and be peaceful. I read a good quote the other day - which stated - "spreading democracy with bombs is like performing brain surgery with a chainsaw" This is exactly right. We arent spreading democracy, were spreading fear and hate. Further, he is the only candidate running on repealing the patriot act, warrantless wiretapping, loss of habeus corpus and restoring civil liberties. On bringing checks and balances back to government and rejecting the unitary executive theory. NAME ONE other repub candidate running on that? You cant because they don't exist.

I don't care how shitty he does in polls and in the races. I am voting for him. In fact, I already have voted for him in my primary in IL. He will get millions of votes before its all over. And those millions will turn into tens of millions come next election cycle - assuming the libertarian minded folks get their head out of their ass and quit attacking each other for old controversies and keeping them alive (I'm looking at Reason hit and run here).

But whats the point...we cant make a difference so we might as well give up. Well F all that. And dont knock the pot smokers, they make up 20-30 million people. That is a potential pot of gold(pun intended) if they ever get motivated to vote en masse.

I know i know...tis all a pipe dream. But its there. And its better than the reality of pathetic candidates pandering to the masses and feeding them constant lies.
1.18.2008 12:27am
Thoughtful (mail):
K McCabe: "But whats the point...we cant make a difference so we might as well give up. Well F all that. And dont knock the pot smokers, they make up 20-30 million people. That is a potential pot of gold(pun intended) if they ever get motivated to vote en masse.

I know i know...tis all a pipe dream. But its there. And its better than the reality of pathetic candidates pandering to the masses and feeding them constant lies."
---
Was the "tis all a pipe dream" also an intended pun?
1.18.2008 2:16am
Milhouse (www):

Further, he is the only candidate running on ... rejecting the unitary executive theory.

Paul rejects the unitary executive theory? Isn't that in his copy of the constitution? You know, where it says "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America"?
1.18.2008 5:47am
Mike Z (mail) (www):
I rest my case.
1.18.2008 12:52pm