Ron Paul and the Long Haul

So, Paul did respectably in New Hampshire. Not the upset we thought it'd be, but oh well. I find it interesting that Paulites are blaming two New Republic pieces (here and here) exposing a supposedly racist Ron Paul. Paul claims not to have authored the pieces, and they certainly don't reinforce any policies or agendas he's promoted. And you have to understand that there are liberals who insist on labelling anybody who talks about shrinking government as racist, anti-semetic, and a host of other politically incorrect epithets.

However, I share Radley Balko's disappointment about the Paul campaign not being quicker to step up and address this issue of racism. There's no reason whatsoever that the kind of honest and hard-hitting campaign Paul has been running could not have used this accusation as a starting point for talking about racial justice issues. It's a great opportunity to demonstrate how libertarianism dispenses with all collectivist arguments such as racist ones, but that it also opposes the kinds of laws and government policies that, throughout this country's history, has propped up and subsidized social norms that discrminate and oppress on the basis of some arbitrary identity. The "separate but equal" decision, Jim Crow and poll tax laws, the Fugitive Slave Act - all of these are the result of positive, intrusive government intervention. It's unfortunate that libertarians have missed the opportunity to talk about the State's role in racism, playing defense instead of offense.

However, just about all of the activists I've met are focused much more on Paul's broader agenda than Paul himself. Paul is a symbol for a sentiment that has just recently been energized. The campaign may or may not continue, but the networks of activists that have been cultivated will almost certainly continue and, hopefully, grow. This is good, because it's a sign that the seeds libertarians have sown are starting to sprout. I truly believe that the Paul campaign is only the beginning of a new, distributed, loosely-coordinated movement to resist the direction of American governmental leviathan.

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Written on Wednesday, January 09, 2008