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Why Can’t Libertarians Get Any Respect?

Last September I penned an article entitled “Where Have all the Libertarian’s Gone?” In that piece I opined: “In the din and roar surrounding politics in America today much is made of the importance of Libertarian thinking. Some have pointed out its importance to the Tea Party Movement: “More recently, the Libertarian theme of the “tea party” began with Republican Congressman Ron Paul supporters as a fund raising event during the 2008 presidential primaries to emphasize Paul’s fiscal conservatism, which laid the groundwork for the modern-day Tea Party movement.” That said it’s interesting to consider the following two questions: First, if Libertarian ideas are so compelling, how come Libertarians garner such a small portion of actual votes during major electoral campaigns? Secondly, if Libertarians command such low voting totals, how is it that there is such a disproportionate number of Libertarian organizations and who is putting up the money to support them?” I went on to point out that in the 2008 election there was a Libertarian candidate, Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman of Georgia. Barr garnered a paltry 523,686 votes or 0.4% of the total votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.

Well it goes without saying that questions much the same as these are once again in order in the aftermath of the Iowa straw poll recently conducted in Ames. You see it seems that the supporters of Ron Paul are complaining that the national media didn’t or won’t give Ron Paul the recognition he deserves seeing as he came in a close second, trailing Michele Bachmann by a mere 152 votes. Paul’s supporters are claiming that the “mainstream media” is giving him short shrift. A representative look at these comments is in order:”Richard Timm wrote that “Ron Paul’s 2nd-place finish merited much more attention… Even if you don’t believe he can win the nomination, don’t you think it’s worth giving the only anti-war Republican a little more emphasis?”; “We live in a democratic republic, where the votes of the people deserve to reported by the media, not editorialized into obscurity,” wrote Matthew H. Harder.”; “It’s absolutely horrendous and despicable the lack of media coverage Ron Paul is getting,”; “The story is that Ron Paul clobbered seven candidates and was basically in a statistical dead heat for the win, and the media is trying to ignore that,” said David Fischer, vice chairman of Paul’s Iowa campaign.”

All of this said, the real question is entirely different. That question is as follows: Is Ron Paul not getting covered by the mainstream media because in reality he doesn’t have a chance to win in 2012 so why bother? or Does he not have a chance at winning the presidency in 2012, or any other year for that matter, because he’s not getting adequate coverage from the “mainstream media”? I think a reasoned analysis of these dual questions would lead the rational observer to conclude it’s the former rather than the later.

Ron Paul has run for President numerous times and never been competitive. In the final analysis his Libertarian views are too far off the mark to be appealing to the vast majority of Americans who will show up at the polls in November of 2012. The leadership of the Republican Party knows this as well as do the voters, both inside and outside of the G.O.P. The sentiments of the voters don’t exactly lead anyone to really view Ron Paul as a true presidential prospect. Based on results appearing in PollingReport.com, favorable ratings for Ron Paul run from a high of 39 percent to a low of 11 percent, not exactly the kind of numbers that you’d expect to see from a strong candidate in 2012. Moreover, polling results from the conservative leaning Rasmussen organization shows that among Republican primary voters, Ron Paul still can’t get any traction, polling at a nine percent favorability ranking. Quoting the Gannett Company’s Statesman Journal, “Republican Party officials and experts on presidential politics agreed that Paul’s economic viewpoints have gained traction but said other aspects of his candidacy undermine his appeal to the Republican caucus and primary voters who will choose the next presidential nominee…He does excite and energize people who think like he does, but he takes some positions that would not be consistent with conservative Republicans…I think there is a perception that, one, Paul doesn’t speak for all the values that the Republican Party has, and, two, that he would not be electable in a general election…Paul’s libertarian views open a divide between himself and social conservatives on some issues, while his strict stance against military involvement abroad diverges from current Republican orthodoxy.” Likewise, conservative commentator Michael Gerson has a similar, less than flattering take on Ron Paul’s chances in 2012: “Well, I think he’s not a serious contender for the Republican nomination. He has a floor of very committed supporters and a ceiling that’s not too much higher than the floor, because he has very radical views, which came out in the debates. He seemed very much excusing of Iranian behavior. He’s a libertarian on even the hardest — legalization of the hardest drugs. You know, he has views that are definitely not mainstream views, in my view and in the view of most Republicans. So, I do think that he is a force, but I think that he has a very committed core that’s not likely to expand beyond that group.”

Thus in the final analysis, it’s not the pundits in the “mainstream media” that have put the fix in on Ron Paul, its the Republican establishment reflecting the sentiments of the majority of those rank and file voters who can be expected to show up in November 2012 to vote for the Republican candidate. Should Ron Paul have been given better coverage as a result of his performance in the Ames Straw Poll? Well, I guess that depends on whether or not you take Ron Paul seriously. Apparently not too many people take him seriously at all so in the long run his lack of coverage matters not in the great scheme of things in the 2012 presidential contest.

S.J. Gulitti
8/21/11

Sources:

Where Have all the Libertarian’s Gone?
http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2010/09/06/where_have_all_the_libertarians_gone

Ames Straw Poll
http://theiowastrawpoll.org/

Q&A: After near-win in poll, Ron Paul fights for respect
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110820/OPINION/108200319/Q-After-near-win-poll-Ron-Paul-fights-respect

Paul: He Who Shall Not Be Named
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/ron-paul-he-who-shall-not-be-named/?scp=1&sq=The%20Caucus:%20Ron%20Paul&st=cseRon

The Caucus: Followers of Ron Paul Criticize News Coverage
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/17

Backers: Paul’s runner-up finish getting underplayed
http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_18696468

Paul Takes on Rivals
http://thepage.time.com/2011/08/16/paul-takes-on-rivals/

PollingReport.com – Ron Paul
http://www.pollingreport.com/p.htm#Paul

Marcus and Gerson on GOP Candidates’ Language, Presidential Vacations
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/july-dec11/mandg_08-19.html

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SJGulitti

SJGulitti

I am a resident of N.Y.C., and a political independent. I hold two college degrees: SUNY Buffalo (BA) and University of Illinois (MA) as well as a Professional Certificate from NYU. I am a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve where I am still serving as a reserve commissioned Warrant Officer. I am member of the International Labor Communications Association, a member of the Iron Workers Union and a sometimes- freelance writer that has been published in some minor and professional venues.

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