Ron Paul will end his Republican bid for the presidency this evening and for this, the Republicans might want to rejoice. But they would do better to fear Paul for what he is about to do instead. Paul is remaining a Republican, seeking to transform the Party in his image, and he stands a decent chance at it. Unlike Joe Lieberman, who has indeed lost his bearings in his efforts to subvert the Democrats, Paul’s perceived subversion is rooted in principle.
Ron Paul sees himself as leading the Republican Party back to its roots, representing the Republican wing of the Republican Party. Put another way, he represents the paleo-conservative wing of the Republican Party. His is the anti war, anti-interventionist, anti government wing of the party. His is the libertarian wing, the wing which motivated Ronald Reagan’s anti government crusades– even tho Reagan increased the size of government more than any president before him. It is the Southwestern Barry Goldwater wing of the party which cherishes the open outdoors, whose adherents wear “don’t tread on me” belt buckles, and actually now what the phrase means. This is the side of the Party that W Bush claimed to represent but never understood. W never was a man of big sky libertarian Texas, mind you, but a spoiled rich kid brat from Kennebunkport.
As the neo-conservative, religious right Republican Party as we know it fractured and dissipated during the ’08 primaries, a big gap now exists in the Party as well as opportunity for paleocons (think Rockford Institute, Robt Taft, Goldwater) to reclaim primacy. Keep in mind the palecons, including Pat Buchanan– opose war in Iraq. The shall start this summer across the way from the republican convention, and from there Paul’s “Campaign for Liberty” will devote its war-chest and state by state campaign operation to help elect libertarian republicans at the local level. In other words, Paul will continue to be a well organized presence on the campaign trail throughout the fall, to McCain’s deep chagrin.