12A001 One Rock, One Hard Place by Jim Davies, 1/13/2012    

The Grand Old Party has a problem, and it's very richly deserved.

I do hope first that you'll forgive yet another ZGBlog about current politics, for politics will never bring about a zero government society, which is the subect of this Blog. My weak excuse is that in thirty years I've never seen a political scene more interesting than today, nor one more significant for some aspects of freedom.

On January 10th Ron Paul won 23% of his party's primary vote in New Hampshire, second only to Mitt Romney. That was Ron's second strong showing, after Iowa. It removes any doubt that he has succeeded, during that last four years, in building up a solid grass-roots movement favoring the Ron Paul "Revolution", with the letters "evol" so cleverly reversed. The supporters are not just numerous, they are smart; they know how to get votes. On January 7th I happened to drive on a NH Interstate and noticed half a dozen crackerjack bridge banners stating simply "RON PAUL / PEACE", "RON PAUL / FREEDOM" etc. Most noticeably, there was no banner at all for any other candidate - I didn't even see a single bumper-sticker, for anyone but Paul. This is amazing.

I understand the groundswell is nationwide. Paul's percentage of primary votes will no doubt vary, but that fact means he is in the race for keeps. The other "conservative" rivals for frontrunner Romney are not; after they lose a few in a row they will quit. The day will therefore come when the race is down to Romney vs Paul, and the present 60 - 75% of voters who oppose Romney will have to choose between them. It seems reasonable to me that Paul will win, against the proven health-care socialist, Obama-lite Mitt Romney.

But there are other reasons for thinking so, for at that point it gets fascinating. The Washington Post opined that the Republican Party is in serious danger of a breakup, because if Paul doesn't win that contest he might move off - with most of his support base - and form a "third party" whose effect will be to throw the election to Barack H Obama and split the GOP right down the middle, perhaps for ever. I don't think Wapo is quite correct; I think it more likely that in such a circumstance Ron would encourage his supporters to vote for whomever the Libertarian Party nominates. Same difference, though; large defections from the RP and a second term for Obama - with a useful by-product in the form of a big boost for the LP. So, knowing in advance that a primary win for Romney will likely break up the Party and lose the election, which way will that 75% vote? - for Ron Paul, even if they hold their noses. Ever since 1980 when Ronald Reagan stole Ed Clarke's thunder by promising less government and delivering more, the GOP has been destined for such a moment.

Thus, it's seriously possible that this Fall will see an election race between an articulate, deeply statist incumbent who has miserably failed to keep nearly all the promises he so glibly made in 2008, and a consistent, highly principled opponent who predicted every one of the major problems Obama has so signally failed to cure and has a systematic solution for every one of them and whose platform, while deficient, is quite largely libertarian. I think that would hardly be a fair fight. Ron Paul would mop the floor with him.

2013 could therefore see us with a President who is, in several important ways, a libertarian. That will by no means be the same as a zero government society; but it will make life a good deal more pleasant while we wait for one.

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