With Ron Paul in 5th place and averaging just under 9% of the polls, He must ask the question: Is this campaign just an educational venture or do I need to win? My guess is he finishes third in the first 3 states and maybe even second in one of them.In a 3 way race he needs to be polling at 35%. I don't know if his campaign has begun to assess what he looks like in a race among him, Romney, and Bachmann.
My guess is they hope for this to become a 4 way race after Perry gets in. His odds do improve if Perry takes votes from the other two clones, but if Paul finishes first in one of the first 3 states, we will see at least one of the clones drop out. The GOP does not want a nightmare in Tampa Bay and will do everything possible to keep Paul's supporters on the edge, hopeful but out of reach of the nomination. FOX, MSNBC and the rest of the mainstream media will not challenge this conventional strategy even if it might make for better ratings.
That strategy will prevail unless Paul begins to see this race as bigger than his libertarian dreams. He has a realistic side to his politics as best illustrated in his transition plan. He needs to refocus on that plan asap and reconstruct it as a coalition plan which intentionally appeals to both libertarians and progressives, calling them to acknowledge political realty and to form a temporary partnership to fix a broken political system.
Short term, the goal has to be deal with the disagreement about how to deal with the two headed monster of joblessness and debt. Libertarians want to remedy joblessness by further taxes cutting and deregulation. Progressives want to kill that same head by direct government intervention through big work projects, particularly building green infrastructure through federal government contracts.
Libertarians and progressives both want to deal with the debt crisis by cutting significantly into wasteful and counterproductive spending. Wars on drugs and terror, the US security umbrella, corporate welfare and exotic and useless weapons systems are among the big items that both ideologies are more than happy to hack off.
Progressives believe that some amount of tax increases are needed to further reduce the debt. Libertarians think that taxes need to be reduced and paid for by further reductions in government spending. It is this disagreement which prevents a viable coalition from being formed.
How do we bridge this gap without alienating the ideological purists on both sides? I am not sure. My experience with both groups has taught me the depth and height of obstinacy and denial. Denial takes the form of "join with us and do it our way only" from the libertarians (Koerner's Blue Republicans in particular). Progressives think that Ron Paul's cultural conservatism and opposition to treasured programs like Social Security and Medicare make it way too risky to vote for him. Meanwhile they are still hoping against hope that Obama's true progressive colors will show through after he is reelected and that the American people will demand that the Senate stop thwarting the people's will with super majority requirements.
Both sets of denial are ludicrously naive. No politician is going to be able to rid the world of Social Security and Medicare, and thankfully Ron Paul knows this is true, at least over the course of the next several years. He thinks that congress should grant young people an option out of this system of government nannyism, and certainly some myopic and confident youth and young adults would like to have the extra cash to do as they please. However, a congress that knows who votes is not going to do this.
Progressives hold out hope that raising taxes on the super rich is doable. This is only a tad more realistic, but even though such a modification is popular, the US Senate will not let this through as long as few as 41 of their body oppose it. There are enough Democrats, blue dog and otherwise, who are not going to want middle income families to have a tax increase and the only way to prevent that from happening is to allow the Bush rates to continue. If unemployment drops below 7 %, this calculus might change but unfortunately our current policies will not make that happen before the election.
The wishful thinking on the libertarian side that taxes could be reduced even more without a Senate super majority ought to be enough to convince both sides that we are doomed to lowest common corporatistic denominator policy making unless a new coalition is formed.
One would hope that the highest common denominators of civil liberties and anti-imperialism in a time of grave economic uncertainty would be enough to build this coalition. Alas, uncertainty tends to freeze us in the familiar. Political inertia is the most probable forecast and a sudden crisis (beyond what we are currently experiencing) is unlikely to do anything other than put another clone in the White House.
The only hope is for Ron Paul to up the ante by intentionally inviting progressives in to form a real coalition which grants more latitude on how to spend savings from cuts in empire building and maintenance. The compromise I have suggested is to let Ron Paul get a vote on his opt out proposal and when that fails in the Senate (and probably the House as well), allow half of the savings to go directly and unconditionally to the states for use as they see fit. This compromise allows progressives to start building the peaceful green economy in liberal states and libertarians to cut taxes in conservative states. Not an ideal world for either ideology but neither is such a compromise a violation of anybody's principles.
The political forces weighing against such a coalition are massive but not insurmountable. Ron Paul can begin this hard climb right now by going to Sanders, McKinney and Kucinich and offering them a seat a the table and if they desire, a place in the cabinet. I think Kucinich would, under conditions like I describe, jump at the chance given the reality that his district is going to be destroyed and his prospects in Washington state are not great.
His endorsement alone will not do it, but if McKinney, Sanders and Nader join in, progressives will perk up and listen. If Bob Barr and Jessie Ventura stand with them in such an endorsement, libertarians can be reassured that the Dr. has not developed dementia and they can follow him without fear to decrease the size of government, restore civil liberties and bring troops and money back to America.
You may be like I, a person of little influence, but if you think that such a plan has merit, why not send a link to this post to your friends and to the offices of Paul, Kucinch, others mentioned above and whoever else you think could help? Just a thought. Just a thought.... Peace.