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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RP Campaign's 3 Biggest Mistakes

Ron Paul's campaign will end on August 30 and it will be viewed as a template for future underdog candidates. His delegate strategy has taught young people much about how the process works and by bringing them into that process, he has laid a foundation for this same young people to rise up the ranks of political power.

More importantly, this campaign has demonstrated one man's moral courage. When I first heard Ron Paul answer a question in a 1988 Republican presidential debate, I was totally stunned. The moderator conveyed a question from an audience member asking the candidates, "What is the most important moral issue facing America today." Everybody knows the answer at a Republican debate: It's either abortion or traditional marriage and family breakdown.

Ron Paul was offered the first opportunity to answer. Without hesitation he answers,"The abandonment of the Christian theory of just war." I can't remember if I was drinking tea, coke or water but I lost it all over the floor. This guy just told a room full of warmongers to go to hell.

I had never heard anything so courageous and true come out of any politicians mouth. His willingness to stand up to the establishment in his own party on a central plank in their platform is unprecedented. What he said  would be like a Democrat answering the same question by saying "The lack of reverence for human life from conception to natural death."

Paul has also shown his wisdom, compassion and moral integrity in his transition plan. Rather than be the libertarian purists his followers imagine him to be by saying let's write everybody a check for what they've paid into the entitlement system and end it, he refuses to advocate even slightly cutting such benefits for those who have paid into the system and will be dependent upon it. He wanted to give young people the opportunity to opt out of the program and pay for their non contributions to support seniors by shifting half of the funds saved from the militarism spending departments to pay for the shortfall.

Would that his campaign had seized on this spirit and the specific proposal which modeled how to bring progressives on board even if it needed a slight tweaking in light of political realities and opportunities.

While there is much more to be said in favor of Paul and his campaign there were significant missteps and missed opportunities. Here are the 3 biggest:

1.) A caucus/delegate strategy that never tried to win a a primary: The delegate strategy with early selective focus on caucus states was essential; however, there was no serious attempt to actually win one primary state. He could have focused on SC, and later there was absolutely no excuse for not moving hard into Virginia. One victory in either of these states would have radically changed the course of this nomination process.

2.) Refusal to deal swiftly, boldly and thoroughly with the race issue: His campaign should have gotten him a stage in SC to do a major speech on racial justice and then followed that up with a series of interviews with African American media personalities. He could have appealed to the African American community and urged them to crossover and vote to send a message to the president not to take them for granted by doing nothing about discrimination in the judicial and penal system especially in regard to drug offenses. A victory in SC thanks to military support and African American Democrats would have been tsunamic.

3.) Unwillingness to promise a real coalition government with progressives and run a campaign aimed at bringing progressives on board: From the get go, he should have promised a coalition government with a Democratic running mate. Oh sure he would have further alienated people who would never vote for him in the first place but he would have sent panic running up the spines of every establishment Republican and Democrat. A compromise on economic issues which advanced his agenda to cut taxes, reduced government spending and debt, and shifted power back to the states would have galvanized millions across the political spectrum.

It is sad that these mistakes cost him the election but perhaps the lessons learned will benefit the next underdog candidate who wants to do what's right and wise.


  1. Jesse Benton, Jesse Benton and Jesse Benton

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I would add that he needed to focus on his debate performances. When he was given the microphone he tried to answer every question he'd been skipped over.
    Part of me wonders if Ron Paul really ever wanted to be president.
    Finally, Eric: are you blaming Jesse Benton, or saying he could solve those 3 problems?

    1. Steph,
      I think you are right. He was ignored so much of the time by moderators that he tried to get his whole platform in one minute. He needs a partner to accuse him of something so that he can get lots of follow ups. Romney gingrich and Santorum did this all the time.

  4. You may be right, but it's not at all clear that you are. The campaign was banking on what they viewed as their only hope that the Republican party would back him (or could be taken over/overcome).

    Just consider these possibilities:

    (1) The reasonable people of both parties and independents couldn't react/wake up fast enough to support him in a coalition as you suggest.

    (2) The people (Republicans) who you claim would never support him (coalition effort or not) actually would support him, but not in the context of a coalition.

    I think the second point is very likely. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but I think it was the view of the campaign, it is at odds with your view, and it is probably correct.

  5. Oh, and great points on Dr. Paul's courage by the way. Too bad more people didn't appreciate what he had to offer.

    Oh, and it's not over yet.