In his recent editorial “The Fighters vs. the Fixers,” appearing on National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg discussed what I suspect is his crop of contenders for the upcoming election: Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee. Considering that Paul smoked all of these candidates in the 2011 CPAC straw poll, where he garnered 30% of the vote, it was an odd choice to leave him out, and even more so when you account for the fact that Goldberg’s recently edited book Proud to be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation featured several essays in which the authors expressed strong libertarian points of view.
But Goldberg is not alone; among his peers; it is difficult to find anyone who does not shrug off Paul as anything more than a nuisance. In my opinion, that is a big mistake. First and foremost, among contemporary politicians, Paul is the most zealous defender of individual liberty as it was classically defined and understood by the founders. In a country where 50% of the citizens pay no income tax and the redistribution of wealth has become standard operating procedure, conservatives should cheer when a politician has the courage to proclaim, “The government should not be able to do anything that an individual cannot do [without committing a crime].”
The reason I didn’t mention him is precisely the reason Foy suspects: I don’t take Ron Paul serious as a presidential contender because (in my opinion) he isn’t one. He is the right’s version of Ralph Nader. The CPAC straw poll is entirely irrelevant to Paul’s chances in the primaries. As I’ve written several times Paul is not my favorite flavor of libertarian, but I liked having him in the race in 2008 because I always think libertarians are worth including in the conversation (hence the inclusion of libertarians in Proud to be Right). I guess I feel the same way this time around, but my overriding concern is that the GOP nominate a conservative who can beat Obama in 2012.