The Agenda

The Point of the Ron Paul Movement

Kind of amazingly, Virginia Heffernan has managed to write an entire Yahoo! News column about the supposed “pointlessness” of Ron Paul’s Internet-enabled grassroots campaign without ever mentioning Rand Paul’s election to the U.S. Senate and 2010 and the modest but growing influence of Paul-inspired activists and legislators, including Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), one of the most outspoken new House members. Given that Paul really does espouse a marginalized political creed (i.e., Rothbardian nationalist paleolibertarianism), the fact that his Fed-bashing, his critique of crony capitalism, and even his anti-interventionist streak has gained currency on the mainstream right strikes me as pretty significant. My own views are very different from Paul’s, but there is no question that he has changed the debate on the right — and that wouldn’t have happened without the decentralized, anti-hierarchical movement sparked by his 2008 presidential campaign. 

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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