The Conservative Political Action Conference met last weekend in Washington, featuring speakers from the right side of the political world, Republican Party types and conservative think-tankers. At the end, they took a straw poll to see whom the 10,000 conferees like for president. Most years they go with an establishment type like Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who won the straw poll last year. This year they picked a renegade, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
The Conservative Political Action Conference met last weekend in Washington, featuring speakers from the right side of the political world, Republican Party types and conservative think-tankers. At the end, they took a straw poll to see whom the 10,000 conferees like for president.
Most years they go with an establishment type like Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who won the straw poll last year. This year they picked a renegade, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. At 31 percent, he thwarted Romney and a host of other contenders. Paul is libertarian, but he runs as a Republican. Paul was a GOP presidential candidate in 2008. He ran on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988.
Paul’s speech must have shocked many conservatives. Libertarians, you see, are not easily placed on the left to right time-space continuum. Sure, Paul advocates smaller government, but Paul means really, really small, and unlike most GOPers, he extends smallness to the military. Unlike fellow Republican Dick Cheney, Paul does not back foreign invasions and military occupations. He wants to bring the troops home and stop minding other people’s business.
George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 with a promise to end “nation building,” Paul said. But Bush switched course radically. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he joined what Paul called the internationalists.
“He ... joined this idea that the American taxpayers, you, have an obligation to take care of everybody, and police, the world; and put our military out there and be exposed to all this danger. It doesn’t make any sense; this is literally what bankrupts the country. You see, international expenditures, it cost us a trillion dollars a year to take care of our foreign policy and that cannot last. It is coming to an end,” Paul said. (Read speech at ronpaul.com)
Cheney must have turned over in his bunker as Paul turned up the heat:
“As a matter of fact, the person most pleased with our foreign policy is Osama bin Laden, because he has written about this and he said, ‘I am going to get you to come over here and we’ll fight you on our sand and we will do what we did to the Soviets.’ Of course we helped him do what he did to the Soviets because we subsidized and supported him to drain the Soviets.” Great nations historically fade away when they overextend their reach and can no longer afford their far-flung military adventures.
David Kelley, Winnebago County Libertarian Party chairman, says he agrees with Paul on many things.
“Our nation’s defense should be defense. We can best promote peaceful relations with the rest of the world by having open commerce for all, but entangling alliances with none. We should not be the policeman of the world. It’s a role we’ve not done particularly well, and we have been hated throughout the planet for our feeble attempts at it,” Kelley said.
“Ron Paul has one thing that probably turns off a lot of mainstream people, and that would be his desire to abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard. He’d abolish the IRS, too. This would require considerable downsizing of government.”
Republicans will be hearing a lot more from their libertarian-leaning contingent of “Ronpaulistas” in the near future. And the internationalists who run the party will not like that one bit. Pop some popcorn. This movie will be good.
Rockford Register Star Senior Editor Chuck Sweeny can be reached at (815) 987-1366 or email@example.com.