In a Ron Paul Channel commentary on Wednesday, Ron Paul took issue with aspects of the August 7 New York Times article “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?” In particular, Paul argues that the article describes the growing influence of libertarianism wrongly when it pigeonholes libertarianism within the Republican Party. Instead, Paul explains, the crucial issue is Americans’ expanding understanding of libertarian ideas.
Paul explains that a shift toward libertarian ideas becoming dominant in America is arising from a change in the views of Americans and “has nothing to do really with the Republican Party.” The important battle, Paul explains, is between liberty and interventionism, not between Republicans and Democrats.
Right at the start, Paul corrects the article’s suggestion that libertarian ideas are confined within the Republican Party. Paul explains:
The big question [New York Times article author Robert Draper] was trying to answer is “Is libertarianism becoming significant in changing the way Washington is working?” and he dwells on whether or not and how much libertarian influence there is in the Republican Party. And he leaves it there. But, I think that’s missing a major point. Libertarianism isn’t a political party. It’s an idea. It’s ideological.
As Paul has said on other occasions, he welcomes people seeking to advance freedom in association with various political parties or no political party. Paul himself has run for president as both a Republican in 2008 and 2012 and as a Libertarian in 1988. The ideas Paul championed did not change with the party associated with his name on a ballot.
Paul proceeds in his commentary to look back in American history to the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution where Paul identifies an earlier “libertarian moment” with libertarian ideology “in many ways” for over 100 years basically “the thrust of our society” and not “limited to one party.”
Paul then jumps forward in American history to around 1914 when interventionism, both domestic and abroad, started to take hold as the dominant American ideology.
Paul also describes the current state of interventionism’s dominance:
Most people think — especially in Washington and news media—that it’s always a contest between Republicans and Democrats. They never stop to think, you know, interventionism is what controls Republicans and Democrats and most of the independents, and that’s what we have lived with.
The “libertarian moment” occurring now, Paul explains, is not a sudden shift from out of nowhere. It is a transition that has been developing from educational efforts dating back to the 1950s.
Paul also suggests that “the obvious failure of what has been going on these last 100 years” is a reason the message of individual liberty is “being very well received” now.
Paul, the chairman and founder of RPI, points out that what we are seeing with a “libertarian moment” is potentially much more significant than the tunnel-visioned and inaccurate version the New York Times article depicts. Paul explains:
I see us entering an age which is very exciting, very important, has the libertarian message. But the effect on the Republican Party — that is so minor compared to what I’m thinking about. Because, if libertarianism has its “moment,” believe me it’s not going to be a faction in the Republican Party that finally wins control over the party and changes the world. It’s going to be like Keynesianism; Keynesianism is endorsed by just about all the politicians in Washington, although there’s variety.
Watch Paul’s complete commentary here: