Posted by Rojas @ 9:47 pm on May 30th 2007

The New Eugene McCarthy

Brad has envisioned the Paul campaign as sort of a second coming of Eugene McCarthy–not a winner, but a candidate who can reshape the future of his party even in the course of losing. Bruce Bartlett seems to agree, but takes note of some formidable obstacles to the scenario. The most formidable of these is the fact that Paul may have arrived on the scene too late–the people around whom he’d be building may no longer be Republicans.


  1. Of course the other possibility is that Paul’s candidacy will bring new people into the Republican party–current independents or non-participants. There seem to be an awful lot of hip, young folks connecting with him via MySpace and YouTube–I suspect many of those folks have been so cynical they haven’t been active in either party.

    BTW, it appears we caught the same article at virtually the same time–I posted on the Barlett article within a few minutes of yours. You crossed the line first, though.

    Comment by Laura — 5/30/2007 @ 10:10 pm

  2. I read it yesterday. I win!

    But yeah, I had missed the Eugene McCarthy analogue until Bartlett brought it up; it’s perfect.

    Your point though is well worth considering. Adam and I really drew a line in the sand in 2004, arguing that it may be the last chance for Republicanism in the conservative sense to reassert itself. We weren’t sure that conservatism could survive a second Bush term, given all the other political elements in orbit around it, or at least that it wouldn’t come out the other end very healthy or visible.

    The sad thing is that, since 2004 (even, to a significant extent, since 2002), the big chunk of libertarian voters that have traditionally coalesced around the GOP may simply not be there anymore. That’s been a side thesis of mine, since around early early 2004–that most of these young libertarian-leaning voters are simply bypassing the GOP and going right to the Democratic grassroots (they don’t appear to be going to the LP). That’s good news for the Democratic party, if you view liberty-oriented pulls to be good news, though the extent to which it exerts a visible influence on the Democratic party at large certainly remains debatable (probably “fair to middling”, but again, debatable). That’s bad news for anybody left in the GOP trying to spread a liberty message.

    But, I dunno. I’m now pretty comfortable saying that Ron Paul’s campaign is going to be a watermark for conservatism, one way or another.

    The real question, at this point, is “which way”.

    Comment by Brad — 5/30/2007 @ 11:41 pm

  3. If you get a chance, take a peek at A GLORIOUS DISASTER by J. William Middendorf. I’m in the midst of it right now–an insiders look at the ’64 Goldwater campaign. I’ll write more about it at my site when I’ve finished, I think, but the bottom line is that there are a lot of things about Paul’s campaign that seems an awful lot like the Goldwater campaign–not the one in ’64, so much, because his forces were pretty powerful in the party by then, but more like Goldwater in ’60–a voice in the wilderness, calling conservatives out of hiding, calling them to be a force, even calling on conservative Democrats to join the cause. The views are very similar (absent the Cold War rhetoric, which is arguably not really very similar to the current “war” since here it’s an idea we’re fighting, and in the 60’s you could at least point to the Soviets as the definitive enemies).

    Comment by Laura — 5/31/2007 @ 8:35 pm

  4. You know, the other thing to think about–while the libertarians who have traditionally been Republican-ish may have moved away from the GOP (at least for a while), I’m not convinced they’re going to stay enamored with the Dems, if you get beyond social issues (abortion, gay rights, etc.). If they are truly libertarian (not just modern liberals), then don’t they want smaller government, local control, less intrusion, etc.? I don’t see a Democrat in the lot who really looks like that. Sure, Bill Clinton was pretty successful with the economy and deficit, but was it him, or the divided government? All the Dems today are talking about some sort of nationalized health care, Hillary is talking pretty explicitly ( like what we used to refer to as socialists. Granted, Republicans have stunk on fiscal issues the last 8 years, but for those who really have the libertarian tendencies (the traditional Goldwater-Reagan conservatives), if the Republican party isn’t it, I’m not sure that the Democratic Party is the right port in the storm–maybe a different port–maybe a time for a real 3rd party candidate–if the GOP doesn’t wake up.

    Comment by Laura — 5/31/2007 @ 11:24 pm

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