First, I am fully aware that the super-majority of Red State readers and/or users not only dislike Rep. Ron Paul, they despise so many of his followers. And I understand the reasons why. But I’m here to tell you not to ignore us because I am one of them. I have also been a member (as Mason_Conservative) a member of both Redstate.org and Redstate.com since 2004. I came to Ron Paul from the Republican Party, not vice-versa. And I know many many other folks like me. And this is the lesson all Republicans need to remember if we are going to beat Barack Obama.
I came to Dr. Paul because here in Virginia I saw as men like Tom Davis (my congressman for years), George Allen, Jim Gilmore, Jerry Kilgore, and other “leaders” in Virginia became part of the establishment, and have constantly put aside conservative principles in order to win elections. Many of them lost because of that. On a national level, I tried to cheer on George W. Bush even as the knowledge of spending grew and grew. The last hurdle to cross was reconciling my support of these wars in the past with my desire to see them end now. I came t Dr. Paul because the Republican Party at every level I was engaged in let me down over the last 10 years. What I was hoping and praying I would hear out of the mouths of these leaders is what I was now hearing from Ron and Rand Paul, what I read about in their books, and what they were saying at debates and in the media.
There are two wings to the Ron Paul movement . . . the 2008 wing and the 2012 wing. I am apart of the 2012 wing that have found about 3/4 of his views compatible with mine. Many of the 2008 wing are the caricature folks here at RedState and other main stream conservative outlets mock (and in many ways, justifiably so). But Ron Paul’s campaign became more than just a fringe movement this time around, and the proof is in the money they raised and how long they outlasted the competition. Folks like me, who are Republicans and want to stay Republicans, we we waiting and watching how Mitt Romney moves forward. I’ll got ahead and say this too, many of us don’t necessarily see a huge difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. We want to see what Romney is going to do to be more than just a stuttering attack debater who pours millions into attack ads. And before I get flamed further for supporting Ron Paul on RedState, I AM going to vote for Mitt Romney, let me make that clear.
But what I am saying is that unlike any of the other candidates who ran for president, Paul developed a full vision of conservatism that will move on without him and one that I dearly hope Republicans will envelop (at least in part) to finally begin to differentiate ourselves from the failure of compassionate conservatism. I have a good feeling about it. When I look at people at all levels on the Republican Party – from Rand Paul to Tom Coburn on the federal level, to someone like Ken Cuccinelli on the state level – I can see the Paul Movement’s message being accepted more broadly within the Republican Party. New faces will emerge as its champions and it will evolve from its raw presentation by Dr. Paul, but I urge Republicans not to turn away from his message or his movement. No candidate is perfect and mainstream conservatives have been willing to accept a few flaws here and there if the general movement towards constitutional conservatism (in 2010, RedState itself embraced Rand Paul).
I believe the more liberty-centric constitutional conservatism is the future of the Republican Party. Ron Paul, to many of us, has been its most emphatic and consistant (if flawed) champion. This constitutional conservatism is the antidote to the failed stain of big government, compassionate conservatism. Many, many people who believe in this are Ron Paul supporters. I see a common attack on sites like RedState is that Paul is subverting the will of the people. I can understand the frustration, but really what they are doing is running within the rules of the parties within the states and doing everything by the rules. Its on Republicans for either a) not knowing their own rules, or b) being too arrogant or lazy to do everything properly. But I ask a deeper question. These folks who are doing this are conservative, and running as conservatives. Here in Virginia, our 3rd congressional district chairman is a Ron Paul supporter, a conservative, and was just elected last weekend. My question is . . . why not embrace these people who work so hard at knowing the party rules, and being active? Instead of making fun of them, dismissing them as caricatures of something they are not, why not get that energy pointed in the right direction. As much as many on hear will hate to hear it, much of the Tea Party was born out of the Ron Paul movement.
Romney will have his chance to make this move with his vice-presidential pick. And no, I’m not hear arguing for Rand Paul. I think Senator Paul would turn it down anyways, he has something more important he is working on. Thus far Romney has indicated that he will be looking for a “boring white guy” type candidate. There are scores of serious-minded, constitutional conservatives that could add serious juice with many of the Paul supporters. And again, forget about whatever Ron Paul personally does. His movement has become about taking over the Republican Party, they will not go third party even if he does. You don’t put in the hours at these local conventions, caucuses, and mass meetings just go home. My personal number 1 choice for Gov. Romney would be Sen. Tom Coburn, a conservative statesman who is serious about the most serious issue to 2012 Paul supporters . . . the debt and government spending.
So in summation, I guess I’m on here saying that there are many Paul supporters like me who came from the Republican Party’s apparatus and are not nutjob faux-liberal hippies. We have embraced the constitutional conservatism of Ron Paul and see it as the way to change the Republican Party for the better, move it to the right, and finally dispose of the tawdry legacy of compassionate conservatism.
I await Gov. Romney’s next move.