|Dr. Ron Paul|
(image credit: paul.house.gov)
There's been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere and the news lately about whether Ron Paul may abandon the Republican Party and choose to run for President on a third party ticket. It's not exactly a surprise to be hearing these rumblings. However, as the first presidential primaries draw closer, it is time for both Ron Paul and the Republican Elite to make a decision on how they want to proceed.
The first decision needs to be made by the Republicans. It's time to answer a question: Is it more important for a Republican to win the presidency, or is it more important for Barack Obama not to? That's the decision the GOP may be making when they decide to support or not support Ron Paul.
Let's break that down. First, don't give me that "third party candidates steal votes" crap. It isn't true. Our votes do not belong to candidates, they belong to us. If I vote for a third party candidate it's because they earned it. If a major party candidate loses by a margin smaller than the amount of third party votes, then that candidate did not earn a win. The winner wins because they earned the most votes. The loser(s) lose because they were not successful at earning the number of votes they need. That is fact. You would be unable to convince me otherwise.
Next, Ron Paul is doing pretty well. He is raising a ton of cash. He is obliterating the competition in straw polls. In head-to-head comparisons, he fares extremely well versus Obama. The only people that don't seem to like him are the Republican Elite and the media. Hell, even the media is slowly starting to come around.
But, as noted, the Republican brass don't seem to care for Paul much. No matter how well he does, they just can't come to embrace his libertarian ideals. More, I believe that they dislike him because he does what he believes is best rather than simply falling into line.
Now, though, the Republicans are going to be faced with a major problem. There is growing belief that Ron Paul will be unable to earn the Republican nomination for President. Because of that, the calls for Paul to run on a third party ticket get louder and louder. On Saturday, ABC news reported that the director of the Manhattan Libertarian Party had specifically called for Paul to run for the LP. (Because of his libertarian ideals, and his 1988 run for president on the Libertarian ticket, the LP seems to be the most likely spot for Ron Paul to land if he ran as something other than Republican.)
The problem for Republicans has to do with Ron Paul's enormous popularity with those outside the Republican Establishment. If Paul ran on a third party ticket, he would most certainly earn a huge number of votes, including a part of the Electoral College. If the votes are split three ways, there is little chance that a Republican candidate will earn enough votes to win the Presidency. In fact, because of Paul's attraction to people on both sides of the aisle, a Third Party Ron Paul could quite possibly earn more votes than the Republican counterpart.
|(image credit: wikipedia.org)|
So, the Republican Elite have themselves in a pickle. Their choices are: A) Suck it up and throw their support behind Ron Paul, a candidate they don't seem to care for but that has a real shot head-to-head versus Obama, or; B) Risk Ron Paul running on a third party ticket, in which case the GOP has no chance of 2012 victory.
That being said, I doubt that the Republican Elite have the intestinal fortitude to give enough support to Ron Paul to give him a shot at the nomination. That would require conceding. Conceding anything is not something the two major parties are known to do.
This brings us to the decision that needs to be made by Ron Paul. He could wait for the Republican Elite to make a decision, but that decision is predictably a negative one for Paul. The problem is, if he waits for the Republicans to decide then they could stall. My understanding of sore loser laws is that if Paul loses a GOP primary, then most states will not allow him to run for the same office on a different ticket in the subsequent general election.
That means Paul must decide about a third party run before the primaries, which gives him precious little time to do so. Thus far his answers to questions on this issue have been relatively vague, but seem to lean heavily towards not doing so. Of course, he's still running for the Republican nomination, so acting like he's considering defecting would be a sure-fire way to end any shot he has at an R nod. So, for now, it makes complete sense that Paul denies any third party rumors that are out there.
If, though, Ron Paul is serious about his intentions to be President, and all indications are that he is, he and his campaign team have to be seriously looking at the Third Party possibility. Within a month, unless polls show him much stronger among likely Republican voters, Paul will need to decide whether to hang up his hat or to run for another party.
Paul's decision about a third party, though, will mean he will need to consider many of the same things that the Republican Elite will need to consider while thinking about him. If he runs as a third party candidate, there is little chance that the Republican candidate will earn enough votes to win the Presidency. Paul, on a third party ticket, may earn more votes than the Republican, but will have a difficult time earning more votes than both the Republican and the Democrat. In that case, it would appear that the Presidency remains under the grasp of Barack Obama. So, is it more important for Ron Paul to win, or for Obama to lose?
The Republican Elite and Ron Paul are both nearing the zero hour for a decision to be made. I'm sure there are Republicans everywhere begging Ron Paul to not run third party. I'm sure, also, that Ron Paul is using that to apply some leverage to his fellow Republicans. "If you don't want me to go, you'd better get out there and start supporting me." The GOP probably won't offer that support, thinking they are calling Ron Paul's bluff.
Historically, though, Ron Paul is not known for bluffing. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Paul announces a third party run within the next month. If so, it's just one other story that's going to make 2012 one hell of a ride.