First of all, the specter of a third party run for Ron Paul is ridiculously far-fetched. The establishment and their spokesmen, writers like Lord and talkers like Levin, are obsessed with the notion that Ron Paul might run third party. This notion is fanciful not least of which because he has done it before to no avail. Paul knows that running third party is nearly impossible and most of the candidate’s time is spent in the courts just trying to get on the ballot.
“Considering that Congressman Paul has already once left the GOP -- with much fanfare in 1987 -- and then shown up as the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1988, he has already amply demonstrated his willingness play hardball politics and throw the GOP under the bus if he doesn't get his way.”
Yes, Paul has left the GOP once before but I’m unaware of how much fanfare was given to a former Republican congressman switching to the Libertarian Party in 1988. And if by throwing “the GOP under the bus if he doesn’t get his way” Lord means, getting less than one-half of one percent of the vote and not impeding a 53% showing for Vice President George H. W. Bush, then yes, perhaps he has a point.
“Mark Levin has raised a serious point of interest here that didn't apply when Paul left the GOP the first time to run third party. This time there is another Paul in the picture -- Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, Ron Paul's son. . . .”
“[d]isplaying a superb sense of family values Senator Paul has been out there working his heart out for his father in a standard intra-party nomination skirmish. For that Rand Paul should be applauded. No one should ever expect other than loyalty of a son to a father, and Rand Paul has shown himself to be stellar in this area.
But then Lord admits that family values and family loyalty have their place and have to come second to party loyalty:
“If Ron Paul loses the GOP nomination . . . this no longer becomes a question of son/father loyalty in an intra-party primary fight. It will in fact morph instantly into an issue of Ron Paul's disloyalty to a GOP that took him back after he left the first time -- and provided him with all the benefits of party membership as a Member of Congress. And in that case -- if a Republican senator, son or no son -- indicates he too will abandon the GOP for a third party and that third party is seen as re-electing a socialist president, Levin's point instantly kicks in.”
Of course, the party didn’t welcome Ron Paul back with open arms as Lord implies. In practically every election since he returned the establishment has put up somebody to oppose Paul. The GOP establishment and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich backed an ex-Democrat when Ron Paul tried coming back in 1996. Regardless of Lord’s bad history, there’s nothing veiled here. The message is, If Ron Paul hurts “the family” that is the GOP, they will take its revenge on his real family:
“The entire Kentucky electorate will be turned upside down as Republicans and conservatives all around the country seek to do in Senator Paul's re-election -- both as a Republican or anything else. It would be decidedly un-pretty -- and a decided and entirely purposeless waste of a promising Senate career that could in fact lead to a later Rand Paul nomination for president.” [emphasis mine]
It’s hard to miss the movie-style mafia semantics at work. Even though Lord acknowledges that it wouldn’t be Rand Paul’s fault if his dad leaves the party again, but the son had better renounce the father unless he wants to pay the price. The only way for this passage to have been less subtle was if Lord used the word “whacked.”
It would be too much to assume that simply because Jeff Lord and Mark Levin make this assertion, that it will happen. They have no real power in the party but they do accurately tell what would happen to Rand.
The long knives came out when the younger Paul began running for the senate in 2009. Every establishment stooge from Rudy Giuliani to yes, Rick Santorum, came out of the woodwork to endorse Rand Paul’s opponent, Trey Grayson. That was just for merely being Ron Paul’s son. Imagine what will happen if Ron Paul really hurts the establishment. What’s disconcerting, perhaps above all, is that men like Lord and Levin, who pose as conservative opponents of the establishment, advocate exactly the same thing.
And I’m sure Lord and Levin don’t realize they are doing exactly what they are accusing Ron Paul of when he doesn’t firmly commit to not running third party. We didn’t get our way so we’re going to throw Rand Paul under the bus and put a bullet in the back of his head!
All that said, I do hope, and do believe for that matter, that Ron Paul will decide against a third party run.
Ron Paul knows the third party route is unfruitful and a hassle. Lord has written embarrassingly fondly of Donald Trump, a man who has talked far more openly about running third party than Ron Paul. It’s just interesting to see which side of Lord’s bread is buttered.
Regular Columnist, THL
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