The only good thing about Ron Paul’s victory at CPAC yesterday is that the stunned crowd responded to the announcement with loud booing. CPAC is the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. For the past three years the CPAC presidential straw poll has been won by former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) did not attend CPAC this year because he believes the event has been taken over by Libertarians. National Review commented “Heck, a lot of the time, it seemed like they (the Libertarians), not the American Conservative Union, was CPAC’s host.”
Paul received 31% of the CPAC vote compared to Romney’s 22%, Sarah Palin’s 7% and Huckabee’s 4%. Almost 12,000 people attended CPAC, but just 2,400 of them voted in the straw poll. Of this group, 48% described themselves as students.
The best description of the straw poll came from John Nichols of the liberal magazine, The Nation:
The good news from the Conservative Political Action Conference — and it really is very good news — is that the assembled activists have identified as their preferred choice for the presidency a militant opponent of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who has voted against the Patriot Act, opposed free-trade deals, condemned the expansion of executive power and warned about collusion between “too-big-to-fail” bankers and the government regulators who are supposed to keep an eye on them. No, the CPAC crowd did not name Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold (D) as their preferred pick to oppose President Obama in 2012. But they did vote, rather overwhelmingly, for the one Republican who shares the views of Feingold — and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — on the aforementioned issues.
Paul is the only 2008 GOP presidential candidate who refused to support the nominee of the Republican Party. The Texas Congressman was considered such a marginal candidate last time that Fox News banned him from the 2008 New Hampshire presidential debate.
Paul was the only speaker to fill the three CPAC ballrooms and he received an enthusiastic response when he vigorously denounced the liberal Democratic President. No, it was not Barack Obama, he was condemning President Woodrow Wilson who left office in 1921. The Texas lawmaker blamed him for America’s participation in WW I, establishing the Federal Reserve, the income tax (the top rate was 2% under Wilson), and most especially, his advocacy of the League of Nations. The CPAC college students responded by booing mention of Wilson’s name.
Other observations on Ron Paul’s speech and the Libertarian presence at CPAC are as follows:
* Paul’s speech was interrupted with chants of “End The Fed,” and apparently the Libertarians would prefer the old system. They would turn monetary policy over to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress.
* On Meet the Press in 2008, the Congressman claimed the Civil War was an unnecessary bloodbath which could have been avoided. Paul’s Campaign for Liberty sponsored a CPAC book signing with Thomas DiLorenzo, the author of “Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.” His speech was entitled, “Friend or Foe? Abraham Lincoln on Liberty.”
* As Earl Hutchinson has noted, Paul believes “blacks are criminally inclined, political dumb bells, and chronic welfare deadbeats. Here’s what Paul’s campaign website ronpaul2008.com had to say about race. In fact he even highlighted this as ‘Issue: Racism,’ ‘Government as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry.’
“In other words, the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation, the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights Acts, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and legions of court decisions and state laws that bar discrimination are worthless. Worse, says Paul, they actually promote bigotry by dividing Americans into race and class.”
* Ron Paul advocates abolishing the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act and FISA. He wants the U.S. to leave NATO, the World Trade Organization, the UN, and to end all aid to Israel. The Libertarians sponsored a CPAC event entitled “Why Real Conservatives Are Against the War on Terror.” All of the Libertarian speakers were far to the left of the Obama Administration.
* Paul says: “Eliminate the minimum wage and full employment will immediately follow.” The minimum wage (.25 cents per hour) was passed in 1938, and there certainly was no full employment prior to that time.
* Rep. Paul made his usual isolationist denunciation of the American “empire.” Several European nations have been empire builders, but not the United States. The libertarians are correct that U.S. military bases continue to dot the globe. We are there to keep the sea-lanes open and the terrorists under wraps.
Americans are not seeking empire but we are keeping people safe and maintaining prosperity. We overthrew Noriega, Milosevic, Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein to put in their places freely elected leaders, not puppet regimes. We use our power to keep peace rather than to rule.
Gov. Huckabee spoke for many in saying, “CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year.” He criticized the way CPAC “solicits sponsors, it’s almost becomes a pay-for-play. It’s kind of like, who will pay money to be able to be a sponsor and get time in the program. That’s one of the things that has hurt its credibility in the last couple of years.” In his November, 2008 book, “Do The Right Thing,” Huckabee says “The real threat to the Republican Party is something we saw a lot of in this past election cycle, libertarianism masked as conservatism. As it threatens to not only split the Republican Party, but rendered it is as irrelevant as the Whig Party.” He says libertarianism “is not an American message,” it is a “soulless type of economic conservatism.”
The Libertarian Party responded by issuing the following press release attacking the entire CPAC conference.
Libertarians criticize CPAC conservatives
WASHINGTON – As the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) holds its annual conference, Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict offered the following statement:
I’m sure we’ll hear an awful lot about “limited government” from the mouths of CPAC politicians over the next few days. If I had a nickel every time a conservative said “limited government” and didn’t mean it, I’d be a very rich man.
Unlike libertarians, most conservatives simply don’t want small government. They want their own version of big government. Of course, they have done a pretty good job of fooling American voters for decades by repeating the phrases “limited government” and “small government” like a hypnotic chant.
It’s interesting that conservatives only notice “big government” when it’s something their political enemies want. When conservatives want it, apparently it doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants a trillion-dollar foreign war, that doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants a 700-billion-dollar bank bailout, that doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants to spend billions fighting a needless and destructive War on Drugs, that doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants to spend billions building border fences, that doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants to “protect” the huge, unjust, and terribly inefficient Social Security and Medicare programs, that doesn’t count.
If a conservative wants billions in farm subsidies, that doesn’t count.
It’s truly amazing how many things “don’t count.”
Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh can’t ever be satisfied with enough military spending and foreign wars.
Conservatives like Mitt Romney want to force everyone to buy health insurance.
Conservatives like George W. Bush — well, his list of supporting big-government programs is almost endless.
Ronald Reagan, often praised as an icon of conservatism, signed massive spending bills that made his the biggest-spending administration (as a percentage of GDP) since World War II.
Some people claim that these big-government supporters aren’t “true conservatives.” Well, if a person opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, opposes the War on Drugs, opposes border fences, and opposes mandatory Social Security and Medicare, it’s hard to believe that anyone would describe that person as a conservative at all. Most people would say that person is a libertarian (or maybe even a liberal).
Obviously, most liberals don’t want limited government either. It’s just that their support for big government leans toward massive handout and redistribution programs.
The fact is, liberals and conservatives both want gigantic government. Their visions sometimes look different from each other, but both are huge. The only Americans who truly want small government are libertarians.
An article posted at CNS News, linked prominently from the Drudge Report, noted that the Obama administration is on track to beat the Franklin Roosevelt administration in terms of average federal spending as a percentage of GDP. However, the article failed to note that the Reagan Administration already beat the Franklin Roosevelt administration easily. Roosevelt’s average was 19.4 percent of GDP, while Reagan’s average was 22.3 percent of GDP. (Source: White House OMB data)
Wes Benedict will be observing the proceedings at the CPAC conference on Saturday, February 20. For more information, or to arrange an interview, call Benedict at 202-333-0008 ext. 222.
The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets and civil liberties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website.