**This was originally posted on as a note on the Athens affiliate’s Facebook Page**
Well, here we are. The official Republican candidate for President of the United States is Mitt Romney.
Right now, a lot of you Ron Paul supporters are probably pretty mad. I’m willing to bet that it’s not just because the Romney/Ryan team, the dismal duo, doesn’t stand for anything that you’re even remotely interested in. An increase in personal and economic liberty, fiscal responsibility in government, an end to expensive and pointless military actions all over the Middle East, an end to the expensive and pointless drug war being waged here in the U.S. – we’ve all come to see that these things aren’t going to be the legacy of Barack Obama, and it seems rather clear that these aren’t going to be the fruits of a Romney presidency, either. If such a thing is even possible; Mitt doesn’t seem to have been anybody’s first choice, or even second choice, as far as that goes.
The idea that America’s last grudging choice for a candidate will somehow manage to become first choice at the polls is… dubious, to put it mildly. Can he possibly win an election? The truth is, we may never know. So far, we know that he can win a rigged contest after it’s already been decided that he’s the victor, but I’m not certain how much that’s going to help him in November. Looking back on the timeline of events, it should be pretty obvious that Romney had been selected as the GOP pick from day one. There were only two problems: One, there was still a series of pesky primary elections and state conventions to wade through, and two, nobody seemed to like Mitt. “Anybody But Mitt!” the GOP faithful seemed to cry, and the fact that people like Rick Perry and Herman Cain were serious contenders for a while only seemed to underscore just how desperate people were to find a candidate who, most important of all, wasn’t Mitt Romney.
Of course, there were a couple of other guys, but they were easy enough to marginalize and ignore, because (the GOP told us) they were completely unelectable. Gary Johnson and Ron Paul. A two-term governor who came into office with a billion-dollar deficit and left office with a billion-dollar surplus amid economic growth of over 11% and without raising taxes, and an 11-term congressman who spearheaded one of the largest and most passionate grassroots political movements in years and was filling venues to standing-room-only capacity when the rest of the GOP field was struggling to get rooms even half-full. You know, the nut candidates.
Gary Johnson figured out pretty quickly that his destiny lay along a different path, but Ron Paul kept in there slugging away. Libertarians watched Ron run with great interest – unlike the Republican establishment, we actually like guys who talk about stuff like ending war and economic freedom and civil liberties and constitutionality and all that kind of crazy talk. It seems a lot of other people did, too – we watched Ron Paul become one of the most talked-about figures of our age despite being almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. We saw the things he told us ten, even twenty years ago come true time after time and yet we saw the powers-that-be time and time again tell us that he didn’t know what he was doing or what he was talking about. We saw the passion that his honesty and integrity inspired in his supporters, as his message of liberty and peace attracted supporters from all over the political spectrum. Democrats who realized that they’d been badly burned by Obama started looking at Ron Paul as a solution. People who had never been active in politics before got involved and got to work on his behalf. Jaded voters who had been ground down by war and bailouts and soaring unemployment and being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils brightened as they realized that there was a man that they could actually vote for with a clean conscience. Ron Paul was on the rise. But the GOP was not about to let their pre-selected candidate just be washed away in a tidal wave of populist activism. So they did what any firmly entrenched political machine would do when faced with the very real possibility of being hijacked by the hoi polloi. They cheated.
What was so mind-boggling about watching the whole thing unfold was how absolutely brazen the Republican Party was about it. We saw them ignore the rules when it suited them, and make up new rules on the spot. We saw them bully and marginalize and strong-arm Paul supporters in every state from Maine to Alaska. We saw Paul invited to debates where he was barely allowed to speak. Heck, right here in Georgia, we watched Paul supporters make national headlines as they were shut out, ignored, even physically attacked by establishment Republicans trying to steal the nomination away from Ron Paul. All in all we saw some of the slimiest, most underhanded, most blatantly criminal behavior imaginable from the establishment Republican Party in every nook and cranny of the country until it was impossible to say if we were looking at a political party or a cabal of gangsters. And through it all, Ron Paul’s dedicated army stood up and held firm and said, “Do your worst – we can take it, and we will not be silenced.”
In the face of it all, the Paul supporters stuck to their principles, stuck to the rules, and got to work beating the establishment Republicans at their own game. And the Republican Party made absolutely no secret about despising the Ron Paul faction. “Libertarians!” they spat, with undisguised contempt – the loony fringe, unrealistic, unreasonable and unelectable. Unrealistic for realizing that our current policies of borrowing and spending far above our means are unsustainable. Unreasonable to demand that our government stop bombing and killing people in foreign lands. Loony for believing in the principle of limited government and individual liberty. If that seems topsy-turvy to you, well, the entire spectacle was like something out of the Twilight Zone. When you can have Ron Paul walk into a room of self-described Christians and suggest that we adhere to the Golden Rule and get roundly and loudly booed for it, normal rules of reality don’t seem to apply. You’re off in strange, new, terrifying country.
It’s crazy. But you know, you really have to admire the thousands upon thousands of activists who fought tooth and nail for Ron Paul. You have to admire the grit and resiliency. Never mind the fact that most of Romney’s platform and policies are exactly the same as Barack Obama’s policies; we’ll overlook that right now and just talk about the man himself. Is there anybody out there, anyone,who thinks that Mitt Romney can inspire even a tenth of the passion and loyalty that Ron Paul has inspired among this vast legion of liberty-loving Americans? I mean, we’re talking about a man whose most favorable representation in the media has been a comparison to the Muppet character Guy Smiley – which, I might add, is absolutely unfair, since Guy Smiley is a lot more animated and loveable than Mitt Romney. This is hardly a man who seems destined for leadership of the free world. Is there anybody who thinks this man is suddenly electable, now, four years after getting beaten soundly in the primaries by the man who got beaten soundly by Barack Obama? I don’t know why they claim they think he can win now, except maybe they hope you’re so sick of the Obama administration at this point that you will literally vote for anybody just to get him out of office. This is the man the Republican Party wants you to get behind. I can’t say that they want you to get excited about him. Even Republican hardliners can’t seem to get excited about him. And nobody has really even suggested that you believe in him, realizing, perhaps, that the notion stretches credulity too far, even among those poor souls clinging to the GOP-manufactured delusion that Romney has a snowball’s chance of defeating Barack Obama.
Now the Age of Romney is upon us, ushered in to tepid, unexcited applause, in accordance with the stale and contrived script. And one thing ought to be completely clear to any person who believes in Ron Paul’s principles at this point: The Republican Party doesn’t give a damn about you. They couldn’t care less about any of the principles that you have worked and fought for. In point of fact, it would suit them just fine if you all disappeared into a deep dark hole somewhere and were never heard from again. They don’t even want your votes – and they have made that perfectly clear in word and deed since the very beginning. You’d think that after all the outrageous shenanigans they’ve pulled, they’d try to win you over, charm you back into the fold, offer some concession or compromise so you’d swallow it clean. Instead, they spat on you, called you names, and told you to take it and like it. Sure, they offered Ron Paul a spot in the convention – so long as he agreed not to make trouble and follow the establishment’s rubber-stamped script. To his credit, Paul refused. He knows that they couldn’t care less about liberty, about you or your principles, and they don’t care who knows it, because as they see it, if you don’t want to vote for Barack Obama you will have to vote for Mitt Romney. That’s the message they have sent to you.
But soon November will be here, and it will be your turn to send a message. Think carefully what that message will be. Will you tell them that all is forgiven, that none of it matters, that they are welcome to lie and cheat and bully and manipulate, and you will come back to them and toe the line and do as you’re told? Are you going to tell them that your ideals, the ideals of individual freedom and prosperity and peace, of free markets and free people, of fiscal responsibility and limited government, ultimately mean nothing? Are you going to send the message that these principles that you fought so hard for, and that your parents and grandparents and forefathers going back to the beginning not only of this great nation, but of civilization itself, fought and bled and worked and lived and died for, are just conveniences that can be abandoned for the sake of convenience and the appearance of party unity? That’s the message they’re hoping you’ll send them, by casting your vote for Mitt Romney when the day comes.
You could send them that message. A few of you probably will. But I think that the vast majority of you beautiful, crazy, idealistic freedom-lovers are too committed to the principles that inspired you to support Ron Paul in the first place to put them aside for the likes of Mitt Romney. I think that when you fought so long and so hard and so passionately for Paul, you weren’t just fighting for a man – you were fighting for a shared ideal. You have this idea, this vision of what America is supposed to be, and when you heard Ron Paul speak you realized that there were other people out there who had the same vision, and you saw that if we all came together we could unleash such a tidal wave of liberty that not even Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or all their corrupt corporatist warmongering authoritarian ilk could hope to stand against it. And they see it and they know, deep down inside, that their time is nearly over – they see this tsunami of freedom rushing toward them and they are trembling in their shoes because they know that all the slime and scum and sleaze, the nauseating accumulation of filth built up from decades of people voting for the lesser of two evils, is about to be completely swept away. The old guard will fight against it. We saw that this year. They will fight it and subvert it and marginalize it and do whatever it takes to stop it. Like dogs, if they can’t eat it, they’ll bury it. But only if you let them.
You don’t have to let them win. You can send a message that will rock them right down to their very core. You can still make your voice heard. We hear you. We are the Libertarian Party and we believe in the same principles of individual liberty and economic freedom that Ron Paul brought to you and that you believed in enough to fight for and that the Republican Party completely rejected. And so I extend to you the same invitation that our candidate Gary Johnson extended to all of America in his electric campaign commercial. Have you seen it? I urge you to find it, because Gary Johnson has one simple request for you and I want you to consider it. If you value what Ron Paul has been fighting for, I urge you to consider this one simple request: Be Libertarian with me. Just one time. Just for one election. I’m not asking you to abandon the Republican Party — even though they certainly seem to have abandoned you. I realize that there are many of you who still think the Republican Party can be rescued from the grip of the Neocons and the religious fundamentalists. I understand that, and I respect it. I’m not asking you to abandon your party; I’m asking you to not abandon your ideals.
You were passionate enough to take a stand and fight for liberty – and I’m telling you that you still can. And together we can send the message loud and clear that the principles of freedom are spreading like wildfire, and that it will take a lot more than a bag of dirty tricks and thuggish tactics to extinguish it. Those ideals are still within reach. The dream that we all share is possible.
Be Libertarian with me, just this once.