By Tom Webb, Senior, ERC
An article recently appearing on this organization’s website (“Republicans Should Learn From 2012”) had me scratching my head and wondering if anything said was factually grounded; turns out it wasn’t. Let me start out by saying that I have nothing against Ron Paul or his supporters, and allow me to admit up front that I supported Mitt Romney in his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. My opinion is biased and it is important that you realize this is an op-ed piece.
The article in question makes it appear as though Ron Paul actually stood a chance. Let’s look at the actual numbers to see if this claim has merit. At the end of the primaries, the delegate count for the top four candidates was; Romney 1,489 (65.1%), Santorum 258 (11.3%), Ron Paul 154 (6.7%), Newt Gingrich 142 (6.2%). Throughout the campaign many Ron Paul supporters were claiming that the crowds were bigger for Ron Paul, so maybe the delegates were skewed and Ron Paul actually received more votes? Again, at the end of the primaries the total votes for the top four were: Mitt Romney 10,031,336; Rick Santorum 3,932,069; Newt Gingrich 2,734,570; Ron Paul 2,095,795. The fact of the matter is that Ron Paul was never a serious contender.
It never came down to Ron Paul and Mitt Romney in any real way. The GOP is not in favor of policing the world, nor is it pro-war. This is just old rhetoric and talking points that don’t get at any substance or actually deal with the real problems of the GOP. The problem as I see it with the Republican Party is a lack of clarity in the conservative message. The question of troop and resource deployment by the US is a legitimate conversation, but it is not why the GOP lost. A comparable conclusion could be drawn that because the GOP didn’t back Newt Gingrich’s plans for a moon base is why the GOP lost. On top of this, Rick Santorum received about twice as many votes as Ron Paul despite not being in the race as long. Rick Santorum was not supported by a vocal minority; Ron Paul was. For better or worse this is the reality.
Let me just say as a side note that I actually like Ron Paul and the message of returning more strictly to the Constitution. In reality he is one of my all-time favorite Congressmen and I was sad to see him retire. He challenged my views, opinions, and stances in various political issues which, I believe, has made me a better Republican.
“Let me be clear”, the GOP did not lose because Ron Paul was a better candidate than Mitt Romney. There are a myriad of reasons why Mitt Romney lost and the GOP lost overall, but the main problem is the message. The GOP is the party of civil rights, liberty, limited government, individual freedom, and the pursuit of happiness but no one intelligently defended this message. The answer is not for the GOP to shift and become the Libertarian party – instead, the answer for Libertarians is to learn from the examples of people like Ron Paul, Wayne Root, Rand Paul, etc and join the Republican Party. The answer for the Republican Party to win going forward is “a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people” (Ronald Reagan).