Ron Paul and His Impact on the Libertarian Movement

By Mason Mohon | UNITED STATES 

For many years Ron Paul has been a figurehead for the Libertarian movement, casting great influence over just about every sect of Libertarianism. But the real question is, how deep does Ron Paul’s influence into the Libertarian Party, and Libertarian movement, actually go?

Although the Libertarian Party was founded in 1971, it was not until 1988 when Paul joined the ranks of the party, abandoning the Republican Party, a party with which he had already spent multiple congressional terms with. Ron Paul ran for president in 1988, scoring third in the popular vote with half a percentage point, but becoming the president was not the sole intent of his campaign. A 1988 New York Times article written by Andrew Rosenthal reported that Dr. Paul stated that he was “ just as interested in the future generation as this election,” showing an amount of hope for future generations that we still hold onto today.

The New York Times article goes on to call this generational patience shown by Paul a hallmark for the Libertarian movement. Ron Paul has had a certain appeal for young people. A 2012 Business Insider article by Robert Reich titled “The Youthful Magic of Ron Paul” reported that 47% of voters between 18 and 29 in New Hampshire voted for Ron Paul. This trend was not one to be ignored. No other Republican candidate garnered anywhere near this much enthusiasm among young people. Another Business Insider article written the next day by Henry Blodget attempted to diagnose the cause of this youthful fascination, stating that it was in part because Dr. Paul “acknowledges the huge financial problems this country faces and has the balls to actually offer a concrete plan for dealing with them.”

Notice of Ron Paul’s magic among the young does not end with these reasons though. A 2012 Forbes article by Stephen Richer gives a few more possible reasons for Paul’s success, such as his rebellious and contrarian stance. Beliefs such as opposition to the powerful central bank or the American war on drugs are sure to garner support among rebellious young people. He also is unusual, being a libertarian in name, but at the time of said article, not in party. The Forbes article described a 20-year-old with knowledge of Ron Paul and libertarianism as similar to a 20-year-old “who knows about a special wine vintage or a remote micro brew — so erudite!” Enjoying something out of the normal is viewed as hip, cool, and out of the ordinary. What young person wants to be ordinary? None of them! This makes Ron Paul a perfect fit for their out of the mainstream mentality.

Ron Paul’s influence does not end with the young people though. At the end of his 2008 presidential campaign, Ron Paul announced his Campaign for Liberty, a movement which inherits “from our ancestors a glorious tradition of freedom and resistance to oppression.” A RARE Liberty article by Jack Hunter written in early 2015 says that Ron Paul made libertarianism mainstream, popularizing it for the common American, and giving people who are discontent with modern American politics a new political avenue. The author states that “Most would not even be libertarians if not for Paul.”

In conclusion, Ron Paul has been a monumental part of the liberty movement, influencing young people and popularizing libertarianism. The LP and libertarians would not have the influence they do today without him.

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