Exclusive to STR
May 18, 2009
Dear Ron Paul Supporters,
Thank you. Thank you for giving your time, effort, and money to the cause of liberty. Thank you for taking a stand for what you know is right, and putting yourselves out there in favor of opinions the State would rather you didn't hold.
Thank you for taking time to convince others of the benefits of freedom and free markets. For many years, Ron Paul has been an intelligent advocate for freedom who understands that we need to go further than just trimming a few marginal tax rates and vetoing a few line items from the budget. Via the 2008 Ron Paul For President campaign, many Americans got their first exposure to the idea of sound money, and the dangers of a fractional reserve banking system backstopped by the Fed.
I believe your efforts in the 2008 campaign will one day be viewed as a turning point in our long fight for a free society. Although the Ron Paul campaign didn't bring us smaller government, it resulted in three huge accomplishments for the libertarian movement.
1. It demonstrated the potential of the Internet to spread good ideas quickly, at little to no cost.
2. It showed that libertarians are more than a herd of disorganized individualist cats and are quite capable of effective political organization.
3. It proved once and for all that libertarians will never accomplish meaningful change by working within the confines of the existing system.
It is for #3 that I am most grateful.
For as long as I've been involved in the libertarian movement, there has been a vigorous debate between those who think we need a strategy of participation, of reform from within, and those who think we need a strategy of secession, of reform by dropping out.
Reform from within seemed so much easier -- it was certainly worth a try. Try it we have. We've been trying with all our might for decades now. We haven't had success.
Even as we libertarians have gained significant traction in the ideological debate, we've accomplished very little in terms of actual results. Every day, every week, every year, for many years in a row, government has grown larger and more intrusive. Still, you libertarians who sought reform from within kept your chins up. You held out hope that we would eventually gain some ground if we could just get some access.
With the Ron Paul campaign, libertarians got that access. We ran a candidate with strong credibility both in the libertarian movement and in Washington . We had lots of mainstream media attention and even more alternative media attention. We had full entry in the debates. We had lots of money. At some points in the primary race, we had more spending cash than any other candidate. We had the most motivated, organized, impressive grass roots movement of any political campaign in my lifetime.
It led nowhere.
In the fall of 2008 our economy unraveled in precisely the manner Ron Paul and the libertarians had been screaming it would. Washington went on with business as usual. On November 4, The Big Government Party won again, as it does every year, and the first four months of 2009 have witnessed the largest and fastest growth of the government's power and scope in American history.
It can be disheartening, crushing even, to admit to ourselves that we will never achieve our goals with our current strategy, but admit it we must. To think that we only need a few more people to understand free markets, that we only need a better candidate and better organization, that we only need something and then finally we'll get Washington under control, is pure delusion.
It was an entirely excusable, worthwhile delusion to hold. But no longer. The Ron Paul campaign should serve as our final proof that this strategy will never work.
Libertarians can indeed achieve liberty in our lifetimes, but only if we have a winning strategy. Let's recognize that what we're doing isn't working and try something else.
A New Strategy For Liberty - Part 1: An Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters
by Stewart Browne