[Updated and revised from article a few months ago (click here to read)]
As the RNC Convention looms and it looks nearly certain that the most consistent and reliable Constitutional, small government, low tax, pro-liberty vote in Congress - the most trusted and honest man in D.C. will not end up as the nominee the Ron Paul movement is on the verge of splintering into ineffective factions. Something the established political machinery desperately wants. It is critical the movement not fall into this trap.
Let's start with the general election. A lot of Ron Paul supporters have fallen into the trap of being part of a "cult of personality" where a single man (or person) becomes more important than the message or the policies. It is important that each person ask themselves "Am I for the things that Ron Paul advocated" OR "Am I only for those things if we're talking about Ron Paul."
It is important to ask yourself whether or not you want the liberty movement to stay unified and its existence and importance to be evident in election results. Do you want them to know you're there or do you want to end up as statistical noise explained away by the talking head or media mouthpiece of the day?
Because right now, it looks like Ron Paul supporters are going to have three options. Let's look a them.
NOT VOTING IN THE GENERAL ELECTION: So, you're angry. I get it. You realize that in many ways Ron Paul was flat out cheated out of victories in at least a couple of states. You're aware that the RNC and/or the Romney camp sued to try and not seat legitimate Ron Paul delegates at the convention. And you know you're not going to vote for Obama or Romney.
Well, if you're not going to vote for Obama or Romney then not voting is exactly what they want. I saw somebody post on Facebook recently, "We will all just stay home and not vote. That will show them!". SURE it will. Romney will get his votes, Obama will get his and Libertarian Party will get (probably a lot better than) their usual fraction of a 1% and nobody who matters will know you stayed home. For starters A LOT of Ron Paul supporters are people who traditionally didn't vote anyway or are relatively new to being involved in politics. Voter turnout can vary wildly. If the needle moves from 57% to 60% or 60% to 54% do you think there is any way the media is going to be able to know or connect some portion of that to Ron Paul people staying home or not?
Nope. It will be within the usual range (49% in 1996 to around 57% in 2008) and any variance will get explained away as being weather related, not being impressed with Romney, Democrats not excited about re-electing Obama but not willing to vote Republican, etc... Trust me. There will be no "hundreds of thousands of Ron Paul supporters just stayed home today." Won't happen.
WRITING IN RON PAUL'S NAME: Remember. Most votes anymore are electronically tabulated. So, chances are good nobody is going to see your protest anyway. Maybe, in some areas, some unpaid election volunteer might see it before promptly ignoring the vote. Sure, you may feel better because you voted for the man but, again, there will be no way for the media or the talking heads to report even if they were so inclined. And you know they aren't.
VOTING FOR GARY JOHNSON: Gary Johnson endorsed Ron Paul in 2008 and Ron invited Gary to talk at his event in Florida this week. I took one of those on-line "who do you agree with polls" and it came out Gary Johnson 97%, Ron Paul 96%, Mitt Romney 75% and Barack Obama 8%. Gary has come around on a few issues the past few years and a lot of Ron Paul supporters don't seem willing to give him credit for it. Every vote that Gary Johnson gets is going to be counted, added up and reported on.
So, if the pro-liberty Ron Paul supporters are adamant that they will only vote for the man despite his own cries that it is about the message not him then that part of the pro-liberty vote gets split off like a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it or care. What if the pro-liberty base is 6%, 8% or maybe even 12% right now. And it gets split 3 or more ways? The end result will be that the only guy on the ballot who basically agrees with Ron Paul on nearly everything will get his 2 or 3% and be completely brushed off by the media. And next time around the liberty candidate will likely not be able to get in debates, will be dismissed and the entire impact of the Ron Paul Revolution will be dismissed as a toothless bump in the road.
But, let the liberty candidate get a huge chunk of the vote and it sends a message that says that more and more people are done with the status quo and want to move more in the direction of the ideas that Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Andy Horning (Indiana Senate candidate), Judge Napolitano and others have been offering to us.
If you just plain don't vote or you martyr your vote by writing Ron's name in you basically are leaving the battlefield. Don't leave the battlefield, the liberty movement needs you. Be counted. Together we are strong, divided up we are just easily ignored statistical noise.
follow on twitter: @SeanShepard1