Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A query for Dan Phillips...

and other apparent Ron Paul supporters: do you generally vote Republican at the Congressional level or not?

Once I have some answers, I’ll explain why I’m curious about this.

Discussions - 39 Comments

I have my doubts if some of them even get out much, too afraid of the satellites tracking their every move don’t ya know. Maybe they vote absentee, but then Big Brother is reading their mail too...

I, for one, have generally voted Republican, although I feel like voting for Bush was the biggest mistake of my life. Unlike many GOP cheerleaders, though, I have not mistaken conservatism for the Republican Party. They are different, and I do not buy the nonsense "lesser of two evils" argument.

BTW, Ron Paul is a great man, a true constitutionalist. If George Washington were to return from the dead, Ron Paul would probably be the only man he’d want to talk to.

Although previously a libertarian, Ron Paul is much closer to any philosophical sort of conservatism as one would find in Russell Kirk or Richard M. Weaver. Mind you, Kirk was extremely critical of the neocons, and he also was against the first Iraq war, which he called the "carpet bombing of the cradle of civilization."

George W. Bush is a catastrophe, who will be recognized as one of the worst presidents in American history. Given his illegal neocon war in Iraq, and his support of the third-world invasion of the USA, he should be tossed out of the White House, impeached, arrested, and brought under charges of treason.

So, to answer your question, yes, I sometimes do. It all depends on the candidate. There are some good Republicans at the Congressional level: Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, John Duncan, Walter Jones, Virgil Goode, et al.

Your answer good professor, at least in the poster Sam Marsh’s case is found on his website. Here is a quote:

"I’m not a Republican, but I’ll support this man against the evil party machine any day. If he’s not in the race, then I’ll vote Libertarian as my conscience dictates."

I’m definitely not a libertarian. I’m a paleoconservative. But I think that Paul has a certain "fusion appeal" to real conservatives (aka paleoconservatives).

You’ve got this right, Joe. Ron Paul has a narrow appeal because he has a narrow political philosophy, wholly inadequate to securing a free society against its enemies.

The point of my question was that, in politics, many of us are confronted with what we regard as imperfect choices; we make the best choice possible, under the circumstances, in order to try to avoid something worse. I’m assuming--though perhaps I’m mistaken--that at least some of the Ron Paul (not to be confused with RuPaul) supporters have engaged in this sort of decisionmaking in Congressional races. If they’ve done so in Congressional races, the question I’d pose is: why be perfectionist now, when doing so in this crucial time would hand control of the presidency over to the Democrats?

I have no inclination to answer for "Paleoconservative," who has shown that he is functionally an ally of the worst of the Kossacks.

The idea that the left are worse than the liberals, as made by Mr Knippenberg above, is one which is frequently made. But I’m starting to doubt that it is true. At least, it seems like a proposition which needs to be argued for rather than simply asserted.

Dr. K.

"in this crucial time"

When is the time ever not crucial? I heard that in ’96 (we have to beat Clinton), ’00 (we have to beat Gore and have unified government), and ’04 (the War, beat Kerry). The time is always crucial, or we are always "at a crossroads."

This is a plea, like judges, used to keep unhappy conservatives in line.

Doesn’t everyone have some line in the sand? It is just a matter of where you draw it. I guess I drew mine a long time ago. But that Giuliani should be well beyond many conservatives line in the sand, especially Christian conservatives, seems intuitive to me. I have really been disappointed that so many seem willing to even entertain the idea instead of rejecting it out of hand. (The push for Thompson is evidence many are not happy with the idea.)

If Paul was, by some miracle, the GOP nominee, would you vote for him even though he is against the War? What if Lieberman was the Democratic nominee and Paul was the Republican?

why be perfectionist now, when doing so in this crucial time would hand control of the presidency over to the Democrats?

First, it’s not "perfectionist" to look for a conservative choice. Laying behind your question is that their is a choice with the current two party system. There is not, as one party is wacko-euro socialist, the other is not-quite-as-wacko-socialist. I have said it many times (look toward the prescription drug giveaway - championed hard by "conservatives" such as Gingrich) that it will be the GOP, not the Dem’s who finally socialize what is left of medicine.

The question "why now" is easily answered. We had 94-2006 to see what the GOP and it’s "conservative" leaders would do. Turns out significantly different then the Dem’s. Why now? Because why not? Why waste more time in the GOP while the liberals (big business liberals, Rockefellers, etc. etc.) who actually run it string conservatives along? Why is a Democratic presidency to be feared so, when a GOP presidency is liberal also?

For me, as should be obvious, the big reasons have to do with the Supreme Court and foreign policy.

Maybe a more interesting question would go like this: If the NLT faithful had to choose between Ron Paul and Barrack Obama which side would they choose?

I think we’d all vote Ron Paul in a heartbeat, Brutus. I know I would. We’re not the ones bitching and moaning about how the candidates don’t perfectly reflect our views, it’s you guys. Just as I’ll gladly vote for Giuliani or Romney against Hillary or Obama, so too would I gladly vote for Ron Paul. If Paul got the GOP nomination I would vote for him even if I agreed more with a third-party candidate because he’ll need all the help he can get.

And could I ask, how can Ron Paul be a social conservative and be a libertarian? I thought the very definition of libertarian was not letting the government dictate/control how we live our lives? Am I missing something?

I’m not "bitching and moaning" about anything. But I would like to know what choice Knippenberg, Moser, Schramm, Ponzi et al would make if Paul and Obama were the two candidates. I’m guessing they would probably choose Obama.

Andrew, if you are interested in seeing what socially conservative libertarians look like you should check out

I’d vote for Ron Paul in a second over Obama. I’d vote for him over Lieberman, too. Hell, I voted for him when he was the LP’s candidate in 1988, and I had a nice phone conversation with they guy early in 1989 (I was writing my senior honors thesis on the history of the libertarian movement, and I asked him for an interview, which he graciously agreed to give me).

I’ve also said, in comments on two separate threads that I’ll vote for Ron Paul if he’s still in the race when the Ohio primary rolls around. I meant it then, and I still mean it now. I’ll just be very surprised if he’s still in the running by then.

Hello John. Don’t you think that Paul’s foreign policy would rub you the wrong way?

I think you seriously misunderstand the political views of the NLT bloggers if you think they’d vote Obama over Paul. I don’t want to put words in their mouths (although I am, so hopefully they’ll respond), but you guys have this conspiracy-theory mentality about "neocons" (whatever you mean by that) which you have somehow lumped into a group that’s opposed to all things truly conservative. You seem to think we’re as much the enemy as the Left ("we" being all Republicans who don’t agree with you). This is why we can’t complete the realignment which has supposedly been in the works for the better part of two decades. Que sera, sera . . .

Hello John. Don’t you think that Paul’s foreign policy would rub you the wrong way?

You’d be surprised at how sympathetic I am toward a less interventionist foreign policy. It’s one of the reasons why I voted for GWB in 2000. I supported the Iraq War because I think it’s a good idea, when possible, to disarm anti-American tyrants who have WMDs--but of course he didn’t have them. There’s a reason that I’ve been more or less silent on the issue in recent months--I’ve concluded that the war was a colossal mistake. The problem is that I’m not sure what we should do now.

However, even if I thoroughly opposed Paul’s foreign policy I’d still find enough other reasons to like him. For one thing, he’s the only candidate I know who questions the War on Drugs.

Oh, and I’m fairly sure Ron Paul believes in natural rights. Does that make him a Jacobin?

That’s "Jeffersonian" if you please.

If the choice were between Ron Paul and Obama--not only would I vote for the Paul, I’d probably canvass my neighborhood and send him money. But that won’t be the choice. So why are we playing fantasy election?

John M.--as for me, I tend to vote in primaries for the person I think will give the ticket the strongest chance of winning the general. Many times that means voting for a front-runner, other times (like when the front-runner was Dole in ’96) it meant voting for someone who was comparatively lucid and who might stand a chance against Clinton. Primaries are a time to be more self-indulgent in your preferences than you would be in the general . . . but I do try to do that in a way that grasps reality.


I think that many people today uncritically accept a notion of "rights" because it is the only game in town. It is the playing field that the Left has created, and if one does not play by these rules, he’s branded as an arch-conservative, racist, etc. As a politician, Paul would have no choice but to play the rights games. He may even believe in it. He’s a paleolibertarian, not a conservative, so I don’t know. Regardless, on an academic level, one can point out that by supporting a theory of natural rights, one is on the side of the historical Left, not Right. The Right supported a theory of natural law, but outright rejected natural rights, as left-wing nonsense. Even all 19th century Popes rejected all "rights talk" and theories of natural rights, as they saw it as undermining natural law. Burke and DeMaistre, for example, saw the "rights talk" as a utopian abstraction, and both thought that government should be grounded in tradition, institutions, ancestral rites, etc.

"Rights" are simply claims on other people...pure and simple. Certainly they are not claims on Nature, because Nature will not play the game. So, "rights" are a social game, and like any social game, you must have power to enforce the rules. This is why I’m not a "natural rights"’s an oxymoron. Since "rights" spring from society, they can’t be (in any meaningful sense) "natural."

People like John probably think that "natural rights" OUGHT to exist for the good of humanity, and within limits that’s probably true. But like any social tool, people can muck it up. Reasonable claims on our fellow man can quickly degenerate into tyranny and slavery. This is why we must be careful of our formulations: Having a right must be balanced with responsibilities, and "rights" should be kept simple: the right to life, the right to pursue property, happiness, etc., the right to be secure in our person and property -- what I think some scholars call "negative rights," or the right to be free of oppression. "Positive rights," or the right to live well, are far more problematic, and put unreasonable claims on other people.

If Paul were a serious contender for the GOP nomination, I’d actively support a more electable (and, for my views, congenial) opponent. If he won the nomination, I’d support him over Obama. Lieberman would be a somewhat harder call for me; I’d have to weigh the foreign policy consequences (at that time) of a Paul victory.

I guess, except in the case of Moser, most NLT types would vote for Paul only if he had the nomination. But they would probably vote for a yellow dog if the Republicans nominated it.

Look at Paul’s foreign policy. He says that all foreign aid should be stopped. The other day someone suggested that and Moser called it "Jew-baiting." Julie said it would be smarter to talk about one’s butt.

I don’t think Paul would support NEH funding either. So you would have to say goodbye to that "Presidential Academy" advertised on the left of this page.

At the end of the day I think the NLT types would realize these facts and vote for Obama. After all, doesn’t he say nice things about Lincoln? Look at Paul: he posts all his speeches on, home of the "thoroughly discredited" Dilorenzo. etc. etc.

He says that all foreign aid should be stopped. The other day someone suggested that and Moser called it "Jew-baiting."

Now who’s making outrageous claims, Brutus? I never said any such thing; what I said is that hinting at dark pro-Israel conspiracies by an "amen corner" smacks of anti-Semitism. I’d be fine with cutting all foreign aid, as a matter of fact.

Well you did use the phrase. Check comment 24 on the other thread. You were talking about Kirk; Julie was talking about foreign aid. So I’m not making it up. Incidentally, I think that other guy got the Kirk quote wrong.

I think he did, too. It actually came from Pat Buchanan, not Kirk. And I’m not denying that I used the term "Jew-baiting," but it wasn’t in reference to foreign aid.

I tracked down the Kirk quote: “Not seldom has it seemed as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States.”

From what I can tell that line in a speech (in 1988) became one more thing separating the Neos from Paleos. That and the Claremont/Ashbrook axis convincing Reagan to give the job of head of the NEH to Bill "seventy-five page dissertation" Bennett instead of M.E. Bradford. All water under the bridge....

Brutus, et. al., I am pretty certain that I have never, ever, talked about foreign aid here. I’m also fairly certain that I have never discussed "butts" except when discussing people with unfortunate last names and the ends of cigarettes. If I did discuss foreign aid, however, it would not have been in a way that suggested support for it.

As a matter of general principle, I am opposed to all foreign aid--though I would not rule out that there could be occasions where prudence dictates using it.

And Brutus, I have to love your conspiracy theory about the Claremont/Ashbrook "axis." It would make for great science fiction--particularly if Jaffa turned out to be an extra-terrestrial and we in the Claremont/Ashbrook axis were really all part of some sick medical experiment marching around with our little Lincoln micro-chips to do his (and Chairman Mao’s) bidding. But facts tend to be stubborn things and here are some. When Bill Bennett got the job as head of the NEH (1981), the Ashbrook Center didn’t even exist. Even in 1988 when Kirk gave the address you cite, the Center was a mere toddler, consisted of about 75 undergraduates who got a scholarship, 6 public lectures a year, and had virtually no academic component. And, if I’m not mistaken, I believe that one of the first people to speak at the Ashbrook Center was a fellow with the last name of Kirk. Indeed, I am correct, see here. Yes, this axis is just exactly the sort of vehicle that might move a head of state to make decisions about appointments in his administration. You’ll pardon me, but I have to get back to work on my nefarious plans. Yeah, that’s the ticket! Geesh!?

Julie, I suggest you look at your comment, no.10, on the recent thread about women and Islam. That’s the reference to butts and foreign aid.

It seems to be the fashion among the Claremont/Asbrook people to try and act dumb whenever someone mentions a dispute between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives. Read what Jaffa says about Kirk in his latest book. And for God’s sake don’t act like there was no west coast Struassian movement to keep Bradford from getting the job Reagan wanted for him.

Oh, I see, Brutus. You’re over Straussianizing me. Because the foreign aid thing was in the middle of Paleo’s comments, you think that was the target of my remarks. Nope, sorry. I was after his more obvious nuttiness--like deporting all Muslims, etc.

Which? My retort, or Paleo’s idea--or both? Forgive me for having to ask.

The joke about the message in the middle.

What does Jaffa say about Kirk in his newest book? I heard Jaffa actually supported Bradford for the NEH post. It was the young upstarts who had their panies all in a wad.

Since neocon Jaffa had a previous relationship with Kirk, he did support him for the position. All other neocons opposed Kirk in favor of "75 page, ghost-written dissertation" Bennett. By the late, 80s though, I think even their relationship became sour. And by 1989, Kirk and Buchanan already were having meetings about the dangers posed by the neocons and the need to create a third party if things did not change. In the first Iraq war, which Kirk called "carpet bombing the cradle of civilization," Kirk condemned Jaffa and the whole lot of traitorous neocons. The whole affair was a travesty. ME Bradford was considered a genius even by many of his political opponents on the Left.

SHOULD READ: "Since neocon Jaffa had a previous relationship with Bradford, he did support him for the position. All other neocons opposed Bradford in favor of "75 page, ghost-written dissertation" Bennett." The rest of the instances of Kirk really are for Kirk.

I did some investigation and Traditio is correct that Jaffa supported Bradford for the NEH post. I have to admit that it does not surprise me a bit. Jaffa’s friends always say that it is easier to disagree with him than it is to agree with him. And that’s why he is such a wonderful teacher. But Traditio and others here would do well to take a lesson from Jaffa’s teacher, Leo Strauss, and at least try to understand the people they are talking about as they understand themselves. How can you ever effectively argue against a person if you only pretend to know what they are talking about. If, after digesting all the evidence, you wish to offer an alternative to the explanation the person offers for himself, then you need some mighty evidence to support such a charge. I don’t want to speak for Jaffa--but I’m more than a little bit certain that he would not call himself a neo-con. And he’s had some pretty heated disagreements with people generally considered to be neo-cons. But all these labels are a bit silly, I think. When used (as they are too often here and in other places), as cudgels they don’t even serve a heuristic purpose. Neo-con, especially, has become a bit of code in certain circles--and what that implies is beyond distasteful. This stuff should be beneath anyone who wishes to comment here. Rather than stimulating thought, it eliminates the possibility of thought. To be honest, it’s all a bit boring and ridiculous.

Believe me, I’ve got better things to do than hang out in these comment sections . . . but the integrity of this blog and those here who are trying to stimulate serious dialogue demands defending. I don’t care if it’s bragging but I think we have something really great going on here. People should try and respect that. Really, guys, crank it up a few notches and think before you comment.

I wanted to add my two cents in here.. cause I am a Bradford student and went to Dallas to study with him and conservative Straussians at the same time.. (since on ancient and Modern things I find myself agreeing more with them [students of Strauss, except on things American.. here I am with Kendall and not the caricature present by Jaffa and the Jaffites, even though I agree more with Jaffa and the Jaffites about all so many other things, like Mel and Willmoore] than Voegelin whom for me is outright metaphysical and jargon laden than my Burkeian spirit would like.

But on practical politics, Mel B was a very pragmatic guy.. he would vote and support the guy he thought could best get what he wanted, but when that was unlikely, then he would support the person on their shared principle. Mel supported W.B. Allen’s campaign in the late 80s.

And even though Mel help form the paleocon-paleolibertarian alliance back in the early 90s, before his death he was, in our regular phone talks to eachother, was getting sour on them.

Yes she supported Buchanan in 92, over that Bush.. and honestly so did I. I really did not find Kirk’s comment on Israel all that upsetting or wrong. But how some on the neo-conservative right reacted was like it was as if the spirit of Birchers came back to life. Now Kirk was a much confused fellow.. and I follow Kendall here more than Mel, because Mel was too kind of a man to strike at someone he saw as his senior and someone who paved the way for younger conservatives such as himself... so I am not going to defend him politically generally, but on this issue, it was an over reaction on the neocon part.

The same to with their support for Bennett. I am no fan of Bill, I sometime thinks he has became more of a burden on us as he is a benefit given to his ability to bring celebrity to himself rather than the cause. But Mel forgave the neocons for Bennett, but the paleocons have not. And here I recall a long talk with Mel about paleocons. I remarked that I hated the term, that it was as if we embraced the worst caricature could create for us traditional conservatives. Mel then remarked that he agreed, he’d even got leery of the term conservative, because in today politics Clinton and abortion rights activists could rightfully claim to be conserving things... and opted for reactionary. And I am sometime sympathic to it, but would opt for Kendall’s man of the right.

But lets get to the paleocon & paleolib attack on W and the war. Here Mel would much more in common with Victor Hanson, who very much shares many agrarian and yeoman view of the republican character on the American regime (although differing on the South!!!). Although Mel would not have embraced the democratization argument (advanced by Hanson.. but one that is much more nuanced than the one advanced by Charles Krauthammer and others), he would see the need to win this type of War, esp in Iraq.

Listen this war in Iraq had very little to do with WMD, it had everything to do with Saddam being after the botch GWI (which I and Mel had serious doubts about.. but Mel was much more willing to support it than I was.. and I was not willing to outright condemn it as the left would, but I did not see a way that would not either require us to remove Saddam and govern the place or have to do a half measure where we leave him, but leaving him he would now try to be a constant sore on our side and give us endless headaches... which turned out to be the case. The problem with going there and taking over always would be a mess given how fk’ed up our intergovernmental operations (given how jealous different gov’t agencies are about money being spent in their area of control not being spent by them and their ability to get their congressional proxies to work against the president and his admin to support the agencies to protect their share of budget pie) would make occupying and helping normalizing Iraq almost impossible (and Bremmer’s tenure only prove this to be true, as well as Casey’s tenure.. our current McClellan).

But honestly after 911 having the constant pest of Saddam out there giving money to terrorists and trying to get WMDs or make us think he had them to force us to get concession was no longer a safe option. Here I think Mel would agree and would have no stomach for the stance of the paleo right whose stance here is just unreal given the treat posed by islamofascist... and not because they are a threat to Isreal, but to the US.

I had a major falling out with a good paleo friend over this, he remarked that our support for Isreal was the cause of 911. I having spent a lot of time with Arabs and muslims at Northern Illinois (mostly malaisan and Indonesian muslims) and at Dallas (its MBA program was filled with Jordain’s and Gulf Arabs) I knew this to be just the BS they tell their lower orders took keep them in line and have someone to blame for their poor conditions. That if you read what the al qaeda terrorist actually say are their reasons you find its our way of life, our very regime that they hate.. all the other specifics are like the 2/3rds of the DofI, whereas everyone knows the meat of it is in its first two paragraphs!!! He thought I was falling for the neo-zionist line of the neocons.. and I asked him what world are you living in... again it was like the spirit of the Birchers came to life in the right during the Clinton years that such extreme notions once again became viable to many on the right, esp among those sympathetic to the traditional right or what some call paleocons.

But here I blame both envy on the paleocons for loosing the money battle of funding that happened in the mid 80s were much of the funding for the right fell into the hands of administrators who were more sympathetic to neocons than those of the traditional right and all of a sudden people of the traditional right were being cut out of the funding loop and new neocons were getting in. My own experience about grad funding bore this out. And god help anyone who had complex relationships, because once Mel died, the paleocons saw my work on Aristotle, which is heavily influenced by Jaffa, Mansfield,Strauss and Mannet to be viewed with utter suspicion, as what happened at Univ of Missouri where a Voegelian killed my book (later published by LSU) for being too Straussian!!! And certain Straussian presses like SUNY and Roman and Littlefield, for being too anti-Straussian/Bradfordite. So damn if you do and damn if you don’t. I am going to stop... cause I am going on and on.. all from what was said above. I am going to vote for any Republican simply here and that is because we got to Win this War. We cannot afford another Vietnam, and that is why many Conservatives voted for Nixon.. not because any of us thought he was a Conservative!!!

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