I really thought Ron Paul was the guy for me. I like his principled opposition to the current administration’s foreign policy. In fact I agree with nearly everything he stands for, so I was able to overlook the fact that he seems to attract a lot of conspiracy-mongers and crackpots to his banner. Heck, I’ve been a libertarian fellow-traveler for years, so I have a higher tolerance for cranks than most people. So I supported him. I sent his campaign some money (not much, but some), wore a Ron Paul t-shirt, put a sticker on my office door. I even joined Academics for Ron Paul.
Then came this article in The New Republic, revealing the sort of racist trash that appeared for years in newsletters bearing Paul’s name. I was glad to hear that he denied responsibility for writing them, and I believe those denials, but there’s no getting around the fact that he allowed them to appear under his name. I don’t want someone in the White House who has exercised such poor judgment, no matter what I might think about his views on drug legalization. Respectable libertarian organizations like the Reason Foundation and the Cato Institute had already begun to distance themselves from Paul; this editorial by David Boaz puts it as well as any I’ve seen.
So who is a classical liberal supposed to vote for this time around? None of the other Republican candidates are talking about limited government; of course, given their records in office they’d sound like hypocrites if they did. This is shaping up to be the least libertarian-friendly election at least since 1992, when we were faced with the choice of Clinton or Mr. "Read My Lips." I suppose I still have 328 days to be convinced by someone, but right now the thought of staying home on Election Day sounds quite appealing.