Book Review: What His Libertarianism Means

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 30, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Book Review: What His Libertarianism Means


In all of modern American politics, there is perhaps no phenomenon more bizarre than the loyal following of Ron Paul. The candidate has a rare set of ideas, and he is not a particularly compelling speaker. Yet many of his fans would take a bullet for him.

Brian Doherty of Reason magazine has been watching Mr. Paul for decades, and in his Revolution - or rather, Ron Paul's rEVOLution, as it's stylized on the cover to emphasize the backward love - he tells the story of how an unassuming Texas legislator and gynecologist came to lead such a movement.

Mr. Paul is often referred to as a libertarian, and he does want a radically smaller government. But when it comes to describing Mr. Paul, libertarian leaves a lot unsaid. What libertarianism is to the mainstream American political debate - an interesting participant that's far from the center on many issues - Mr. Paul's take on libertarianism is to libertarianism itself.

While most libertarians are leery of governmental attempts to manipulate currency, Mr. Paul's opposition to the Federal Reserve and his support for the gold standard border on an obsession. Where most libertarians support abortion rights, Mr. Paul is strongly pro-life, though he thinks abortion policy should be set at the state, not federal, level. Whereas most libertarians are cosmopolitan advocates of open borders, Mr. Paul has been critical of immigration. And while most libertarians are at least skeptical of foreign entanglements, Mr. Paul has taken an almost across-the-board anti-war stance. He even went so far as to tell Rudolph Giuliani, at a Republican debate in 2007, that Sept. 11 was a result of U.S. meddling in the Middle East.

Mr. Paul has been around for a long time. He was first elected to the House in the 1970s, and he even ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988. But in Mr. Doherty's narrative, that Paul-Giuliani exchange was the spark that lit the fire of the rEVOLution; Mr. Doherty says that in his research, he met countless people who came to support Mr. Paul when they saw him face off with the former New York mayor. To Mr. Doherty, Mr. Paul's foreign policy - peace, as Mr. Doherty describes it - is one of the main draws of the Ron Paul movement.

Whatever the cause, Mr. Paul has been a significant force since then. No, he never had any prayer of actually becoming president - Mr. Doherty tells the almost heartbreaking story about how his devotees poured tons of effort into New Hampshire, perhaps the nation's most libertarian state, during the 2008 primaries, only to come away with a mere 8 percent of the Republican vote. But wherever a small, highly dedicated fan base can make a difference - at the Iowa straw poll, in Internet polls, in guerrilla marketing campaigns - Mr. Paul always makes a strong showing.

This following is almost as interesting as the candidate himself.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Book Review: What His Libertarianism Means


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?