This weekend at CPAC, Donald Trump made the statement that Ron Paul can’t get elected. As Trump remarked, “I like Ron Paul, I think he is a good guy, but honestly he just has zero chance of getting elected.”
CPAC speeches of Donald Trump and Ron Paul are available on YouTube.
What I found interesting was the fact Trump never actually criticized Paul’s specific policies or political positions. Trump only seemed to suggest that if Ron Paul won the GOP nomination, then he would inevitably lose a national election.
Another interesting point is that while Trump and Paul seem to represent diverging ideological strains within conservatism, Trump and Paul are similar in the fact that they aren’t afraid to tell it like they see it.
CPAC: Donald Trump
During his CPAC speech, Trump talked about how America had become the laughingstock of the world, and how countries like China, Mexico and South Korea took advantage of us because they knew they could get away with it. Trump talked about how China was monopolizing trade by artificially lowering their currency. And he called OPEC the worst offender, citing the time OPEC raised prices after an Alaska pipeline broke.
He cited other examples of how America’s leaders had become weak and ineffectual. Trump claims we should have been able to blast the Somali pirates out of the water with a strong admiral and a few good ships. Although Trump mentioned the words “American Exceptionalism,” he promised that if he ran and was elected, America would be respected around the world again.
Paul wisely chose not to respond to Trump’s suggestion that he was unelectable. As he told Politico, “I try real hard not to respond. I don’t think you achieve a whole lot. I try to separate the personalities from the issues.” Paul’s son, Rand, was more outspoken. “I think [Trump’s] chances are less than my father’s.”
CPAC: Ron Paul
At CPAC, Ron Paul offered a different take on the notion of American Exceptionalism. He argued that the best way for America to spread democracy around the world is to focus on building a strong economy while maintaining a free society. He argued that other countries would then see that freedom works and would be inspired to emulate us.
For those who follow Paul’s career, his speech didn’t stray from his platform of non-interventionism, limited government, defense of civil liberties, equally attacking big-government conservatives and big-government liberals.
Paul did, however, offer a current events spin by citing the extension of the Patriot Act and the situation in Egypt. He talked about how the Patriot Act was anti-patriotic because it was a direct violation against the Fourth Amendment. He argued that it was just as important to protect civil liberties as it was to protect economic liberties.
Paul also cited the situation in Egypt as another reason why America should stay out of foreign affairs. He pointed out that propping up Egypt’s puppet dictator caused Egyptians to be upset with America. He pointed out that the billions of dollars in aid to Egypt wasn’t actually helping the country. Instead, the dictator’s family was hiding the money in a Swiss bank. Ron Paul argued that with foreign aid, poor people from rich countries ended up giving to rich people in poor countries.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Trump is correct about Paul’s electability. On the one hand, Paul’s brand of paleo-libertarianism may be too out of the political mainstream for most voters. On the other hand, given the 2008 backlash against George W. Bush’s policies of hawkish interventionism, would voters be willing to give Paul serious consideration?