What the booing of Ron Paul says about the Republican Party

The Republican Party isn't going to be home for non-interventionists any time soon.

I have a deep and abiding fondness for Ron Paul if only because he’s willing to stand before a crowd of conservatives and tell them that no, what the hawk-dominated conservative movement has been doing these many years is not actually a very conservative or Christian thing; Big Defense is still government and spending trillions of dollars on foreign wars of intervention and nation-building is still spending trillions of taxpayer dollars. I’m not a conservative and I don’t think I could vote for Paul, but to hear him make his case for non-interventionist foreign policy and an end to the war on drugs and so forth is to breathe a deep breath of fresh air in an otherwise stifling room of conservative boilerplate.

So when Ron Paul was booed for his unorthodox foreign policy views it came as little surprise. The conservative movement and the Republican Party are united in their love of a strong and aggressive military, a fully neoconservative and interventionist foreign policy, and a continuation of the war on drugs, police militarization, and so forth. There are a few dissenters closer to the mainstream of the party than Paul – Tom Coburn is one and even Rand Paul is more mainstream than his father – but by and large the GOP is exactly the place one might suspect to find a peacenik like Paul booed.

It’s unfortunate, of course, but it is what it is.

Mike Dwyer engages in some wishful thinking over at The League:

If I were to describe what I think young Republicans will look like in 10 years I would suggest they will be moderate on social policy, mainline conservative on fiscal policy and libertarian on civil liberties and foreign policy. They will be pro-life but also believe people have a right to smoke weed in their own home. They’ll pretty much ignore gay marriage. They will believe in a strong world economy but be isolationist about wars and having our troops in foreign lands.

I’m willing to concede that on social issues the GOP will become more moderate but not go so far as to say that they will be fully moderate. On gay rights issues the Republicans have already shifted left. Evangelicals are not happy about this, however, and it’s quite likely that a tension will still exist between modernist and traditionalist camps in the GOP in ten years. On civil liberties the Republicans will be just as bad as they are now; on drug policy I expect no better; and on foreign policy I expect a new crop of young hawks to take up the reins. There is absolutely no chance that they become isolationist, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a more protectionist domestic policy becomes more popular on the right.

Either way, the party has very little room for men like Ron Paul. His popularity is fierce and his followers are passionate – but his politics are of a time long since past when the Republican Party was home to advocates of a more sober foreign policy than the one the neoconservatives devised.

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the editor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.