Four years ago, I confess, I voted for Romney in the New York primary, figuring he was by that point the biggest obstacle to throw at the even-worse John McCain. Raising my standards considerably, today I’ll vote against Romney, regardless of how big an obstacle Ron Paul offers. Philosophically, he is the only giant in electoral politics these days.
Still, as I type this, prior to the day’s voting, it’s worth noting that at this point either Gingrich or Paul, to become the nominee without bizarre convention high-jinx, would have to win nearly all the remaining delegates, solo. Romney, by contrast, automatically gets the nomination just by winning about 40% of the outstanding delegates, which he can likely do with ease. There is still a small chance of Romney failing to get to 1,144 before the convention. But there is now effectively no chance of Gingrich or Paul getting that many before the convention.
It is hard, too, to imagine anyone but Romney emerging victorious even from the ugliest and weirdest imaginable divided convention (so I would prefer my fellow Ron Paul supporters not do anything nuts if it comes to that).
And so, even though there is something to be said for continuing to get Paul’s vote totals as high as possible to help spread the liberty message, libertarians should probably be asking themselves what their next move is in an Obama-vs.-Romney world: (1) Vote Romney? (2) Vote Obama? (3) Vote for the Libertarian Party candidate all but certain to be picked at their convention in Vegas next week, Gary Johnson? (4) Stay home? (5) Stick with Paul and expect something very, very improbable to happen at the GOP convention (like Romney getting run over by a bus)?
I would love to hear from one experienced public speaker from each of these factions – who is a libertarian – at the impending May 17 Dionysium event I’m hosting. Let me know if you’re game. No Devil’s-advocate stuff – I want to hear five passionate cases made (for about five minutes each, in addition to our main event: Brian Doherty discussing his new book on Ron Paul).
As for me, I suggest option #3 above, Gary Johnson (“Johnson if not Paul,” as I’ve vowed and encouraged others to vow). I might in theory stretch that rule to include Rand Paul as a v.p. candidate, but no other Republican, Rubio or otherwise, will do as a substitute for Ron. That is one of many complex and contentious issues we’ll have to discuss on May 17, though, at the first gathering of the Dionysium!
It may sound like mere fantasy to think Romney might pick Rand Paul as a running mate, but Romney’s going to have to cut several deals if he really wants to keep his coalition together: socially conservative Santorumites, Hispanic and Floridian Rubio-admirers, disappointed libertarian Ron Paul fans, and more-conventional yet less-Republican libertarian Gary Johnson fans are all liable to bail on poor Mitt, and he has to be doing that strange math by now.
He will almost certainly prevail in New York today, though – and rather than be a mopey and disappointed libertarian, I’ll just (1) spend some individualistic time reading Superman: Secrets of the Fortress of Solitude when that comes out tomorrow, (2) hear Objectivist Yaron Brook speak at NYU Thursday night at 6pm with a few of my anarcho-capitalist brethren, (3) attend a Victorian/steampunk fashion show in Brooklyn on Sunday at 3pm, and (4) hear a neoconservatively-inclined rocker, Jessica Eisenberg, perform at 8pm that same day at Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg –the same neighborhood soon to know the glory of the Dionysium.
And I will really keep my cyber-mouth shut until May, hard as that is to believe. Taking a page from one of my state’s beloved former senators, I will try to emerge in “listening tour” mode instead of arguing constantly – the very model of a gracious Dionysium host.