What Should Republicans Think about Ron Paul’s 2008 Defection?
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for president in 2008. But after John McCain became the nominee, he held a news conference to endorse Rev. Chuck Baldwin, the presidential candidate of the theocratic Constitution Party. (Baldwin is a Pensacola megachurch pastor and the party’s 2004 vice presidential candidate.)
While Paul’s far right views are well known, his abandonment of the GOP when it mattered, much less so. (And while I may have missed something, Paul’s 2008 defection has not come up this election season.) But it does suggest a certain fragility on the right edges of the GOP that might matter this year. Chuck Baldwin is not well known outside of the Religious Right. But the leading candidate for the CP nomination this year is former Democrat, former Republican Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia. Goode is a member of the CP executive committee and has said he will announce his intentions early in 2012.
The Constitution Party is America’s third largest party in terms of membership, and was on the ballot in 37 states last time. And although it may never be a vehicle for Ron Paul, the party has historically been a nationally organized place to go, if and when the moment arrives and the farther right elements of the GOP have had enough. As Chip Berlet, a scholar of the political and religious right explained, this is no small thing:
Let’s be clear, the U.S. Constitution Party would impose a form of theocratic neofascism in the United States. And I am not a person who tosses the term fascism around lightly.