Having been to the CLC, I disagree with Leon’s assumption that these Paul supporters are all or mostly cryptoliberals. Plenty of libertarian-leaning Republicans exist in the party, along with the former Buchananites and isolationists of the GOP. Instead of cutting these people off, it might be better for Redstate to keep engaging them. After all, Paul will not be in the race all that much longer, and we need those voters to stay in the GOP when Paul disappears. There are worse impulses than libertarianism. ~Ed Morrissey
First of all, I accept that the people running RedState are within their rights to bar anyone they like, but it is still frankly bizarre that they are taking this position. After all, we have the spectacle of a site for online political commentary and activism…banning enthusiastic political activists from commenting on their preferred candidate. It would be like Daily Kos, c. 2003, telling all of the Deaniacs to shut up and go away. (And, yes, I realise that Dean was polling a lot better in October of ‘03 than Paul is now, but the principle is the same.)
The presumption behind the ban that most Paul boosters are liberals is embarrassing to RedState. Sadly, it says a lot more about what passes for conservatism at RedState than it does about the Paul supporters. Rather than reaching some reasonable middle ground, punishing posters who abuse their privileges, their solution is a ban against new members saying anything about Paul. The symbolism of this move is terrible for RedState. It says to all those enthusiastic Paul backers that there is no point trying to talk to most Republicans, and after this I would be hard pressed to contradict such a view. It also puts the lie to the oft-repeated myth that the conservative coalition is brimming with intellectual diversity and thrives off of energetic and spirited debate, when it has been clear for some time that a great many Republicans have wanted Paul himself gone from the debates. Were I tempted to participate in a RedState forum, this move would cure me of that temptation very quickly. This is a move that represents a stagnating movement that is shedding supporters and gradually breaking to pieces on account of its own ideological rigidity and brittleness.
Unfortunately, this latest is just a symptom of the broader conformism on the “mainstream” right, particularly on matters of foreign policy, and represents the mentality of a movement that has been losing its ability to maintain and grow its political coalition. Paul’s campaign has thrived on the message that conservatism and Republicanism can and should still mean respect for the Constitution, liberty and a sane foreign policy–the very kind of rejuvenating and reforming message that the GOP needs if it is to retain the loyalty of millions of disaffected small-government conservatives and libertarians–and where Paul is making converts the folks at RedState, to adapt a phrase, are interested in finding heretics. It is a great irony this year that it is the purists who are actually swelling Republican ranks, while the pragmatists and big-tent folks are doing their best to empty that tent. Republicans will object that new Paul supporters will not support the GOP once Paul’s campaign is finished, and they may be right. RedState has just given Paul supporters one more reason to stay home or vote third party.
Rather than translating the energy and excitement that Paul generates into an advantage for the GOP and the movement, the response is to recoil in horror and send Paul’s people packing. Morrissey is making the sensible, pragmatic case for accommodation, but it seems to me that the impulse to ban newly arrived Paul supporters is much more representative of the state of the movement and the GOP these days.