Since Ron Paul is getting too old for electoral politics – the soon-to-be-former Texas Congressman and three-time Presidential candidate will be 80 years old before the 2016 election – there is a clamor to select a new standardbearer for what those involved call the liberty movement. One choice is perhaps a curious one, but has the requisite amount of celebrity attached since he is a television personality.
Ron Paul has been the inspiration and mentor of the Liberty Movement for many years, and he always will be. But now he has stepped aside as the Liberty Movement’s candidate for President of the United States, and he has singled out one person who is capable up picking up his mantel (sic), Judge Andrew Napolitano. Judge Napolitano is the one person best suited to assume Dr. Paul’s role as presidential contender in the Republican Party and to become the intellectual leader of the Liberty Movement. (Emphasis in original.)
At this point, the drive is simply a petition drive, the success of which is so far unknown since I can’t verify how many have signed without signing it myself. But a Facebook page devoted to the subject has just 168 likes, so the petition numbers are probably in the low three-digits presently.
And how successful could a draft effort be? There’s this historical guide:
Successful presidential drafts are rare but not unheard of. The two most successful modern efforts to draft candidates for the presidency both occurred in the 1952 campaign. There had been an effort within both political parties to draft five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower to run as a candidate for President as early as 1948 and then again in 1951. Eisenhower studiously ignored both efforts. He was, however, finally compelled to pay attention after Henry Cabot Lodge entered him in the 1952 New Hampshire Republican primary without the general’s authorization. Eisenhower won the entire slate of Republican delegates in the New Hampshire primary without even campaigning. (Emphasis in original.)
The piece on the Revolution PAC website (the parent of the Draft Napolitano site) goes on to point out Democrat Adlai Stevenson was drafted by Democrats disappointed Eisenhower didn’t choose their side.
But could a draft work in 2016?
There are a number of hurdles in place for 2016 that weren’t there in 1952; moreover Eisenhower was a special case due to his popularity and the fact the military was held in high regard as a training ground for office. Troops who admired Eisenhower’s leadership the decade before in World War II were his natural support base.
There’s also the fact that being a judge is rarely a proving ground for a presidency, with the last President to serve as a federal jurist being William Howard Taft. (Taft became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court eight years after his Presidential term expired, but served on a federal appellate court beforehand.) Few have attained office without electoral experience, either – although the aforementioned Eisenhower is an exception.
More importantly, Napolitano would be sponsored by a political wing which exists without a party. Undoubtedly the mainstream Republican party voter looks askance at liberty supporters, preferring instead those who hew closer to the established party line. Given Ron Paul’s lack of success in terms of popular votes, it’s not a large base from which to work; moreover, the adoption of new party rules will make it far more difficult for a non-establishment Republican candidate to succeed.
Nor is there enough of a bloc to support an independent bid – see Ross Perot, 1992.
But the advantage Napolitano has is one of no paper trail. We can’t find fault with the voting record he has, so the only guides we have to his political positioning are his books. Obviously he’s a believer in the original intent of the Constitution, so that’s generally a plus; however, he’s also made known his unconventional approach on same-sex marriage and controversial thoughts on 9-11 which go against the grain and generally accepted narrative.
Still, there is the possibility that a nation may be sick enough of both the liberal excesses of the Obama years and the party politics played on both sides to want a new, fresh face. Then again, the election of Obama was supposed to bring a new, fresh face to the White House and we’ve seen how that works out. And unlike the draft effort we have here in Maryland for a particular potential gubernatorial candidate, the final result could be a polite refusal by the subject at hand.