Ron Paul's downfall: but is it good for the libertarians?

Obviously, having our most successful candidate ever lose big in New Hampshire and outed as having operated a newsletter that published racist material is not libertarianism's finest hour. But I'm actually glad this happened (and no, not because I hate Ron Paul).

I was at an event last night where this came up a few times, and the words "The Movement" got thrown around. This always feels a little strange, since I'm not really a member of "The Movement": I didn't come to my squishy libertarianism until rather late in life, and so I missed the round of internships, political meet-and-greets, and low-level think-tank jobs that cement people into it.

Nonetheless, I am now on its fringes. And sufficiently steeped in it to know, as all younger libertarians in the wonkosphere kind of know, that it has some ugly moments in its history. Specifically, a lot of its funding used to come from crazy old white people hoping to turn back the clock to the days before minorities and women got all uppity. Ron Paul is a good example of the kinds of people who got in bed with these folk of the festering fringe--probably he didn't exactly believe what was being published under his name, but it certainly didn't bother him enough to do anything about it. His quasi-populist, rural, America-first type politics fit well enough into their beliefs about the ideal America that as long as he overlooked their animus towards people who were poorer and darker skinned, he could raise a lot of money from them.

What matters, though, is that this isn't an important component of "the Movement" any more. The money doesn't come from racists, nor does the political energy, or the leadership. Ron Paul's unfortunate moment, and the outing of Lew Rockwell and Jeff Tucker as the probable authors of the bile, have given libertarians the opportunity to make decisive break with that past--and thankfully, they all seem to be taking it.