Regarding this post, a reader writes:
A fundamental difference between the Ron Paul faction of the Republican party and the Dean faction of the Democratic party was Ralph Nader. There was a major wake up call amongst liberal activists that third party politics was going to do more harm than good in the long run. That, in the long run, it was better to channel their energies within the party and change the party rather than overthrow it wholesale. So when Dean came along, the energy that developed around him ended up getting transformed into a movement that was fixated on reforming the Democratic party. The Dean Democrats are liberal, but at their core, deeply pragmatic about how you really get things done in politics.
To see this in action, go look at what's said on DailyKos on a daily basis, arguably one of the epicenters of Dean democrat politics. Yeah there's a very strongly liberal bent, but at the end of the day it's biggest emphasis is on practical electoral politics. It's about getting Democrats elected, and in the process, improving on the quality of those that do get elected. While it's liberal and progressive, there's nothing very ideological about them. They happily backed relatively conservative Democrats knowing that more Democrats meant a greater chance that a progressive message would survive the Washington meat grinder.
My sense is that the Ron Paul supporters aren't going to have that same drive to work within the party. That rather than being the Republican version of Howard Dean, Ron Paul's movement is becoming the next generation of Larouchies. While some of his supporters are the more reasonable and libertarian wing of the party, there's a strong thread of radicalism amongst a lot of them. Many of them drift past being libertarianism to almost being anarchists, believing, not in small government, but practically no government. They emphasize rather extreme steps like eliminating the federal reserve, going back to the gold standard, shutting down the IRS, etc.
Say what you will about the Dean democrats, they are hardly a radical lot. They were very enthusiastic, but deep down, Dean was not that radical except in how he was delivering his message. He wasn't calling for some extreme change in government, mostly just getting out of Iraq and reforming a few things like the health care system. Because it was not an innately radical group, it could more readily merge into the larger party apparatus rather than become an active opposition to it. I just don't see how the same thing could happen with the Paulites.