Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let's Light Up Ron Paul and his XBox Army!

Ok, so this is all taken from here. Yeah, on the online forum from my old hood I lurk and sometimes shout out as a douchebag. It's the internet and I get cranky sometimes. Anyhow, gentrification in my neighborhood has brought an influx of the apparently young, ill-informed, yet possibly affluent: Ron Paul supporters.

Now, in this forum, I made a bad call. I assumed Paul's Grassroots 5th of November campaign would just fizzle, not blow their candidate into a vaguely Deanish netroots fundraising spotlight. In light of that, I admitted making a bad call, but asserted I think this isn't the first shot in any sort of true political revolution, just some flash powder in pan that's been hit before and will likely be hit again. Some others chimed in, recycling the "Paul is a loon" mantra that got ensconced in the conventional wisdom after a number of profiles in the mainstream media, like this one. This prompted a response from one "pip," an apparent Ron Paul supporter, shaming the tone of ridicule.

My rebuttal follows, slightly edited for clarity:

"You can disagree with his message, but trying to discredit the man as a "loon" is downright insulting. The man is a doctor of medicine and understands economics (having studied the Austrian school of economics) better than most politicians in the race."

1st off, I'm not sure why you think those credentials are impressive. The guy's got an M.D. Lots of people do. Heck there are people with PhDs and doctors of law (J.D.s) on this board. Doesn't mean I want any of them running the country, though I do have this moonshine operation to whom I'd confidently hand a few of them the reigns.

He understands economics? Howso? Does he have an advanced degree in economics, has he ever worked as an economist? Do you know what "the Austrian school" is? Here's a hint, it thrives in the world of "radical" economic theory (kinda like Marxism still exists on the fringes of modern social and cultural theory) and I don't know of any stable economy using it as a model outside of maybe a long running game of Sid Meier's Civilization.

"Lastly, he's the only candidate who had the courage to vote against both the Iraq war and the Patriot act, when it was unpopular to do so. No major Democrat candidate will commit to removing troops from Iraq."

That is true, he can make a speech and vote his conviction. Tell me this, can he effectively lead? What is his legislative record? Has he authored (not signed on to) any major legislation or enacted policy? Held any legislative chairships? Or did he spend his years in Congress around his voluntary break operating as a "straight shooter" who didn't hit anything and a "straight talker" who no one really listened

The Philadelphia Weekly does a great job capturing what the why Paul doesn't have a prayer perspective:

'Hello, young American! Does the very mention of the Constitution inspire a long-dormant patriotism that has nothing to do with pointless flag-waving and destroying other countries? Ron Paul looks pretty good these days, eh? His rambles pass for political courage as he goes around announcing that he believes in more personal rights. Except being a libertarian, kiddos, doesn't just mean you're pro civil liberties. It means you're anti lots of other good stuff. Like Medicaid and Medicare and the idea of some sort of actual universal health coverage. You're against federally funded public schools and subsidized college loans. You're against programs to help the poor, the hungry, the sick, the very young and the very old, and you think everyone needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps or go to hell. And if that's how you feel, go ahead, go to Ron Paul's Liberty Rally 2007 and scream about the "revolution." Believe you're out there fighting for freedom because you're with a Republican who wants to end the war. But if you're into the real principles of the Constitution (check the Preamble if you're confused; it contains the phrase "promote the general welfare"), stay home and read a god**** book that isn't written by Ayn Rand. (Alli Katz)'
I see Paul's isolationism as a comic bookish alternative to the U.S.'s current foreign policy (hence the interest from the V for Vendetta Fan Base who really didn't get what Guy Fawkes was all about). The last thing the country should do is disengage from the globe. No country, since the mid twentieth century, can function in such a bubble, and those that try like Turkmenistan and N. Korean, well do we want to be
in that club?

Domestically, he serves the parochial interest of his small Texas town just fine. But the U.S. is not a small Texas town. You want to peel back all the country's social programs including financial policies that enabled most of us to get an education, so that the whole country takes on the idyllic character of a small Texas town, culturally, economically, and intellectually. You keep on rooting for him.

Maybe I'm wrong, but this guy sounds like his big constituency in the republican race stems from Gen Y types who want to click reset on the U.S. Playstation, a demographic who apparently has never heard of Pat Buchanan or Lindon Larouche. There is nothing new to this guy, other than a digiterati trying to re-enact the Howard Dean playbook for him. I actually preferred Dean as a moderate back in '04, and I think playing to his "radical" following is what doomed him (and the yell). My bet, Paul, if he gets any primary ground, goes down the same way.

Oh and he's on my turf this Saturday. I think I'm there.


Cod Peace said...

The comparison between Howard Dean and Ron Paul is barely valid, although Dean had a realistic shot at the candidacy and Paul barely makes a blip in the polls at this point. About the only thing they have in common is the internet fund raising and online community attention. The fund raising is something which the other major campaigns are doing with far greater success than Ron Paul. So really, it's just the enthusiasm among some younger people posting in online forums that remind people of Dean.

Ron Paul is attractive because he claims to be anti-war and pro-Constitution, which is in stark contrast to the pro-war, pro-destruction, pro-torture candidates the Republicans are fielding. I doubt that many of his supporters would want to live under a really Libertarian US government.

Ron Paul's candidacy is doomed, for the same reason that Dean's was: the party establishment will never, ever, allow someone who's outside of the mainstream gain a position of influence. Let's recall what happened to Howard Dean: he came in 3rd in Iowa (largely due to a lack of organization) and was subsequently ridiculed for the Scream. If a "serious" candidate like Kerry had done something similar, you bet the mainstream punditry and Democrats would have included the crowd noise in the audio playback, and let the story die after a day or two. Fortunately Dean had enough support to leverage himself into the DNC chair, where his 50-state strategy (instead of the Rahm Emmanuel "abandon uncompetitive states" stupid strategy) one the Dems the Congress in '06.

Example #2: McCain in SC in 2000 - the victim of one of the worst dirty tricks campaigns in recent memory, and the Republicans sat on their hands and let Bush get away with it.

Ron Paul will get similar treatment: if he actually manages to register in the polls, expect a flood of stories exploiting some minor embarassing moment or gaffe explaining how he's just not presidential material and how he's lost all campaign momentum.

I've already mentioned this, but Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura were a clear shot across the bow to the two main parties. Not only will they never allow 3rd parties to gain traction in a presidential campaign, but they will vigorously repress internal "3rd party" candidates like Ron Paul in the primaries.

Such is life in our dead Republic.

Cheesesteak the Impaler said...

Yes, in popular memory, all people recall of Dean is a flash in the pan swell of "youth" support, internet something or other, and the scream. Most voters don't know what the DNC is, let alone the 50 States Strategy and its architect.

Dean was actually a very even-keeled, moderate style governor (the civil unions thing is the only thing of substance that gave him radical cred, but really from my pov that's just a reasonable person trying to work a compromise), which is why he works so well inside the party machinery. What killed him was eating up his own hype and feeling he needed that buzz to keep his currency, thus leading him to play up to it more than he probably needed to.

The media, and establishment politicos relish when "turks" or establishment politicos in turk clothing fall because it validates the establishment.

The key difference is Dean actually had a realistic view of political possibility. Paul doesn't have that, and he doesn't have anything new. He's a half-assed conflation of Dean netroots populism, Larouche and Limbaugh head in the sand isolationism, all coupled with this bizarro messianic culty patriot philosopher king thing. Isn't the whole incessant "Dr. Paul" thing among his followers a little creepy, especially given that from what I can tell his record as a medical professional was overwhelmingly lackluster, like his legislative record. I really think his constituency stems from people whose notions of civic engagement comes from comic books.