Ron Paul Not Mainstream Enough for the Tea Party?
Congressman Ron Paul
The Founder and the Upstart
Who would make a better President
A Real Candidate Stands Out
It is my goal here, to mock the idea that there is anyone on the right side of the aisle who can stand with Congressman Ron Paul. Though I'm not a Republican, a few years ago I read Ron Paul’s work for the first time. I was hooked. Could it really be that there was an individual out there who stood for both a free society and a smaller, less globally dominant government? Could it be that there was an individual out there who was not only in favor of ending the war on terror, but the war on drugs as well? Was there really a Republican out there who not only talked the talk about small government, but walked the walk as well, by not supporting the federal government’s effort to define marriage, by not supporting torture, by not supporting domestic spying, by not supporting federal drug laws that stand in contrast to state laws?
Ron Paul seemed too good to be true. He was an anti-Bush Republican whose belief in liberty extended not only to freeing people on the other side of the world, but to not forcing his own moral agenda on the American public right here in the U.S. (Finally, a libertarian thru and thru) He voted against the Patriot Act, he was in favor of ending the Fed before it was popular, he’s against foreign interventionist wars (and aid), doesn’t support government expansion, and doesn't support eminent domain when private property is given to another private entity. Though I don’t support Paul’s entire platform, I recognize him as an individual who I respect enough to if not stand with, certainly not stand against.
As I came to like Congressman Paul more and more over the years, I came to see how truly disrespected he was by the Republican establishment. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Democrats don’t like Paul, but having seen him degraded and marginalized by his own Republican counterparts in the 2008 presidential election I was confused. I watched as legions of pundits and citizens made excuses and apologies for Governor Palin despite all of her gaffes, clear ineptitudes, and lack of mental faculty. I watched as familiar faces, such as Mitt Romney, were able to successfully twist Paul’s philosophical and legal arguments for a scale-down of American military forces into a tirade about how Paul was weak, out-of-the-loop, and dangerous for the security of America; this despite the fact that he received the most support of active-duty U.S. military personnel in the 2008 election, with Obama coming in second. Though a former witch named Christine O’Donnell, who hasn’t paid her taxes in half a decade, and a beastiality-video spreading weasel named Carl Palodino received huge Tea Party support, Ron Paul was considered the outsider. If it wasn’t for his distain for taxes, it would be hard to imagine Paul as even being accepted by the Republicans.
As I watch the current political debate, I see he continues to be shrugged off, laughed off, and considered nothing more than a fringe madman. As it turns out Ron Paul’s candidacy is still alive, and he does stand for the things he campaigns on. What’s absolutely amazing is that despite Paul’s cult following, despite his decades long anti-government abuse voting record, he still remains on the fringe of the very movement he helped foster; the Tea Party. Though there may be some practical reasons for this, it seems to me that the primary reason for the Tea Party’s lack of enthusiasm for making Paul the undisputed champion of their movement is that Ron Paul’s version of conservatism is based on intellectualism.
In his manifesto, “Revolution” he warns about the dangers of conservative anti-intellectualism, and the jingoism which has come to define the Republican Party. This may be the best explanation of why a man whose unparalleled dedication to personal liberty, small government, and less taxes cannot get the full support of a movement who purports to be in favor of these very things. Consider that when the WikiLeaks drama was making news across the world, Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin called for the members of Wikileaks to be hunted down as terrorists. She referred to Julian Assange as a traitor, though he is not an American citizen. Ron Paul on the other hand proposed to Congress a series of simple questions that make Palin’s position not only untenable, but show it to be flat out moronic.
No. 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
No. 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?
No. 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government's failure to protect classified information?
No. 4: Are we getting our money's worth of the $80 billion per year spent on intelligence gathering?
No. 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths -- lying us into war or WikiLeaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
No. 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the 1st Amendment and the independence of the internet?
No. 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near-universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed policy of empire than it is about national security?
No. 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in the time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?
No. 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it's wrong?
Can you imagine an individual getting the Republican nomination after asking these questions to Congress? Can you imagine the Christian right coming to support or even condone a nominee who supports legalizing hard drugs while keeping mandatory prayer out of schools? I can’t either, which is why it’s never entirely surprising that Paul doesn’t find success. But which is further outside the mainstream, what you’ve just read or the politics of the mainstream Tea Party movement over the last two years? In the recent Iowa debate Rick Santorum was referred to as the Tea Party’s favorite son. If you’re wondering what to think of him, Google his name and see what comes up! The winner of that same debate by straw poll was Michele Bachmann, who is considered the Tea Party’s number one darling. Michele Bachmann? The same Michele Bachmann who advised Americans not to fill out their big brother sponsored census despite the fact that the census appears in the Constitution and was implemented for more than a century before the term big brother was ever used. The same Bachmann who voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act and continuing the domestic spying programs aimed at American citizens? The same Bachmann who in 2006 claimed that there are dozens of scientists with Nobel Prizes who believe in intelligent design and reject evolution? How can any rational person find Ron Paul to be on the fringe, but Michele Bachmann to be acceptable? Only in an environment where rational, logic driven argumentation is anemia, and faith-based, hollow showmanship is championed, could a Michele Bachmann be even put in the same group as a Ron Paul.
The plight of Ron Paul suggests that there is no cohesiveness in the Tea Party. The divergent views of the endorsed candidates cannot be reconciled by ideology, they are simply too non-compatible. (Either it’s okay to spy on Americans without a warrant or it isn’t) Far from offering anything new, the average Tea Party candidate is simply a more hard-line version of a Republican. The principle targets of the Tea Party thus far have been very much the usual suspects of the Republican Party in good times and bad. Does attacking environmental regulation, attacking benefits for the old and the young, supporting tax cuts for the wealthy and attempting to privatize anything they can, sound like anything new? The only candidate that has anything different to offer is Ron Paul.