20 Dec The Attraction of Ron Paul to the Mediocre Among Us
I put a little “teaser” up on Facebook the other day that I was going to write this piece, and as is nearly always the case when Ron Paul is spoken of in some sort of negative context, the wheels fell off the bus for his adoring fans. It is unfortunate that Ron Paul fans get so emotionally disturbed by my frequent criticism of him because I genuinely and truly do not wish to agitate his more cult-like followers (note: the use of the word “more” there is purposely to delineate one type of fan from another – the other being the ones that perhaps are not quite so emotionally volatile). I only have two goals with Ron Paul fans:
(1) For the more sensible among them who are understandably attracted on a superficial level to a lot of his limited government rhetoric, I want them to be aware what the fruits of this man’s labor are, I want them to re-think the philosophy of political strategy he represents, and I want them to be aware of who he is, who his closest, dearest friends are, and why he is such a dangerous and failed member of the freedom movement in our country. I can honestly say that I think the bulk of his fans fall into this camp, and that is why they do not stay in his camp for long. I feel like the absolutely insane traffic and conversation that my previous piece on Ron Paul generated went a long way towards educating innocent bystanders as to why they ought not jump on this disastrous bandwagon. I have never gotten more encouraging feedback from people than I did from this piece. I write about Ron Paul because I care about the freedom movement, I value limited government, and unlike Ron Paul and his best friends, I am a fan of the United States Constitution. So I bifurcate his fans between two camps: The innocent ones who deserve to be made aware, and then …
(2) The cult-like followers who literally defy the imagination in the deification and revisionism they participate in as they go about their Paulista business. I do not wish to convert them, and I hold out no hope for effecting change in their thought process. They are incorrigible. There is no empirical observation that will sway them a different way. There is no reconsideration of ideology – let alone strategy – that will be effective. So my objective with these guys? I want them to unfriend me on Facebook, unfollow me on Twitter, and basically go about their business (their business being the subject of this article today). They are not good at going about their business, primarily because they are pesky little fellas who are more interested in biting at the ankle of a blog than ever, I don’t know, winning something. But they are also bad at going about their business in a literal sense, and now I want to get down to the point of this piece.
I am abundantly qualified to make observations about the sociology of the second camp of RP followers. I have been around them my entire life. I have engaged them over and over and over again. I spent years of my life with them. In fact, it was being so up close and personal with them, and seeing first-hand how brutally uninterested they were in having any real impact whatsoever, that partially caused me to flee from them like a cheetah in the jungle (Ron Paul’s past metaphor to describe people fleeing with great speed was to describe the break-up of the 1992 riots as being caused by black people running to get their welfare checks, but if you don’t mind, I am going to steer clear of such sickening, vile racism). In fairness, it was not just their lack of motivation or desire to effect true societal change that discouraged me; it became deeply ideological (I am forcing myself to write about the immorality of Ron Paul’s foreign policy in a different article, primarily because I already am bracing myself for the backlash I will get for this piece as it is and I am not interested in giving fuel to the fire of Israel-bashing that will inevitably come with that). Okay – back to this blog. I literally have dealt with THOUSANDS of Ron Paul fans in my life. Up close and personal. Fanatical Ron Paul fans. The kind that go to debates and scream stuff. The kind that go to The Tonight Show studio audience when he is on. The kind that march with the Occupy Wall Street crowd in Santa Cruz and scream for the destruction of capitalism (huh? Ron Paul fans? Say it ain’t so …). The kind that loudly proclaim George Bush a war criminal on par with Hitler and Stalin (that is, for the ones who even consider Hitler and Stalin to be war criminals). I know the people who have REALLY financed Ron Paul (sorry, guys, but your $10 donation didn’t buy those ads in Iowa last week). And I will say this without a single ounce of regret or hedge or qualification in my entire sentiment: The GENERAL prevalent common thread is a complete and total lack of personal or professional successes that unites Ron Paul fans everywhere.
I take it back. I will hedge and qualify, but only to the extent that it is the right thing to do. OF COURSE, this does not mean it is true of 100% of Ron Paul fanatical fans. There. That satisfies my moral obligation to hedge. I can’t hedge a lot more than that, because I absolutely totally completely really believe what I am saying. Go do the homework and look at the sociological profile of the typical Ron Paul lunatic on Facebook. Interview Ron Paul fans in mass at the rallies where his folks are. Just be honest with yourself and answer the question: What strikes you most about these people? Is it their commitment to a certain ideology? Of course not. Ron Paul’s camp says the Constitution is a statist document, yet the bulk of his fans say they like him because he is the only one who loves the Constitution. Is it because of his Christian values? Of course not. His HERO in the entire world is a radical secular God-hating anarchist atheist. Is it because of his commitment to free markets? Clearly not. The Occupy Wall Street guys say they want the “end of private property” and then circulate Ron Paul petitions. There is nothing cohesive or congruent about Ron Paul’s core fans ideologically or philosophically. What is coherent and clear is that his fans are by and large people who are extremely unaccomplished in our society. Is this an ad hominem argument? No, because I am not invalidating the ideology of Ron Paul in saying this. I agree with a whole bunch of what Ron Paul says. I am making a mere sociological observation (and charitably, I am fine with it if you want to say that you have not observed this, but I ask you to charitably forgive me for being skeptical in advance of that claim). And the reason for my sociological observation is this: It directly ties into the flaw of their political activism.
Jonah Goldberg decimated Ron Paul today for his asinine claims as to what he would do right when he took office. SOME of what Ron Paul says he wants to do, I want to do too. But I want to do it over a generation, because it absolutely will never get done if it is not done over a generation. The nature of society will not allow for the blowback that would exist by the unthoughtful radicalism of what Paul says he would do (and of course even he knows it would never, ever happen, but you can’t get those $10 donations without it). It took us over 100 years to become this progressive and nanny-dependent as a society. It took over 100 years for the citizen to beg the government to do as much as it does for the citizen, and for the government to oblige said citizen. It will not be undone in 100 minutes. It will take a lot of work. Political change will take a lot of work. Cultural change will take a lot of work. It is work I have dedicated my life to. I work as a senior vice president at a company with 62,000 employees, serve on four or five boards of non-profits and political groups, am raising three children under the age of six, manage the financial well-being of 150 high net worth individuals, families, and institutions, and am beyond passionate about the direction of my country. And frankly, I feel like I am not doing enough! I know that my life’s aspirations can not come true overnight, but I work and I work and I work. And when I die, I hope there will be some change as a result of what I am doing (should God see fit to smile upon my efforts). Where is a vision from the nucleus of Ron Paul cheerleaders? Where is the commitment to multi-generational and incremental change? I understand that the task at hand is going to be HARD, but I find their selection of “Door #3” to be perverse. Yes, in door #3 you never have to worry about winning an election. You get to comfort yourself with platitudes and self-righteous cliches about being the only one really fighting the good fight. You can protest every candidate, or every bill, but you never get your own candidate elected, or get your own bill passed. You are the quintessential man outside the ring, looking at the two boxers fighting, telling the other bystanders around you how bad the two men fighting are. It is pathetic.
And it connects to the topic of this article, not because I wanted to take a pot shot at Ron Paul fans. As I said, I want to influence the reasonable ones, and I want the others to GO AWAY. What I want to point out, though, is that being a person of personal and professional and cultural accomplishments also takes hard work. I refuse to believe there is no connection between their sociological make-up and their chosen political tactics. I think they are lazy people. I think they prefer the path of least resistance, where they never have to actually govern or legislate, to getting their hands dirty. I think they would rather call successful people “elitist” (don’t they all do that?) than become a successful person. These things intertwine and feed on themselves. And it needs to stop.
In our personal lives and in the cultural engagements that lie ahead, there is a lot of messy work to be done. It will not be done by the Ron Paul camp – I guarantee it. You know it is true in your heart of hearts. I do not want to insult the psychological make-up of Ron Paul fans. Rather, I want those of you to echo Bruce Springsteen’s delicious close to the masterpiece song Thunder Road: “It’s a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win”.