Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Ron Paul understand the movement he started? And does he understand what they are up against?

The Ron Paul's campaigners, evidently in response to recent demonstrations of ill will demonstrated at state conventions between Paul's followers and Mainstream GOP officials and party members, are stressing the need for decorum and respect. Brian Montopoli gives a good synopsis of the issue, arguing that Ron Paul is playing a political "long game." Montopoli references "Rand" (Randall, not Ayn Rand) Paul and his possible political future. Montopoli doesn't state this, but other sources believe Ron Paul's more conciliatory approach to the GOP might be because of Rand's future, even being based on concern about neoconservative retaliatory attacks against Paul fils.

What does Dr. Paul expect to accomplish by this tactic? Is it part of a long-term strategy involving Rand? It will not further Dr. Paul's goals, certainly not his foreign policy goals. Honey attracts more flies than vinegar, but even honey has its limitations in the face of entrenched economic interests and a worldview that is based on bellicosity, jingoism, and Messianism

After a brief dalliance with responsible, constructive spending practices, in which they went so far as to even suggest cutting Defense spending, the GOP and its Tea Party adjunct are back to their old bellicose spendthrift ways. Nobody should have been fooled by the rhetoric of last year, or surprised by this development. In related news, Dubya has recently returned from the Netherworld to talk about promoting "freedom", indicating that the brief era of GOP embarrassment is largely over.

As the GOP, including its Tea Party fishhead-eating, attic-dwelling, incestuous love-child,  have taught us in recent decades, acquiescence is usually taken as a sign of weakness, and will be exploited. While there are numerous complaints about government gridlock, it should be conceded that the GOP usually gets what it wants and the Democrats, far from appearing as reasonable partners, look like the GOP's bitch. In contemporary America compromise and bipartisanship invariably means strengthening what Justin Raimondo and Pat Buchanan have called the "war party," which is to say a group, mostly GOP, but with some Democrats and Independents, committed to an aggressive foreign policy.

So if Ron Paul is concerned with saving the GOP, even at the cost of sacrificing his ideals, it isn't certain that he understands the movement he started. As leader and followers tactically diverge, we may see people acting in Ron Paul's name or claims that Ron Paul is being advised by evil counselors. This is an old excuse- the good tsar led astray, or thwarted by bad boyars. A perusal of the comment threads on any number of left-leaning sites will show this reassuring idea is espoused by many Democrats, witness also the invocation of Reagan's name, being almost 'a what would Jesus do' question for the contemporary GOP.

Such responses will not be widespread, however, because Paul's movement has attracted people based on his ideas, not his ancestry or persona, or partisan tribalism. Ron Paul is not a marketing gimmick or chieftain of "our side." One doesn't encounter his followers making statements about how they are proud that the US has its first German-American President from Pennsylvania. Because of the emphasis on issues and not person or political tribe, Ron Paul doesn't have the leeway of other leaders to vary from his message.

If Dr. Paul departs from the message, makes friendly with Romney and the [often war-loving] Christian Right, don't expect his younger, more libertarian followers to pull a Tavis Smiley, and ask how they can "lovingly, respectfully push" their leader to address their concerns, in Smiley's case poverty. And because this is about ideas and not persona, if Rand Paul follows a course that is too mainstream GOP, but made necessary by the political realities of KY, he will find that sometimes political followers are not an inheritable commodity nor are they as patient as a political "long game" might require, seeing nothing to be gained by acquiescing to the neoconservatives and Evangelicals. 

The Smiley moderated debate, concerning poverty, linked to above, is a worthwhile watch.

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