Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Ron Paul Phenomenon

I love that Ron Paul beat out Rudy Ghouliani in the Iowa primaries by a pretty handy margin, as well as the fact that Fox News didn't invite him to its New Hampshire debate tomorrow because he's not polling as well as the other "major" candidates. But I'm not a Ron Paul fan. I fully agree on his position with regards to getting us out of Iraq. But that's it. A relative of mine (who occasionally checks in at this site) has started supporting him, and I've got no bones about that -- he has some definite appeal to Republicans with severe Bush fatigue. But I'm genetically disposed to vote liberal/progressive/Democratic, so that's where it ends for me. This Salon article from back in December sums up the differences in our outlooks quite succinctly (Salon, as always, requires a subscription or a few moments of your time watching a web ad):
Paul, a lifelong libertarian who has often been treated in Congress as a dotty old outcast with strange ideas. Throughout his political career he has argued for legalizing gold and silver as legal tender, ending most foreign aid, abolishing the income tax, eliminating the Department of Education, and ending the federal war on drugs, among other things.

Still, I've been trying to read about what is driving the popularity of his campaign (he raised about $20 million in the last quarter -- about equal to what Obama and Clinton raised and far more than any of the Republican candidates). The Salon article talks with a number of supporters in an attempt to get to the heart of the matter, and it ends with this:
But perhaps the best explanation of the Paul phenomenon came from Rammelkamp, the young man from Long Island who had taken on significant credit card debt for the Paul campaign. He told me that to understand Paul, I had to think of the American people as a baby elephant, chained to a tree. "It realizes that it can only walk 5 feet in each direction. It realizes that it is a slave. When it grows old enough, it is strong enough to break away from the tree. But it doesn't know." He pauses, to let this sink in -- the American people are a captive animal unaware of its own power to claim liberty. "When was the last time you tried it?" he asks me of breaking free. "Maybe you are strong enough."

And so for thousands of his supporters, Paul has begun to symbolize freedom itself. He is the baby elephant who broke his chains, the Guy Fawkes for a new millennium. And with his candidacy, his supporters believe he shows a way out of the morass in Iraq, a way away from the burden of taxation and the fear of economic insecurity, a way to strike back against the creeping power of the federal government and the free-spending culture of Washington. He is a political savior for people who feel trapped by two political parties that have failed to solve the nation's problems, by a political dialogue that often skirts the real issues, and by a federal government that expands its power by marketing fear. Ron Paul, they hope, is the way out. "It's like do or die," says Linda Hannan, a 35-year-old paralegal from Staten Island, N.Y., as the Murphy's celebrations continue. "Liberty and freedom are our future."


At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 11:04 AM, Blogger Agen said...

Um... I'm gonna leave this up just for entertainment value.

At 4:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reason that Paul gets so much attention is that he is the only classic liberal running for office. Since you say you are a "progressive/liberal" Democrat you don't grasp the phenomena. Few modern liberals do, or understand that modern liberalism/progressivism is code for socialist.


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