Understanding Ron Paul

While Justin Raimondo does a decent job of showing that neither John Derbyshire nor Jonah Goldberg understand Ron Paul, he doesn’t quite nail it all the way, I think. But first, this captures the essence of the smear campaign against Paul, when Goldberg says, "The left is perfectly happy to blur the lines between a mainstream conservative and a Klansmen," and Raimondo responds:

One can just substitute the word “neocon” for “liberal,” in the above, and come up with the reason why Paul should ignore the Smear Brigade and soldier on: because we all know the neocons are “perfectly happy” to “blur the lines” between a paleocon-libertarian and a Klansman.

Yes, the point I made yesterday. It’s for very good reasons that Raimondo and others, including myself, think that Paul ought to keep ignoring this whole thing and simply refuse to comment on it at all, or do anything else "politicians are supposed to do." And there’s the real crux of it, the part Raimondo danced around a bit, but didn’t quite nail.

This would be the point of agreement between Goldberg and
Derbyshire. Did you catch it? Derbyshire says, "All I took away from
that American Thinker piece was that Paul has some really amateurish
people running his campaign," to which Goldburg responds: "And I agree
with you, the biggest takeaway from the American Thinker piece is that
Paul’s shop needs to get professional." What ensues is all sorts of
"reasoning" why, as a politician, Paul needs to draw bright lines and
distinctions, and so on.

Do you know why? That’s practical politics: divide and conquer. The
objective is to draw as many [meaningless, superfluous, nefarious] distinctions as possible between the
electorate. The more distinctions, the more options there are for how
you craft your "stance." And none of that even remotely has anything to
do with honesty, integrity, or principle. (I’ll tell you: that metaphor — "stance" — both disgusts
and delights me. Actually, I can only barely think of it
metaphorically. I think of politicians standing there, as if just prior to the snap at the line of scrimmage in a football game, molding and
contorting themselves into ever more bizarre "stances" with each new
piece of information. Gather about that image in your mind for a bit and see if you can’t make yourself laugh in sickening disgust.)

You’re supposed to be deeply concerned that some form of kook,
whether it be a racial separatist, supremacist, or some conspiracy nut,
likes Paul, for whatever silly reason, and you do too.

But if Paul has clearly demonstrated anything, it is that he’s an outlier when it comes to politics. Technically, he is a politician; but like no other in the annals of recent American history, he speaks his mind, follows his principled convictions without equivocation, and is nonetheless successful at getting re-elected (nine times, now).

Rather than play dishonest and divisive politics "like you’re supposed to," so that pundits like Goldberg can acknowledge "what a pro you and your staff are," Paul just soldiers on, sending the implicit message that no matter your good or bad ideas; no matter your sensible or kooky outlook, he’ll accept your support, because he’s not going to owe you or anyone anything beyond doing his job, a job which, when he describes it, he frames quite simply (paraphrasing): "when new legislation is proposed, I read the Constitution to see if we have authority to do what’s proposed, and if not, I vote ‘no.’" End of story.

What’s demonstrated here is that the Republican establishment and its pundits and analysts still haven’t understood Paul, or they’re just being obtuse, because the reality is too painful to consider. Do you have any idea how much political overhead is accounted for by being purposefully divisive? Politics, today, is like the tax code. The tax code is so convoluted that it takes billions in wasted overhead every year just to sort it out. Same with politics. Paul just says we ought to be about freedom and liberty, and for that small bit of stuff legally requiring oversight, there’s a clear set of unambiguous instructions (I’m not a philosophical supporter of a constitution, but that’s another argument).

But mostly, Paul is about freedom and liberty, and he just doesn’t care if you’re a whack, a kook, or a crazy, so long as you don’t hurt anyone.

And the very last thing on Earth Paul is going to do is start trying to "distance himself" on meaningless, peripheral and superfluous "issues," like who’s a "neo-Nazi" and who’s not. Paul’s "stance" was formed decades ago and it’s a straightforward one: he took an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, and that’s what he does, and it’s just about all he does. God forbid: he knows his job and he does it. Of course, he’s also been ignored and marginalized for those decades because of it; but now that he’s demonstrated far more support in terms of time, effort, and dollars than anyone predicted, the neighborhood in-crowd wants him to come out and play. And this whole smear campaign is part taunting to get him to do that, and part tantrum that he hasn’t, and likely won’t. Good for him. He should stay the course. It’ll be tough, and there’s a good chance he’ll go down in flames because of it, but he’s always demonstrated a willingness to let the chips fall where they may and I really hope increasing popularity and acceptance doesn’t get to him.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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