The Ridiculous Success of Ron Paul
June 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
On Friday, June 15, retiring Texas Congressional Representative and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul announced that his campaign would be holding it own rally in Tampa, Florida. Of course, the rally will be held on August 26, one day before the start of the Republican Convention. Dr. Paul recorded a video to his supporters, stating that the rally would be to “celebrate” the progress of his campaign and prepare for the convention.
The Paul campaign estimates it will have 200 bound supporters at the convention, and “hundreds” more ready to cast the vote for the libertarian icon in a possible second round of voting. Dr. Paul and his supporters will have undeniable influence on the Republican Party platform, the Romney rhetoric, and the future of “conservative” politics. But the rest of the iceberg is still beneath the water.
Dr. Paul’s success lies not in some huge rally, nor in a nominating convention, and especially not in the Executive Branch of government. His ideas have turned so many to the idea that government shouldn’t just be minimized or restrained, but rather that government is never the answer to anyone’s problems. No, Dr. Paul is no anarchist. He believes that the United States Federal Government has a role in society: to protect the borders of the United States from foreign attack and to maintain peace between the 50 states.
But the root of his ideology is so much more pervasive and it lies at the heart of the mainstream-hated Libertarianism. Listen to a Paul interview carefully and you’ll hear it, the sound of peace ringing out. His entire political philosophy revolves around the mantra that force is necessarily bad. Taxation is theft. Conscription is slavery. Offensive wars are acts of war. Perhaps unintentionally so, these statements have driven a small part of my generation intellectually further, beyond the confines of public-education-taught glorifications of the Constitution, and over the whimsical fantasies of a national government bound by rules that itself can change.
Lewrockwell.com is the “most visited Libertarian website” in the world according to the Capital Free Press. Mr. Rockwell himself appears frequently on Russia Today (RT) as a commentator. Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. and author of “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy—How to Save Yourself and Your Country,” also known as one of the few who predicted the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, is replacing the twenty year radio veteran G. Gordon Libby on the Radio America Network. Rallies for Ron Paul are overflowing with kids—actual students and young people attracted to that weird idea of freedom. A movement is growing.
So many are attempting to define it. Mainstream pundits call Paul followers “Paul Bots” or “Paulians.” Even some Occupy protestors claim allegiance to Dr. Paul. In some polls, Dr. Paul beats Obama amongst independents. And even the neo-conservative leaning Rasmussen admits that Dr. Paul can top Obama. Paul supporters are surely many birds of the same feather, but defining that feather is tricky business.
This author has a suggestion as to why. People don’t like being told what to do. On the margin, we are naturally good, recognizing that death and theft are bad things. We feel it natural that money made ought to be money kept. We understand that transactions should only occur if both sides agree to it. Coercion just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps a minority disagrees and believes that force, other than the defensive sort is necessary—that people need to be kept in line. But the Paul movement is demonstrating quite the opposite.
At the heart of the rEVOLution is the beginning of anarchism. I’ll let the deep sighs and worried glances about the room pass. Go ahead. The nervousness is natural. But to those who believe that government is never the answer and that freedom is man’s natural state, “Paulian anarchy” is not just a state of rambunctious outrage, but a harmony of cooperation, understanding, and peace.
I predict that in the future, more will turn to the ideas of Mises and Rothbard. The Internet will unleash the human mind and pull the Keynesian curtains, which hide the genius of the Austrian Theory. Over time, the intellectually committed will follow the thread that leads them from statism to individualism. At some point or another, Americans of differing backgrounds will at some point encounter the lunacy, which constitutes government coercion.
Perhaps they’ll scoff at the debilitating regulations on the medical industry that lead to a lack of treatment for a loved one. Maybe while in the armed forces, they’ll realize the futility of interventionism. A new dad may feel the pain of paying to his government first, and postponing gifts to his children. An individual may someday see property taxes as a sign of non-ownership, as an indication that government claims hold to all which one owns and only permits individuals temporary possession of goods. For college students, the federal backing of loans may make some young people realize that they or their family couldn’t afford college—that the taking of the loan is nothing more than a ploy by government to indenture its citizens. In the end, those devoted to logic will see that government action is necessarily wrong, that there is no proper role for governments anywhere, at any time, and that even the most extravagant argument for government is inherently wrong.
Of the many, I present to you one simple way of debunking any mythical “need” for government. It is a two-step process.
First, ask whether force—defined as a transfer of goods between two or more parties in which one party does or does not give consent to the transaction and the other carries out the transaction regardless of the sentiment presented by the former—is good or bad. Most will find that force is bad. This is why people feel that stealing or killing is wrong. Second, when confronted with any governmental solution to a perceived problem, ask how this government solution will be accounted for—essentially, how it will be paid for.
You will find that the answer to that question is one of three: taxation (theft, since one has no choice whether to pay), borrowing from foreign entities (which incurs debt, or, an obligation to pay in the future which must be met with taxation), or the printing of money (the devaluation of currency, or, theft through the decrease in purchasing power). Perhaps this author is wrong, but it’s my feeling that the logically true will come to the conclusion that each of these three forms of funding are necessarily wrong because, as per the first step, they involve the use of force. Thus, government cannot be the answer. All that remains is some form of misunderstanding, perhaps even anger. One may be furious at the fact that economics simply do not permit one to have a free lunch, nor healthcare, nor education, nor roads, nor anything for free. But once the anger subsides, it will be obvious that volunteerism, the state of non-existence of government, is the only moral solution.
Surely any opposition to the theory that anarchism lies at the heart of the Paul movement will be met with notions that some Paul voters just don’t like either of the other candidates, or that some voters don’t subscribe to an entire ideology but rather focus on a certain issue (the legalization of marijuana, for example), or of course, that the simple thought of life without government is plain “unrealistic.” However, the naysayer’s will soon realize that the root of the reason for which they don’t approve of Romney nor Obama involves the administration of force—that the core issue behind the illegalization of marijuana is the use of force, and that life without government means life without institutionalized force. This shouldn’t be frightening; it should be inspiring.
I predict that over time, most will come to this conclusion. We will see this phenomenon in falling election participation rates; perhaps some will even act out by taking greater efforts to hide their income from the IRS or by using currencies other than the US dollar in transactions. Many will begin to withdraw their fiat currency savings from the government-run megabanks and buy commodities as a defense against government action.
These actions, which many are already pursuing, are evidence of the ridiculous success of the Ron Paul campaign. And while Dr. Paul won’t run for another term in the House, and his presidential campaign is functionally over, his legacy will be evidenced in a way that history books are unlikely to record. But trees still make noise when they fall, even if no one is around to listen, even if these trees ruffle establishment feathers.
Also featured on The Political Union and Review at New York University.