District of Corruption

Much Ado About Paul

Ron Paul’s victory in the CPAC straw poll triggered renewed discussion of his message, a discussion typically styled as an a la carte acceptance or rejection of his various recommendations and stances. So, for example, Jonah Goldberg will go along with auditing the Fed, kind of, and he isn’t part of the neoconservative cabal, and...

I am dying to know how each individual movement lackey feels about Paul. Really I am. Yet the overall verdict already is in and it’s not necessarily wrong because it’s being expressed by the neocons or the establishment or the GOP hacks or whoever. It’s that Ron Paul doesn’t function well as the leader of one of the two governing parties.

Paul did and does function quite well as a feisty congressman, leveling trenchant attacks on bureaucratic overreach, fiscal and monetary malfunction, late-stage imperial insanity, and basic black-and-white anti-Constitutionalism. He’s at his best when inserting into the Congressional Record his calm, voice-in-the-wind soliloquies. Alas, his avuncular qualities do not translate well into higher-profile affairs where he often looks lost standing next to airbrushed FOX darlings. Perhaps more damagingly, he lacks the PR grace and maneuverability required to remove a certain prefabricated tone from his on-the-spot answers to direct questions. The Constitution is fundamental, the free market is a fine idea to have somewhere in mind, but the two are not acceptable answers to every imaginable social, cultural, and political question.

Maybe Paul cannot entirely be blamed for the balance of the following he has attracted, which I admit has made it more difficult for me to maintain my Paulite enthusiasm. At the last Campaign for Liberty meeting I attended, now almost two years ago, organizers looked on as a greasy thirty-something with coke-bottle glasses, after soliciting his mother’s permission, generously handed me a complimentary Ron Paul bumper sticker and some articles by David Icke identifying Kris Kristofferson and William F. Buckley, Jr. as enlisted members of the world conspiracy of shape-shifting lizard tyrants.

If Paul retains any charm for members of the Alternative Right it is because he alone among national figures would do serious deep-impact damage to the managerial welfare state. He may be out of touch and at times a little befuddled, but he honestly is what he is and likely would see through the elimination of whole national bureaucracies. This is what sustains admiration and qualified loyalty within our little circle. So our house guru reminded me recently.

I’m starting to cultivate the reverse attitude toward Paul’s activity in truth-telling and radical reform. I’m unable to convince myself that the system deserves any outstretched hand at all. Perhaps Paul—perhaps we, by extension—ought to just quiet down and allow events to play themselves out. Perhaps it’s even best that the political class have encouragement, not opposition. Maybe you should be calling your elected representatives, not to issue cautionary warning, but to remind them that social programs, unlimited domestic spending, and open immigration truly are fine expressions of our national ideals, and that doom-saying critics speak merely from pathology and hate.

If the political class wants the rope with which to hang itself, perhaps it should have it.