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Welp… over 4,000 people, on less than two days’ notice, most of them under 30, of all races, showed up Wednesday night at Fullerton’s Titan stadium, to listen to this small, regular-ass, bemused Texan in his blue work shirt.
Over 4,000 people, wishing that they had a political Party - wishing, dreaming, jonesing for a Party that stood for their ideal of personal freedom, peace, and minimal government. There isn’t one. They don’t have one.
One of Ron Paul’s best lines that evening, which Juice friend Allan Bartlett also hadn’t heard before, was based on the old saying that if you’re not a liberal at 20 you don’t have a heart, and if you’re not a conservative by 40 you don’t have a brain. “Why can’t we have a heart AND a brain?” keened the wide-eyed Dr. Paul, to roars of assent.
Looking back, I appreciate that Dr. Paul skipped all the usual bullshit you hear from every politician – there was no flattery of Fullerton, no raving over the beautiful Southern California weather and whatever food we supposedly eat here, no backslapping anecdotes of CSUF’s dean and whoever helped book him here, he got right to the point. He seems perpetually incredulous – well, about many things – but also about being such a national figure; he claims he never really wanted to be a politician, but he “just had a few things I needed to get off my chest.”
Many are drawn to Dr. Paul because of his foreign policy. He speaks passionately against America’s wars, all of them since WWII, and against Obama’s drone strikes which kill civilians and create more terrorists than they eliminate. He also opposes sanctions on countries, which end up hurting the very poor people we’re supposedly trying to help, as well as FOREIGN AID in general, which he dings as enriching and empowering the richest people in the poorest countries. But he bristles at being labelled an “isolationist.” Far from that, he favors unfettered trade with all nations, getting special applause for ending the embargo on CUBA.
Then there’s the nutty stuff. It’s surprising to see how many young people can get all carried away with chanting “END THE FED!” What problems do they think “ending the Fed” would solve? What do they think led to the creation of the Fed? What do they propose to replace it with? Some democratically-elected body that’ll drive our economy up and down, back and forth, with the political winds of the day? Also, it seems suddenly important to this Ron Paul crowd, to be able to drink RAW MILK. I say, what the hell, let ‘em!
Dr. Paul admitted that he votes in favor of any bills that end “waste, fraud, and abuse,” but does so with impatience believing such moves to be nearly pointless band-aids. Because, as he says, “ALL GOVERNMENT IS WASTEFUL, FRAUDULENT, AND ABUSIVE.” Hm. Hm… Have to admit, I really don’t believe that.
The word Ron kept coming back to was FREEDOM, everything he does and says and believes is about maximizing individual freedom. FDR, however, enumerated some freedoms that don’t factor in to the Paulite thinking – freedom from poverty, from ignorance, from hunger, from disease. There’s a lot of magical thinking with Ron and his supporters: everything will work out splendidly for everyone if the government just gets out of the way. The divine hand of the market cures all ills. It’s so simple, and makes a teenager’s heart beat ardently. The memory is erased, of what first drove humans to create governments.
So, Allan and several other volunteers were up at the front as folks entered, letting everyone know “You’ve gotta be registered in the Republican Party to vote for Dr. Paul in June!” They got 800 new registered-Republican voters that evening. I made sure to tell everyone, “Make sure you get two forms so you can change back after June 5!” This was generally met with chuckles and nods of agreement, and the grabbing of twosies. I’m gonna do the same thing myself later this month, after a couple of stiff drinks.
The Ron Paul camp has been on an aggressive campaign to “use the existing rules” to get as many delegates as they can away from Romney. You have to feel a little bit ambivalent about that, as it’s not what the majority of Republican voters want … but as the Paulites point out, it IS the rules! Apparently these shenanigans will somehow put Dr. Paul in a strong negotiating position at the Convention to … I don’t know what, influence some of the Republican platform? Modify Mitt Romney’s infinitely malleable philosophy? Get his son Rand a post, as some cynics suggest?
But of course, nobody really thinks that Dr. Paul will beat Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination, let alone beat Barack Obama in November. I hope that all these enthusiastic libertarians move on to support the actual Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who shares all of Dr. Paul’s best positions and lacks several of his bad points (i.e. Johnson is pro-choice, pro-immigrant, and didn’t spend the 90′s letting a crazed racist newsletter go out under his name.)
If you say I hope they vote for Johnson because I don’t want Romney to win, you’d be only half-right – it’s because I’m TERRIFIED of Romney winning. Because, while you may fault Obama for not being perfect on civil liberties, while you may fault Obama for drone strikes that kill civilians, Romney looks like a safe bet to DOUBLE DOWN on all that, and be possibly more of a tyrant than Bush and Cheney.
EXHIBIT A. And this is also Exhibit A for why I so strongly support Ron Paul over Romney in the Republican race: the foreign policy advisers to foreign policy novice Mitt ARE PURE UNRECONSTRUCTED, UNREPENTENT, BUSH-ERA NEO-CONS who believe the Iraq adventure was a great success and are just itching for MORE wars. You’re ready for 4-8 more years of Cheney-esque bloodletting? Do you see why I say Ron Paul supporters don’t have a Party?