Politics: The Ron Paul Delusion

Pardon the obvious rip of the title of Richard Dawkins’ most recent book The God Delusion, but “delusion” is the best (and easiest) way to describe the outburst of public support for Ron Paul.

Let me start off by saying that I’m not at all a fan of the American democratic process. I think voting has entirely lost its meaning (even before Bush stole the 2000 and ’04 elections) and have yet to find a reason to waste my time and energy by voting (I have written articles on voting, which you can read here and here). So, I don’t have a dog in this 2008 Presidential fight (neither does Michael Vick. Too easy?).

However, this Ron Paul mania has really piqued my interest. I especially enjoy reading how fervently his supporters defend him. I agree that, for the most part, he’s pretty much the best candidate out there, along with Mike Gravel, but that’s like being the smartest kid with Down Syndrome (that’s a reference from the movie Waiting, by the way).

The reality is that Ron Paul is antithetical to progress. While it’s true that he wants to leave almost every decision up to the state governments, rather than the federal government, that does not mean he’s neutral on the issues. He’s devoutly religious, so it’s no surprise that he’s anti-secularism (see his article, Christmas in Secular America) and anti-abortion, and doesn’t have a problem with religious content in public schools (read: funded by the government) if the states decide to allow it, even though it is explicitly not allowed by the Constitution.

He’s on the right track when it comes to a lot of issues, such as foreign policy (he’s for non-interventionism — and thus for getting U.S. troops out of the Middle East — if only we could move him over to multi-lateralism), freedom of speech, the neutrality of the Internet, and so on.

His economic ideals are, well, insane. If ever there was a mascot for the free market, Ron Paul is it. He wants to completely disarm the federal government and arm the state governments, as mentioned (why not just break the country into 50 smaller countries at that point?), he wants to privatize NASA, minimize the CIA and get rid of most of the government agencies (e.g. Departments of Education, Energy, Homeland Security; FEMA, ICC, and the IRS).

Even as someone who is pro-government and pro-socialism, I might support a gradual decline of the aforementioned, but not a clean sweep overnight. Why does NASA need to be privatized anyway? Can you count the conflicts of interest that would arise there?

Paul is also for lowering taxes, which I wouldn’t complain about personally, but when you look at the big picture, taxes are almost completely necessary at this point in our nation’s history. Our economy is declining at an ever-increasing rate, we slip further and further into debt, and the cost of our two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are running up the tab infinitely. How would Paul right our economy, eliminate our debt, and pay for Bush’s wars without using taxes? I’m interested to hear his plan for that.

I agree that too much government is a bad thing. I also think that too little government is also a bad thing. So, it’s no surprise that, when you look at the U.N.’s Human Development Index, the top nations are ones that have mixed or socialist-leaning economies. Paul would be smart to come back towards the economic center.

Another reason Paul’s supporters defend him is because “he actually follows the Constitution.” Isn’t it sad that that is a noticeable quality in a candidate? Shouldn’t all of the candidates follow the Constitution? I know our current President certainly hasn’t, but have we lowered our standards this low as a result? And, while I certainly don’t have a grain of support for Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, etc., I’m pretty sure they — with the exception of Rudy Giuliani — would uphold the Constitution just like Paul.

Speaking of Paul supporters, there’s a heavily publicized blog out there called “Please Ignore Ron Paul,” written, of course, with biting sarcasm. It is essentially a passing of the buck — a “blame everyone else but me” screed. Take the following, from that blog:

For years you have force fed what you deem to be important down the throats of Americans citizens. Minimized most of what the public should be concerned about while sensationalizing the mundane and trivial.

Notice the passing of the buck from the citizens, who should be able to think for themselves, to the media. The blog says that the media has “force fed” the public. Did anyone force the public to swallow? I’m a consumer of American media and I certainly never felt I was being force fed anything. If CBS, ABC, NBC, or any other television station says something I don’t agree with, I’ll either continue watching while outlining in my head the reasons why they are wrong, or I’ll just turn the channel. No one held a gun to my head and told me to believe in what they’re telling me. Why couldn’t this blog writer have done the same? The author, Kris, essentially admits to being just a vessel, lapping up whatever is played on TV.

Further, this Paul supporter — remember, Paul supports free-market capitalism, the pursuit of more and more wealth — impugns the American media for paper-chasing:

Did you do it for the all powerful dollar? The same dollar that is now worth half of what it was worth a few years ago?

Hypocritical. If you support capitalism, you have no right to be mad at others for trying to accumulate more wealth. This accusation is made frequently in sports against agents who try to get the best deals for their clients, and against those clients for asking for so much (see: Rodriguez, Alex; Boras, Scott). Supporters of Ron Paul have absolutely no right to make such an accusation.

This blogger continues to pass the buck further:

I must admit that you almost had me. At one time I felt that the United States reigned supreme, the greatest, the infallible, the just. Those were happy times … so I happily ignored reality while I sort-of-listened to your newscasters tell me how it really was.

Basically, this blogger again admits to having been incapable of thinking for him or herself.

Oh yes, I remember … The ‘Sold’ war. The logic, your logic, to me it made sense. it was simple really, simple enough for the average channel surfer or newspaper reader to get: To defend, we must go on the offensive. To protect ourself, we must attack them. And years later, after the reasons we went there had changed and changed again … And when there was no army left for us to fight … new reasons were given to us as to why we are still there and why we had to stay and can not leave. But, like so many others, I could flip through the channels, not feeling anything as the casualty toll rose and rose.

This is essentially a straw man argument, accusing the media as a whole of supporting the War in Iraq and the reasoning behind it. While there was certainly support from a majority of the media, to accuse the entirety of the American media of being a mouthpiece for the Bush administration is flat-out wrong. I completely agree with the sentiment that the media did a piss-poor job of asking questions and holding the Bush administration accountable, but had I also been a supporter of the War in Iraq when it first started, I would have been responsible for my own mistaken beliefs. There are other forms of media out there besides the American one.

Was every American buying into the War in Iraq and the logic behind it? Certainly not. How did they achieve that position, even though the entire American media, according to this blogger, was trumpeting Bush’s talking points? That’s because there are ways to be informed on issues without relying on TV newscasters and other American journalists.

Every once in a while I would be trying to ignore you while waiting for the next rerun of my favorite show and you would continue to tell us who our president would be. Then you went out of your way to tell us that there was someone who has ‘No chance’ and you did not know why they were even trying.

Basically a straw man argument. I agree with the general sentiment that the media seems to be favoring a close race among the big names like Clinton and Obama; Giuliani and Romney. However, the media’s favoritism also correlates with the polls (see: Dem. — Rep.). The media’s job, first and foremost, is to attract new viewers/readers/listeners, and that leads to more purchases of their product (newspapers, magazines) or consumption (viewer- or listenership). With Paul at just 4.5%, why would they pander to Paul when they can speak favorably of Romney, Huckabee, and Giuliani, who are all in the double-digits in the Iowa Caucus? Since supporters of Ron Paul are most likely supporters of his views on economics, they should also support the media’s piggy-backing of the big names, as well.

At first I dismissed it, after all, you were telling us who was ‘winning’, and you could be trusted, but the more I heard about the guy who absolutely had ‘NO CHANCE!’, this man, ‘Ron Paul would never … could never …’, the closer I began to listen.

Another straw man argument. If I had corresponded with this blogger, I would ask him or her to cite just one instance of the American media saying that Paul had “no chance” and “would never” win (I invite my readers to make the case for this blogger).

I will never forget that it was your bias against this man that made me remember him.

Guess who? Straw man. Guess what? Hypocrisy.

With the exception of the ones who look in to the only person who can not win, the rest will not give a damn at all … ever.

This blogger essentially said that anyone who doesn’t support Ron Paul does not and will not ever give a damn. How close-minded can you get?

Meanwhile this minority, this revolution, it does what it does, these amazing things that have never been done before, these are the people who are out there making a change, and then there is you, continuing to do the best thing for us by ignoring Ron Paul.

Ah, yes, that revolution. Like the Bostonians who threw their tea into the water to rebel against taxes, these Ron Paul fans are… writing blogs and whining about how the media brainwashed them, and meeting up. Quite a revolution.

To clarify, I despise the American media myself. I think it’s too vastly controlled by corporations and there are obvious conflicts of interest that lead to bias (the easy example is FOX News). However, I refuse to blame any ignorance I may have had or currently have on the media. I am responsible for myself and anything that I consume and believe in. For example, I’m an atheist, and have read Dawkins book mentioned at the top of this entry. If it turns out that God is proven to exist, I’m not going to blame Dawkins for leading me astray. I chose to read his book, I chose to follow the logic behind it.

Before I close, I’d just like to highlight some of the comments made on that blog by Paul supporters when a non-Paul-supporter came by to leave his thoughts:

Don’t speak of things on which you don’t understand.

If [Paul becomes just an historical footnote], you can pat yourself on the back for supporting the continued rape of American citizens.

Screw you dude.[…]

Keep in mind that these people may or may not represent the majority of Paul supporters, but it’s just a fun thing to see. If you do read through the comments, check out the number of fallacious “doomsday scenarios” brought up. It’s like they just listened to Rage Against the Machine.