Noting that Ron Paul nearly won the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Politico.com reports today that “Mitch McConnell and Co. are trying to block Paul’s son, the tea party-backed candidate Rand Paul, from the Kentucky Senate primary” and asks: “Why is the GOP establishment so scared of the Pauls – Ron and Rand?”
The media are so wrapped up in whether this amorphous “Tea Party” thing is backing a candidate that they’re unable to answer their own questions, easily resolvable with a quick Google search. Since it ignored him in his last presidential run, the media can’t put any of the recent events surrounding Paul in context. Allow me to explain.
The Paul cult is the mouse that roared. Ron Paul won straw polls all throughout the 2008 primary season, often quite handily. When the final votes were cast, however, people who don’t live in their mothers’ basements showed up to the polls, knocking Paul down into mostly fifth-place showings. In other words: people who don’t spend all day organizing themselves into r-LOVE-utionary brigades dedicated to winning meaningless straw polls (also known as: people with jobs) decide primary winners. The GOP establishment worries about Ron Paul because it worries that bad reporters will fail to understand this.
As if it means something, we are constantly reminded that Ron Paul handily won this year’s CPAC straw poll — which had a self-selected sample comprised mostly of college kids from the D.C. area. Real polls show Paul garnering anywhere from two to eight percent of the vote. That’s a dinner party, not a grassroots movement. Get Ron Paul alone in a room and you’ve successfully assembled every Paul supporter of voting age.
Paul’s inner circle is a ragtag band of populist Old Right libertarian-types, led by the zealous spawn of Murray Rothbard: Lew Rockwell and Thomas Woods, the latter of whom has acted as Paul’s ghostwriter. The key traits binding them all together are a conspiratorial strain — belief in the North American Union, hatred of the Council on Foreign Relations — as well as a seething hatred toward Abraham Lincoln. They hold a generally isolationist streak, which, despite their anti-trade and anti-immigration sentiments, they try to cast as “non-interventionism,” although they are fairly typically conservative on religious and economic issues. They fashion themselves as the sole defenders of the Constitution in a wasteland of phonies and sell-outs. (And like everyone else on the right, they think that they alone are the true conservatives.)
They work with a thinly-veiled anti-Semitism and racism: Rockwell regularly allows racist material to be published on his website, while Woods is a former member of the pro-Confederate League of the South. Paul himself has said that Congress is “intimidated by the influence of AIPAC,” and, according to an old copy of the Ron Paul Political Report dug up by a member of the ultra-conservative site FreeRepublic.com, Paul wrote of Jesse Helms as being bought out by the “Israel lobby” — meaning: the Jews. Read what the forum members over at the Daily Paul or Liberty Forest have to say about the typical gamut of right-wing conspiracies for a sampling of what’s going on. One can safely wager that these folks know what the term “ZOG” means.
Those who support Paul — and even those who don’t advocate him for the presidency often find much to like about him — are usually ignorant of all of this. Ann Coulter, in her recent CPAC speech, remarked that “if Ron Paul supports it and it has nothing to do with foreign policy” then she’s on board. How many times have we heard this sentiment amongst the mainstream right? But the fanatical Ron Paul supporters are the descendants of John Birchers, not of Barry Goldwater. They, not Glenn Beck, are what Richard Hofstadter was talking about when he referred to the “paranoid style” on the right. The William Buckleys and Friedrich Hayeks of the world mostly did away with that mess — but there are remnants, and during tough economic times, disaffected people are especially vulnerable to their sort of manipulation. It would behoove the media to do its homework and blow the lid off the Ron Paul cult, lest it falsely gain traction as a legitimate insurgency against the GOP establishment.