Is 2008 The New 1964? Why Paul will change the face of politics
There's a Pro-Ron-Paul meme going around, to the effect that 2008 is the new 1964; i.e. that on the premiseâ€”debatable in itself, of courseâ€”that the GOP has no chance of winning the presidency next year, conservatives should run a Goldwater-style insurgency to remind the party we're here & set up some influence for 2012. Bruce Bartlett floated the meme here.
I got a thought-provoking e-mail along similar lines (one of dozens like it I've had on that Paul column) from Ben Novak, who lists himself as "founder of the Americans in Europe for Ron Paul Meet-up Group in Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia." Blimey. Well, here's what Ben says.
"Mr Derbyshireâ€”-Recently you wrote an eloquent article titled the 'Ron Paul Temptation ,' about how tempted you were to support him. However, you concluded by fighting off the temptation, writing that '[Ron Paul's] candidacy belongs in the realm of dreams, not practical politics. But, oh, such sweet dreams.' A Ron Paul candidacy does inspire sweet dreams. But, rather than writing Ron Paul off for that reason, I suggest that there are a multitude of reasons why youâ€”and a lot of other Americansâ€”should follow your dream.
"Let us begin with the worst case scenario, which is that Ron Paul, if nominated, has no chance of winning the election. I suggest that this is one of the strongest reasons to make him the Republican nominee.
"There have been at least two times in the history of our Republic when the losing candidate for president has had a greater effect on subsequent history of his party and country than the winner. Such was the case in 1928 when the Democratic party had the guts to nominate Al Smith; and again in 1964 when the Republican party nominated Barry Goldwater. Both changed the face of American politics for generations after.
"In regard to Ron Paul, I suggest that his candidacy, like the hopeless candidacies of Smith and Goldwater, would do more to focus the debate about the importance of our founding principlesâ€”about who we as a people are, and what our real interests areâ€”than any other Republican or Democrat running.
"Let's consider the stifling bureaucracy that you so clearly describe in your article. Not one of the other candidates can do a thing about it once elected, without a real campaign discussion of it. Indeed, despite all the rhetoric, under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, the size of government, its intrusion into our lives, the entangling web of federal programs and the budget deficit all grew immensely. Only a Ron Paul candidacy has any hope of focusing on fundamentals again, cutting through the web of confusion surrounding them, and eliciting any new, creative thought. All the others will just complain about it, but accept it as the only way to do business in Washingtonâ€”which is the main point in your article. But only a Ron Paul candidacy has any chance of challenging and bringing into question the 'business as usual' attitude of the K Street lobbies, pork-barrel congressmen, and the spiraling bureaucracy.
"That brings us to another issue about why Ron Paul's candidacy is important. Consider the nature of the people in Washington politics today. What we have is an army of office seekers making their best bets on who will provide them with berths in the bureaucracy after the election. Their only real principles are getting power and making whatever cabinet post or bureaucratic niche they are rewarded with grow bigger. Only Ron Paul has the ability to bring a new group of people into politics, people who are committed, like the Goldwater activists of 1964, to taking a different approach to government. Only a Ron Paul candidacy has any hope of bringing new blood and new ideals into politics.
"Now let's talk about foreign policy. There is not a dime's worth of difference among any of the current candidatesâ€”Republican or Democratâ€”over the general direction of American foreign policy. They only disagree over the details of how to get there. Only the candidacy of Ron Paul will open the debate on fundamentals, about who or what we want to be in the world, and about what America's role ought to be. Without him in the race, there will simply be no debate at allâ€”just as there was no real debate in 2004.
"Then there's immigration. Whatever happens concerning the 'illegals' so ardently argued over in the recent immigration bill, there are still tens of millions of recent, legal immigrants who have never seen the ideals of American government in practice. The closest thing to it they have ever heard of is 'compassionate conservatism'â€”which has been nothing but a fig leaf for the spoils system, a pork-barrel Congress, group entitlements, and politicians for sale. Only a Ron Paul candidacy will remind them (and us older immigrants) of the things that made America so great to begin with. Only Ron Paul offers any ideals that could possibly overcome the racial, ethnic, and group-entitlement politics that are currently tearing us up.
"Finally, let's talk about the biggest reason why Ron Paul probably has no chance to win. Your article makes it very plain that all the money sources who believe that politicians can be bought and sold at will, all the K Street lobbies, all the millions of bureaucrats on the federal payroll, and all the tens of millions beneficiaries of increasing government largess will be against him. But, would it not be worth it to make them sweat a little, knowing that a man of principle, who can't be bought, is setting a very different example for Americans to follow?
"Now let's talk about the best-case scenario: that Ron Paul wins both the nomination and the election. Suddenly, the rest of the world will ask: has America given up its recent 'imperialism' and returned to the principles that once made it the beacon of liberty around the world? Only a Ron Paul presidency will allow the United States to write on a clean slate.
"Ron Paul may not be able to get many of the things he stands for enacted, but he will cause a rethinking of basics that will cause a thinning out of the bureaucratic nightmare that is in our system of laws today.
"If Ron Paul were president, congressmen and senators would be less worried about what special interest is going to fund their next campaign, than whether they appear to be bought and sold. We just might get some honest legislation for the good of the country. Billions of dollars that now flow into lobbies to influence government might begin flowing into the non-profit sector instead, where they can not only actually help people, but earn their donors some respect.
"All of the current crop of power-seekers spurning the Ron Paul campaign in hopes of power, jobs, and largesse in a Giuliani, Romney, Clinton, or Obama administration, will have to start looking for honest work. Instead, we will get a new generation of idealists eager to start cleaning up the mess.
"Thus, Mr. Derbyshire, when you turn your back on the Temptation of Ron Paul, all you are doing is expressing despair that the Gordian knot of money, power, influence, and bureaucratic paperwork that is currently strangling Washington and the country can ever be challenged. President Bush used to speak of the 'soft bigotry of low expectations.' When you relegate Ron Paul to only a dream, you are only confessing the lowest expectations for any vision of America other than the status quo. "
"I suggest that you find the courage to follow your dream. I know I can say without the slightest chance of contradiction that you will never find a man with more honesty, courage, decency, or integrity to hitch your dreams to than Ron Paul."
[Me] Whew. While I am generally resistant to romantic gestures in politics, and I don't believe the Giuliani, Romney, McCain, etc. camps are TOTALLY devoid of idealism, or unacceptably short on honesty, courage, decency, or integrity, still... the guy makes a case.