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Salon: Why Young Voters Love Ron Paul

It's not because they're potheads. It's because they're sick of America's militaristic misadventures

Despite a sustained campaign by the Washington media and political establishment to marginalize him, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is still a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. That has a lot to do with the support he’s receiving from young voters. In almost every survey and activist straw poll, Paul draws big numbers from voters between the ages of 18 and 29.

The laziest way to explain the counterintuitive phenomenon of youth rallying around the GOP’s oldest candidate is to insist that it’s about kids’ silly college fling with unrealistic libertarianism or that it’s about kids’ affinity for drug use — and more specifically, Paul’s support for legislation that would let states legalize marijuana. This degrading mythology ignores the possibility that young people support Paul’s libertarianism for its overall critique of our government’s civil liberties transgressions (transgressions, by the way, now being openly waged against young people), nor does the narrative address the possibility that young people support Paul’s drug stance not because they want to smoke weed, but because they see the War on Drugs as a colossal waste of resources. Instead, Paul is presented as merely a fringe protest candidate, and the young people who support him are depicted as just dumb idealists, hedonistic pot smokers or both.

One problem with this fantastical tale, of course, is that it insults the intelligence and motivation of young voters. But another, even more troubling facet of this tale is how it uses speculative apocrypha and stereotyping about ideology and drugs to suppress concrete social survey data about the far-more-likely foreign policy motivations of young Ron Paul supporters.


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If you think only the young voters love Ron Paul...

...then 50 must be the new "young." You need to get out to some of the events here in Iowa! I've seen Ron Paul speak 4 times this year (and have at least 2 more lined up before the end of the year.) The last event I went to on a Friday afternoon in Vinton I would estimate the majority of the crowd was nearing or had reached retirement age. I would guess that of the 80+ people there no more than a dozen were under 30. (okay maybe 20 if you count the media people.) This was a crowd of mature voters who came to hear what Dr. Paul had to say and cheered loud and proud for many of the issues he addressed. Don't be fooled in to thinking his message isn't reaching the masses. We older voters know a good thing when we hear it too.

I'm a young person

I am a 23 year old full time college student and I support Mr. Paul for many reasons, but of them all, the main reason why I want this man as President is for his strict adherence to the Constitution. I do not care personally for the marijuana policies. It is his ability to stay consistent during his time in the Congress. I live in Massachusetts where I had the flip flopper Mitt ROmney as governor. I also appreciate the legislation he proposed as declaring life at conception. I'm not your typical young person who just likes him for his willingess to end the Federal War on Drugs, it is much more than that. He has been a defemder of life, the free market, and limited constitutional government, just like our founders wanted.

My reply to David, the article's author.

Why young voters love Ron Paul

Dear David,

You write and discuss how hard it is for the older generations to willfully change their thinking ways about foreign policy.

And you write that yes, you do agree with Ron Paul’s foreign policy views, -- views which all come from Ron Paul’s distrust of Washington’s INTERVENTIONIST policies. Such policies are by nature, “top down” policies, i.e., they are highly centralized, use the power of the gun to force its way, instead of appealing to the power of friendly trade & persuasion.

Later you write that “I have serious problems with some of his economic positions”. This remark says volumes. Perhaps you too are of the older generation of leftists who adopted INTERVENTIONIST policy positions as a means to achieve your social goals. New younger generation of Leftist have not swallowed interventionists centralized means to achieve our leftist goals. This means we again agree with Ron Paul’s approach to economics. While you are correct to think Mr. Paul would love to see a “dog eat dog” laissez faire policy arise when Washington’s economic INTERVENTIONISM ends, you would be incorrect to think for a second that would indeed happen. This understanding by the some people inside the young Left OWS movement has meant that we can join in common cause with the dreaded “free market libertarians” and Ron Paul.

David, if you do not already know, free market libertarians will be the first ones to tell you that non-interventionist economic policies, policies that yes, “leave it to the free market” does not mean that communal altruistic group economic action cannot freely arise. Indeed, the MORE you explore this idea, the more you will find that a decentralized non-interventionist “Free Market” will actually give rise to many economic things you might approve, such as co-opts in food and retail and even more equitable living arrangements. The “free market” opens up the space for all of us, not just “greedy capitalists out to make a buck”. Now free market libertarians, I submit, will be shocked to learn just how much people when left “Free To Choose”, will freely choose a more socially altruistic path. Green socially aware companies have proven that they can compete because they are adding more humane values to their products. As consumers learn that their local coffee shop sells coffee grown from South American lands, lands that have not been stolen from others, other products can and do suffer. This is one reason why widespread market decentralization and the “free market” in product information is helping to grow a more socially aware and altruistic free market. Yes, I said, an “altruistic free market”, wrap your baby boom generation mind around that one.

To the young Ron Paul-Left and to some of those who I have listened to at OWS, decentralized power arrangements and decentralized decision making are goals that do not automatically vaporize in a Free Market. Actually in a “dog eat dog” world of “cut throat” free market activity, the other option becomes loud and clear and as altruistic “kinder” arrangements naturally arise as people freely choose a better, more informed path. One You tube video on a Nike plant can crush sales and/or help launch a better competitor.

Yes it is counter-intuitive for the older Leftist who long ago bought into Washington’s power to economically Intervene in the Market Place. But that is another top down INTERVENTIONIST strategy that as you have seen, gets corrupted every time. “The Regulated become the Regulators” is America’s new understanding and that is why supporting an INTERVENTIONIST economic policy –even ‘good ones from the Left’ -- is also a lost cause, a cause that causes BLOW BACK and debt and “empty locked boxes” in that realm too.


Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

Salon just made 1 positive

Salon just made 1 positive Paul article so we'd all pay attention to their upcoming a**hole article lol.


many people over 40 are very myopic--

they can't see that the 'younger' generation can't possibly achieve the success of their grandparents or even parents, though the most successful/wealthiest generation is now becoming quite old.

It's a failing of many people that *they* can't see the perspective of those in other generations. Young people have never been old, so they can't see an aging perspective, of course, but the elderly HAVE been young and should be able to see what things are like for the young. Those of *us* who have children who are finding that the world is not as 'friendly' to the young economically, no matter how hard they work or study--

can see this, sometimes.

One of my 'children' (already quite an adult) has many friends who are perpetual college students, because as my child says, "it's safer than trying to find a job/begin a career"--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

I'm over 40

April 1, 1974, I did a full page cartoon for my high school paper for "Super Stoner cigarettes". I attended four high schools and the only "kids" (to me a kid is eight and under, kids don't understand/think SEX at all) that didn't smoke pot or show any interest were unpopular.

I really thought the boomer generation would have legalized marijuana. For years I asked, how is it that marijuana is not legalized or decriminalized? How is it that a generation under the influence of Rock and Roll, TV, and movies that romaticize marijuana, making it even sexy not legalize it?

How do we get a president that says he smoked but didn't inhale? Now our past two presidents shrug their experiences off as no big deal, and yet the war on drugs rages on.

Have you seen that age discrimination is rampent for housing, medical care, food, travel, insurance?

As a boomer, you grow up seeing affordable housing and jobs, that when you're old enough, the OLD house costs twice as much, or the age goes up... that carrot has dangled for boomers, and those who sacrificed and worked harder and smarter, found their IRAs ripped off... to me, much of this crash is to crash the boomers.

Boomers grew up under glass ceilings and between glass walls. Successes were big flashes in the pan, and society, our laws, have chipped away the foundation boomers were depending on, like the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Greatest Generation was groomed to work together, and many are tansfering that to their grandchildren, putting their boomer children down, but the boomers, IMO were sold out and have been manipulated and lied to, especially with this war on drugs.

The other day I was in a grocery store and a couple ran into another they knew, when asked how they were doing, they gloated about having to raise their grandkids, "We have to do this and that because our kids can't". I don't know the situation, but I see that those people are undermining their kids, the parents, and influencing their grandkids to not respect their parents.

I don't have children. My siblings, who are boomers, I have watched my parents work very hard to undermind them. especially when they are down, that's when my parents will kick them the hardest. My parents were very strict, I wasn't allowed to use the phone, and yet, they have bought all their grandchildren Ipods, so they can keep in touch. My Mother never worked. My siblings AND their spouses work at good jobs and together can not afford what my father affords.. matter of fact... my father's retirement is $117K annually. That is more than me, and three of my siblings combined. He will not give his children anything, claims that it's our faults for making as much as him. Yet, he gifts his grandchildren, who can't do better than the parents, but suck up to the grandparents. I hear things about generational skipping, and "grandparents have more in common with grandchildren", and the movie, "Cocoon", the grand parents and kids were awesome people, the boomer Mom was a mess. Seems to me, this is not an accident. Seniors stick together. Boomers grew up wondering which one was the narc.

I believe dividing the family has been part of the plan for a long time, with abortion, divorce, sexuality and drugs, wars... the boomers were not given a foundation to build, but lies.

The greatest generation doesn't care that it's the boomer generation who was ripped off to pay for their benefits.

hmmm . . .

well, I'm an old boomer, and my father and father in law and most of my uncles fought in WWII--

we played the draft game during Viet Nam; MAN, those were awful years--not 'good' years--

and, true, the boomers who were drafted or enlisted got treated terribly there--

I'm seeing everyone struggle, no exceptions.

My parents were more prosperous, but they still struggled, and they never put *us* down--

and they didn't dote on their grandchildren (my children, who now have children)--

I think my children's generation and we have a lot in common, come to think of it--

we are well-educated (over-educated, LOL!) boomers who have not found success, though we were cautious and frugal--life has just been hard . . .--but we have been independent.

we watch our children struggle, and we hurt for them, and my parents were dead LONG before they could 'gift' our children.

So, we're in this together--


I neither blame boomers nor exclude them from blame completely; there are some in *my* generation who are horribly selfish--

and some who are very wise.


it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

great article

until he just had to mess it up with the partisan "i have serious problems with his [Paul's]economic positions". LOL Still well worth the read. Thanks.

"If you want something you've never had before, you have to do something you've never done before." Debra Medina

Excellent article

He's optimistic about the future because Ron Paul has guided the younger generation to a sensible foreign policy.

Today's item from Salon


Let the debate rage.

We know "Freedom is popular!!"

I am 20 years old, and I hope

I am 20 years old, and I hope to make it on the City Council someday and beyond. I live in neo-con land but at least most understand libertarian economics. Some libertarians have been elected, so I believe in 10 years I will be prime to lead, if not before then. I am going to major in economics most likely [Austrian on the side ;)] and hope to destroy socialist brains in the arena for fun. The battles will not be won with the sharp edge of my sword, but my ability to debate and destroy my opposition. I will be fighting for liberty for life.

"My ability to debate & destroy my opposition"

Well then son, you've lost already, but I can show you how to win. First, I am 50. So I have 30 years of battle on you. And I must say that you write like I did at age 20, with all the conviction of a free market warrior. But I have learned something and now I type this so that you can learn it faster than i did.

*** GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. Do not take it away from them. YOUR JOB ... and I mean JOB... is to always be there to show them that FREEDOM is the WAY, FREEDOM is the MEANS, to get what they want.

For more on that, see above and my reply to David.

Thanks for listening to this old libertarian warrior.

Yes, please BUY this wonderful libertarian BOOK! We all must know the History of Freedom! Buy it today!

"The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism" ...by author George Smith --
Buy it Here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/05211820

I don't click on articles that trash Dr. Paul

since clicks = business potential for sites that sell advertising.

It's just a little bit of "activism" that makes me feel good.

Good point, one perfectly fine way to react.

Lots of folks thought(judging by the 700+ comments) another good form of activism was to refute the arguments trashing the doctor.