Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why Ron, Why?

A day after finally coming out with guns a-blazin' to discredit the whackjob fringe of his supporters, Ron Paul makes a return to Alex Jones' radio show. As a result, at least one fence-sitter has given up on him. As has been argued time and again, the problem isn't so much that whack-jobs happen to support Ron Paul; the problem is that he has no problem wasting his time actively recruiting them into his movement. If he didn't waste time doing that, he wouldn't have to waste time explaining why he wasted time with them in the first place....not to mention the fact that just about every true libertarian would have jumped off the fence to support him at this point.

As usual, I know that this post is going to get me slammed by the "Rockwell Brigades," who will most likely mistake me for a shill for Giuliani (now apparently named "Benito"). Of course, this will ignore the fact that I've been actively supporting Rep. Paul for months, and that my goal all along has been to persuade the other supporters that they might want to realize that the libertarian movement is much bigger than one man, and that a rationally-based campaign is the only way to get him out of the single-digits.

Alas, the personality cult of Ron Paul continues to grow, while the core philosophy of libertarianism becomes less and less important to the "netroots." In his interview with Jay Leno, Rep. Paul pointed out that his message is a simple message that isn't really his; indeed, IIRC he pointed out that while he is personally not perfect, freedom is. Well, now that the Ron Paul movement has started to hit the mainstream, making appeals for money to people who have no understanding of the word "freedom" hurts rather than hinders the freedom message (not to mention the campaign more generally).

I am trying to listen to the rebroadcast right now, but unless he is appearing for the purpose of disavowing Jones (so far, not so good), just about anything he could say to Jones at this point makes me sick. For the record- as someone who watched the Pentagon burn, and heard the Pentagon plane flying over my apartment less than a mile from the crash site- any deliberate attempt to court support from those who deny what happened that day is personally insulting to me.

But to go a step further. Plenty of commenters, myself included, have pointed out that Ron Paul could either be the best or worst thing to happen to libertarianism in decades. In order for him to be good for libertarianism (and for that matter, the country), he has to either win or, more likely, make people think. Continuing to seek out the support of 9/11 Truthers and nutcases is the surest way to ensure that his appeal remains exceedingly limited and to ensure that libertarianism as a philosophy becomes irreparably associated with these nutcases. In other words- actively seeking out the support of these people hurts both the Paul campaign and the libertarian philosophy more generally.

What make this worse is that it shows Paul's priorities- he would rather spend time chasing the votes and support of a tiny number of 9/11 Truthers than chasing the votes and support of the millions of libertarians, disillusioned Republicans, and disillusioned Democrats. It's simple math, really: he has limited resources. Why spend those limited resources on a small group of whack-jobs than on a large group of people who have been hungry for a politician speaking the language of freedom ever since Reagan left office?

I sincerely hope that what he said tonight was strong and indisputable against the 9/11 Truthers. If it wasn't, I am going to need some serious convincing to return to the Paul camp. My support will either go to Obama, Thompson, or, just as likely, no one at all.

Will update once I've heard the substance of Paul's interview. So far, this is the most tedious and intellectually barren 22 minutes of radio I've ever heard (the interview hasn't come up yet)- and I used to listen to Rush!

HT: Memeorandum

****UPDATE**** After listening to the full broadcast, I made two new posts on the incident, here and here.