Why We Need Ron Paul

Libertarians are highly intelligent, savvy communicators with specific, and in some cases, extremely well-intentioned, well-thought out ideologies about finance, war, freedom and civil liberties. They're tough pit bulls when it comes to defending their ideological purity in debates. This keen intellectual acuity, especially prevalent on the internet, exists in a fervent, sealed vacuum. In this vacuum, what starts out as criticism of prevailing trends in Washington and in our foreign policy - all important issues - becomes a kind of fanaticism, resistant to devil's advocates, naysayers, and new points of view. In this context Paul supporters are impossible to reason with. This rigidity stalls the chance for any of Paul's progressive views to enter the mainstream.

Time and time again, I've witnessed Ron Paul supporters grow rigid and fanatical when confronted with non-ad hominem criticisms about what a Paul Presidency could mean for the country. It would be like me, a once fervent Obama supporter, refusing to blame the President for any error. In fact, I hold Obama accountable for many things that have gone wrong in his governing style and in his approach to political communication. I have since the beginning, even before he was elected. I expect the same from Paul candidates. You must be critical of your candidate. If you treat him as ideologically pure - and no elected official is or could ever be - than it's going to slap you in the face once it's too late. Don't change the subject on issues that make you uncomfortable about your candidate, like his views on abortion, women, and immigration.

The advantage of the Paul campaign is that, despite repeated contact with supporters and the political circuses they frequent, it never has to come into contact with political reality. When it collides with the real world and all its mechanisms, politics and variables, a chemical reaction will ensue that fundamentally changes his stance and  political reaction to his proposals. The rest of the world doesn't just stop criticizing because you've proposed what you feel are brilliant, unimpeachable ideas on the gold standard, personal responsibility, civil freedoms, quasi-isolationism, anti-war sentiment, pro-States' rights, and pro-marijuana legislation. Mixing Ron Paul's campaign bullet points with existing political and social hegemony will compromise the purity of the idea stream in in unexpected ways. If you're not taking that into account, than you're naive.

I am an idealist about many things. But more than that, I am a realist, especially when it comes to politics. It's why I didn't hold Obama's feet to the fire until the time for his fighting spirit to emerge came with the rise of the Tea Party in Congress, and he still held back.

What my layman's examination of politics teaches me is that sometimes, good campaigns exist solely to catalyze discussions and to introduce new social and economic ideas into the nation's vernacular. They don't always exist to become butterflies crawling from the cocoon of victory. Some politicians exist not to take the wheel themselves and drive the country in a specific direction, but to change out the filters, or put new wheels on. I see Paul as such a candidate. I feel a sense of relief when I see him up on stage with other candidates like Perry and Bachmann. We need him up there, if not running the country, then challenging the country with his ideas.

I don't mean to call Ron Paul supporters names. Most of them are fanatics, though. This is not name calling. It's just what is. If they weren't fanatical, they wouldn't flood message boards when an online article so much as farts his name. They are fanatical about their country's future, they are fanatical about getting out of endless war, they are fanatical about their privacy from unlawful search and seizure, and they deserve to be heard. But they need to step outside the intellectual vacuum where they feel most secure in their beliefs, and let other points of view breathe there. We liberals have a tough time doing that with fiscal and social conservatism, for instance, and its something we need to work on. We need to embrace our contradictions - I am somehow both a complete anarchic radical and a moderate realist, depending on the issue, or the time of day - and we must acknowledge those contradictions in order to make room for information that may change my mind.

This 'coming together of ideas' that pushes back rigid fanaticism is absolutely essential to maintain a working democracy. It's what Obama campaigned on. It's why his campaign, arguably, changed the way the United States thinks about itself more than his subsequent Presidency did. It's why Ron Paul's campaign is important, as long as his supporters learn to unclench their fists about the relevance and importance of others' beliefs.


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