October 29, 2007

A piece over at The Politico on Ron Paul is snarky yet informative, which seems to be the signature style of that site: “Libertarian Paul wins young minds” gives us brief profiles of young Ron Paul enthusiasts, naturally framing the whole thing in terms of isn’t-that-cute-ness. Oh those kids! What’ll they think of next!

Bright,  energized, and contemptuous of the “neocons”—a phrase The Politico always adorns with ironic quotes—not all of them are libertarians: many are self-described Old Right conservatives. This is the real, happening fusionism—a fusion of libertarianism and old right conservatism over the issue of the war—which is being realized in the fulcrum of the Paul campaign. These young people are the future of what Ron calls the “freedom movement,” if it is to have a future.

Leave it to the rapidly ripening no-longer-quite-so-young-sters like Brink Lindsay, the Cato Institute’s resident warmonger, to rain on their antiwar parade:

“Though Paul defines himself as a libertarian and attributes the dedication of his young supporters to libertarian positions “€” such as allowing people to opt out of Social Security and Medicare “€” many libertarian pundits say Paul isn”€™t in sync with younger, more ‘modern’ libertarians.

“€œ‘He’s sort of an old-style, old-right libertarian candidate,’ explained Brink Lindsey, a scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute. Paul departs from younger libertarians with his opposition to abortion rights and free trade agreements, for example, Lindsey said.”

What Lindsay, who enthusiastically supported the Iraq war, doesn’t say—or isn’t quoted as saying—is that he hates Paul’s old right and quintessentially libertarian opposition to our foreign policy of global interventionism. Senor Lindsay and his fellow “modern” libertarians have made their peace with the Empire. As long as they can take drugs, abort fetuses, and sodomize each other to their hearts’ content, he and his Beltway buddies have no problem with the US rampaging over half the earth, regime-changing and taking out “rogue” states at will. As long as it’s a “free market” empire, they’re all in favor of it.

Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason magazine, is hauled out, too:

“He has a set of principles applied consistently. He’s not a bullshit artist,”€ said Gillespie, who contrasted Paul’s plainspoken approach with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s waffling on abortion. ‘I think that’s very attractive to younger voters who are too stupid to realize that’s not how politics works.’”€

Yeah, those poor dumb jerks, who actually believe that principles matter, and individuals can act to make history: they’ll soon learn! This is the typical mantra of the Beltway know-it-alls, who have no real connection to the actually-existing libertarian movement—Gillespie came out of a short-lived online magazine entitled “Suck”—and wouldn’t lower themselves, either. That doesn’t stop these generals without an army from pontificating, judging, and often belittling the movement, and especially cultural conservatives like Ron Paul, who don’t fit into their own narrow little cultural paradigm.

The world-weariness of poseurs like Gillespie is a tired act that the young people who are flocking to Paul can see right through. These kids don’t read Reason magazine, with its strained, oddly archaic hipness: they’re much more likely to be reading The American Conservative, Antiwar.com, and maybe Counterpunch.

The denizens of the Beltway “libertarian” crowd are largely legends in their own minds: Ron Paul, on the other hand, is a real world person, a nine-term Republican congressman from the Gulf coast of Texas who has nonetheless managed to maintain his unblemished record of libertarian integrity. Paul, as Gillespie would have it, is “too stupid to realize that’s not how politics works.”€ Here we have a former editor of “Suck” lecturing America’s most successful libertarian politician on how politics works: it’s laughable. Paul’s entire career in politics is a living reproach to the cynicism of Gillespie and his fellow wannabe “libertarian pundits, and that’s why they get wheeled out to sneer at him.

Let them sneer. As the Ron Paul buzz gets louder, they’ll soon be jumping on the Paulian bandwagon—if only on account of the impressive grassroots financial support the Paul campaign has generated. After all, these alleged libertarians believe in the market, right? Well, the market has decided that Ron Paul,  and not some half-baked self-proclaimed “libertarian pundit,” is where the real libertarianism is at.


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