December 01, 2007
I just returned from a Ron Paul for President rally at the University of California at Berkeley, and I have to tell you that it was quite an experience. Here we were in Sproul Plaza, the historic epicenter of campus protest, with nary a sign of politics of any sort except for the Campus Democrats desultorily manning their literature table. Students hurried by, on their way to class, or lounged unconcerned in the sun, eating lunch. The Ron Paul kids numbered some 100, and they mobilized in the middle of the plaza, with their signs, loud and brash. For the benefit of my readers at Takimag.com, I would add that a great many of the young Paulistas were Asian-American. I spoke to one young member, of the Ron Paull Meet-up group, a South Asian immigrant, who told me that he had never wanted to apply for citizenship, because politics to him did not matter: citizenship meant jury duty, and that’s about it. Now that the Ron Paul Revolution is in progress, however, he is applying for citizenship—so he can vote for Ron. Anti-immigrant Takimag readers can make of that what they will….
My remarks at the rally follow:
We are here today not only to rally for Ron Paul, but to protest a war even as yet another war looms large on the horizon. The occupation of Iraq is in its fifth year “ and the administration, with lots of help from Hillary Clinton, is ginning up a major confrontation with Iran.
For five years “ longer than the time it took to fight World War II “ our rulers have been telling us that “victory” is right around the corner. That all we need do is suspend our better judgement, have faith in their infinite wisdom, and “support our troops” by blindly going along with the War Party’s agenda.
The same crowd of war-at-any price fanatics, known as the neoconservatives, are up to their own tricks once again. We”re hearing the same song-and-dance about “weapons of mass destruction,” and America’s alleged duty to police the Middle East “ and, of course, they”re telling us that Israel must be protected, no matter what the consequences for American and America’s national interests.
They lied us into war in Iraq, and now they”re telling us that we must go to war with Iran “ because the Iranians are “interfering” in Iraq.
Make no mistake about it, this war is spreading: what we are witnessing is the prelude to what the neocnservatives hope will be a new world war, one that will give them the chance to extend the conflict to the entire Middle East “ and clamp down on the home front, where the peasants “ that’s you and me! “ are getting restless.
The War Party consists of Democrats as well as Republicans: indeed, without the Democrats, they couldn”t have pulled off the invasion and conquest of Iraq, and the two parties are colluding to lure us into a shooting war with Iran. If the Clinton restoration is a fact by next year, we”ll be at war no matter who is in the White House.
Trillions of dollars, tens of thousands of lives, a worldwide economic dislocation due to the disruption of oil markets “ this is what we have to look forward to. Americans voted to end the war in the last elections “ and yet the war is escalating. What does that tell you about the state of democracy in America?
There’s just one way to get the War Party out of power: mass protests. We must build a single issue coalition that encompasses left and right, liberals and conservatives, people of every party and viewpoint, all united around opposition to imperialism. This coalition is now taking shape around the candidacy of Ron Paul.
It’s interesting how history is repeating itself, these days, but with a twist: a candidate comes out of the grassroots. He faces a bipartisan Establishment that is dedicated to the three overriding principles of Washington politics, no matter which party we”re talking about: big money, big government, and big subsides for the biggest, most powerful interest groups. We have a candidate who offers a choice, not an echo, who calls Americans back to the founding principles of this country: the concept of constitutionally limited government and a foreign policy based on peace and the wisdom of minding our own business. We have, in short, an authentic libertarian, one who harkens back to such Republican stalwarts as Robert A. Taft and even Dwight David Eisenhower, whose prescient warning against the power of the military-industrial complex went unheeded by his fellow Republicans. And we have a “mainstream” media that is hopelessly biased against anyone who doesn”t fit into their predetermined categories, who is real, and lives by the principles he espouses “ indeed, who is motivated by those principles and cares about little else.
The last time such a candidate appeared on the scene, he rose from relative obscurity to become a hero and symbol of youthful rebellion, who challenged the Powers That Be and a gaggle of pale imitation “moderates,” and mounted a campaign that basically set the stage for the modern antiar movement and the radical upsurge of the 1960s. His name was Eugene McCarthy.
Almost half a century later, the Establishment is once again facing a challenge from a maverick, an upstart who dares to point to his party’s betrayal of its principles, and seeks to revive a movement that has turned into the exact opposite of what it used to be: a crusade for limited government that, somehow, got sidetracked into becoming an all-out assault on the Constitution and what is left of our civil liberties. Like McCarthy, he is a maverick and a man of high principle who has stood like a rock against the temper of the times, and swum against the current of his own party in upholding his deep skepticism of government “solutions,” and has justly earned the sobriquet “Dr. No” because he has no trouble voting against most of the nonsense that passes for legislation at the federal level.
His name is Ron Paul.
He is the rightful heir of a party that once stood for individual rights, and a peaceful, prudent foreign policy based on the pursuit of American interests. A party that has since lost its way.
It’s sad, really, to see the decline of a once great party: a party that has presided over the biggest expansion of government since the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson, the biggest explosion of federal spending in modern times, and the most serious assault on our constitutional liberties since the imposition of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Here is a party that once stood for decentralized government asserting the theory of presidential supremacy. Here is a doctrine that so exaggerates the power of the executive branch of government that it becomes a monstrous growth of precisely the same sort feared by the Founders, who warned against the return of royalism to America.
How did this happen? How is it that the so-called conservatives of today advocate precisely the opposite of what they advocated yesterday? How has the dream of a free America turned into the nightmare of the Homeland Security State, where government can search our homes, read our email, spy on our legal and constitutionally protected activities, all without a warrant or even a nod to anything remotely resembling a legal procedure?
Ron Paul clearly sees the key to all this, and that is why he has staked out a position as the foremost opponent of militarism in the US Congress. Our interventionist foreign policy is the motor that drives the engine of Big Government, and its fuel is the sort of war hysteria that has permeated political life since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and led to our present predicament in Iraq. Ron Paul stands alone among the Republican candidates for president in opposing our immoral and horribly counterproductive invasion of Iraq. The idea that we can or should go into a foreign country, and “transform” it according to some grand design, to fit some preconceived made-in-Washington formula “ to impose “democracy”, or what passes for it these days, at gunpoint on the people of the Middle East “ is an idea that one might expect from a liberal Democrat, who, after all, has an abiding faith in the power of government to do … well, practically anything! One would think that Republicans, and especially those who fancy themselves conservative Republicans, would know better.
Unfortunately, these days, one would be very wrong to assume any such thing.
The Republican party has been hijacked, and transformed into its Bizarro World equivalent: the party that once fancied itself the party of individual liberty has become the party of Big Brother.
In reminding Republicans of their lost heritage, in reviving the spirit of 1964, in offering a choice not an echo of the big government conservative cant that has dominated the party for the past eight years, Ron Paul is the conscience of the GOP. Will the party listen to its conscience, or will it continue to sin against its own traditions? Only time will tell. But I”ll tell you this.
The pundits are saying that Ron Paul hasn”t got a chance. He’s an outsider, a maverick, a second-tier nobody “ how could he possibly win the party’s nomination for the highest office in the land? Well, I don”t know the precise answer to that question, and I won”t pretend that I do, but I do know this: once before, the know-it-all columnists and the party kingmakers, decided that a representative of true conservatism couldn”t possibly get the nomination. In 1964, Rockefeller “ and, yes, another Romney, by the name of George “ were the frontrunners, deemed so by the mainstream media and the political mavens. Yet Goldwater came from behind, his support welling up from the grassroots: he inspired thousands of activists, who were brought into the freedom movement by his passionate rhetoric and obvious authenticity.
They said the same thing about Eugene McCarthy “ that he couldn”t win, that his supporters were a “childrens” crusade,” and that a vote for him was a wasted vote: only the Establishment-approved candidates had a real chance of winning, and the game is rigged in advance.
In both instances, the so-called “experts” were proven wrong. McCarthy broke the back of the War Party’s control of the Democrats: Goldwater defeated his party’s bosses outright, and went on to take the nomination. In both cases, an insurgent took on the party Establishment, defied the odds, and won an intellectual and moral victory.
Is history repeating itself? There are many indications that Ron Paul’s campaign has the potential to change the face of American politics “ and this rally is one such indication. But the naysayers are out in force, because they have too much invested in the intellectual and political status quo to let Ron Paul’s challenge stand.
The success of the Paul campaign has generated a lot of interest “ and a ferocious reaction from the traditional gate-keepers and guardians of “left” and “right”-wing orthodoxy. The so-called “left” “ or, rather, the pathetic remnants of the sectarian left “ has retreated into a sectarian shell, substituting the dead dogma of Marxism for the trendy-wendy cliches of identity politics and political correctness. They are suspicious of Ron Paul: after all, he’s a Republican “ YIKES! He’s from Texas “ double YIKES! And he’s an old white guy “ OMIGOD! How could he possibly speak to us and our issues?
The so-called “right” side of the political spectrum is similarly invested in looking at the Paul campaign through the prism of traditional left-right politics. Paul is opposed to imperialism, he opposes the PATRIOT act and other obscene assaults on our liberties, and he even talks about that dead document that hardly anyone even remembers anymore, let alone takes seriously “ the Constitution of the United States. He opposes our foreign policy of global intervention, and speaks out against the militarism that has infected every aspect of our once-free society. Why, he sounds like Noam Chomsky “ how can he be one of us?
Both of these orthodoxies are as dead as a door-nail. In the face of the current crisis confronting us “ an attempt by the War Party to impose a permanent state of conflict that will last for generations, and change our republican form of government forever “ the old categories of “left” and “right” are worse than useless “ they are outright insidious, and designed to divide the opposition.
The crisis is upon us, and we need to take extraordinary measures in order to save ourselves and what is left of our constitutional liberties. The War Party is seeking to open up a second front “ this time, in Iran. And they are getting a free ride “ and open complicity “ from leading Democrats. If any of you expect the candidacy of Hillary Clinton to save you, I”m afraid you”re in for quite a shock. Hillary is more hawkish than the present administration when it comes to this question of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear parity with Israel. She has pledged to stop them “ by whatever means necessary. Does anybody here think she won”t prove herself “ that she won”t have to prove herself “ by being even more macho than the most warmongering Republican?
No, the Democrats won”t save you, and the Left is utterly impotent: all they can do is call their little sectarian peace crawls and humbly beg the Democrats to please, please don”t” take us to war again. All, I”m afraid, to no avail….
To honest liberals and progressives, who are looking for an alternative to sectarianism and despair. To honest conservatives who are looking to reclaim their heritage of individualism and economic and social freedom. To anyone and everyone searching for answers in a world with very few certainties except death and taxes: the candidacy of Ron Paul is a beacon in the darkness, the one hope we have to take back our country from the warmongers, the authoritarians, the scare-mongers who would use the tragedy of 9/11 to impose their agenda of perpetual conflict and centralized control. We are building a movement that rejects the tired, worn-out labels of left and right, liberal and conservative, blue state and red state “ and seeks to forge a new paradigm that pits the new revolutionaries of liberty against the defenders of power and a militarized centralized state.
That is what the Paul campaign is all about. No wonder it’s taking off like a rocket. Now is the time to get on board, to defy the Powers That Be and reject the politics of the past. A future of freedom and peace is possible “ if we are willing to fight for it.