This past weekend, I was in Alabama at a Mises Institute conference and got to hear Ron Paul speak on his “dealings with Fed Chairmen.” All the familiar Paulian themes were sounded and constant throughout was the congressman’s unflagging earnestness and good cheer”according to Paul, information is being exchanged differently now, and it’s only a matter of time before We The People recognize how the Fed, along with much else in government, is rotting our savings and acting against our interests.
Such optimism is endearing, but I wasn”t convinced. Nor would I second Paul’s claim that though Barack Obama offers little real “change,” his supporters are genuinely dissatisfied with the status quo, recognize that something is fundamentally wrong with government, and just might, after a little talking to, come over to the side of the Freedom Movement. In making such claims, Paul seems to assume that the reason most everyone isn”t a principled constitutionalist libertarian is imperfect information”if only Obama supporters knew that our healthcare system would offer greater access if it were completely private, then they”d be our allies.
Such claims are not only factually wrong, but, in many ways, worse than wrong in that they lead one to misunderstand fundamentally what the rise of Obama actually represents.
I can”t find accurate polling on the matter; however, I”d guess that the number of those who voted for Paul in the primaries and who”ve gone over to Obama in the general is very small (such converts being the hanger-on types who desire to be part of a “movement” and follow an “authentic” leader in order to give direction to their lives”the folksy Texas congressman and the Mutliculti Messiah serve this purpose equally well.) Real Paul supporters were libertarians and paleos, with some MARs-conservatives who were fed up with the Republicans thrown in, as well as many more who had dropped out of the political process altogether.
The Obama coalition is something altogether different and is remarkable in that it is composed of the top and the bottom of contemporary society: urban professionals, college students, media elite + the blacks and Latino underclass, “women with needs,” some rural rednecks (who embarrass the DNC leadership), and others who want to hop on the Liberal Gravy Train.
Generally speaking, these people are not interested in any kind of movement for liberty and are fully aware of what they”re voting for, and what they hope to get, by pulling the lever for Obama. Though some might be disappointed with Obama’s foreign policy (which, in my estimation, will be much more hawkish than most now assume), those voting for the Man of Hope aren’t particularly bothered by the candidate’s talk of “spreading the wealth around,” empowering “dispossessed peoples,” or “saving the world,” nor should they be. They actually want to do all this stuff.
It’s Republican voters who are, so to speak, deluded about their national representatives; it’s Republicans who today”and, alas, many more times in the future”will be voting against their interests and desires. Few McCain backers would much care for the mass amnesty for illegal aliens that the senator would undoubtedly pursue in his first term. All are instinctively repulsed by the antiwar Left; however, a large brunt would rather not think about the Iraq war and are certainly not eager to start a new one with Iran, as McCain and his neocon foreign poliy staff would so like to do. Large-scale “Red-State Fascism” is a myth. Moreover, the majority of GOP voters is sick and tired of the status quo of mass legal immigration, Big Government, foreign aide, imperial military presence, affirmative action, obnoxious bailouts of the financial sector, and many more things that haven”t even been contested by the two years in their two years of non-stop politicking, and which McCain wouldn”t even consider addressing as president.
In parties and movements of the Left, the leadership and inner-core are almost always more radical and farther to the left than the rank-and-file supporters. And Obama is, no doubt, more leftist in his heart than those who vote for him (even if he choses to govern as a Clintonian “centrist.”) In the Right the opposite is true: The GOP and conservative movement leadership is far less radical, far less willing to break up the status quo, and ultimately far more leftist than Joe Six-Pack.
It’s for this reason that tonight I”ll be rooting for the GOP, even if I can”t bear to actually endorse this dreadful political party. Put simply, the people who vote Republican are better than the people who vote Democrat.
The enthusiasm and ire evoked by Sarah Palin reveals this central fissure in the country. Without question many Republican voters will have an image of the attractive, down-to-earth Hockey Mom when they pull the lever for the evil GOP today. Sure, the idea that Sarah embodies small-town America might, at some level, be hooey”Republicans love to concoct fantasies of their virtuous selves that conveniently omit things like the personal debt and familial breakdown infecting the Midwest. But the Palin Myth holds a kernel of truth, and we know this for the simple reason that no country could possibly survive, not to mention flourish, without a large population of people who save more than they earn and who comprise the basis of a functioning economy. Joe Six-Packs, Hockey Moms, and Joe the Plumbers do exist and are, indeed, indispensable.
Obama supporters are a different story. Yes, there are many professionals and businessmen among their ranks who are equally as vital to America as Joe Six-Pack (and, indeed, many of these might become less enthralled with Obama in the face of increased taxation and government programs designed to counteract their “privilege.”) But much of the rest are clearly part of what could be a called a “Takings Coalition,” to borrow a term from Grover Norquist, a moniker that holds not only for the socialized, parasitic underclass but also for a segment of the financial elite whose constant pleas for government bailouts (ostensibly to “save capitalism”) reveal that their system of highly levered commercial banking is inherently unsound. I rarely hear similar yelping from small-town mechanics and hardworking Vietnamese restaurant owners when their businesses go on hard times.
When Joe Six Pack lashes out against a national figure or political program as “anti-American,” he is perceiving it, instinctively and accurately, as being against him, his family, and what he holds dear. The tragedy is that in the political sphere, “anti-American” gets translated as “anti-government,” “anti-status quo.” And sadly I fear things must get much worse before Joe Six-Pack recognizes this. But this day will come. And libertarians like Ron Paul, as well as the rest of us in the alternative Right, are better served by aligning ourselves with Sarah Palin Republicans than with those voting for Hope and Change.
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