If you’ve missed the item about the politically incorrect newsletters published under Ron Paul’s name during the 1980s and 1990s, and unearthed strategically by The New Republic, it is because Beltway libertarians are just about the only ones still “spilling pixels” over the affair. Spilling pixels and beating breasts.
Especially inconsolable over the unsavory newsletters, none of which bore Ron Paul’s byline, are the Reason Magazine and Cato Institute claque—excrescences on the D.C. establishment both.
Ron Paul’s supporters are certainly not reaching for the smelling salts. They remain focused on the Paul platform. They understand that in Paul his opponents have found a man who’s led an exemplary life—has served his country and community, stayed married to his childhood sweetheart for 50 odd years, and is as devout a Christian as he is a constitutionalist. It’s not easy to impugn this impish, good-natured man, so mudslinging becomes a must.
Because the Beltway characters believe they are at the center of the universe, they imagine that: 1) The Paul Revolution revolves around them and their “ideas,” and 2) In the unlikely event the Revolution was started without them, it has to be insignificant.
As usual, they are wrong.
Ron Paul is not running as a Libertarian, but as a Republican with a strong libertarian sensibility. Ron’s Revolution is revved, for the most, by independents, defecting Democrats, and disgruntled Republicans for whom his message is fresh and intuitive.
What are the odds that Rep. Paul’s followers have come to the philosophy of freedom through Reason magazine? Is it remotely possible that the passionate soldiers of the Paul Army enlisted after chancing upon a dispassionate, desiccated, dry-as-dust disquisition on a free market in kidneys (I’m all for it)? I think not.
Perhaps Paulites were inspired by Stephen Moore, a former Catoite, now with the neoconservative “War Street Journal.” From his comfy perch on “Kudlow & Company,” Moore ventured just the other day that the recession is the result of the less-than dynamic demos‘ fear of rapid technological transformation. This is the Virginia Postrel “philosophy,” if it can be called that.
Also antipathetic to Dr. Paul, Ms. Postrel is yet another establishment-endorsed libertarian of whom Paul backers are blissfully unaware. A filament of the Postrel faith evinced by her first book, “The Future and its Enemies,” is that all change is good, always. All that glitters is gold was the essence of Ms. Postrel’s second manifesto, “The Substance of Style.” Profound perhaps to some, but not to Paulites.
Picture a Venn diagram. The overlap between the Paul and the Postrel solitudes is invisible to the naked eye. Only in the atrophying attics of mainstream intelligentsia and media does Postrel’s stuff resonate.
Ron’s Revolutionaries have coalesced around the illegal, immoral, and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq, against America’s hegemonic overreach, and for a sovereign, less “cosmopolitan,” America.
Beltway libertarians, conversely, are moved in mysterious ways by gaping borders, gay marriage, multiculturalism, cloning, and all else “cool and cosmopolitan.”
Judging by Reason’s “35 Heroes of Freedom,” “cool and cosmopolitan” encompasses William Burroughs, a drug addled, Beat-Generation wife killer, whose “work is mostly gibberish and his literary influence baleful.”
Madonna Reason has exalted for, as they put it, leading “MTV’s glorious parade of freaks, gender-benders, and weirdos who helped broaden the palette of acceptable cultural identities and destroy whatever vestiges of repressive mainstream sensibilities still remained.” Sounds like the unscrambled, strange dialect spoken by a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies.
Dennis Rodman Reason adulates for ‘set[ting] an X-Men-level standard for cultural mutation,” and for his “flamboyant, frequently gay-ish antics.” Having lived on a couple of continents and encountered my fair share of sophisticates, let me say that this stuff is all terribly provincial and infantile.
Contra Paulites, Beltway libertarians have generally supported the Iraq war, although they’ve cooled to it since the war lost some of its Cool Quotient. In fact, I suspect the Reason crowd supported Paul before opposing him because the Paul Revolution is so groovy. Reason is all about the groove; gravitas, not so much.
If we’ve learned anything so far from the cloying coverage of the 2008 elections it is that mainstream media can’t even call a caucus. Ditto mainstream libertarians—they’re utterly divorced from the groundswell Paul has ignited.
This (classical liberal) column is unaffiliated and independent; this columnist temperamentally unsuited to obedience. Thus, while I’ve endorsed Ron Paul, aspects of his philosophy and strategy have not escaped my scrutiny.
More to the point, I’ve endorsed Ron Paul because, unlike most of Paul’s pampered detractors, I happen to know what living without freedom is like: I left South Africa with the proceeds from the sale of my apartment stashed in the soles of my shoes. Had I been apprehended smuggling my property out of that country, I’d have been jailed together with my husband; we both stood taller on that trip. Moreover, I’ve seen firsthand the same oppression sneak-up on unsuspecting Americans. For instance, the South-African model of detention-without-trial is slowly becoming a fixture of the American legal landscape.
So, when the prospects of liberty loom, carpe diem. Loving liberty viscerally means that when one encounters a man whose understanding of freedom and individual rights approximates—if not parallels—your own, you seize the day. Those who stand on the sidelines are slaves to abstractions—and worse: They are mollycoddled milksops.
Paul’s vision is as close to The Good Life as we could hope to come in the current ideological climate. Only tinny ideologues encased in worthless ideological armor—worthless because it exists in the arid arena of their minds, not on earth—would turn their noses up at the prospect of Paul.
©2008 By Ilana Mercer