Posted on | January 10, 2012 | 46 Comments
“There are many mysteries to the phenomenon that is Ron Paul. How is it, for example, that a 76-year-old with a reedy voice — his appearance and manner not remotely “presidential” by the usual standards of the TV age — is an idol to so many youth? Polls in Iowa showed that Paul got 48 percent among caucus voters under 30, which might suggest that his libertarian-tinged anti-war message represents the future of the Republican Party. But that youth vote was only good enough for 21.4 percent of the total, because fully 60 percent of Iowa GOP caucus-goers were 50 or older. So the oldest candidate in the race, dismissed as a crackpot by most mainstream Republicans, is almost uniquely capable of attracting young voters to a party dominated by the gray-hair-and-bifocals set. However one attempts to explain this situation, it does not bode well for the GOP. And perhaps it doesn’t bode well for America, either.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, “Ron Paul Haunts New Hampshire,” The American Spectator, Jan. 10, 2012″
After spending a couple of hours among the Paulistas yesterday, I felt obligated to write my Spectator column about this phenomenon, and I think that difficult experience explains a lot of my bleak mood today.
It wasn’t just that I was distracted by the Alabama football game or trying to file a story in a hotel bar. No, I kept thinking about what the Ron Paul phenomenon, and what “the abysmal incompetence of the non-Romneys,” signifies for the future of the GOP and the future of the country.
Contrast the pathetic joke that is the Rick Perry campaign — which now has exactly as many supporters as it can afford to hire — with the amazing grassroots enthusiasm exhibited by the young supporterfs of Ron Paul. Just to remind you, here is the video of them packed inside an aircraft hanger in Nashua on Friday:
Are we ever going to see any such display of genuine excitement for Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman or Perry? I still dare hope that Santorum’s underdog crusade might eventually inspire something similar, although there have been only glimmers of it so far.
Where are the Christian youth who say they believe in the right to life? Why aren’t conservative Christians showing up at Santorum’s campaign headquarters in such overwhelming numbers that the campaign staff is shocked by the influx of volunteers? Why aren’t pro-life, pro-family evangelical ministers and Catholic clergy urging their congregations to board the next flight to South Carolina and start doing everything they can to help Rick Santorum win on Jan. 21?
Many of my conservative friends are so busy denouncing Ron Paul and his supporters that they can’t be bothered to ask themselves, “Why don’t we have that kind of wild-eyed fanaticism among our supporters?”
And I fear that the answer would be, selfishness.
But I don’t have time or patience to explain that remark now, and I suspect any attempt to explain it would annoy and offend people. So I’ll leave it there for the time being, rather that bother you with my depressing contemplations. A few discouraging headlines may suffice:
New Hampshire polls open
in Dixville Notch — with nine votes
— Washington Post
And as the final insult, there’s this:
Oh, wait, they weren’t booing the mention of my name. It was that other guy. But it’s still depressing to think about how Cousin Maverick has disgraced the family name. Hit the freaking tip jar.