The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ron Paul and the ‘Not Romneys’

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″

HOLLIS, N.H.
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?

“Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh?”

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:

Majority of Conservatives
See Romney as “Acceptable”

Gallup

New Hampshire polls open
in Dixville Notch — with nine votes

Washington Post

Perry: Mitt’s company ‘just vultures’
who ‘eat the carcass’ of companies

Politico

And as the final insult, there’s this:

Crowd boos mentioning
of McCain’s name at Santorum event

The Hill

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.

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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jorge-Emilio-Emrys-Landivar/37403083 Jorge Emilio Emrys Landivar

    “Where are the Christian youth who say they believe in the right to life? ”
    They are voting for Paul who authored one of the few realistic pieces of federal anti-abortion legislation in the last 30 years.
    This bill would have removed jurisdiction over abortion from the federal courts and given it to the state courts (a the constitution specifically allows this).  This would have had the effect of effectively banning abortion in the deep red states.

     Note: the Republicans didn’t vote for it, because it would have removed a campaigning point for them.  This leads me to conclude that Ron Paul is the only real anti-abortion candidate in the race.

  • The Wondering Jew

    A great column that asks all of the right questions the MSM and too many of the Paul-haters on the right don’t ask.   Again, why can’t the other candidates generate even 1/10th the amount of enthusiasm that Paul does?  What does this say about the legacy of Bush conservatism?  What does it mean when Ron Paul, opposed tooth and nail by all of the Republican establishment money, marginalized by everyone as a candidate who can’t win, gets this enthusiasm?  What does it mean for the future of the Republican party that of our already shrinking percentage of the youth vote overall, what we do have is dominated by Paul. What does it mean that the only reason Paul didn’t win Iowa is that the Geritol crowd– the last folks listening to the MSM, delivered it for Romney? What does it mean that a candidate with so many obvious flaws can *still* deliver that much enthusiasm and support.

    Blaming Paul or attacking him and his partisans isn’t going to answer these fundamental questions about the present and future of the Republican party.  It will take some hard introspection about the past failures and future direction of the conservative movement– something that too many Beltway Republicans and too many conservative bloggers seem loath to undertake.

  • http://twitter.com/Mutnodjmet Leslie Eastman

    Sadly, video evidence that McCain’s daughter is adding further shame to the name.And she’s not helping the image of women much, either.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    My question is why are all these youth voters voting for a man who is statistically likely to die on them in the middle of his first term.  I for one don’t look forward to VP Norman Rockwell taking office.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rebellionblog Mike Tuggle

    I think you hit something here: “the enthusiasm for Ron Paul represents a rejection of the recent Republican past.”

    Exactly. That past is one of runaway government spending and power grabs, a legacy that Obama is upholding as if it were his own. The truth is that the central government is concerned with nothing but its own power and privilege, and it knows the way to hold on and expand both is to keep this country at war, with anybody they can convince us is the latest Hitler.

    An authoritarian domestic policy is just the flip side of an aggressive foreign policy. For those of us whose loyalty is to our traditions of freedom, and not to a governing bureaucracy, Paul represents an idea whose time has come.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Yeah, but come on, she works hard for the money…

    http://tinyurl.com/78oqy3v 

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Stacy, if you can ask one favor of Rick Santorum, ask him, beg him, plead with him not to join the attack ad pack. I don’t think these clueless wonders realize how absolutely toxic that is to the electorate at large these days.

  • Paul Zummo


    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? 

    Because they have jobs.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    You mean Lew, right?

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ EBL

    Good post RSM.

    We should not reject everything Ron Paul is saying.  Is smaller government bad?  Is less spending bad?  Are civil liberties bad (that the GOP allows Dems to lie about this and claim they are the pro civil liberty party is insane! Idaho EPA supreme court case  Last time I checked due process, freedom, and property rights are part of civil liberties ).   Are less foreign entanglements necessarily bad?   Ron Paul is extreme in his non-intervention policy, but that does not mean we can’t take from it what is good.  Sarah Palin thinks so too. Sarah Palin on making peace with Paul

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    The defects in public education under federal and union control for the last forty years have so degraded our young people’s understanding of history and ability to think critically that they fall for anything that sounds good to them. 

    They were very enthusiastic about Obama, remember?

    So when Ron Paul evokes a few of the more basic principles of conservatism, it sounds new to the young minds full of mush, and they don’t notice the insane things he throws in the mix.  What is most disturbing is how they so easily dismiss the white supremacists and antisemites and Holocaust deniers whose support he still enjoys, or the crazy way he declares so many things “unconstitutional” which clearly are not.  They just aren’t smart enough to realize if he were right, he would only be a federal lawsuit away from correcting those things.

    As to the lack of pro-life youth enthusiasm for Santorum, well, there are nothing but pro-life candidates on the ballot.  He might expect some extra enthusiasm from Catholic youth, but he doesn’t speak enough Spanish.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Which one paints the Nazis? *g*

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  • Anonymous

    In case you care:  

    Karl Rove makes his picks for NH

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz makes her NH prediction.  

  • The Wondering Jew

    This comes very close to not totally missing the point, yet it fails. Yes, you’re absolutely right that Paul does have the support of some fringey types including Raw milk supporters, drug-legalizers, etc. but that doesn’t explain his level of support, any more than lame attempts to tie him to Neo-Nazis will. A lot of unpopular groups, some of whom we like and some of whom we don’t will benefit from a pro-liberty agenda.  But while that may drive their support of Paul it doesn’t mean that their agenda is Paul’s agenda.  And more importantly it doesn’t explain why no other candidate, if its just about mouthing the correct words, is able to get anywhere near the enthusiasm that Paul does. 

    Its because the other candidates simply drip with insincerity, and Paul doesn’t.  Its because they talk the small government words, but vote for big government time and again.  I can justify supporting many on tactical grounds but none of them have shown the sort of conservative courage that we need.

    Paul has his flaws– I would love to have a conservative candidate without those flaws– but he also has strengths that none of the other candidates can match. 

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Paul’s support comes heavily from such groups.  In fact, he told Ed Crane the top source of donations to his congressional coffers was the mailing list of The Spotlight.

    Enthusiasm isn’t always a good thing, especially blind enthusiasm.  And it’s easy to overestimate enthusiasm from rallies when the parking lot is rife with out of state plates.  A lot of that enthusiasm travels.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    Excellent post!

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  • Pathfinder’s wife

    Now that Cain and Bachmann are gone the only two names I hear on people’s lips are Santorum and Paul.  People want fiscal sanity, but none are buying the economy platitudes — most realize that nobody will be able to turn the economy around quickly, so that sound bite isn’t working.
    They want something else; I think a lot of people are wanting some ideals back.

    Above all else, they depise both parties and anybody who appears to support either party unquestionably (this means they are starting to get skeptical of media pundits).  I think a lot of them are under the impression that this may be their last chance to lodge the infamous protest vote, and this time more of them are going to do it.
    Interesting times.

    I’m kind of hoping that the Karl Rove’s and DWS’s of the world get a rude suprise…it would do them some good, lol.

  • The Wondering Jew

    Paul’s supporters are objectively *by far* the most demographically diverse of any Republican candidate.  And while the fact that Paul has supporters on the fringe right is undeniable, pointing to a publication that ceased printing a decade ago and hadn’t had more than 90,000 subscribers for a decade before that seems implausible to say the least, in explaining the support of 20, 30 and 40somethings today.

    If Paul’s campaign were really being driven by such donors, we’d expect to see him performing best among a crowd of bitter old racists in the 70 and up category.  Yet we see the exact opposite.  He does his best among younger voters– and not just kids but 30 and 40soemthings.

    Your theory of Paul’s support doesn’t fit the observed facts. The important thing for the Republican is not about who might have supported a Paul campaign two or three decades ago, but why he is drawing so much support now.  All of this stuff about the Spotlight, etc. is an attempt to avoid the real question– because the establishment doesn’t want to hear the answer.

  • http://twitter.com/ilovegrover Thane_Eichenauer

    Attack ads can convey needful information about candidates.  I imagine it can be taken too far but it isn’t as if the media is doing a great job of telling us the info voters need to make an informed choice.  

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    That is EXACTLY it…imho of course.  If only more people would consider this.

    …and I would also say that people need to pay attention to social conservatism ala Santorum, and to some extent Paul — they both overlap in some areas; people are not so much intolerant but tired of being the victims of intolerance for desiring some of the more traditional moral values; moral values I might suggest that are completely necessary to the running of this republic and any form of civil society that isn’t bankrupt, and yes, even in the economic sense.  These may not be exactly like the traditional values of old, but they are probably suprisingly close; it’s foolish to ignore this as well.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    It’s my guess, TE, that Richard is referring to the attacks on Willard for his work at Bain.

    I’m totally opposed to Mandate Mitt, but Newt and company are attacking him for being a successful free marketer.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    We have seen the same enthusiasm before: for Sarah Palin.

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  • Anonymous

    Registered to say this; discovered it already said.

    I also couldn’t help noticing that the Marriage Protection Act — a Ron Paul offering that was far more realistic, passable, and federalist-oriented bill than the Marriage Protection Amendment — passed the House in 2004, then died in the Senate Judiciary Committee… apparently at the hands of Sen. Santorum’s old friend, Sen. Specter.  

    So when I, a hardcore social conservative aged 22, look for the social conservative in the race, I see Ron Paul as my man, with Rick Santorum a close but definite runner-up.

  • Anonymous

    That you consider so many things constitutional that clearly are not at all constitutional is an actually an indictment of the public schools of your era, not ours.I am 22 years old, a Papist, educated in the Catholic school system my entire life, have a high-paying job in software at a globally-known company, and I support Ron Paul.  Why?

    Because I’ve read the Federalist Papers, I’ve read the Constitution, I’ve read Marbury v. Madison, and I’ve read Abraham Lincoln.  After that indoctrination, I really didn’t have any choice.

  • Anonymous

    I agree excellent post.

    And the gloves have come off:  
    Jon Huntsman unloads on Ron Paul…

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  • Cleophus

    I’m proud to see that you are coming around and supporting the ONLY true conservative in the race, Ron Paul. However, it bothers me when I read that Santorum, in your estimation, is “a close but definite runner-up.” I hope that, before long, you and the majority of Republicans will come to realize that Mr. Santorum and his twin, Mr. Romney, are as far from true conservatisim as one can possibly be without outright switching affiliations.
      If the Republican base wants more of the same old  failed policies of the past, then by all means, vote for the boobsie twins, they are sure to give you more than enough big government, statist fascisim to go around, and then we can watch our Country implode while what’s left of our precious rights go slithering down the drain with the help of big government policies such as the “Patriot Act”.

  • Pathfinder’s wife

    Lol, I’m beginning to think that enthusiasm for Sarah Palin was far more rational than enthusiasm for a few of the canidates now running (like a certain fellow named Rick whose last name does not begin with an S)!

  • David R. Graham

    “And I fear that the answer would be, selfishness.”

    Yes, this evening shows that USA lacks moral courage sufficient to defeat the Liar. Romney cannot do it because he is not a Christian. Only a Christian can defeat the Liar. And one with moral courage.

    USA has not yet learned the lesson, that the system is broken. More breaking is required to drive the lesson home. Prepare for four years of “ludicrous speed” statism/absolutism in USA and continuous effort to increase the number of years indefinitely by any means that appeal.

    Meanwhile, there is no “going back” or “retaking our country.” Instead, reconceptualize, reform suddenly and relentlessly and reestablish eternal verities/USA values in modern guise.

  • Anonymous

    From a pure social conservative perspective — abortion, marriage, the family, social justice — Rick Santorum is a “close but definite runner-up.”  His social conservative credentials are really, really, really good, and I am coming to Ron Paul as a primarily socially conservative voter.  That is what I meant.  If I weren’t backing Paul, I would be backing Santorum, because he is the *only* other candidate in the race who is both serious and intelligent on abortion.  And, like slavery 150 years ago, abortion is the dominant issue in every election.

    In other ways, particularly on economic conservatism, Mr. Santorum suffers various defects.  Some are modest, some serious.  Against President Obama, I would quite happily vote for him.  Indeed, against President Obama, I would happily vote for any of them, down to and including RomneyBot and Dame Bachmann of Stillwater.

    It helps me to remember that conservatism is reclaiming ground at an amazing pace, no matter who we nominate this year.  Four years ago, Romney was the most conservative candidate.  Now he’s the most liberal.  Four years before that, George W. Bush was the most conservative candidate.  Now he’d be run out of the nomination race on a rail.  Four years from now, who knows?  Maybe my party will be ready for Ron Paul 19th-century flavor conservatism.

  • K-Bob

    From lots of online discussion with Ronulans, I can only conclude that a significant chunk of his supporters would have been Obama voters in 2008 if they were exactly the same age at that time.

    I think Paul attracts a TON of disenfranchised Dems.  People who wanted that hope and change and nationalized healthcare until they got a chance to see what it actually looks like.  People who wanted an effective politician, but are shocked at the Chicagoland assault on human decency.  People who wanted someone to hit back against Wall Street shenanegans, but are fed up with The Big Lie that’s floated daily instead.

    The other side of the “should we take the Ron Paul phenomenon seriously” question is “why do we persist in putting squishy moderates ahead of doctrinaire Conservatives?”  Especially since it’s obvious that genuine conservatives are what more people are looking for.

    And we need genuine Conservatives that don’t have shady pasts, or problems speaking in public.  But sadly, too many Republicans still couldn’t take Palin or any other Conservative seriously, so they began shoving Mitt down our throats, or at least enabling those who are doing it.

    So RedState, PowerLine, HotAir, Krauthammer Review Online, and other Palin-hating web pundits, thanks for being so bloody-minded “Conservative” that all the actual Conservatives were chased away, and we are left with Mitt and Crazy Uncle Ron.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    …or at least it comes off that way.

    Now, what Mitt did at Bain may be God-awful, but the words being used to attack his work there are straight out of the Leftist Playbook.

  • Csmallo

    Very simple, we don’t see Ron Paul  as having “so many obvious flaws”.   He is the only true conservative in the race.  

  • Csmallo

    I guess George Washington was extreme in his non-intervention policy as well?

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  • Anonymous

    Because it still takes a month or two to sail the Atlantic and a single ship can’t carry enough gunpowder (nuclear weapons were never invented in Paultard world) to blow up a city….

    George Washington lived in the real world and would have modified his foreign policy to suit.

  • Anonymous

    My enthusiasm for Gov Perry is based on his actual record in TX; he’s unique in having one.

  • David Bruce

    I can’t imagine why anyone covering politics for a living would call Ron Paul’s appeal a mystery. He’s the only candidate not financed by the banks that are ruining the global economy. He’s the only candidate that wants to eliminate the infringement on our personal liberties – both regulatory and criminal. He also the only candidate that seems to have a clue that solid economics is the base upon which we build our social infrastructure. If the economy is failing, we care little about anything else.

    Since Romney and the Not Romneys are all part of the model that has failed us for almost three decades as RINOs and over 100 years as Keynesians, why would we support any of them?

    Let’s remember that our current Keynesian (AKA failed) economic system was built by bankers for bankers over 100 years ago. Romney and the Not Romneys all like that model – as do their banker financiers. Just ask yourself – is per capita crime lower than it was 100 years ago? Is purchasing power better than it was 100 years ago? Is our nation more loved and safer than it was 100 years ago? Since the answer to all of those is “no,” the only rational choice is Paul.

  • http://edgeofthesandbox.wordpress.com/ edge of the sandbox

    Great point.  According to the exit poll data, most Paulistas don’t even think of themselves as Republican or conservative.  Scroll down:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2012/new-hampshire-primary-jan-10/exit-polls
    I guess the future of conservatism is not with Pualistas, who, in any event, will probably abandon their idol and everything he stands for in a few years.

  • K-Bob

    Nice find, edge! It’s hilarious that so many of them claim Paul “is the only true conservative.”

    It would be as idiotic as a group of white, redneck, high-schoolers from west of Howell, “joining” an AME church in Detroit to “teach them how to play gospel music right.”

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  • http://twitter.com/theoriginalCL Michael Todd

    I used to think of myself as a Republican and conservative, but don’t anymore. Why would I?

    I was told conservatives wanted to limit government and that the Republicans were the party to do it. 43 years later … Republicans have done nothing but grow the size, scope and cost of government while conservatives happily cheer them on.

    What’s the point?

    The party and the movement that supports it has a serious credibility crisis on it’s hands. Conservatives buried their roots – Taft, Kirk, Nisbet, Hayek, Goldwater – and now can’t figure out what went wrong?

    When you let go of your roots in the name of “real world” expediency, you’re left blowing in the wind … embracing fragile political platforms instead of the firm foundation of philosophy.

  • http://twitter.com/theoriginalCL Michael Todd

    It never ceases to amaze me the number of self-styled conservatives who are content (if not supportive) of the unelected central-planning bureaucracy known as the Federal Reserve.

    When it comes to socialism, ObamaCare is child’s play when compared to the Federal Reserve – an institution straight out of Marx’s 10 planks!