Lessons of the Paul Campaign – r[evol]ution within the reForm

1 – The boundaries of change

If one were were to encapsulate the Big Questions we face, one might boil them down to these: “How far do we need to go?”, and “How do we get there?”.

Ron Paul himself never quite clearly defined the scope of the changes he sought. Undoing the Reserve Currency of Planet Earth and dismantling the most prodigious Empire in recorded history, not to mention ending the income tax regime, stopping the War on (some) Drugs, reasserting personal privacy and State’s rights… these are truly epic quests. But what was so strange about the Paul Campaign was the insider/outsider double game that was played as events unfolded.

For instance, we had Dr. Paul showing up regularly on the Alex Jones show… but refusing to ever discuss the incredible circumstances of the WTC attacks. Ron Paul and the libertarian gatekeepers around him and on the ‘net always sought to maintain some distance between themselves and the “tinfoil hat crowd”. Yet they weren’t above appealing to that constituency for money (the “handwritten” plea by Dr. Paul mass mailed around Christmas of ’07 was unabashed in collateralizing anti-“New World Order” sentiment).

It was one face to the “kooks” on the front line, and another to Joe Scarborough out in TV land. This balancing act was understandable, as Paul sought to limit his relentless marginalization by the media. But marginalize him they did, ANYWAY. And so one wonders, since it was a given that the Establishment was going to pull out every single stop before allowing, say, the dissolution of the Federal Reserve System, one wonders, why not push the envelope a little? For instance, why not hire some attorneys to fight to get the votes counted, as opposed to spending millions on appallingly amateurish media buys? If nothing else, it might have stirred the pot.

It’s no easy question: how far to go? Prudence says, “let it unfold of its own, in due time”. But if the criminality that many of us suspect the inner sanctums of American Power to be guilty of is a fact, then surely we must out this cancer? Can it be borne indefinitely? Grand larceny, assassination, mass murder…? Yet the Paul campaign got this much right, that to react in hysteria, to scream from the rooftops, to counter violence with violence, whether in thought, word, or deed – this course is doomed, and must be assiduously avoided.

What’s needed is to stay calm. In this Ron Paul did well, and is to be commended. The campaign was *just* mainstream enough to peek out through the cracks of the edifice of What Americans Think They Know. But it ultimately failed to transition out of this initial position, build upon the resources it had assembled, and make a concrete, authoritative political statement. Simply put, the error was in remaining joined at the hip to the GOP, long after that relationship had served its purpose.

2 – Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

There is a branch of game theory called coalition theory. It ponders questions like the following: if we have 3 groups, with 49, 49, and 2 “votes” respectively, all seeking to win an election with 51 votes total, which of these 3 can be said to have the most “power”? And the answer is (drum roll): they all have equal power, because any one of them that wishes to win must make a deal with some other group.

In this little theoretical truism lies a possible answer to the riddle of how a dedicated and united cadre might wedge and manipulate two bloated, corrupt “superpowers” like the Democratic and Republican parties. What is required isn’t a majority, but rather a minority substantial enough that both powers must continuously bargain with this third group to gain its temporary allegiance. Of course, the two superpowers could always come out in open alliance with each other once and for all – but that in itself would be a victory for the good guys with immense ramifications.

The difficulties in launching and sustaining a viable third party are well documented; what is called for probably isn’t another political party. Indeed, such a thing would likely be undermined, as have the Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and similar entities of the left, eg the Greens. But while a third party is probably untenable, it’s clearly suicide to remain in this abusive relationship with the Republicans.

Why? Go back to coalition theory. By trying to “reform” the Republican Party, our movement COMPLETELY SURRENDERS THE LEVERAGE IT HAS AGAINST THE TARGETS OF SAID REFORM. There is a shockingly naive assumption in all this, as the criminal elements in the GOP get away with political [1] murder. It’s believed that somehow they will surrender their authority because they “need us”. Some coalescing may indeed happen, but expecting those who run the GOP to just “come around” to our way of thinking because they’re in the process of getting the crap kicked out of ’em flies in the face of repeated experience. Most people in 1976 wouldn’t have given the GOP another shot at the presidency for 12 years at least; yet they were right back in the saddle in 1980, with a “revolution”… of sorts.

This brings us to the very disturbing turn Paulism has taken: the invocation of that same “Reagan Revolution”, the “Robertson takeover” and the like, to “sell” Paulism to the GOP “conservatives”. Groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus are even openly equating Ron Paul with Ron Reagan – with REAGAN, super neoconservative, warmongerer extraordinaire, the most profligate spender the nation had ever seen (until the record was broken by a certain successor), a man that sold out so-called conservative principles so profoundly, that Ron Paul himself quit the Republican Party in disgust and ran as the Presidential candidate for the LP in 1988!!!

What a long, bitter history the movement for LIBERty has when it tries to be “conservative”! And yet, because we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve nowhere else to go, we find ourselves chanting this mantra: “we really are conservatives, we are real conservatives, be a conservative like us”. And always in this equation of the movement with “conservatism”, ALWAYS, there is a softening of the anti-war, anti-empire stance [2]. And so one wonders, vis a vis this GOP “takeover” – who’s zoomin’ who, hmmm?

The signs are all around the paleocon “surge”. It isn’t only that Ron Paul is being equated with Reagan and Goldwater (can you hear that…? it’s the sound of Rothbard turning over in his grave). We have Bob Barr as the nominee for the LP – Barr, ex-CIA, who voted for the Iraq “War” and the Patriot Act. And the rising star in the LP is Wayne Allen Root – note his initials, “WAR”, and rest assured that “peace” will never be his middle name. It seems the deeper we commit ourselves to this dysfunctional “conservative” assertion, the more we are moved towards the “libertarianism” of Neil Boortz – not the other way around.

3 – Turn, turn, turn…

And so, is this a revolution in the sense of revolving, of running around in circles, forever repeating a past we are doomed to repeat for lack of a memory? Or is there a possibility to transform it into an evolving spiral? Or to stretch the analogy in a different direction, to consciously control and leverage an ever increasing rate of spin, and somehow be there to pick up the pieces when it all comes flying apart?

The dimensions of how far, the vectors of growth, are dictated to us by the political realities as demonstrated by the campaign experience. By Kinky Carole, by Fairfield. We have a vast disaffected and disillusioned middle class [3], a frustrated anti-establishment progressive wing that is veering more and more towards principles of natural law, and young people that are far more radicalized than their counterparts from the 1960’s. We have all these to add to an established paleocon base, rooted in the old Birchist Patriot movement and lately the Constitution Party, with deep connections to the LP, and tentacles in the GOP.

The key here is to forge an *IDENTITY* that embraces all of these. This will never be possible within the confines of the Republican Party, which will inevitably sublimate us into its amorphous, toxic field. We need to form an unassailable cadre, and build on that cadre, steadily and relentlessly, with messaging that consciously undermines the Old Forms.

It’s my contention that the essence of that message can be boiled down to one thing: we’re for YOU, the little guy. This is the fight of the Individual against Leviathan. It’s pure populism, in the best sense of the word. And that is about as “liberal” as any Revolution can get.

[1] Literal murder too. Ask the victims of Blackwater’s little hoedown, or rather mowdown in Baghdad. Now connect the dots; this is who you’re climbing in bed with, when you get naked with the GOP. Is there a body condom strong enough to protect us from the rancorous stench of death that clings to these fascists?

[2] Note that Dr. Paul himself is not nearly the antiwar radical many of us are.

[3] And baby, they ain’t seen nuthin‘, yet.

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8 Responses to Lessons of the Paul Campaign – r[evol]ution within the reForm

  1. Aaron says:

    Again, great post Chuck…It was clear that the Paul campaign was being “too nice”, eg not going after the vote fraud, etc. I never was a Ron Paul Republican (my horrifying experiences at the precinct and senatorial conventions were enough)and it irritated me so much to see that faction within the movement try to overshadow the rest of us.

    It puzzled me that anyone would want to even affiliate themselves with that “brand” and to couple Paul in with Reagan, like you, had me questioning just what the hell was going on. It is the individual against the State and that scares the hell out of people. They feel so powerless and grasp at anything that will guide them or tell them what to do. Keep it up Chuck!

  2. patriotmom76 says:

    Great post Chuck! I started to question the campaign’s intentions after New Hampshire. The momentum was lost as soon as they refused to investigate the vote fraud. I’m glad we are all moving on to bigger and better things. I think the TAG PAC is going to be a huge success.

  3. chuckyoung says:

    Hi Patriotmom :’)

    National was very frustrating. But letting New Hampshire go was inexcusable. I understand that a balancing act was necessary. But not seeing that they had the RESOURCES and the potential to actually win what might have been an historical victory… it was just totally disheartening.

    $30 million coulda bought a lot of lawyer…

  4. Linda Curtis says:

    I really enjoyed reading this one Chuck. I identified with much of this as longtime “third partyist”, who went through the Perot “Revolution”, and the death of the greatest promise of a major third party in this country in a very long time (The Reform Party USA). My thoughts are now that we need a broad based populist independent movement that includes lots of tendencies of thought and action — that’s not contained within a party or even one organization. Can we give shape to a movement of Americans — who are focused on freedom and honesty in politics? That’s a question that can only be answered in the organizing process itself — at least that’s the way I see it.

    And, yes, keep it up!

    Linda Curtis, Independent Texans

    PS To whomever accused me of “mining” your list — get a grip, what else would a political activist do, but try to persuade others to their way of thinking!

  5. Austin says:

    I liked the part where you used the other definition of revolution. That never occurred to me, and it should have. Indeed, round and round we go, sort of like sysadmining. Indeed, the Paul campaign should have fought New Hampshire. The whole submovement to unite with the republicans always had somewhat of a shady feel to me. This continues with the delegate efforts today. I can’t say why, but I’ll trust my millions of years of genetic evolution over some vociferous postings any day. And while on the subject, why do most of the “capital-L-Libertarians” I have met seemed in need of some lithium? To end on a positive note, at least the Ron Paul phase saw a mass awakening. I have talked to a bunch of people who saw him take down Giuliani in the debates for instance, who totally got into Ron Paul. I know that he really helped make me aware of the devaluing of the dollar, and the problems that causes. I still have my Ron Paul yard signs up, but only to hold ground against my neighbors sporting Hillary and McCain
    signs. “The medium is the message.”

  6. Great post. I think these “conversations” are EXACTLY what “us” Ron Paul – freedom loving – Constitutional supporting voters need to be thinking. Game theory is very interesting. This should not be rocket science, but I think many of us are caught in a swirl of wanting to contribute but not knowing how, not having a clear path to push through.

    It does seem to perhaps, boil down to marketing. I would be all for a “Patriot Party” which sounds good and is perhaps a generic enough rallying cry that the other third parties and republicans and democrats could all support…

    Take care.

  7. Excellent analysis, fantastic portrayal of a persistent political syndrome. Sucking up to the ‘big boys’ always seems so rewarding… at first.

    The Campaign for Liberty is stillborn. It is no alternative, just a chute into the pits of GOP hell for the alternatively inclined.

    The problem with any alternative movement is that it is immediately pushed into the “third party” slot (or chasm) that immediately engulfs and neutralizes it from the get-go — so why not preempt that whole problem and call it the “First Party”?

    Colloquy:
    Q: “What party do you vote for, Democrat or Republican?”
    A: “I vote First?”
    Q: “Huhh? What do you mean?” — and you have a nice conversation going.

    It avoids any worn-out labels and gets the message across that first, before we can even disagree, we have to be free. Then, once we got that squared away, we can talk about what kind of state we want to live in – a capitalistic one, a socialistic one – or a free one? There is room for all kinds in this country as long as nobody tries to cram their own “kind” down the throats of other kinds from the federal level.

    I think that much the millions of “disaffected” in this movement that you are outlining in this post can all agree on. The rest is gravy.

    Talk to you soon, I hope.

  8. […] From Chuck Young’s blog [post] “Lessons of the Paul Campaign – r[evol]ution within the reForm“: […]

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