November 21, 2007

Ron Paul's odd followers

Apologies for sparce posting this week has been in a lot of ways very stressful for me.

Right on to the main agenda of this post, which is Ron Paul. A controversy has blown up in the States about Paul's odder supporters- from white seccessionists to anti-semites to a whole bag of idiots and fools- Paul has attracted his share of weird and sometimes mad supporters. David Bernstein from the Volokh conspiracy and Mona Charen from the National Review certainly think that this support and the fact that Paul hasn't disavowed it create enough of a reason to vote for someone with saner supporters.

Its an interesting objection. To some extent they are wrong- all political movements are coalitions and contain vile and often seriously mistaken people. There are degrees though- and it is worth remembering that one of the best ways to know someone is by their friends. That's why for example the UK Conservative Party was so keen to jettison its former candidate Nigel Hastilow for racist comments and why Ken Livingstone should jettison Miranda Grell. Paul though is in the position of having supporters who he might wish to disavow, a slightly different category- should for instance John McCain or any of the other pro-life candidates explicitly stand up and say that they don't want any violent pro-life enthusiasts to vote for them, should Barack Obama say that he doesn't want the black power movement to vote for him.

To an extent I think Paul is suffering from this partly because he is seen as being an extremist himself. He has positions which he has never explained properly and not been questioned fully on- for instance withdrawing US troops from everywhere around the world that they are stationed at the moment, withdrawing the US from international free trade agreements, abolishing the IRS. Paul has made a career from being an iconoclast- and that's a good career but the point is that then in some cases you need to prove your orthodoxy. Paul hasn't shown himself to be very savvy either in avoiding odd and sometimes racist radio shows and films- as Charen comments- he has allowed himself to appear on them- furthermore he hasn't returned cheques from people operating in the Klu Klux Khan. Partly this is just mischief making from the Republicans as well- Paul is popular because of Iraq- somebody like Charen would scorn any Democratic tactic to use this argument against her 'guy' in November but in this context is quite happy to use the same argument to suppress a Republican insurgency.

I'd be interested to know more about this- whether there are links between Paul and the madmen- I suspect there aren't- how serious Paul is as a candidate- given what he's said I suspect his effect is more of a useful corrective on the Republican party than a serious Presidential prospect.


Anonymous said...

I suspect you are right - it is basically pressure group politics...

Mark said...

Excellent post. I think you get to the crux of the issue, which is that Paul has a bad history of seeking out support from these specific groups (intentionally or not). His (until yesterday) stubborness to disavow these groups just added fuel to the fire. Dave Neiwert has done a lot of work linking Paul to these groups; most of what he found is pure BS, but it's an extensive amount of BS, and in some cases, it's only somewhat BS. After reading Neiwert's posts, you do wind up seeing a link between Paul and the madmen- whether the link is meaningful is debatable, but the link exists nonetheless.

See my posts on this topic for more- I've had a lot(

Lord Jerk-Higham said...

He has positions which he has never explained properly and not been questioned fully on-

Ron Paul is a fine man and he is sufficiently eccentric to see through the hype. He is surrounded by ravening wolves and is virtually on his own.

The Truthers and all others seen as nutters is something thrust on him by his enemies to make him appear unelectable [despite the $4m].

This is the oldest trick in the book - to damn your opponent with kooky support. As for what he says, his positions, of course he can't spell them out - he hints as I've done all along.

The real enemy is so powerful, so interlocked it's almost impossible to break its grip. Now what do you do if you are aware of all this?

First, the whistleblowers come to you becasue you're perceived as the only hope. Then you're marginalized so you can't do too much damage.

Lastly, you can't say what you know becasue you don't have definitive final proof when they drag you into court and stack the might of the cabals against you.

You're between a rock and a hard place. They can't touch him physically becaue he's too high profile so they do the other thing - the thing which gave rise to your understandable post, Tiberius.

edmund said...

i've thought this was a fuss about nothing - after all as you rightly say this is about supporters not aides (talking of which see some of Ken Livingstone's aides...)... and his just not someone who disonws anyone- if he was like Reagsan and disoed the KKK and then didnt' disown these people that would be more dogy.

I also think this is completely inaccurate

He has positions which he has never explained properly and not been questioned fully on- for instance withdrawing US troops from everywhere around the world ect

in fact his many times defend and explained htose postions in a way unsual for a US congressmen (or indeed an mp)

also iraq is double edged- it gives him a cerina appeal but by itself would probaly be ebnough to stop him actually getting nominated.

incideetnaly though ken livingstone has many many dogy aides it's u8nfair to count Grell in the number- she's an aide to Nicky Garvey's whos the de fact head of the labout GLA group- ie has an independent power base she even tried to run agianst him for mayor afterall!

incidentlay Barak Obama's religous minister is a believer in black power... this is an issue that may come up again.

Lord Nazh© said...

RuPaul is an idiot, a liar and a truther :)

No one is 'forced' on him, as he states he knows everything that is going on in his campaign. He has maybe 2 good ideas and thousands of terrible ones.

It is sad however that he has the power to sway otherwise sane people to believe in his 'cause'.

Gracchi said...

Your lordship have you told James this!