Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ron Paul’s Revolution Wasn’t Televised, But They Sold A Lot of Tickets For The Live Show

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Idaho gave Texas Congressman Ron Paul his best vote tally during his 2008 Republican presidential primary run. So it was no surprise that he received something akin to rock star treatment—two standing ovations and three honorary awards, including a John Wayne plaque with the phrase “True Grit”—from the several thousand people crowded into the Morrison Center to hear him speak on Saturday night.

Paul activist and one-time legislative candidate Elizabeth Allen Hodge introduced Paul, and briefly summarized his career as a military and civilian doctor, then as a legislator. She said he deserved applause for the size of his family: five children, 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

The Idaho Statesman reported that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter had been asked to introduce Paul, but was unable to because of a previous commitment.

Based on his writings, voting record and interviews, Paul’s speech was fairly predictable:

The government is too big ... It no longer follows the Constitution.
We need to restore the gold standard.
The Federal Reserve is concentrated evil, and needs to be audited.

“Americans have become adapted to incrementalism,” said Paul, briefly recounting a history of health policy that he asserts has led to Americans willingly giving up their rights by allowing the government to run health care. He then lauded property rights and the evils of income taxes.

“The basic assumption of the income tax is that the government owns all your income and allows you to keep some,” Paul said.

Paul talked about his opposition to the Iraq war, and a return to a non-interventionist foreign policy so we can seek trade with foreign nations rather than reasons to bomb them. He said he doesn’t really care about Iran; that it’s just trying to get some respect in a region loaded to the teeth with nuclear weapons. Both of these statements received loud cheers by people who later professed their support for the Iraq War and the invasion of Iran to BW.

Perhaps the strangest moment of the whole speech was when Paul gestured to the crowd, and they all shouted his catchphrase “End the fed!” back to him. Ted Nugent couldn’t have done it better.

Paul consistently returned to the Constitution and to his understanding of the founders of our nation, insisting that we have gotten away from both, though offering few examples of how, other than the recent health care bill—which at three days old was hardly the impetus for his worldview—and the Federal Reserve.

He also expressed an opposition to increased executive power.

Paul then took several softball questions submitted by the audience on note cards, half of which the moderator credited to children. A question about his support of “The Fair Tax” and its effects on government information gathering that I had submitted was not addressed.

In one of his closing thoughts, Paul said that if you really understand the principles of freedom, it doesn’t matter what the person next to you looks like or what they think, so long as it doesn’t physically injure you. This got a cheer from the man sitting several seats down from me who joked he was “put in this row so he couldn’t throw things at the people who disagreed.” We were sitting in the very last row.

After the speech, groups ranging from the conservative, to the ultra-conservative, handed out pamphlets and pocket copies of the Constitution. There were DVDs from the right-wing John Birch society, which has dabbled in white supremacy since the 1960s, and copies of the Idaho Pork Report, which lamely advertised itself as “The book the Idaho Government doesn’t want you to read.”

I took several pamphlets for reference and asked several loiterers what they thought of Paul’s speech.
A Greek chorus of teens from Liberty Charter School said they liked Paul’s position on personal accountability, that anyone who applies for it gets free tuition to college, and that they’re opposed to such silver platter handouts like student aid and food stamps.

They also said that the American people didn’t vote for health care reform and that Obama had already passed a law to take their guns away. I pointed out health care reform had been a major piece of the democratic platform, and they responded that didn’t count because most people didn’t vote. I asked if they felt that by not voting, non-voters had essentially voted that it wasn’t that important to them, tacitly authorization. They didn’t.

Another speech attendee, A.J. Ellis, who was wearing a pin demonizing charter schools as state-ist, explained he agreed with Paul that too much has been justified under the general welfare clause of the Constitution. When pressed for examples, he offered the three-day old health care bill. I asked about the interstate highway system. He accepted it as being for the general welfare, but not public schools, which he also felt were state-ist.

Emmett organic strawberry farmer and perennial candidate for governor Pro-Life (who changed his name from Marvin Richardson to reflect his one-issue platform) said he liked Paul’s position on the only just war being a defensive war, and a return to a non-interventionist foreign policy. He said it was okay to strike back against Al-Qaeda, but defended domestic Christian Identity groups that bomb abortion clinics. Barbary pirates were bad, but Somali pirates weren’t really on the radar.

From there, I went to the after-party at Pair, where two dozen or so speech attendees had gone for refreshments and to discuss Paul’s speech.

There I met Mike and Ginny Todhunter, a nice retired couple from Pocatello told me about how they moved to Idaho from San Bernardino, Calif. to get away from the influx of Mexican culture there. They also said they supported Paul across the board, and at the same time, a non-interventionist foreign policy and the war in Iraq.

So what is Ron Paul’s “revolution” all about? Resistance? Symbolism? Culture war? A fractured inconsistent smattering of principled stances on single issues that he and supporters try to apply across the board to prove the nature of everything? All of the above? None?

Brock Frazier, a recent NNU MBA graduate and Ron Paul fan I met at Pair may have said it best: “It’s pretty much the same set-list he’s been playing for 20 years,” said Frazier. “His greatest hits.”

As far as revolutions go, this one is seeming a little stale. So why did that R-“3vol”-ution needle have to get stuck now, when we’ve got all these Tea Parties to attend?

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