LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2012 — Ron Paul spoke at UCLA last night, and several thousand people showed up to create a scene that made Beatlemania seem tame. No one would have guessed that this man is trailing in all the presidential race polls.
From an event standpoint, the speech at UCLA was a complete success. Dr. Paul knows how to galvanize people. But during his fifty-or so minute speech, not one minute was spent talking about the presidential race, which leads to a very important question that must be asked.
If Dr. Paul can inspire such large, passionate crowds to hear him speak, why has he never won a single presidential contest?
The lines were like those at a rock concert, stretching for long blocks of the campus to enter the Straus Stadium at the Los Angeles Tennis Center (LATC) where Dr. Paul was speaking. The campaign promoted the event as a Town Hall, not a campaign rally.
The audience, estimated by the campaign at over 7,000, should give even the candidate’s most ardent critics pause. They there were mostly young and articulate. They had genuine concerns and well thought out ideas as to why change is necessary.
One group of six students, all from different backgrounds, shared two things: They were men, and they were there in support of Dr. Paul. They agreed that if Dr. Paul is not the nominee, they would still absolutely vote in the general election.
They would not stay home.
Most of the six young men said they would lean toward President Obama over Mitt Romney, in varying degrees. They all agreed that they could not support Rick Santorum. These young men were overall very thoughtful. They were worried about crushing debt.
Foreign policy is one issue where Dr. Paul remains controversial. The six young men insisted they were not anti-war protesters, and they rejected the Occupy Wall Street Violence. They even stated that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were “technically legal,” although they were not happy about them.
They had zero objection to World War II because of the direct attack on Pearl Harbor and the formal declaration of war. These young men were clean-cut and as positive a reflection of the Paul campaign as could possibly be desired.
A couple of working professionals were slightly more troublesome. One identified himself as a farmer, and the other as a manager with twenty employees. They called the American intervention in World War II “questionable,” and believed that FDR deliberately allowed the attack so he could wage war.
If Dr. Paul did not win the nomination, they would probably stay home.
A mother of four drove an hour to the rally while her husband stayed home with the kids. She is a homemaker, and said she would only vote for Dr. Paul. If he does not win the nomination, she will write his name in anyway.
No other candidate is acceptable.
While the crowd was overwhelmingly youthful, it was not monolithic. It was also not “astroturf.” These were not paid mercenaries bussed in for appearances. They were true believers, and the sheer numbers were astounding.
As in all crowds there are those that stand out, such as one individual with a shaved head and a pink mohawk, but generally the crowd was as normal as could possibly be.
In a sign of the times, there was even a sign language expert for the hearing impaired.
Dr. Paul took the stage at 8:30pm PST on the dot as the UCLA Ron Paul youth coordinator began. He declared that the reason so many young people support Ron Paul is because of the availability of Internet access, allowing them to make more informed decisions, to be more aware.
As for Ron Paul, his performance was masterful. He spoke for 50 minutes without notes. While he repeated some of his standard boilerplate comments involving liberty and government being too big, he also offered some fresh remarks that kept the audience paying close attention.
He noted that the USSR collapsed due to the failed economic system of Communism. America has a failed system of interventionism. In criticizing the Federal Reserve, Dr. Paul showed his sense of humor saying We might have to be careful. Mr. Bernanke might hear us.
The biggest applause lines came when Dr. Paul discussed abolishing the Fed and repealing the 16th Amendment. The crowd passionately booed the very mention of NATO and the United Nations. Chants of “President Paul” were alternated with chants of “End the Fed.”
Shifting to what he called a deeply flawed foreign policy, Dr. Paul said that it is time we came home from Korea, Japan, and Germany.
“We may be better liked if we came home rather than telling other countries what to do,” Dr. Paul said.
On the theme of liberty, Dr. Paul states:
- We’re not supposed to have secrecy in government. We’re supposed to know what our government is doing all the time.
- We need to know what they are doing. They have no business knowing what we are doing.
- He referred to the PATRIOT ACT as the “Repeal the Fourth Amendment Act.”
He pointed out that 40,000 laws have been passed nationwide since January 1st of 2012 before declaring, I’d like to be the first President to repeal 40,000 laws.
“The job of a President is to take his oath seriously and obey the Constitution,” he said.
Dr. Paul wants a country where we can drink raw milk if we choose or buy whatever light bulbs we desire. If someone is a farmer in the rope business, they should be able to farm hemp rope. While the crowd did cheer the marijuana reference, the loudest cheers came when he spoke of economic liberty.
Many in the crowd were very serious about the economic future of the country, loudly cheering the mention of “Austrian free market economists.”
Dr. Paul made a point of distinguishing support for legalizing drugs with an endorsement of doing them. He did state that drugs were bad, but that government intervention on the issue was worse.
Dr. Paul actually got stronger as his speech continued, and the audience stayed with him. More people kept flowing into the tennis stadium, while virtually nobody exited. He ended on a very optimistic note, saying:
- Virtue and excellence are what our goals in life ought to be. Such values are “very tough in a totalitarian society.”
- Liberty is a young idea. Maybe that’s why young people like it.
- Tyranny is the dark ages.
- Maybe they’ll hear us soon.
- Freedom is contagious.”
Some of the attendees blamed voter fraud for his poor performance in the polls so far. While there were irregularities in Maine, this does not explain losing badly in states such as Florida.
Others blamed a lack of media attention. This does not stand up to scrutiny. Dr. Paul gains tons of attention by his supporters playing up that very lack of attention. Everybody knows who he is.
Rick Santorum had virtually zero media attention and was regularly dismissed, yet he plodded along and won the Iowa caucuses.
There is a specific reason Dr. Paul can draw crowds but not win primaries. His supporters claim he will win delegates, but even if that were true, that is a testament to organizing abilities.
It still does not explain why he is soundly rejected in actual contests when votes are counted.
Pointing this out is not meant to denigrate Dr. Paul. This is a serious issue. If the Paul supporters can find the weak link in their election chain and fix it, it would allow them to become a more serious movement in terms of votes.
The answer is obvious, although that election explanation is for another day.
While Dr. Paul’s chances of winning the White House are dwindling, his star among the faithful is shining as bright as it ever has.
It is one thing to dismiss gatherings of twenty students over pizza boxes. A crowd of several thousand people with empty seats few and far between must be respected.
Ron Paul has a clear following. In a lengthy and often quixotic campaign with ups and downs, his UCLA speech was clearly a high note. Young people are often ridiculed for chanting slogans such as “this is what democracy looks like.”
Yet on this night, it actually was. Only hours before baseball season was to begin, Dr. Paul clearly hit a home run.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS
Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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