LOS ANGELES, May 27, 2012 — With the Republican nomination an all but foregone conclusion, let us take a quick look back at the 2012 Republican candidates.
Ron Paul’s race in particular stands out. The Libertarian-turned-Republican attracted many new voters (and quite a few converts) with his plain-spoken air and his Libertarianism-made-easy campaign. His message of governmental honesty and simplicity seemed to resonate with Americans who feel betrayed by their leaders. But do his followers have the attention span to create a movement with staying power? Does Paul’s vision of libertarian Republicanism penetrate deeply enough into the collective psyche of his followers to get them to stay in the party and fight for the long term? Is this the beginning of the end of good-ole-boy Republican politics?
The truth is that the Texas Congressman and his motley crew of disciples are a fad, the political equivalent of Cabbage Patch Kids. The Ron Paul movement is fundamentally flawed because it implies that the only way that real change can come is via the presidency. The values that Ron Paul has espoused could have a huge impact local and state governments, and the urban community and inner city could benefit from the congressman’s ideas. However, the movement seems to depend on the excitement generated by a presidential campaign, its adherents unwilling to look lower, where reformers could make a difference. The president has little effect on local government. If the Ron Paul people - the “Blue Republicans” - could grasp this matter, then real reform could be realized.
In a time when leadership has forgotten about the people of America and their needs, Ron Paul’s followers had a chance to become new leaders. By putting all their eggs in one basket, though, they’ve made of his movement a fad. It will end in November and “the revolution” will be a feel-good memory, reminiscences of a protracted political Woodstock.
Without a motivational strategy that consistently stresses fundamental values of good government at the local level, Paul’s movement is a failure. It is a failure because Paul’s supporters will quit after the presidential race. Focused as they are on their standard-bearer, they want a simple, pure message and don’t care about the messy business of local politics. If Paul were elected tomorrow, it would not change local governance one bit.
Also read: Ron Paul has already won ~ The media ignore the success of Paul’s delegate strategy, and they don’t realize that whatever happens in Tampa, he’s already won.
California politics, for example, is trapped in a quagmire of corruption. People have lost hope. The state teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. Taxes and spending are out of balance and decided in ways that focus on narrow parochial interest. Jobs are fleeing for Texas, Utah, and other states, and the people are following. The people of California desperately need constitutionally strong politicians like Ron Paul running local and state governments.
Where are they? Where are the new “Republitarian” candidates for school boards and water boards, for city councils and state assembly, for mayoral races and board of supervisor positions?
Equally important, will they support Mitt Romney if he wins the nomination? If they don’t, they won’t stay in the Republican Party, and the odds of getting a third party off the ground are remote. Paul and Romney both want smaller government, they both want lower taxes, they both triumph the responsibility of the individual, they both favor the free market - and they both want President Obama out of office. Where are the Paulestinians? With their man or nowhere. With their man out of the race, they will vanish as a political force.
The Ron Paul effect will be nil. The congressman will become the Republican equivalent of Lyndon Larouche: a perennial candidate who makes most people think of a man in a tin hat who attracts shrinking but ever-noisier crowds of fanatical loyalists and no one else.
If Paul’s supporters would only look beyond Paul to candidates at the grassroots level, they would see plenty of people who could nurture his ideas in local governments to build for decades to come. For example, Donna Lowe is running for state assembly office in California’s new 41st district. Taking a page from Paul’s book on small government, she believes the size of the federal government must be decreased substantially. She believes, in Paulian fashion, that the local government needs to create conditions to bring manufacturing jobs back to California and that it is the local cities and governments that must correct Californians failures. She despises increased spending, abhors higher taxes, and loathes not holding governments responsible and accountable for their shortfalls.
If Paul’s supporters threw their might and resources towards Lowe and candidates like her, then true reform could come to local government, to California, and to the Republican Party.
If the Ron Paul movement is not a fad, then the rubber must meet the road for the Paulestinians. The constitutional champions must rise at the bell and slug it out in the ring with those who seek to destroy that Constitution. They must register themselves and others to vote, then fight for local candidates, not just Paul. They social network for Paul, but they must promote other candidates who share his ideas.
Most importantly, they must fight local battles over and over and over again. This isn’t a one-time fight for Ron Paul against President Obama. It’s a never-ending fight that will be lost in Washington if it isn’t won on Main Street. If Paul’s movement is a sign that a Republican revolution is coming, then that passion must be channeled into local and state politics rather than bowing out when the big enchilada is no longer on the menu. There are people hurting who desperately want hope. Giving it to them demands commitment and hard work in the trenches, not one-note faddists. Paul’s supporters have to decide whether they support real change, or whether they just love the thrill of presidential politics.
Is Ron Paul’s movement revolutionary, or is it vanity politics writ large? What Paul’s supporters do after Tampa and after November will decide.
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