Whenever the subject of Ron Paul comes up (an occurrence more common here in Toronto than Americans might think), his supporters react with a fervor one simply does not see with other candidates. OK—often, the first thing I often hear is “He’ll legalize weed, dude!” As a matter of fact, he’s come out in favor of legalizing all drugs. I disagree, by the way. There are reasons soft drugs are called soft; we’re talking about plant-based material unrefined in any toxic manner, not, say, Oxycontin on which my wife overdosed. I’ve seen what Amsterdam is like at night; a guy walked up to me on the street and asked me if I wanted to snort some heroin of the end of a pin. I respectfully declined, and kept moving. Ron Paul’s America could look like that.
I repeat: I don’t care how good his ground game is in Iowa, although if he wins the caucus it will destroy any legitimacy that part of the process has become. I don’t think I’d miss it, actually. It’s arcane and finally meaningless. It’s no bellweather.
Now to the news about Paul’s newsletter. Various right-wing figures, like Larouche, used to use this method to keep an operating base going. The Religious Right used the same methods, as did the JBS. Paul’s disavowals aside, you’ve got to admit that the rhetoric contained therein was incendiary even for the nineties when PC speech was making societal inroads, for better and for worse.
Let’s start with the surface of this text. The grandiosity is worthy of Gingrich, which is saying something. “I have unmasked the plot for world government,” etc. Voters dismissed him in the nineties as much for the wildness of his rhetoric as the madness of the ideas themselves, and he deserves dismissal today.
He has disavowed these newsletters, but they appeared under his name and apparently it was in fact this basis for his income during that period. It would be like a fiction writer (very like) saying, “I repudiate everything I wrote twenty years ago. I didn’t even write it. So it came out under my name? So what?”
If someone produces a letter I wrote in the nineties, and sent it under my own name, quite likely I’d either have some vague recollection of it or would be forced to recognize that if my name means anything I have to vouch for having written it. Wouldn’t matter what I’d said. If I’d written it, I have no choice but affirm I wrote that material. Then I’d have to explain where I stand today, and either defend the earlier text or—then and only then—turn to repudiation. I wrote that, yes, but I no longer believe it. Ron Paul is trying to get away with an act of subterfuge: “I didn’t write that.” He’s trying to get away with that even though his signature appears on the newsletters. They’re titled with his name. His current logic cannot stand up to scrutiny.
Now as to substance. Wow. The MJ piece calls it “an appeal to paranoia,” so let’s consider his audience as we go. Who’s he speaking to? I think it’s the then-unformed but thoroughly present Tea Party sympathies he knows so well in his native Kentucky.
Now, look: It’s not as though I think Paul could ever actually win the presidency, but I’m certain of this—a world in which that could be possible would make the one we’re currently living in seem ridiculously quaint by comparison.
But—OK—weed would be legal. I’ll give you that. I agree that soft drugs should be legal, including hash and organic hallucinogenics (mushrooms). No question. But that cannot be the basis for one’s support of any candidate. Don’t be one-issue voters, is my point. I’m haunted by the memory of that guy in Amsterdam, and that would be the least of America’s worries. Does anyone, for example, honestly believe that the rest of the world would simply allow him to withdraw all foreign aid? Really? That would cause economic collapse on an unimaginable scale, a monetary black hole from which nothing escapes. Paul’s view of the world is so limited that he can’t see the impact of that decision. I’m afraid his loyalists suffer the same problem.
So, let’s see: The world would be fucked, chaos would reign under President Ron Paul. And that’s supposed to be a good thing?
Oh, right. At least weed would be legal.