In a short piece on Ron Paul's insurgent campaign, this quote struck me as odd:
"I was looking at Obama as somebody I was thinking about supporting," Lindley recalled. Then his friend and roommate Krauss told him to look into Paul's views.
"I looked at his policies and they made a lot more sense than anybody else's."
John Lindley is a college student and the fact that he, on a dime, switched his support from Barack Obama to Ron Paul illustrates the power of hype. I don't know how any thinking human being who has done even the most basic research into a candidate could go from Barack Obama to Ron Paul. But such is life in American politics today.
I guess I shouldn't hold it against Lindley. He's a victim of the celebrity reporting where the candidate who generates the most buzz gets the most ink, and Ron Paul is certainly this season's Barack Obama. Paul, who is running as a strict constructionist libertarian for the GOP nomination, has caused quite a stir with infinitely quotable sound bites and by forcing the Republicans to force the ugly truth that they are anything but conservative these days. What "conservative" would federalize education, expand Medicare (with a sop to pharmaceuticals), and attempt (half-assed) nation building in an Arab land? But that's how bad it's gotten under George W. Bush's command. What was once a sure landmine among the fiscally tight set, is now part and parcel in a power-hungry, money blind Bush administration. Where's a guy to turn?
It makes sense that traditional conservatives would look to Ron Paul, who in his rhetoric and actions is a ghost of the Goldwater variety. This is a dude who believes in a limited federal government and a borderline isolationist foreign policy. The kind of shit that makes BushCo. laugh at his antiquity.
But how does one start off supporting Barack Obama, an avowed proponent of progressive politics, to Ron Paul? Hype. Last summer, everyone—EVERYONE—was talking about the junior senator from Illinois as a "breath of fresh air" and an arbiter of "new" liberalism. Here we had a supremely articulate intellectual taking on the toughest problems of the day and making it seem like it was no more than a tough NYT crossword. Sure, you had to think about these problems, but they weren't impossible to solve. In fact, it's fun to solve them. Did I mention Barack Obama is black? The specter of helping elect America's first African American president certainly inspired more than a few volunteers and supporters. He was the anti-Bush and there are few people who want nothing more than the opposite of Bush.
Enter: The Hype Machine
He is a dream. He is "different." He is, as his wife Michelle says so often on the campaign trail, The Answer. Supporting Barack Obama makes you feel better about America. After six years of Bush's dismantling of everything right with this country, you can't blame someone for wanting to believe in their Commander in Chief again.
But now some people are looking at the politics and realizing that support of the man is support of those policies. Much as it pains me to say, not everyone believes in progressive (read: liberal) policies in this country. Where do those people turn? The top-tier Republican nominees are, amazingly, touting themselves as Bush-plus. They will not only continue Bush's miserable foreign policy and disregard for the rule of law, they will blow that shit out of the water and make the Bush years look like the Enlightenment. The time for pussies is OVER.
That leaves only Ron Paul for those who believe in the tenets of traditional conservatism. It is their ideology that has been warped and twisted into the ugly mess that is "neo conservatism" and pre-emptive strike. With every utterance of those original guiding principles, Paul sets himself up as both a fundamentalist and a radical. To think that it is shocking to suggest that wars be paid for by taxes is a testament to how truly weird things have gotten in the GOP. Ike would be drummed out of this party like a leprous pervert.
So live it up Ron Paul. You are today's media darling. Raise some money and keep banging away at the issues true to your heart. This is your only opportunity because regardless of who wins the 2008 election it won't be you and you can bet they won't want to talk.