Ron Paul and the Greased Pig

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Presidency,
noun: The greased pig in the field game of America’s politics.
~ Ambrose Bierce, The
Devil’s Dictionary
(1911)

I generally
avoid discussing national politics. I always have. That’s because
I don’t think democratic involvement makes much difference except
at the local level. The size of the permanent national bureaucracy
is so enormous, in every large nation, that political activities
are capable of changing very little. Except in times of enormous
crisis — mainly national wars — political change is marginal. War
centralizes everything. This is why national politicians lie their
countries into wars. This is a bi-partisan practice. It rarely fails.
If you doubt me, click here.

What can national
politics accomplish? The American government’s bureaucracy is protected
by Civil Service legislation which goes back to the 1880’s. The
system’s archetype institution is the United States Postal Service,
which recently raised the price of postage. It does that frequently,
as you know. We grimace and bear it. If it were not for e-mail,
Federal Express, and UPS, we would suffer a lot more.

My professor,
Robert Nisbet, once commented that in the year of his birth, 1913,
the only contact that most Americans had with the Federal government
was the U.S. Post Office.

My father-in-law,
R. J. Rushdoony, born three years later, once commented that 1913
was the last year of the golden age of America: after indoor plumbing
but before the income tax. That was a long time ago.

Leonard E.
Read, the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education in 1946,
used to say that Americans live in a country in which various levels
of government extract over 40% of their productivity, yet they call
this system freedom. "They don’t know the difference between
freedom and coercion."

So, I do not
pay much attention to national politics. Politics always reflects
the understanding of the voters, and the voters cannot tell the
difference between freedom and coercion. Worse: they are unwilling
to surrender coercion for freedom.

It is not just
America. Citizens all over the world are persuaded of the grand
illusion of the 20th century, namely, that government
coercion provides personal security: a safety net against hard times.
They look at the government’s net and think "safety."
I look at the net and think "entrapment." Voters say,
"Don’t take away the net. We paid for it. We deserve it."
They do, indeed.

A fish caught
in a net may get away if it is at the outer edge of the mass of
fish caught in the net. It may wiggle through a gap. There are more
gaps than rope. But inside that mass of fish, there is no way to
escape. Professional fishermen know this. They do not worry about
the one that got away.

THEN
THERE IS THE CFR

The Council
on Foreign Relations was established in 1921. It was a deliberate
imitation of the old Round Table group of Great Britain. The Round
Table was made up of academics, politicians, and bureaucrats who
ran the British empire abroad and hoped to run the domestic political
order in the same way. These were the best and the brightest men
in Great Britain. They led the country into two world wars, thereby
bankrupting the British empire by 1945. They were too clever by
half.

Members of
the Council on Foreign Relations are just as clever.

In 1935, the
Round Table ran the British Empire. The Great Depression had enabled
them to gain dominance in the domestic political order. It looked
as though they were invincible. In a sense, they were. Tony Blair
was only the latest representative of that highly educated hierarchical
order. They still preside over the domestic political scene. But
voters, year by year, are becoming Muslim. Birth rates determine
this.

If this continues,
the heirs of the Round Table will be replaced. There is no sign
that this will not continue. Demography is destiny unless the national
confession changes. Britain’s national confession is, "I’m
all right, Jack." They aren’t.

The CFR has
maintained similar control. Within three years of the CFR’s founding,
one of the founders, a New York corporate lawyer named John W. Davis,
got the Democrats’ nomination for President. Today, no one gains
the nomination who is not a CFR member.

The Presidential
election is therefore a contest between CFR Team A and CFR Team
B.

In 2004, the
race narrowed down not just to members of the CFR. It narrowed down
to a pair of Skull & Bones members. Bones lets 15 people a year
into its ranks. What are the odds against two members gaining the
joint nomination of the highest office in the land? Did the media
dwell on this? Of course not. The public would not have known of
the existence of The Order, had not George H. W. Bush been a member.
So, to turn it into a peripheral matter in 1980, (rival) Scroll
& Key member Gary Trudeau make light of it — featherweight light
(his image of Bush, Sr.) — in a series of "Doonesbury"
cartoons.

How did Bush
get the nomination for Vice President in 1980? Reagan had beaten
him, and Reagan said he would not put him on the ticket. Then he
reversed himself.

The following
story I believe is true. It was told to me by W. Cleon Skousen (The
Naked Communist
, The
Naked Capitalist
). Immediately prior to Reagan’s smiling
announcement of Bush as his VP running mate, Reagan had spent the
weekend at a large estate in Leesburg, Virginia. At that meeting
was one of Skousen’s relatives (not Mark or Joel). He witnessed
two CFR members, very prominent, who cornered Reagan for the weekend.
According to this third-hand, unverifiable testimony — which Skousen
relayed to me a few years later — they presented Reagan with a choice:
Bush
as VP with media neutrality or someone else with media skewering.
One of these figures was a talking head with enormous influence.
The other was a Rockefeller hireling with enormous influence. They
are still alive. One of them still has influence.

Did this event
take place? I think it did. But even if it didn’t, the implied threat
was always there. The media had wiped out Goldwater’s campaign in
1964. It can do this at any time, just as it can raise concern about
any of two dozen wars that are going on at any time, merely by focusing
on one of them. What is the difference between Darfur and Rwanda?
Media attention.

If you look
at Reagan’s cabinet, the difference between it and Carter’s in terms
of CFR membership was minimal. James Baker ran Reagan’s White House
whenever Reagan wasn’t personally committed to a non-CFR project.
Baker was then and remains closely associated with George H. W.
Bush. He actually had far more influence over Reagan’s White House
than he has over George W. Bush’s, where Cheney seems dominant.

The overall
direction of politics remains the same: toward centralization.

The CFR is
in a position to deny both funding and media semi-neutrality to
any candidate who does not toe the bipartisan Party Line on taxes
(no major changes), on regulation of the economy (more), on foreign
policy (Superpower intervention in 100+ countries at 700+ bases),
on the United Nations, and on the military-industrial-oil-banking
complex. The only political question is which special interest gets
its hands on a larger share of the loot.

Only one candidate
breaks ranks on all of these issues: Ron Paul.

1976
VS. 2007

When I joined
his Congressional staff in June, 1976, he was the most junior Congressman,
having been sworn in only two months earlier. The Democrat incumbent
had been given a position in the Federal bureaucracy, and he had
resigned his office. Paul won the special election.

I wrote his
newsletters. I also did research on issues coming before Congress.
In my three-person tiny office was Dr. John W. Robbins, a former
student of Hans Sennholz in economics and of Gottfried Dietze in
political science. In the main office was Bruce Bartlett, who later
became one of the leading defenders in Washington of supply-side
economics. This was a high-powered staff for a Congressman with
two months’ seniority.

Unlike every
other Congressman, he had no administrative assistant. That meant
he ran a decentralized office. Staffers reported to him, not to
some professional screener.

When I joined
the staff, little did I suspect that three decades later, he would
be a candidate for President, with a campaign bank account with
a couple of million (depreciated) dollars in it. There was no Web
in 1976. There were no desktop computers other than the Altair,
a brand-new gadget for techies.

There was no
Alexa Web traffic ranking. To use Alexa, I used Google to search
for these names: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani.
I then selected the top Google link for each name. One by one, I
entered these on www.Alexa.com.
Oddly enough, I had selected the names in order of their Alexa rankings.

Barack Obama’s
site ranks 21,000. Hillary Clinton’s is 22,000. John Edwards’s is
59,000.

Ron Paul is
#3 in the digital race. Everyone else is an also-ran.

Political pundits
are employed by two relentlessly shrinking sectors of the economy,
network TV and paper-based newspapers. They seem unaware of all
this. Anyway, they remain silent.

Ron Paul has
come out of cyberspace, which is where the future is, according
to everyone except the political pundits. How was this possible?
What does this mean? The pundits’ response: "Don’t ask. Don’t
tell."

THE SCREENERS
WILL SCREEN

The American
political party system has had only three successful outsiders in
American history: James Polk in 1844 (won), William Jennings Bryan
in 1896 (lost three times), and Barry Goldwater in 1964 (lost overwhelmingly).

Reagan was
twice elected as a governor. He had been an almost-ran in 1976.
He was a semi-outsider with an insider as his VP.

Reagan got
his shot because of new technology: his famous TV speech, late in
the Goldwater campaign, which was paid for by the Goldwater campaign.
It has been known ever since as "The Speech." It is a
good speech on paper. On radio, it was powerful. I have not been
able to locate a full version of the TV version, but it was riveting.
The
audio version is here
.

The Republican
Party in 1964 paid to have a version of that speech shown locally
with paid-for TV time. I recall no other speech ever used this way.
The Republican Party’s professionals fought this decision, but Goldwater
insisted.

[Note: The
speech did not stick with Hillary Clinton, a "Goldwater girl"
in 1964. Her parents sent her to Wellesley. Too bad.]

Reagan won
in 1980 because of Richard Viguerie’s direct-mail techniques, 1965—80,
based on 12,000 names and addresses of Goldwater campaign donors.

Bryan won the
nomination because of a speech, arguably the most important political
speech in American history. Reading it today, we wonder why, apart
from the famous "cross of gold" line. That speech lost
the Democratic Party for the gold standard, low-tax wing that had
dominated ever since Andrew Jackson’s era. It turned the party into
the high-tax, interventionist party it has been ever since Woodrow
Wilson took office in 1913. Bryan’s brother Charles mastered the
technology of direct mail. He later was Davis’s running mate as
VP.

Technology
matters.

I am not persuaded
that technology can overcome the screeners’ ability to raise funds
in 2008. The major political parties since at least 1912 have been
controlled by the banking interests and their allies. There is no
candidate in American history more hostile to the existing anti-gold
banking system than Ron Paul. He also opposes all tax-funded foreign
aid, which includes foreign aid to the State of Israel.

The screeners
will screen.

But Paul, at
age 71, represents a fundamental break with the existing system.
By surfacing on the Web, he has identified himself as a representative
of people who do not trust the Federal government. There are a lot
of them.

GRASS-ROOTS
POLITICS

For over 40
years, I have heard conservatives talk about how important grass-roots
politics is. This is rather like listening to guys at the corner
bar talk about the how much they respect the work of Alcoholics
Anonymous. Then it’s "Bartender, hit me again."

Grass-roots
politics is what is needed. But its focus must be on local politics.

There are 3,000
counties in the United States. They possess the property tax, which
was the broadest-based tax prior to 1914.

Most counties
are dominated by a single political party. So, only masochists or
visionaries get involved with the minority party.

What if someone
with a huge mailing list, or a series of mailing lists, were to
create a below-the-radar movement for training citizens in the techniques
of high-tech, low-cost political mobilization techniques? The target?
Precincts.

You say, "That’s
boring. Nobody cares about the local precinct."

Exactly.

In most careers,
you start at the bottom. But because money talks, and media talk,
only those with connections and money get access to the voters.
They do not start at the bottom. They want to start as a state representative
or even higher.

They do not
want to pay their dues.

So, the American
political system is geared to state and national politics. Yet technology
is moving toward decentralized communications: cheaper, faster,
easy to master by non-techies.

Technology
today is doing what the free market began doing in 1780: broadening
the market through price competition.

This is the
#3 threat to the screeners: low-cost, powerful computer and Web
technologies. The #2 threat is the power of ideas. These ideas now
can get out to the public without printing presses or ten-storey
transmission towers. The screening gatekeepers stand guard at the
gates, but the walls are crumbling from the acids of digital technology.
The #1 threat is the nature of society. The French conservative
Lamennais described it in the 1820’s:

Centralization
produces apoplexy at the center and anemia at the extremities.

On all fronts
except higher education, the screeners in America are in retreat.

What the silent
digital minority needs in order to become a screaming electoral
majority are the following:

  1. A decades-long
    vision of victory
  2. Programs
    of privately funded welfare
  3. A readiness
    to de-fund the state
  4. Technologies
    of communication
  5. Technologies
    of local mobilization
  6. Patience
  7. A willingness
    to labor under the radar
  8. A leader
    who believes in grass-roots politics

If you want
a slogan, try this: "Replacement, not capture."

Conservative
politics made a series of mistakes, beginning no later than 1948.

  1. A defensive
    vision of stalemate
  2. No programs
    for private welfare
  3. A goal of
    capturing the state

    1. Education
    2. Welfare
    3. Bureaucracies
  4. No local
    political mobilization
  5. Replacing
    Communism’s empire with America’s

It had an operational
slogan: "Capture, not replacement." It got co-opted every
time. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn lured them all in with his
slogan: "To get along, you’ve got to go along." They went
along.

The Federal
government got larger.

CONCLUSION

Ron Paul’s
campaign offers a unique opportunity, just not to win the Presidency.
It will be interesting to see what his campaign organization does
with all those email addresses after mid-2008.

I know what
Richard Viguerie did with 12,000 names and addresses of Goldwater
campaign donors. Nobody else wanted those names. Anyone could have
walked onto Capitol Hill and written them down. Only Viguerie saw
the opportunity.

For me, this
is mostly hypothetical. I watch from a distance as an interested
observer. I enjoy stories of entrepreneurship.

I
also recall the words of George Washington Plunkett of Tammany Hall
a century ago: "I seen my opportunities, and I took ‘em."

That’s what
opportunities are for.

July
28, 2007

Gary
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 19-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible
.

Gary
North Archives

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