Winning by Losing
by Brion McClanahan
by Brion McClanahan
by Brion McClanahan: Solidifying
the Cult of Lincoln, Penny Wise
taking office as President of the United States in 1789, George
Washington wrote in two separate letters that he had both "feelings
not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution,"
and that he "greatly apprehend, that my countrymen will expect
too much from me." No one man in the eighteenth century measured
up to Washington’s reluctant statesmanship. He resigned his military
commission along with every political office he had or could have
obtained following the American War for Independence, retired to
Mount Vernon, and preferred to live as a planter. He was the American
Cincinnatus. But Washington knew in 1789 that, thankfully, the Constitution
as ratified by the States did not allow for a dictator or a king.
He could not unilaterally "save" the United States (and
it could be debated whether the United States needed saving). Such
work required the hands of many, most importantly the States and
the Congress. Washington was not the government.
Ron Paul supporters
should find solace in Washington’s words. No one in the Paul camp
is under the delusion that he is the "savior" of
the Constitution, but I think many would be disappointed in a Paul
presidency, just as the Tertium Quids were disappointed with Thomas
Jefferson. The realities of the Constitution and Washington politics
would have limited Paul’s effectiveness, and rightly so. Americans
don’t need a presidential tax or spending plan. The president cannot
raise taxes, lower taxes, cut spending or increase spending. We
often hear "Reagan cut taxes," or "Obama spending
increases" but both are incorrect. It was the Congress that
did both and the Congress should be held accountable. But this is
where Ron Paul can win by losing and be more effective from the
As many have
pointed out (Jack
Hunter most recently), the young age and enthusiasm of most
Paul supporters provides hope for the future of the federal republic.
They can breathe life into the Constitution. The plan, however,
should be to turn our attention away from the presidency for good.
As per the Constitution as ratified, the States and the Congress
have more power than the president. Washington knew it and we should
remember it. A three part plan under the guidelines below could
change the course of the United States forever.
1. One thing
the progressives did well in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth
centuries was bridge the gap between political theory and political
action. Most knew that Americans would never accept Marxism in large
doses, so they conceived of a two-pronged strategy to dupe the American
people into accepting their destruction of the first American principles
of liberty and decentralization. The first involved the popular
philosophy of pragmatism. In short, these progressives would insist
on a piecemeal approach to American socialism and by the time Americans
realized that they had embraced the political slogans of the Communist
Manifesto, it would be too late.
involved a scientific concept called permeation. This is where Ron
Paul supporters could make a move. The progressives joined every
conceivable civic organization they could, from local political
parties to civic clubs, in an attempt to drive public opinion toward
their agenda. If enough Paul supporters made a determined effort
to do this, the Republican Party would look drastically different
in five years. Furthermore, because liberty and freedom are not
difficult concepts for Americans to embrace, and because Paul supporters
advocate a return to principles of 1776, Americans are already primed
to accept this message, albeit gently if necessary. Successful efforts
by Paul supporters to swing the delegate count in the Republican
primary process by becoming active at the local level is a nice
example of how this could work on a broader scale.
2. As a wonderful
book edited by Don Livingston has pointed out, Americans are
beginning to rethink the American union in light of the crushing
social, political, and economic problems the United States is facing.
This grass roots effort would breathe life into the next part of
the strategy. Americans need the States to grow a backbone, and
by guiding the Republican Party at the State and local level, Paul
supporters would be able to sway the legislative agenda in statehouses
across America. Imagine if seventy-five percent of the States were
controlled by people interested in decentralization, and at the
very minimum several Constitutional amendments that would forever
destroy the leviathan in Washington D.C. Don’t think it could happen?
Just look at the sweeping changes brought forth by the progressives
with the 16th-19th Amendments to the Constitution.
If three quarters of the States proposed and ratified a slate of
amendments designed to reduce Washington to the general government
it was designed to be, Congress and the President could do no more
about it than part the seas and make it rain (Al Gore to the contrary).
The States are the key, and our focus needs to be there.
3. Ron Paul
is retiring, but there are members of Congress who are worth their
salt. Rand Paul and Justin Amash are nice examples. Again, this
all hinges on controlling the State and local parties. If Paul supporters
could determine who is a candidate for office at the State
and local level, then perhaps as much as thirty percent of the Congress
could be controlled by "Paulites." The Paul campaign has
shown that a liberty minded candidate can raise money and on the
local and State level have a real chance at winning. A voting block
of that nature could propose or defeat legislation at will and would
force the statists and centralizers to the bargaining table. One
or two members of the United States Congress do not have much power,
but one-hundred would.
hungry for this type of action, but it will take dedication and
the willingness to make the local more important than the "national."
The Constitution as ratified by the founding generation is
the blueprint, and the progressives, for all of their faults, knew
how to make local politics into an effective weapon. Ron Paul will
not get the nomination (of course he will be closer than the pundits
think), but he can still win the war. It took the progressives over
one hundred years to get here, the modern mess of debt and government
power. They were patient. A little patience, a little perseverance,
and a lot of hard work are all liberty minded individuals need to
strike the heart of Washington and kill the monster. It must be
gutted from the outside in and the bottom up. The president cannot
and should not "change" America lest we have a love for
a totalitarian dictator. Ron Paul 2012 has to be the start of something
bigger. The young people have the bug; now it is time to run with
[send him mail] holds
a Ph.D. in American history from the University of South Carolina
and is a faculty member at Tom
Woods's Liberty Classroom. He is the author or co-author of
three books: The
Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History,
Conservatives in American History (with Clyde Wilson, Pelican,
2012); and The
Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers (Regnery,
2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part
is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.