Having Fun Doing Good
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.
It is truly extraordinary: Ron Paul's campaign stops are attracting crowds that would make the other Republicans envious. His supporters make homemade T-shirts, flyers, yard signs, and more. Ron Paul fans drive hundreds of miles to hear their candidate speak without giving the matter a second thought.
On the Internet he wins poll after poll — provoking accusations that Paul supporters are spamming them. Leaving aside the difficulty of doing such a thing (in some polls) or managing to do it without being detected (in others), this objection misses the point. Check out the raw numbers rather than the percentages the next time you see one of these polls. The real question, it seems to me, isn't why Ron Paul gets thousands of votes, but why only a few hundred people can be bothered to turn on their computers and make a single click on behalf of the clones in the race.
Why are there only 150 John McCain supporters willing to take the time to vote for him? That is the question we should ask.
Incidentally, the suggestion that the Paul campaign coordinates all this activity, down to urging people to vote in every online poll there is, is quaintly obtuse. (If only Paul had a campaign apparatus with that kind of manpower and free time!) But it's no surprise that political centralists can't understand a truly decentralized, grassroots phenomenon. They can't understand how a campaign, much less society as a whole, could operate in the absence of central direction. That, of course, is one of the very reasons the rest of us support Ron Paul.
I have received more emails than I can count from people around the world who write to say that they wish they could be American citizens in order to have the privilege of voting for Ron Paul.
Now can you imagine someone — anyone — saying, "I wish I could be an American citizen in order to have the unspeakable privilege of voting for Mitt Romney?"
The sense of urgency on the part of Paul's supporters comes not just from his message, and not just from his honesty and integrity — qualities even his opponents usually concede. It comes from a sense that this may be our last chance. After Ron Paul there is only a line of hacks as far as the eye can see. We may never see his like again, and we may never have such an opportunity again.
We have a man who tells the truth, who — gasp — answers the questions posed to him. We have someone who doesn't feed us the same old lies about war and empire. And we have someone who cannot be bought, period. Some candidates promise us all kinds of goodies, paid for by looting our neighbor — or by looting us, in the form of inflation. Ron Paul makes no such promises. He promises only peace and freedom, the radical yet common-sense message that neither party can get right.
The so-called top-tier Republican candidates, meanwhile, scramble to figure out where they stand on major issues. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton can't keep straight from one month to the next whether she favors direct talks with certain foreign leaders and whether she'd keep open the possibility of a nuclear first strike on Iran.
How any self-respecting person who hasn't been promised some share of the federal gravy train could support these phonies really demands explanation.
Now if you read through my archive here at LRC, you won't find the writings of someone who's easily swept away by a political campaign. Yet so extraordinary an individual is Ron Paul that even this premature cynic is taking delight in every moment of his fight for the presidency, and every sacred cow he tips in his straight-talking, always-tell-the-truth manner.
Even some folks on the Left see this, and not just because Paul's stances on foreign policy and civil liberties put the Democrats to shame. As a self-described "centrist liberal" put it on the Mises blog,
I recently had a discussion with a group of friends that are much more to the left than I, and all of us had the same feeling about [Ron Paul]. I believe that he is honest, that he actually believes in the message that he is saying. You know exactly where he stands on an issue because he tells you where he stands. How refreshing. Granted I don't agree with him on pretty much everything but if by some miracle he were elected president I would be comforted by knowing that I would never be lied to again.
To be sure, the news isn't all good. Please, please watch this brief video:
My new hero is Paul Levinson, chairman of the department of communications at Fordham University, who although not a Ron Paul supporter, has announced that he will be making the media's Orwellian treatment of Paul a feature of his media course this fall.
Speaking about this video, he writes:
Crowd coverage at political rallies is always an activity bristling with pitfalls — even the most honest news coverage could point a camera in a direction that misses something important. But there is no way the photo of the single Ron Paul supporter could have been an accidental oversight of the cheering crowd.
We learned a lot of things in the twentieth-century about totalitarian societies, and what makes them possible. George Orwell got it sadly right in his 1984 novel, in which the dictatorial party in power controls the people by literally removing disliked officials from photos in newspapers.
I was not in Iowa on Monday, and thus can not offer any direct testimony as to the size of the crowds. But if ABC did what it looks like it did in the video — if it deliberately gave the impression that Ron Paul had just one supporter when in fact he had many — then ABC should know that it has acted in the tradition of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, in the dangerous deceptive manner of totalitarian societies not democracies.
I will have another example of media misconduct to teach to my class this Fall, which I would be happier not having at all. For ABC News, this represents the third strike: removing comments of Ron Paul supporters, misreporting the results of its own poll, making Ron Paul's supporters look fewer than they really were. When will it end?
The good news is that the Internet makes it harder and harder for the liars and shysters to get away with this and continue to suppress Paul's grassroots enthusiasm. The bad news is that they'll keep trying, which makes the task of Ron Paul supporters all the harder.
But as Ron Paul is himself showing, fighting the bad guys is not only the right thing to do, but it's also a lot of fun.
August 11, 2007
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [view his website; send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the author, most recently, of 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. His other books include How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (get a free chapter here), The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (first-place winner in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards), and the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.
Copyright © 2007 Thomas E. Woods, Jr.