Can’t Win?

It’s Crunch Time

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski


“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these is: It might have been.”

As a self-appointed cheerleader for Team Ron Paul, allow me to make a pep talk to the team before the playoffs begin. At the beginning of the season, none of the political pros expected us to win a single game against the other fourteen teams in the Republican Conference. Yet, we finished fifth and made the playoffs.

Why did they count us out? They made the critical mistake of thinking that the future would be like the past. Because Ron Paul got less than one percent running as a Libertarian 18 years ago, he would do poorly running as a Republican now. My analysis was the exact opposite. I thought the country was poised for sudden and drastic change precisely because such change had not occurred for so long:

  • A Ron Paul candidacy in the Republican primaries is a historic opportunity. The last Jeffersonian president was Buffalo’s own Grover Cleveland who left office in 1897. This campaign is an opportunity to take care of a lot of “old business” that has accumulated since that time.

  • History shows that major political change happens like an earthquake. Energy builds up slowly over time, hemmed in by the enormous power of the status quo. Then, just one more calorie of energy can cause an enormous earthquake. And just like real earthquakes, political earthquakes are impossible to predict in advance. They only seemed inevitable after the fact. (January 17th)

  • What makes an earthquake is pent-up energy suddenly unleashed with tremendous force. A lot of problems that can only be addressed in a Jeffersonian framework of peace and freedom have been festering for too long in Hamiltonian America. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for a Jeffersonian to run for president and they’re going to make the most of it. (June 19th)

Now, the same naysayers who said Ron Paul would never get to this point expect us to believe them when they say he can’t go any further and that’s he’s just a spoiler. He’s only a spoiler in the sense that he is going to spoil the presidential pretensions of the ten remaining contenders.

Don’t believe for one second folks who have been wrong about Ron Paul in the past and who have no track record for predictions anyway. They just don’t know what they’re talking about. They are often very smart people but with one huge disadvantage: they are out of touch with reality on the ground. They don’t talk to real people or know about how real people live these days.

So, I say, believe that Ron Paul can win because he can if you think he can. The same is true of failure: if you believe you will fail, you will act accordingly and make that thought into a reality.

And please resist temptation. The devil hath the power to assume a pleasing shape. If you are banking on Ron Paul winning a third-party race or this movement continuing on to glory even if he loses, you are, in my humble opinion, deluding yourself and giving yourself excuses for a failure that hasn’t even happened yet! No third-party candidate has ever been elected president. And Team Ron Paul is a diverse coalition. It will not be easy to re-assemble — free agency and all that.

Historical moments are like persons, unique and unrepeatable. To paraphrase Nietzsche, every historical moment happens just once, "as something unique, and no accident, however strange, will throw together a second time into a unity such a curious and diffuse plurality."

There are no do-overs in life. You can’t go home again. Second chances are rare. In 1990, I missed being on the Larry King show to discuss drug policy by about twenty minutes. I figured, that’s okay, they’ll call me again soon. The phone hasn’t rung in 17 years.

There is no logical reason why Ron Paul can’t win the nomination and the White House. We have the messenger, the message, the troops, and the money. We have the most powerful communications technology ever invented on our side: the internet. Our adversaries are weak and disorganized and fighting each other. The time is right.

A few years back, when our small Jeffersonian think tank Free New York was about to go under, I wrote a desperate plea to our supporters for support. The support did miraculously arrive just as we were about to close up shop in miserable failure. Yet, against all odds, we survived to keep the Jeffersonian message alive in New York State. These words kept me from quitting and encouraged our supporters as well: "Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages." (George Washington)

There are no other elections. This is the election. Do not wait for orders from on high. There’s no time for that and you already know in your heart what you need to do. Emerson wrote, "Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense."

You are fighting to revive the spirit of 1776, a spirit best exemplified by the men who faced musket balls on Lexington Green. If you show one-tenth their courage, energy and tenacity in the next three months, we will win this Conference Championship and go on to defeat Team Hillary in the Super Bowl.

December 6, 2007

James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.