Ron Paul's American Education


I do believe that Ron Paul has a chance to win this election. Is that too optimistic?

This election, thus far, is amazing. Never before has a presidential campaign picked up so much velocity, so early, and grabbed the attention of the politically-addicted populace — nearly a year-and-a-half before the actual vote. Thanks to the innumerable screw-ups on the part of Herr Bush in the Middle East, a guy like Ron Paul is being welcomed by freedom junkies because he offers something that no other candidate can offer: intellectual honesty instead of rehearsed responses; candid analysis as opposed to political power mongering; and from-the-guts truth in place of phony, popularity-driven pandering.

I admit to being a freedom junkie, and count myself among those who will follow every news clip, every debate, and each YouTube moment that surrounds the presidential race with the hope that this elegant, articulate man of principle — Ron Paul — will have the opportunity to bring to the masses a sense of hope for the restoration of a free-trade, non-interventionist American republic. Ron Paul is a political rock star of the Internet. He plays lead guitar and sings liberty lyrics while the audience swoons. He wins over young people because he symbolizes, for them, a vibrant and productive future wherein they — not the government — will control their own destiny. He also wins over the older folks who understand the difference between Paul’s emphasis on the individual and the family, as opposed to the prevailing model of mob-rules, democratic totalitarianism. And most of all, he dares to question the current political administration’s policies in conducting its illegitimate war.

Speaking of the "older folks," my Dad is 81 and a computer geek. At about age 74, he bought a hand-built, ABS computer, and has since become an Internet frequent flyer, running up about a gazillion miles of surfing. If only he was 30 years younger, surely he’d be running Linux, building servers, dissing Microsoft, and indulging in open-source creativity. Several years ago, he sent me a link to a Ron Paul column on, asking "Have you ever heard of him?" Of course I had, but he didn’t know that at the time. A column by Dr. Paul on the Federal Reserve had grabbed the attention of this man who clearly understood the dangers of centralization and financial socialism.

My Dad is a first-generation American — his parents and older siblings emigrated from West Flanders, Belgium in the 1920s. I still hold the Ellis Island certificates. A natural libertarian and a 1980’s Reagan Democrat from Macomb County (as so named by pollster Stanley Greenberg), the Internet — with all its glorious avenues for self-exploration and knowledge — propelled my father from being a culturally conservative individualist and limited-state guy to a full-blown, antiwar libertarian.

You see, my father was not quite 19 when he was sent off to Europe where he found himself an infantry soldier in the Battle of the Bulge — in Patton’s Third Army. He survived the bloodiest battle of WWII, and spent many evenings at the dinner table reciting tales of the horrors he encountered as a young, volunteer soldier freezing in foxholes in the Ardennes. I asked a whole lot of questions, because, as a youngster, I never really understood why America fought that war.

As a veteran of military combat, my father understands the true nature of war and its ultimate intentions — the establishment of imperial control and the building up of political power structures. When he was killing German soldiers he felt remorse over the fact that he was ending the life of other young men — brothers and sons like him — who were caught up in the machinations of warfare for the purpose of political supremacy that benefited no one beyond the empowered leaders. In fact, he once told me that he and the men in his unit — in spite of their lack of access to accurate news — would sit around and ask: what in the hell are we doing being allied with Stalin and the Soviet Union?

As a very young child I remember all of the young men in my neighborhood being yanked from their homes and jobs because their draft notices had arrived in the mail. I had a brother that joined the Army during the Vietnam era and another that got lucky and didn’t get the call for military slavery. I do remember those boys in the neighborhood when they came home — they were more distant, less social, and the adults would remark that "the war changed them." The images I saw on TV reeked of mayhem and horror. I watched the protest coverage with great interest. I remember thinking that each time I saw Richard Nixon he resembled a deer in the headlights. With the six-o’clock news on the tube each night at the dinner table, my parents raged against the war, thinking that maybe, just maybe, Nixon really could end the mess after all. Those discussions were a big part of my education in critical thinking. The best part is this — although my father influenced my ideological outlook early in my life, many years later I returned the favor and influenced him.

For much of my generation, George Bush Sr.’s war was a major turning point. The first war on Iraq is what convinced me that imperial ambitions had taken a front seat in the drive toward foreign policy insanity. That was the point where I went from being a war disbeliever to one who developed an entire principled case against war and the military occupation of other nations.

These days, watching Ron Paul on TV reminds me of that time, during the Vietnam era, when I discovered that family hour could consist of something better than bad sitcoms, government-sponsored commercials, or state-controlled news. His magnificent TV and Internet presence has terrified the fair-and-balanced crowd, and in fact, they have schemed to keep him from the public eye. However, his booming popularity among the left, the antiwar, the young, the Bush-haters, and the Internet surfers makes him a difficult horse to put down quietly. This is why he must prevail long enough to educate Americans on the libertarian roots that are at the foundation of this country’s greatest traditions. He makes me hope that, once again, families can sit around and discuss the news, and even challenge the prevailing opinion amongst each other. If his presidential run can accomplish that alone, then he has made a significant and lasting contribution to America’s future.

For a few weeks now, my father has been in a hospital, and I have had to come to grip with the fact that his life will never quite be the same. The other day my mother called me from his room to put him on the phone, telling me he couldn’t talk very well, but he could listen. He has long been a daily reader of and a huge supporter of Ron Paul and his agenda for liberty. So I updated him on the Ron Paul storm that was sweeping his beloved Internet, and I told him what had transpired in the presidential debates that he didn’t have the opportunity to watch. I couldn’t understand much of what he was saying, except I did catch the two most important things: "Hillary or Obama will be a disaster," and "We need a man like Ron Paul." Considering his condition, I couldn’t have been more pleased.

That day reminded me of how I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to observe and learn from a real role model, my father — not a sports star or rock musician or Hollywood tramp. He taught me to look deep into the subject matter and probe for that which is concealed beneath the veneer of propaganda. He never told me what to think; he only wanted me to think.

And indeed, that’s what Dr. Paul is doing for Americans. By virtue of his presence, his intelligence, and his unshakable commitment to the unpopular truth, he is educating people on what it means to think. That is why I think his candidacy — whether or not he wins — will be a successful and historic occasion for all of us to celebrate.