Empowering Ron Paul's Grassroots Army

We are seeing a political phenomenon like no other in history. We are seeing the creation of an army of volunteers who have not been actively recruited. This is as close to Hayek’s concept of the spontaneous order as politics has ever provided. It is Isaiah’s job in action.

Back in 1937, Albert Jay Nock wrote an essay titled “Isaiah’s Job.” It dealt with the strategic error of starting a political movement to save America. It will not work, Nock said. The kind of people who you need in order to change America cannot be attracted by active political recruiting. Such people will seek out those leaders who they approve of. He called them the Remnant.

We are now seeing what Nock did not foresee: the coming together of a grass roots army. It is assembling itself. The Internet’s technology is making this possible.

The Remnant is forming.

Now what?

Let’s assume that Ron Paul does not get the Republican Party’s nomination. What will his newly self-assembled army do then?

If it disbands, that would be a tragedy. If it is given the digital tools to work with, free of charge, this really could change America.

What if technically savvy volunteers could download a free political data base software from Ron Paul’s site, or — even better — a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) site that offers political education, not partisan political mobilization?

What if they could also download materials on how to use this software in local campaigns?

What if there were YouTube training videos available to the general public? Come one, come all! Let Dennis Kucinich’s people download the same material. Will they? I doubt it.

Making these tools available would position Ron Paul as the people’s politician. It would position him as making available to the general public the tools needed to get a voice in local politics.

Question: Defenders of which political philosophy will tend to implement such a tool kit? National-salvation-through-legislation voters or committed decentralists?

What if Dr. Paul produced a civics course for home schoolers? It would cover the Constitution. Why, it might even cover the Articles of Confederation!

It would also include a practical civics project: “How to monitor your local public school board.” I can see it now, board by board: a blog site or web site run by a local home school student that reports on the local school board or even the town council. That would be a great template to offer in a civics course.

Maybe a graduating student could turn over his site at the end of the school year to an up-and-coming student.

How about mailing lists, locally owned, for political information, campaign mobilization, or whatever?

This is the dogcatcher strategy. “I wouldn’t vote for that person, not even for dogcatcher.” Fine. Then you run for dogcatcher. Or you become the power behind the throne for dogcatching.

What a politically ambitious person would not demean himself to run for, you can run for.

Get experience. Learn the ropes. Learn how the system works. Then move up.

The goal? Vote no. Cut off local funding. Lower local taxes. Support your local sheriff. Create an intermediary local judicial barrier to state and national intervention.

There will come a day when the checks from Washington will stop coming, or — more likely — the money delivered by Washington’s checks will not buy much. On that day, Americans will look locally for leadership.

Almost no one with a long-run perspective sees this coming. No one is preparing politically. No local politician has sat down with Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence and Martin van Creveld’s The Rise and Decline of the State and read the final chapter in each, where each scholar discusses the looming failure of the nation-state to provide either protection or welfare.

No one has said, “What will fill this coming vacuum?” No one has developed a strategy for the transition from Washington to localism.

Such thoughts are not common in today’s world of Federal power and Federal money. It takes a specific worldview even to ask such a seemingly utopian question.

Ron Paul has such a worldview. So do his followers.

We hear about empowerment. How can his grassroots army become empowered? By getting simple tools, basic training, and long-term motivation from a central source. What is needed is freeware. What is needed is a lawyer-drafted web site privacy policy statement and terms of use statement that every local site manager can adopt in order to keep the Federal regulators at bay.

What is needed is mailing lists — lots and lots of local mailing lists. The internet has made possible a low-cost program for local political mobilization.

Someone is eventually going to do this. Why not Ron Paul’s troops?

We are in Round One of a battle. Data base freeware and training manuals in PDF format and MP3 format and YouTube format are all that is needed for Round Two. And Three. And X.

The freeware can be tied to Open Office, which is free public domain software.

As for training materials, they already exist. Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation developed them three decades ago: the Kasten system. This system of local mobilization got Bob Kasten elected to Congress in 1974 and to the Senate in 1980.

Just a few simple tools in the hands of a grassroots movement will provide the foundation for change. To this, add time and patient work. Add people who will target a county’s political party and work to gain control over it for (say) four decades.

Few people are willing to do this. What Max Weber described what is required in 1919, in his essay, “Politics as a Vocation.”

Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth — that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.

This sounds like Ron Paul to me.

In the grass roots army that has spontaneously assembled itself around Ron Paul’s candidacy, there are such people. They are motivated by one powerful idea: shrink the state.

There is an old rule: “When you see something wobble, push it.” For all its braggadocio, the modern nation-state is wobbling. It has issued more promises than it can possibly deliver. As this reality becomes apparent to millions of voters, there will be a search for local alternatives. There will be local power-seekers who will offer one set of alternatives. That is when we will need power-shrinkers in positions of local influence.

Remember: We can’t beat something with nothing.

October15, 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 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2007 LewRockwell.com

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