Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail


Poor Hunter dead and gone left me here to sing his song. Author Hunter S. Thompson (HST), the original Gonzo journalist, died by his own hand in February of 2005. His most famous work was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. It introduced the world to the concept of Gonzo Journalism. After watching the epic Meet the Press interview of Ron Paul last weekend Hunter has been much on my mind, reincarnate as the "filthy bearded raven croaking nevermore."

The campaign kicks into high gear next week as we enter the New Year and it promises to be a real animal act, the kind that Hunter would revel in. The mainstream (straight) press has been voraciously devouring the campaign to date. Like malignant hyenas they are dieting on the bones and gristle of failed and failing policy nostrums from all the usual suspects.

Like Christmas, political campaigns seem to start earlier and earlier in every election cycle. The quest for the Holy Grail of Politics, the American presidential nomination from the major parties is no different. The frenzy is already in full regale as the "leading candidates" swagger, stagger and bluff towards the finish in November. A lot of heat and noise is being generated but little light from what Hunter called the Straight (Linear) Press.

The Democrats, as they have since JFK was assassinated, are dragging up career political hacks with the morals of hammerhead sharks. Edwards, Clinton and Obama are just the latest chapter in an ongoing saga of political devolution and the near suicide of the Democratic party. They offer nothing different than their long line of predecessors: Mondale, Biden, Bentsen, Ferraro, Kerry, Clinton I, Gore and the ubiquitous Hube. A steady dose of statist pablum: soak the rich, help the poor, free health care, lower taxes, higher spending. Roast ducks will fly into the open mouths of the proletariat if they just elect them! Habitual LRC readers and Austrians know that this thin gruel of economy-busting inflationist fiscal policy, taxation, profligate spending, and increased regulation are the recipe for ongoing disaster. The Democrats are truly the party of no ideas. Every one of these "thought leaders" is proffering the eerie reincarnation of Hubert (I was a Jew once myself) Humphrey, a massive dose of prevaricating atavistic swill.

The Dems at least are consistent, reusing, yet again, the same dog-eared and tired platform of the ghosts of elections past. This time they are fielding, in my humble opinion, the least electable candidates yet. This says a lot given that this is the party of LBJ, Humphrey, Mondale, Dukakis and Kerry, career stiffs with the charisma of a wax mannequin. They would have been better off stuffing the corpse of a Democrat that has actually won an election and hiring Disney Imagineers to bring it to life with the desperate hope that 2-minute sound bites, and content-devoid debates, would again fool a dulled and somnolent populace into voting the creaky and soulless party machine back to power.

What about the first Clinton election? Well in my opinion, it was a mass media—orchestrated knee-jerk, socialist, statist, media-crafted platform of the fabric not being Ronald Reagan. Bush the Elder was another unelectable candidate, but ran as 4 more years of Reagan which the country still wanted. The masses always prefer economic growth and lower taxes which is something that the Democrats have failed to learn in the last half century.

An unelectable Democratic candidate is a recurring theme. The successful ’76 campaign of Carter was of not being the Nixon/Agnew/Rockefeller axis. Walter Winchell’s dummy could have beaten that crew. Gerald Ford was dragged in by the party machine as Nixon’s replacement who was squeaky clean (politically), but then the scales of justice would tip in Jack the Ripper’s favor when compared with that Devil’s Trilogy. Ford does occupy a special place in my heart as the President who vetoed more bills than any other in history (a record he still holds). When Blow Dried and Toothy Jimmy had to run on his own merit he was quickly relegated to the dustbin of history. Jimi Hendrix’s leather fringe coat would have won the election of ’76 against the malignant and rotting corpse of Nixon’s disastrous Presidency. Nixon was, after all, the candidate who prolonged the Vietnam War an additional four years just so his mean-spirited cadre could get another 4 years of their hand in everyone’s pockets and rent-free living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Conservative Nixon Presidency that featured wage and price controls continued his folly as Cambodia and Laos got more craters than the moon (Nixon wasn’t bombing he was just relocating scrap steel for the DoD). So much shrapnel was disgorged that magnetometers will never work there. This sideshow brought Pol Pot to power with collapse of the Cambodian government thanks to Nixon’s criminal non-bombing. Sadly in the seventies this was actually understandable given that most everyone was stoned, and relieved that the Vietnam War had finally ground to a halt on the nightly news (even if the forces of socialist darkness were slaughtering millions more as another monument to failed European nation building that had gone completely sideways).

America has passed way beyond the Do Long Bridge! This brings focus to the mainstream Republicans: Thompson, McCain, Huckabee, Romney and Giuliani leapfrogging one another in taking up the mantle of Bush the Lesser. Bush II’s presidency has been a cruel charade of Nixon/ Kissinger diplomacy with lie and kill in center ring as the main event, second only to borrow, borrow, and borrow again. As if the 4 trillion dollars in additional debt that the Neocon-Military-Congressional-Complex has yoked Americans with isn’t enough. These candidate golems are playing the foolish and desperate game of trying to one-up one another in offering acts III and IV of the same debacle. Numerous LRC contributors have beaten this platform into dust; I’ll spare readers kicking up any more here. Which brings me around to the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, aka Dr. Gonzo.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail was Thompson’s finest work. During the presidential campaign of 1972 Hunter diligently filed bi-weekly reports on what the candidates, the press corps, their entourages and fellow travelers were doing. It was later packaged as a book replete with Eagleton breakdowns, Muskie’s ibogaine allegations, backroom/bar-room shenanigans and Peter Sheridan as the first evangelical neo-con to trash a hotel room. The work had brilliant allegorical references to the deviant behavior that Hunter watched, and whole-heartedly participated in, as all concerned showed how low they could stoop on the road to becoming Potus Imperious. While Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas proved to be a self-indulgent and empty diatribe against Thompson’s perception of American Corporatism, it did awaken a journalist spirit to strike at the enemy ("I kicked Nixon … every chance I could") hard and often. Dr. Gonzo’s obituary is a classic bile-filled screed against the Nixonian monstrosity. The current campaign trail goes from a footpath to a superhighway this January. This necessitates full Thompsonian disclosure to cut through the fog of the Linear Press. It’s hard to tell if they (linear press) are drunk or just stupid as they witlessly perform the Ruling Party’s attempt at suppression of dissent and the promulgation of relevant ideas. Neocons, like Nixon, do not see dissent, they see criminals when they look beyond their many moat’s at the rebelling populace.

Nixon may be dead, but his legacy of hate and malfeasance lives on in the mainstream Ruling Party in both of their malignant wings with Bush the Lesser as Nixon reincarnate.

Still Hunter Thompson was a pitiable soul. His multi-faceted addictions were a poor compensation to his awareness of the deconstruction of the American dream. His prose brought this to millions, as he wielded the adjective like a double-edged sword. As his Gonzo became integral to the process that it was observing, it perturbed both outcome and observation such that the vision of the potentialities got obscured. As criticism it lacked the essential ingredient of offering an alternative. As the years went on he sunk deeper and deeper into a drug induced fog. His writing became schizophrenic as he was able to produce less and less as time marched on. He could still occasionally spit out epiphanies but they were often lacking in wisdom. As a methodology his results were nil, even if the process became hilarious (try reading Campaign Trail in public, you’ll soon be "cackling like a hen full of amyls"). The only real benefit was inculcating readers in the quest to seek the reality lurking beneath the increasingly crude façade. This quest is become a conflagration igniting countless blogs, web sites, and grassroot candidacy worldwide.

In college I tracked down and read every single word he had written for publication, and savored most of them many times. He still had his talent. Hunter and his Gonzo methodology had brought into the media spotlight an arena that had assiduously shunned it for almost a century. Yet Hunter never saw the bigger picture that was grounded in ironic perception, revisionist understanding of history and the Austrian economic policy that is the logical end result of the same. The spotlight turned from his writing to his behavior, and his message got lost for a time. His suicide was his last futile, poignant but nihilistic vanguard of Gonzo.

Hunter died unaware that the Internet was a reincarnation of his Gonzo method. Still his Great Shark Hunt lives on. The Internet is streaming uncensored information at light speed around the planet and is starting to drive the media and the campaign process. It is now continuously available to billions almost everywhere. Uncountable numbers of blogs are the vigorous implementing the HST vision of Gonzo. The Ruling Party with its opposing wings are cranking up the volume on their one-note song: Blue State Socialists want two clicks of the statist ratchet of ruining this country while the Red State Fascisti are determined on ruining all others. The cacophony of their death throes will be deafening as the reigns of power slip from their claw-like grasp.

Power, like a championship fight, must be taken from the titleholder. The Ron Paul revolution has the ruling elite on their heels, back to the ropes, weakening with every blow. Last weekend bore witness to something previously never thought possible in the age of media-controlled candidacy and disinformation dissemination: a viable candidate at the national level discussing actual issues, with thought-provoking and cogent arguments based on both a moral and a historically accurate basis.

Dr. Ron Paul represents a limited government conservative, classically liberal. The only platform of consistent and ideological Republicanism. This is the American Dream that Hunter longed for; it is not dead. This is what HST wanted Gonzo to be, a viral force that changes the process yet does not get compromised from the participation. He wanted a free America, free of war, free of racism, free of corporatism, free of fear and devoid of loathing.

The viral Ron Paul revolution is gaining momentum everywhere but in the linear press (whose audience dwindles daily), which is still working overtime denying the viability of the candidacy. Dr. Paul is viral on Meet the Press (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)

Ron Paul Presidency is a head-on assault to the Ruling Party, government bureaucrats and their many supplicants. It is where Hunter Thompson wanted to go. I urge you all to join me in supporting him in the Republican primaries and, if he is nominated, the general election.

In closing I quote HST from his last great work:

Jun 16, 1994 MEMO FROM THE NATIONAL AFFAIRS DESK DATE: MAY 1, 1994 FROM: DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON SUBJECT: THE DEATH OF RICHARD NIXON: NOTES ON THE PASSING OF AN AMERICAN MONSTER… HE WAS A LIAR AND A QUITTER, AND HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BURIED AT SEA… BUT HE WAS, AFTER ALL, THE PRESIDENT. “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is becoming the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” ~ REVELATION 18:2 Richard Nixon is gone now and I am poorer for it. He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”

Res Ipso Loquitor