The Conscience of a Curmudgeon


Here is my little confession to the world at large: I'm a Ron Paul supporter. This might not seem like much in the way of a confession, but for me it represents something of a coming out. No, I'm not some aging red-diaper baby who has only now seen the light. It's more like a reawakening. Let me explain.

In my most youthful and idealistic years I labored in the vineyards of conservo-libertarian think-tankdom. They were not necessarily bad years; in fact, I met lots of dedicated and wonderful people, most all of whom I consider friends to this day. Together, we toiled tirelessly to produce studies, reports, commentaries, and policy briefs full of logic and evidence and reason explaining why this or that political or economic course of action would yield the most desirable outcome in terms of justice, prosperity, morality, decency, and simple human dignity.

But eventually, I grew disenchanted with the whole project. It began to dawn on me that we could churn out report after report warning of the malevolence and stupidity of any given government proposal and extolling the fairness and wisdom of the best alternative policy decisions – and yet it would never matter. And the reason it would never matter is because those to whom the studies, reports, commentaries, and policy briefs were most obviously addressed did not care about things like logic and evidence and reason. They were corporate media hacks and politicians, and what they care about most is popularity and power – things that only the most disordered of personalities place at the pinnacle of their Maslowian hierarchy of needs.

In the years since my exodus from "The Movement," as we used to call it, I've (understandably, I plead) become a bitter, curmudgeonly cynic on the subject of all things political. I decided my father, who once told me he hasn't voted in any election since Nixon became president and who believes all politicians are thieves and parasites, is absolutely right. Like Dad, I do not suffer fools and their B.S. gladly, with the result being that I cannot read newspapers or stand watching even 30 seconds of any TV "news" at the risk of my boiling blood greatly curtailing my personal longevity. I've become a principled nonvoter and, in the process, annoyed some of my friends and utterly baffled my girlfriend.

But I digress. I met Ron Paul a few years ago, while I was still toiling in those aforementioned vineyards. He was, just as he appears in his current campaign, a warm, affable, sincere man who firmly believes that what he's doing is in the best interests of his fellow Americans. We spent some time together in a car driving to Hillsdale, Michigan, where he was to give a speech at the college there, and it was a wonderfully refreshing drive. In my life in think-tankdom, Dr. Paul was far from the first or only politician I interacted with. What he was was a normal human being who happened to hold a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. And as far as I know, to this day, he is the only member of Congress to enjoy this distinction.

So when I say I'm a Ron Paul supporter, I want it to register with as much impact as possible. I hate politics and politicians. I hate the stage-managed presidential dog-and-pony shows. Excluding public hanging, I have never truly supported any politician for anything, whether Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or nebulous independent.

But today, I sent in a donation to Ron Paul's campaign. Why?

In 2000, I was convinced that Bush, Jr. vs. Gore might very well be the most awful presidential election ever conceived. In 2004, I thought Bush vs. Kerry was the worst "choice" ever. And now here we are in 2008, and the terrible prospect of Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain exceeds the capacity of the English language to describe its truly monumental dreadfulness.

No, I don't believe in electoral politics, and I'd rather spend my time and money on more personally gratifying endeavors, like any normal fellow would, but I think that, after the last eight years of misrule under the scion of a family of mediocrities, Dr. Paul might be the last hope for America to recover some sense of itself as something other than a retarded, belligerent, imperial suicide.

On the day when I present my papers to the heel-clicking goon in a ski mask demanding to know why I am leaving the land of the allegedly free and the home of the selectively brave in favor of some tropical island that does not have soldiers in more than 130 countries, I at least want to have the peace of mind knowing that I tried. I tried as much and as often as my circumstances and temperament allowed.

Ron Paul won't win the Republican nomination, but I don't care about that. I care about the message the existence of his candidacy powerfully perpetuates. And that message is, "Dear Corporate Politico-Media Complex: I will not be told what to think or who to support, nor will I ever again appear to approve of your vast criminal enterprise. Kindly kiss my rear end, now that you've been exposed to the entire world for the evil phonies that you are."

If for nothing else, I thank you now for this, Dr. Paul.

February 7, 2008