Before I delve into the core of this column and its fundamental purpose, I must first preface by telling you a little bit about myself.
I am a student at Ohio University where I study journalism and political science. I write for the local newspaper as a campus reporter and am the vice president and acting president of the OU College Republicans. I was, up until recently, actively involved in the presidential campaign to elect Rep. Ron Paul for many months.
Last week, a column I wrote assessing GOP presidential candidate and now nominee, John McCain, appeared in my local newspaper. While I found no fault in the article (in fact, I thought it to be well-written and more than adequately researched), my Republican companions and those of the right persuasion were not impressed by my candid evaluation of John McCain and the state of the Republican Party as it stands. Many members of the club and local county Republican Party approached me with concern and some were outright enraged at my public display of criticism for the Arizona senator. I was accused of being "divisive" and "irresponsible" and was told that I should not have exercised my journalistic influence because my views were in conflict with those of the club and county party. I was advised that — despite my personal feelings — I must support John McCain for the "sake of the club" and for the "good of the party" or the club would take necessary steps to resolve the problem.
When I made it known that I had no intention of supporting or campaigning for John McCain, I was asked to step down from my position because it compromised party and club unity. When I refused to simply acquiesce and give up my position, I was threatened with impeachment.
Although the controversy has nearly blown over by now, the situation I faced — and still face — deeply troubles me. How was it that my own friends and comrades could treat me like this? I was shocked and disgusted that someone would dare solicit me to compromise my principles for the idea of "the greater good" or face ridicule and persecution.
This blind nationalism and "party unity" are the same kind of tactics used by authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, such as those employed by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Now, I am by no means comparing the Republican Party with the Nazis. But there is a lesson to be learned here.
If the Republican Party nominated a Hilter-like or Stalin-esque figure for the presidency, would its members still back him? Would it support a dictator in defense of the "greater good" and the good of the party? And what happens if members of a group or party dissent? They are purged from the party and treated as outcasts. So one is given only two choices: sacrifice one's principles in order to be accepted by the majority or preserve one's principles and be rejected as a dissenter. It is clear that one loses all sense of individuality when he or she becomes part of a party.
The flawed mentality here is the very notion of a "party." Today's parties, especially the GOP, have diverged so far from their original ideals that they are barely distinguishable from each other.
The Democrats want to maximize central planning in domestic and economic issues while the Republicans want to limit personal freedom and perpetuate a modern form of imperialism. In effect, one party advocates socialism, the other, fascism. Neither party promotes a smaller government. Rather, both parties want more government control — just in different aspects.
This is why I refuse to support John McCain or the Democratic nominee in the fall. My principles are a far better driving force than any party platform or false sense of nationalism could ever be. For this I was criticized and will no doubt be further criticized in the future.
Because of my new understanding of the political system, I have decided not to run for re-election or seek a new position within the College Republicans. I have come to realize that change, true change, cannot and will not come about through our failed system of democracy. I have come to realize that it will take something far bigger and far greater than any politician in Washington to give us back our liberties as free-thinking, free-willed individuals. We must, therefore, seek other means than political involvement to accomplish our goal of a free society
As much as I support Ron Paul and his message of freedom, it is not in the power of any single man to grant us our liberties. For too long we have let a parasitic government thrive on the complacency of its people and their tacit consent. We cannot allow this to go on. We cannot sit back and watch our freedoms, one by one, being taken away, or else one day we will wake up to find ourselves not at all alive, but simply existing from day to day as slaves to the Almighty State.
Throughout this ordeal, and throughout this campaign season, I have realized how difficult it is to stick to one's principles, to not compromise and to not give in to the majority. And although there are others like us out there, I have realized how truly alone we are in our pursuit of freedom. As Ayn Rand said in her acclaimed novel, The Fountainhead, “Every loneliness is a pinnacle.”
Know that your principles are your inspiration and your loneliness your strength. For it is when we compromise and surrender that we lose all sight of ourselves. We have a long fight ahead. For some of us, every day will be a battle. But if we are willing to continue fighting, even against the vast majority, we will never be defeated in mind, body or spirit.
March 11, 2008