Posted by Adam @ 1:54 pm on June 22nd 2007

A limey guide to Ron Paul

In a quick diversion from the Limey Guide to America, we have a quick presentation of a uniquely American political phenomenon: Ron Paul.

As limeys may be aware, the US has a Constitution. A relatively short written document, it lays out what government can and can’t do.

The existence of such a restrictive document is, of course, a terrible problem for the majority of people in government, who don’t want to be told what they can’t do, not because it is explicitly forbidden and not because it is implicitly forbidden by its absence from a list of things that they are allowed to do. If one can’t decide what to serve the people, well, what point is there in serving the people at all? Why, one might as well pass time discussing hay and milk quality with one’s dairy herd.

Consequently, ever since there has been a Constitution, the US Federal Government has been ignoring it. Now, the Supreme Court can decide whether or not a law passed by Congress is constitutional and whether, therefore, it should be struck down, at least since 1803, when the Supreme Court decided that it can decide whether or not a law passed by Congress is constitutional and whether, therefore, it should be struck down. The Justices that sit on the Supreme Court, however, are appointed by Congress (having been nominated by the President). They serve, listening to each other and to lawyers, until they die of boredom, which actually takes a surprisingly long time; unavoidably, however, as some of the people who wish to expand the powers of government and who can be prevented from doing so by the Justices of the Supreme Court are also the people who get to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court, as the years, and Justices, have passed, the Supreme Court has progressively allowed the Federal Government to expand its powers beyond what might be expected from a literal reading of the Constitution. This process has been gradual; in much the way that a piece of pristine meat becomes covered in flies and gets degraded by maggots, the constitutional limits on the power of the Federal Government have been covered in lies and steadily degraded by, how to put this, maggots.

And so we come to Ron Paul. Paul is a doctor by trade (Ron Paul supporters have a secret code by which to identify each other, calling him ‘Dr Paul’) and a somewhat reluctant politician in the US House of Representatives, which is a group of people chiefly distinguished from an unruly mob by the almost universal wearing of neckties. Paul is an even more reluctant Republican — in fact, he only really became a Republican once the Republicans realised that he was going keep stomping their anointed candidates into the electoral dust and so they thought that they might as well co-opt him and get him hooked on power in much the manner of the forward-looking entrepreneurial heroin dealers about whom we were warned as children, who were giving away free opiates to get us all hooked on the poetry of the Romantic Period. Or something like that. I forget exactly what their payoff was. But, I digress.

Ron Paul believes in the Constitution; he believes that it should be observed as written and that, if people want to change the Constitution, the change should be effected through the process that is, itself, written into the Constitution. This distinguishes him from most of the rest of America not by virtue of his assertions of belief in the Constitution (nearly every American proudly believes in the Constitution) but that he really believes in it, lock, stock and constitutionally guaranteed barrel (small Second Amendment reference there). Many Americans feel that official amendments to the constitution are so difficult to achieve that the process should be reserved for really important matters like banning and unbanning the consumption of alcohol, or protecting the nation from an undead Franklin Roosevelt running for another term. Trivial matters like imposing Federal power over state and local education systems, or banning narcotics across the whole country regardless of state laws, those are best left to the fine men and women of the United States Congress, whose famous attention to detail sometimes allows them to vote on bills that they haven’t even actually read.

Ron Paul is running for president. He has run before, as the candidate of the Libertarian Party, a group of people chiefly distinguishable from the US House of Representatives by the almost universal absence of neckties, but this time he is running as a Republican. This means that, despite his unconventional approach of matching his actions to his rhetoric, he is part of a process that gets a fair amount of media coverage, particularly when it comes to the candidates’ debates, events in which candidates compete to massage one of a small number of stock answers to fit one of a small number of irritatingly vacuous questions so that their supporters can enthusiastically declare them the ‘winner’ of the debate. The problem that Ron Paul poses for the other candidates is that the Republican Party candidates are very keen on establishing their devotion to the US Constitution whilst at the same time picking their favourite parts of it and ignoring the rest, particularly the parts on general and limited enumeration of Federal powers, in order to promise to return the nation to the 1950s, but with DVD players in cars; this strategy is generally, in political circles, called ‘energising the Republican base’. The whole task of appropriating the constitution for nefarious political gain is made much more complicated when Ron Paul, a guy that is actually devoted to the US Constitution, is standing there talking about the whole Constitution and, therefore, illustrating that his fellow candidates are, in fact, a bunch of powercrazed slimy hypocritical bastards.

As a result of the difficulties that he presents to the conventional Republican candidates, Paul is subject to considerable vitriol, misrepresentation, being ignored, or calls for him to be ignored. Paul has a relatively small chance of winning; he doesn’t have much money and, although he is getting support, much of it is from a young crowd, which is a problem because, in Republican politics, the importance of any group tends to be inversely proportional to the chance of the average member of that group getting loaded or laid. His support is, however, tech-savvy, vocal (particularly when getting loaded or laid) and indefatigable; whilst he might not be able to win the nomination, at least some of the Republican candidates appear concerned that he can help them lose. That, in itself, is enough to recommend him to a lot of people and might, just maybe, be enough to nudge the Republican Party onto a different path going forward.

1 Comment »

  1. The good news is that the old die. In the case of the “baby boomer” aka “Me” generation (which I will add, I am on the trailing end of), they cannot possibly die soon enough.

    Comment by Yank Crank — 6/22/2007 @ 6:19 pm

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