Posted by Rojas @ 5:18 pm on August 15th 2007

What Ron Paul supporters SHOULDN’T apologize for

I’ve been taking the piss out of my favorite Presidential campaign for a while now, but tonight I feel compelled to write something in its defense.

I first heard Ron Paul supporters described as “obnoxious” when reading the comments of a Romney backer about the Iowa Straw Poll. It seems that the meme has been out there for a while, though. A google search for “Ron Paul supporters” and “obnoxious” produces 1340 hits (1341 once this post is catalogued), many of them similar to the following. Freedom Eden:

I definitely prefer a zero tolerance policy when it comes to applause at political debates.

When cheering is not kept in check, the atmosphere becomes more Jerry Springer than serious discussion by presidential candidates.

Although supporters of each candidate applauded with approval after their man spoke, Paul’s group seemed disproportionately louder and more obnoxious.

Brownbacker:

“We are here at the campaign straw poll tent. I believe we are the only facility here today that has air conditioning, which is another reason I love SSB. On the way in, we were greeted by lots of shouting Ron Paul supporters, who may be the most obnoxious people on earth.”

Hawkeye GOP:

The Ron Paul Revolution as they call it is an Internet movement of libertarians all across the country. They mobilized and came out in force. When we arrived in Ames, they were everywhere. Every intersection every walkway, holding signs and passing out literature. They were in many cases pretty obnoxious (but not as obnoxious as Brownback’s people).

Now, I’ve been as loud as anybody in calling for Paul supporters to edge off of their more maniacal tactics and try to reach out to mainstream Republicans in order to win converts. But I was on the ground in Ames, and even as someone hypersensitive to the matter, I have to state flatly that I didn’t see anything from my fellow Paulites that struck me as “obnoxious”. In point of fact, when I read the descriptions above, I still don’t see anything “obnoxious”.

Which leads me to my point. Having observed the staid, quiet, professional demeanor of the Romney, Brownback, and especially Huckabee camps in Ames, I think that part of the friction Paulites create comes inevitably from one of the campaign’s unique qualities.

Namely: Ron Paul creates enthusiasm. And not the fake, choreographed, everybody-wave-his-name-on-a-stick-and-wait-for-a-pause-in-the-speech-to-go-wild “enthusiasm” endemic to modern campaigns.

No. REAL enthusiasm. The kind of enthusiasm that compels you to ride from South Dakota to Ames on a motorcycle in order to have the privilege of passing out campaign literature for eight hours in the hot sun in exchange for no money. The kind that causes you to attend campaign events not out of a sense of duty, or responsibility or to be a team player, but for the same reasons you would go to a movie or a sporting event. It’s not where you HAVE to be, it’s where you WANT to be.

Moreover, you find yourself in the company of some pretty gnarly types at a Ron Paul event. It’s a DMV-esque crowd; some of us haven’t bathed, some of us think the government blew up the World Trade Center with orbital lasers, and some of us think that the world is run by a conspiracy involving lizards from space and the reanimated corpse of the Queen Mum. And it doesn’t matter. You wind up loving those wackos alongside you, because when they look at a humble country doctor from East Texas, they see what you see. They hope what you hope. They yell what you yell.

And man alive, do you ever end up yelling. A lot. All day. And making weird signs with stencils designed on an internet site, and voting in every online poll you can find. And you don’t do this because your precinct boss told you to. You do this because you’re looking for a way–any way–to get the message out. To share That Ron Paul Feeling with your fellow man. You don’t want to leave a single American behind.

And this, quite frankly, is what the Romney supporters, with their matching T-shirts and their careful logistics and their paid staffers on golf carts, will never understand about us. This is what the Brownback supporters, who consider an air-conditioned tent a reason to “love” their candidate, will never quite be able to follow. This is what the Huckabee army, standing silent while waiting for results in the Hilton Coliseum, looking askance at all the shouting and chanting maniacs around them, will never “get”.

There’s nothing in the world wrong with any of those folks, and they’re all perfectly sincere in their support of their candidates. But there is something about actual political PASSION–again, not the rehearsed for the camera kind, but the genuine article–that is utterly alien to them. They understand the operation of a political campaign, and they believe in its truth, but they don’t grok the JOY of it. They are, in short, willing to do whatever it takes to get their man elected–just so long as they don’t end up looking undignified in the process.

And that saddens me. Because they’re cheating themselves out of something wonderful.

Thomas Woods wrote recently that the willingness of 3,000 people to vote for Ron Paul in an online poll shouldn’t suprise us. Instead, we should wonder why the likes of John McCain can’t drum up 100 people willing to spend the five seconds it takes to do so. He hit the nail on the head. We are the first Republican campaign in recent history in which the average supporter cares more about expressing his support than about looking dignified.

And yeah, that means our passions can run away with us at times, and we end up believing in wacked-out theories of vote fraud, or lending our support to anti-Semites. And when we do that, we need to rein ourselves in.

But the bulk of what many observers see as “obnoxious” about Ron Paul supporters is simply the joy of total political commitment. And I will never, ever apologize for that, or seek to alter it, no matter whom it offends. The Republican party needs MORE of it, not less. And when people see Ron Paul’s supporters chanting, posting signs, voting online, they oughtn’t ask themselves why we do it. They should ask themselves why they don’t. And they should demand a candidate that matters enough to them that they’re willing to take leave of conventional behavior on his behalf.

*Author’s note: in the original version of this article, the paraphrased material from Thomas Woods was incorrectly attributed to Lew Rockwell, at whose site Mr. Woods writes. I sincerely regret the error.

9 Comments »

  1. Outstanding commentary! I’ll be linking to this entry from my own blog.

    Comment by Darren — 8/15/2007 @ 10:16 pm

  2. Wow. That was one of the most inspiring pieces I’ve ever read… And I agree with every word of it. Thank you for putting so gracefully into words the feeling so many of us share! Rock on.

    Comment by freeyourmind — 8/15/2007 @ 11:02 pm

  3. That is a great article! The Establishment has drained the passion for politics through their vampiric oppression via the Federal Reserve/Income Tax and its consequences. But the freedom message is a needed transfusion and will invigorate people. With the Internet providing the largest marketplace of ideas the freedom message will get out.

    Then the fire for liberty that runs deep in the bones of the American People will burst into a raging inferno. Think of the united patriotism after 9/11 directed towards the MSM and Federal Reserve.

    Watch out Establishment here comes a century worth of blowback! Give me Liberty or give me death!

    Comment by jonahtrainer — 8/15/2007 @ 11:32 pm

  4. great article. I’m from Minneapolis and went down Thursday morning to Iowa and stayed till Sunday. great vacation! they can call us obnoxious if they wish, but it’s not our campaign that bussed retarded people (and I’m not kidding..) in from the sticks, leaving them for half hour on the bus not permitting them to get off until a paid staffer comes up to lead them with a tall “follow me” sign from the parking lot directly to the voting booths before they could even see anything else at the event. the people on one bus were waiting so long the bus driver asked _me_ (wearing a revolution tshirt) to escort the people from the lot to the event!

    and the other candidates’ staff were deathly afraid that their sheeple would read RP’s testimonial I was passing out in the parking lot. there were even a couple instances where the staffers took the brochures away from the voters I just gave them to.

    anyway, the day was a unique experience for me. never would have dreamed I’d scream ‘Freedom!’/’Ron Paul!’ at the top of my lungs for over an hour straight.

    Comment by Kyle — 8/16/2007 @ 12:13 am

  5. Conventional behavior is behaving within a circumscribed set of behaviors deemed “acceptable” by “leaders” of the entrenched interests. Of course, behaving conventionally, as expected or as is “acceptable” changes nothing and pretty much guarantees the continuation of the status quo. The “obnoxious” smear is an attempt to marginalize Pauls supporters as inappropriate, just a step away from marginalizing them as unhinged, as Laura Ingraham did. The marginalizing takes advantage of people’s innate needs for acceptance, it is a behavioral technique used to manage people. It is an attempt to “herd” the population away from paying attention to Ron Paul. This is simply the Delphi technique (Google it if you’re unfamiliar) on a larger scale. There are techniques to defuse it.

    Comment by sb — 8/16/2007 @ 6:49 am

  6. I still think Laura Ingraham’s comments were meant more or less affectionately. She’s not on our side, but it’s important to her that the party faithful develop SOME form of enthusiasm prior to 2008, and I think it kind of tickled her to see that energy displayed by us, of all people.

    In other words: she’s not on board, but at least she understands.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/16/2007 @ 2:43 pm

  7. A final note: anyone who has linked to this article in order to read an appreciation of the Paul movement will want to read this as well.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/17/2007 @ 10:11 am

  8. You make some good points. However, I believe one can get carried away with enthusiasm and lose sight of the ultimate goal.

    The ultimate goal is to convince primary voters to support Ron Paul. Often, what passes for enthusiasm looks intimidating to those who are not committed to a candidate yet. Intimidating, or undisciplined, or thoughless, you name it. It will come across in various ways to various people.

    Put yourself in the other person’s shoes…

    Enthusiasm is great for motivating already-committed campaign workers, so we should keep it up. But let’s keep in mind how we look to others, while we are doing it. Even just adding a smile on our face when we are chanting has to help. And let’s remember enthusiasm cannot be the main course we serve to uncommitted voters; they need more substance than that. Fortunately Ron Paul gives us a lot to work with in that respect.

    Comment by PaulB — 8/24/2007 @ 12:08 am

  9. I hear you, PaulB.

    You couldn’t be more right about our obligation to the campaign. It’s the obligation of every Ron Paul supporter to represent the campaign in a way that builds its support–independent of our own agendas.

    And you are as right as rain, in that our campaign has to offer substance alongside the style. At every stage, we must speak to our audience-not in terms of our own preferred agenda, but in terms of those issues which speak to the voters.

    And, as you say, Ron Paul makes that easy, in that he’s with the American people from the start–on Iraq, on the Constitution, on the role of government in or lives generally.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/24/2007 @ 12:23 am

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