The Lazy Anti-Politics of the Paulites
Here’s how a reader explains to Sully why it is the newsletters don’t impact their support of Paul in 2012:
The reason people are ignoring the 30 year old newsletters written by other people is because they are 30 year old newsletters written by other people.
People don’t care about these things, because they hear Ron Paul talk and they get the message. They get the idea, and they even get that the guy is “just” the carrier of the idea, and not a Newt-aggrandizing ego-maniac. These are very attractive qualities. And his positions – particularly his dedicated anti-war position, in the context of the Obama betrayals – are extremely appealing to huge swathes of the country….
Look at the international situation. Look at Iraq. Look at minorities. Look at the economy. If “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” as B.O. suggested in one of his hollowest campaign speeches, then isn’t Paul the one to give us back to ourselves? Who is left?
Obama hasn’t come through. Romney would at best muddle through for another 4 years of the same. And that’s it. If it’s not Paul, then it’s no one.
This is why I don’t particularly like most Ron Paul supporters. Of course, the online cultists (I call ’em Paulbots) who buzz throughout the internets, causing bloggers of all stripes to rue the day Google created its alerts system, are self-evidently toxic. But even the sentient and sane fans of Ron Paul (Paulites), are deeply problematic.
Because, like the most childish and irresponsible of the Obama fanatics — the ones who bought into the post-politics pandering and imagined that an Obama Presidency would cease the eternal, natural, and healthy jockeying for power that is politics — the Paulites seem to rather categorically dislike democracy itself. Either they dislike it, or they’re too obtuse to acknowledge democracy as it is rather than as they’d like it to be.
When this reader calls Paul “the one to give us back to ourselves,” who, exactly, does he think we’re currently in the possession of? I like the Occupy Movement plenty and have written about it a lot; I agree with the fundamentals of the Occupy diagnosis of where American democracy has gone astray; so I’m obviously not one to claim, absolutely, that there is no crisis of legitimacy in American democracy.
But there’s a difference between calling for greater transparency and accountability so people can see clearly what other members of the body politic are up to and claiming “we” have been taken and must find someone to “give us back to ourselves.” It’s the difference between reform and fantasy, between a recognition that our problems are systemic — which means we all play our part, consciously or not — and an assertion that our ills are due to some Other that’s in essence kidnapped our sovereignty.
The latter is the kind of juvenile and facile paranoia that, in-between the copious tangential forays into homophobia, racism, and anti-semitism, defines the newsletters. The e-mailer’s implication that we voters ourselves are not in large part responsible for the policies of our country, that we didn’t reelect one man who decided to wage two wars simultaneously before electing another that promised along with ending the one to escalate the other, is a massive shedding of responsibility.
If people aren’t happy with their range of options, the answer is not to skip from one messiah to another (a process that is quite clearly delivering diminishing returns) and assume that what They do is entirely separated from Us. Recognize that there’s a reason the new boss is the same as the old boss. Do the work of self-educating, organizing, challenging, fighting. Grow up.
And stop kidding yourself about what a vote for Ron Paul represents. It is, at best, a superficial and fleeting gesture. An embellishment, symbolic through and through. Nothing more.