Ron Paul and the Paulistas, Part II: Virtual Reality Versus Political Reality


I had a chance to watch presidential hopeful Ron Paul on C-SPAN last night (Campaign 2008: The Road to the Whitehouse). He was on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, stopping at Pete’s Gun and Tackle in Hudson and a pharmacy in Hollis.

Judging by the large volume of his virtual supporters on the Internet I expected a decent crowd for Paul. The turnout was, and there is no other way to put it, pathetic. His entourage actually outnumbered the small group that had gathered to hear Paul talk about his supposed “strict Constitutionalist” stance. Anyone who says—and I’m paraphrasing—that we need to “get rid of the law” that makes babies born in the U.S. automatic U.S. citizens clearly knows little about the Constitution. After all, it is the 14th Amendment to our Constitution that gives citizenship to anyone born here.

If Paul and the Paulistas don’t like this, they need to amend i.e. change the Constitution. Instead, Paul and his supporters are willfully misinterpreting the Constitution. They should simply stop referring to themselves as strict-Constitutionalists and instead adopt the label of Constitution-modifiers as that is their true goal. I suppose when your political reality is restricted to the Internet you can say pretty much whatever you want (for example, Paul is supposedly a libertarian, but he is against free-trade). Back in the real world, in actual politics—not virtual reality—words have distinct meanings.

Another misused term by the Paulistas is “corporatist.” Corporatism does not mean “rule by multi-national corporations” or capitalism run amok. Far from it. The roots of the term are not English where the word corporation is generally thought of as a big company or private enterprise. In fact, a better word would be cooperative or collective. A corporatist system is, in fact, based on organizations representing the state (government), employees (labor), employers (business), consumers and, in a fascist state, the party. For more information have a look at António Almodovar and José Luís Cardoso, “Corporatism and the Economic Role of Government,” History of Political Economy. 2005; 37: 333-354.

What else did Paul talk about at the gun shop? Not much. His rhetorical style tends towards mumbling and it was often difficult to hear what he was saying. Peter Goyette, of Pete’s Gun and Tackle, stole the show, such as it was. He had more enthusiasm for Paul’s campaign than Ron Paul himself who looked befuddled, confused and downright uncomfortable at times.

Paul did manage to blame Sarbanes-Oxley for many of the country’s current economic problems, rather than a lack of oversight in sub-prime lending. He also railed against illegal immigration and the war in Iraq. Prior to watching him in action, I believed Paul was the head of a cult of personality of sorts. Now I realize the man has no personality and no support outside of the Internet, as evidenced by the feeble crowds that came out to see him in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, he’s still doing well in those (meaningless) straw-polls


16 responses »

  1. You might want to do a little research before posting. Paul openly acknowledeges that a Constitutional amendment is required to get rid of automatic birthright citizenship. Since the Constitution provides for an amendment process, advocating an amendment can’t be described as anything other than Constitutionalist.

    In addition, I have never heard any Paul supporter talk about corporatism in the way you describe. Trust me, the Randroids know more about the various flavors of collectivism, including mixed-economy statism, then you ever will. It’s their obsession. Will every person at a particular rally be familiar with the work of Gaetano Mosca? Maybe not. So what?

    With regard to the attendance, the Paul campaign has no control over which events C-SPAN chooses to televise. Well-publicized events not held in lightly populated areas of New Hampshire have drawn hundreds of people in Iowa, in Pittsburgh, in Texas, and elsewhere. Again, ten minutes of YouTube research would have helped you out a lot here. Even events not attended by the candidate or a representative have done as much. On the other hand, I have yet to see any evidence that the Giuliani campaign even exists.

  2. Sorry, Fluffy, that simply is not what the man himself has been saying on C-SPAN. He makes no reference to changing the Constitution. When his supporters say “we really need to change that *law*” he simply nods and agrees. He never says “but that would require changing our Constitution.”

    But, giving you and Paul the benefit of the doubt, how is this in any way, shape or form a “strict-Constitutionalist” approach?

  3. Ron Paul:

    “there’s a big difference between corporations who benefit from government largesse — that’s corporatism and that’s evil.”

    Wow. Complex stuff there. The man has such brilliant ideas. I’m kidding. He actually comes across confused and a bit dense.

    “Trust me, the Randroids know more about the various flavors of collectivism, including mixed-economy statism.”

    The “Randoids” are not Paul’s primary supporters, paranoid populists are. As evidenced by all their talk about out of control “corporate elites” and “globalism.”

    What evidence do you have–evidence, not simply opinion–that Paul’s supporters are not talking about multi-national businesses when they use the word “corporate”?

    Here’s one of your fellow Paulistas:

    “You forgot that old media stations are overrepresented by Jewish individuals in the management and editorial ranks. Ron Paul is for non-intervention in the middle east, this means no more wars for Israel and giving Israel billions of tax payers money. Thus those who have editorial control are trying to blackout Ron Paul. The corporatism is a large part of it as well but is second to the first one.”

    Tell me, what do you think corporatism means in this context?

    Brian, another Paulista, writes:

    “Corporations suck. But Walmart was a good thing when it was run by one concientious guy. Corporations are government constructs, they exist because of government, it is called corporatism…The guys who build businesses to great heights in this modern era are almost always good. It only sucks when it becomes a corporation, where people are hired to care only about stockholder money, rather than caring about their employees, customers, and making the world better.”

    Again, any evidence to refute my claim?

    “[T]en minutes of YouTube research would have helped you out a lot here. Even events not attended by the candidate or a representative have done as much. On the other hand, I have yet to see any evidence that the Giuliani campaign even exists.”

    Yeah, I had a look at the YouTube coverage this morning before I wrote my post. I hate to break it to you but there simply are not that many people supporting Paul in the real world.

  4. The stop at Pete’s was about the 7th place we’d been and frankly we were exhausted. There were at least 300 people at all the events that followed him everywhere. We did not want a lot of people in Pete’s.

    There are just as many if not more people supporting Paul in the real world as there are on the internet. Just looking at the 800 Meetups and YouTube subscribers you can extrapolate that.

  5. “The stop at Pete’s was about the 7th place we’d been and frankly we were exhausted. There were at least 300 people at all the events that followed him everywhere. We did not want a lot of people in Pete’s.”

    OK, you didn’t want a lot of people in Pete’s. So why wasn’t there anyone at the second stop in the C-SPAN video? It was Paul, the fudge plate, and like five or six people.

    “Meetups and YouTube subscribers” = virtual reality, not political reality. After all, there loads of 9-11 Truther videos on YouTube and these people are a political minority as well. Vocal, yes. Numerous, no.

  6. He says we need to end birthright citizrnship. What can be clearer than that? This piece is an obvious hatchet job. You are objecting to non-issues here. Why does the man scare you so much?

  7. Scare me? Hardly. I actually felt bad for the guy after hearing him mumble at Pete’s and sit there all alone with that plate of fudge.

    “He says we need to end birthright citizrnship. What can be clearer than that?”

    So he wants to ammend the Constitution.

    How is that a “strict-Constitutionalist” stance?

    ***Hint*** It isn’t.

  8. This is simple. Ron Paul introduced a bill to Congress that would have amended the 14th Amendment such that merely being born in the United States would no longer automatically guarantee citizenship. More here:

    You can debate whether or not it’s a good idea. But there should be no debate on where Paul stands. Being a strict constitutionalist doesn’t mean you’re not willing to amend the Constitution where it has flaws. However, you always seeking purely Constitutional ways of pursuing those changes.

  9. Wow, you really got him there. He wants to change the constitution to close a loophole that encourages illegal immigration.

    He also wants to real the 16th amendment to abolish the income-slave tax.

    And FYI strict-constiutionalist means he follows the consitution and makes changes withing the framework that our founders set up (amendments), and does just flat our ignore the consitution like our recent leaders have done.

    I give your whole rant a 3/10 on the troll meter. Not impressive at all.

  10. Oh my holy god, where on earth did you get the idea that Ron Paul is against free trade??

    I am obviously a fan of his but I have never *ever* heard say anything against free trade. He’s *by far* the strongest supporter of free trade among our elected officials.

    Yes, he is against corporations benefiting from cozy relationships with government bureaucrats, as he should be. Those Halliburton-esque situations are the very antithesis of free trade.

    I love how you judge his “real-world” support by a couple of random CSPAN covered stops in NH and not virtually every other appearance where he’s been mobbed by hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.

    And your criticism of his stance on the constitution is laughable. Again, he’s by far the strongest defender of the constitution around, even his (intellectually honest) detractors would admit that.

    His position *is* a strict-Constitutionalist stance because he wants to work within the constitution and amend the 14th amendment legally instead of just ignoring it like virtually every other politician.

  11. A strict constitutionalist would change the constitution. All the other losers write unconstitutional laws… I believe he does scare you. He should. You are going to be very disappointed when you see that his campaign just keeps growing like it is now.

    Go Ron!

  12. The constitution allows for amendment. A strict constitutionalist may well want to amend the constitution, but must oppose violating the constitution.

    Read the constitution … really … the amendment process is spelled out for all to see.

  13. I knew it was only a matter of time before the kooks came out of the woodwork.

    So in Paul’s world being a “strict-Constitutionalist” means amending the Constitution to fit your particular political ideology. Not what I think of when I hear the term but thanks for making that clear. This should be on the side of Paul’s campaign bus:

    “A Vote for Ron Paul is a Vote for Changing the Constitution!”

    Yes, I am aware of the amendment process. I’ve read the Constitution many, many times. All of the students in my freshman political science course are required to read it along with the Federalist papers and other primary sources.

    As far as Paul’s trade position, he can call himself a free-trader all he wants, what matters are his actions. Paul routinely votes against free-trade agreements. You can dance around the issue but to most Americans the man simply looks like a hypocrite, not a paragon:

    “I support the Constitution!”…but I want to change it to fit my political ideology.

    “I support free trade!”…but I routinely vote against it.

    “I am for the average American!”…but I have a horrible record on labor issues.

    “I am a libertarian!”…against women’s choice and LGBT rights.

    Scared? Hardly. I’m not even that amused. At least the 9-11 twooofers are amusing.

    BTW, I’ve seen Paul on C-SPAN quite a few times. He’s less excited about his campaign than you are.

    But that’s ok, keep fighting against those evil “corporatists” and “globalists”!

    PS: To the Paulista spammers coming from and elsewhere:

    If you have something to **add** to the conversation (not repeating the same thing over and over and over), great.
    If not, I’m sure you’re missed back where you came from.

  14. ” Paul routinely votes against free-trade agreements.”

    Absolutely, as well he should. Calling them “free trade agreements” doesn’t say much for what they really do, which is to create trade beaurocracies which get to make rules regarding who can trade with whom and how that trading will take place.

    That is not free trade. That is managed trade.

    On the amendment issue, are you just as critical of the congress that amended the constitution in 1865? Didn’t they amend the constitution to reverse the Dred Scott decision?

    If that didn’t bother you, why does a suggestion that the amendment process be used today bother you?

  15. Pingback: Is Ron Paul the Republican Ralph Nader? « The New Centrist

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