Editor's Corner

Ron Paul: Isolationism Begins at Home

Sometimes, when I see Ron Paul speak, I think, “Too bad.” He is so comfortable in his clothes. He could care less about the “everything is presentation, presentation, presentation” theater of politics.

Ordinarily I’d like that.

During the Clinton years Paul was a beacon for constitutionalism in a period that was similar to this one in many ways; a corrupt regime and a constant attack on the Constitution. So, his inconsequential “no” votes on any kind of American adventurism abroad (Clinton wasn’t too adventuresome in most things foreign, anyway, including bin Laden when he had a chance) were really of no moment to me. I liked Ron Paul.

Paulians Are Another Thing

Disagreeing somewhat with Erick Erickson at RedState, as to whose followers are the more rabid, Ron Paul’s or Sarah Palin, I’ve gone a couple of levels deeper with Paulians. Ron Paul has far more truly sick people in his camp than Sarah, of which I’ve yet to find any of their stripe.

Paul bussed in load after load of what looked like college kids to the CPAC event in February, just so they could vote for him in the straw poll…which he won handily. He did the same in the recent Iowa straw polls, invalidating that poll as well. (I’m not sure of the political purpose there, but think it’s comes from an unhealthy source.) From the looks of their ill-fitting jacklets, shirts and ties, and having talked to a few, and listened to still others milling around, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that many ill-informed and socially uncomfortable college kids in my life. Size 16 collars wrapped around 14 1/2 neck’s. Polyester ties. College kids or kids playing hookey sent directly to wardrobe on the bus?

The Kids

During the 2008 campaign I spoke with some small business owners about talking to their wage-and-hour employees about becoming registered, and to explain to them the political realities of what was about to happen if Obama were elected. I repeated this in 2010, only to a smaller crowd, as most of those businesses had laid off almost half of their workers. I wanted to get conservative money involved.

Most of those kids were 18-24 years old, still dreaming of finding a really sweet Honda Prelude they could fix up. $8-$12/hr range. Most were white, most high school graduates, all with a mechanical-network aptitude, and no fear of work. With a scrub brush, strong lye soap and a No 10 wash tub they’d have looked a lot like Ron Paul’s kids at CPAC.

My purpose was to get them registered, for they were, still are, America’s largest unregistered voting bloc. And unlike the Democrats’ largest bloc, they are all Americans, born and bred.

And highly suggestible, for most kids’ introduction to politics is thru on-the-job osmosis. Kids that age tend to listen to people with whom they work. Chat. I tried to get to them through the boss.

Neither the GOP nor conservative backers showed any interest in bringing them into the fold.

Enter the Paulians. In 2009 about 20% of those kids lost their jobs and are now in various stages of disaffection. Their belief in the system, not to mention a lot of self confidence, had been challenged.

What I couldn’t accomplish with a little seminar put together by their bosses, Ron Paul’s people are now getting through a recruiting system similar to the way a drug distributor builds up his street corner peddlers. It’s also how community organizers recruit in the inner city, and the Klan recruited disenfranchised farmhands during the Great Depression.

The most malleable mind in the world is the disaffected youth, with a pocketful of grievances, and a chip on his shoulder; a victim. And what Paulians are offering up to them sounds might tasty…a little bit of get even, with a dash of attaboy, and a pinch of greener pastures over yonder. Put in a pot and bring to a boil.

Most wouldn’t know Ron Paul if they saw him on a postage stamp, but they know his name.

Now, in all honesty, I can’t blame Ron Paul for any of this. I can’t even say that he is a mastermind behind it, for he doesn’t strike me as a person who wants to be a cult figure. But he is anyway, so if I’m wrong here, I’m a 100% wrong.

Thanks to Bernie Chumm I’ve been able to construct a makeshift Paulian command structure. What I don’t have clear in my my mind is an end game. But Ron Paul becoming president isn’t it. He’s supposed to upset somebody’s apple cart, and I have every reason to believe it is a conservative or a Republican. His troops seem almost ambivalent about the Left.

Somewhere in Paul’s ranks is a cadre of educated (I think) older (I assume) Grand Kleagles who are true believers of Paul but with their own list of grievances against the world. They have access to money. And on the internet, when allowed, they operate like a flash mob, stampeding comment sections with lonnnng-winded inanities, the only purpose being to overload it and run off sensible commenters. They have become politics’ Watchtower Society, for as soon as they show up, people shoo them away or turn and go the other direction.

This is a seminar tactic. It’s not spontaneous. It comes from training. And when coupled with other bizarre activities, such as stuffing straw poll ballot boxes, which have no real political purpose other than to market the “name” Ron Paul, not the person, and certainly not the philosophy, you have to ask:

What are the real purposes of these acts and how do they fit into the overall Paul presidential campaign strategy?

I have to leave the search for that answer up to someone else. This is triage time, and Paulians deserve as little of our concentration as possible.

Isolationism Begins at Home

Having just defiled Paulians, I will now speak to Dr Paul’s good name as well, for a singular reason, stated below:

Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door. (Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, 1844)

Home, the Nation

For isolationists before Pearl Harbor, in an era much more Christian in America than now, there was still little moral hand-wringing among American political leaders about the conduct of tyrants and barbarians abroad. We were insular, it was argued. We have our own cake, it was argued. And we were coming out of a Great Depression. It was assumed the United States could stay afloat on any rough sea, in part because we were protected on each flank by two of them.

It wasn’t our responsibility, even as Christians, to rush to the aid of those unlucky enough to be born Slav, Jew, Gypsy, then later, Norwegian, French, Chinese, etc., just to name a few.

The moral equation was of secondary importance to the leaders of a nation about to burst out of the Great Depression. Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” set the tone of our time, not the “Song of the Volga Boatmen.”

Home, the House

But in America there has always been an older interpretation of this moral equation, where Home is actually the individual house, the smallest building block of America.

The American House was defined by a man and woman (yep) in a complete home. While the female is wired to protect the nest, the male is wired to see threats to the home from a greater distance. So it was the male who (historically) was more apt to sally forth and go next door, or to the edge of the town, even to the edge of the sea to defend the larger nest, be it the town, valley, or even country.

In short, the American husband and wife understood reciprocity and mutual defense long before the politicians did.

Home, the Nation

As I explained above, until Dec 7, 1941 America was essentially an isolationist nation, rarely involving ourselves in foreign adventures. The coming war, World War II, was no adventure, but to some extent World War I, “the War to End All Wars,” was. Our ultimate involvement in it was to suit a progressive president’s design in the name of a world government that would emerge once the dinosaur royal tyrants of Europe and Turkey were eventually vanquished.

We didn’t have to get in, but to suit Ron Paul’s single requirement about foreign wars, Congress did declare war on the Central Powers. And our presence there brought the war to a speedier end, at the loss of 117,0o0 of our men in less than six months. (I’m not sure if anyone ever did a cost-benefit analysis on that.)

Before that was the Spanish-American War, which was a true American adventure, a war brought on by jingo newspapers and not for any real American interests. It too was a “declared” war, fitting Dr Paul’s litmus test.

But interestingly, this war also put on display another aspect of American Exceptionalism which has escaped Dr Paul’s notice.

You see, as a result of that war we acquired the Philippine Islands from Spain.

A good case against American adventurism in Cuba can be made anytime, but the acquisition of the Philippines established the United States as the carrier of a dogma unheard of in human history, for no sooner had we had taken possession there, we set about building the political institution to set her free.

This had never been done before. The Philippines were acquired in 1898 then scheduled to join the community of free nations in 1942, just a few months after Pearl Harbor. But the islands were overrun by Japan. They then gained their independence on July 4, 1946 at the cost of a million of their own people and several thousand American lives.

Not bad for an historic first. No nation had ever taken a land in conquest then promptly set it free.

Ron Paul’s non-interventionist policy was always anathema to conservatives. National Review was my earliest link to Dr Paul and they derided Paul in part because of his resistance to the post-WWII emergence of the US as a world super-power, and de facto protector and defender of freedom worldwide….as a counter balance to Soviet-Marxist designs for world dominion.

It was both as a geo-political and moral stance America assumed. I’m not sure Dr Paul ever acknowledged or addressed that second aspect of our policy. In truth, I’m not even sure he ever knew it was there. Or does today.

Congressman Paul looks upon the liberation of Iraq as a waste of good money.  He also thinks it was an illegal war. We’re international busy-bodies.  He has managed to blame America for Iranian hatred of the west and their virulent Islamism, which proves, even as he tries to project being better-read, ahead of all the other candidates, there is a deep hole in his ability to interpret and analyze. He is missing that “one thing” that defines what makes America special. So, even as Herman Cain, for instance, is reputed to know much less, he still possesses that “one thing” Dr Paul doesn’t, so can make a quick study of every event, past and present, historical, philosophical, or economic, and quickly analyze it in its proper context. He has a set of keys Ron Paul doesn’t.

That One Thing, the Moral Compass of the Home

The husband and wife team from the individual house, mentioned above, comprise a moral compass for going to the aid and defense of neighbors which precedes American foreign policy by a century at least.

I can’t say who started it, possibly Abraham Lincoln, whose “adventure” of ending slavery spawned a half-century of the “Doctrine of Liberty” ruling American political life.

This moral-liberty component of America coming to the aid of people under the boot of tyranny extends to this day.

Until recently our policy has been simple and understood by all: We do what we can, where we can, from Radio Free Europe to quiet support for the enslaved peoples of eastern Europe for fifty years, to Granada, to Iraq. We have always supported assaults on tyranny by any means possible. And if we can tie an American interest to freeing a bunch a people militarily, by God, we’ll try it.

From 1860 forward it has been American policy to extend a hand, and sometimes our left arm up to the shoulder, on behalf of the downtrodden and tyrannized.

And that policy began in the American home, where real charity begins, and reciprocity taught. Not the Congress.

American “interests” have never been the same as European interests, or Asian interests. We are not in the business of acquiring new territory. We are not hegemonists (regional spheres of influence), as the old European imperial powers were, and Russia, China, and “new caliphate” is hoping to be now.

Even our Monroe Doctrine was to restrain European hegemonism in the western hemisphere, not foster our own.

We conquered two barbarous regimes in 1945, then by 1952, promptly gave then back. Unheard of in human history. Unmatched for success in human history as well.

I’m guessing the only morality Ron Paul can see in American military action is that formal declaration of war…thus justifying three  less-than-noble wars, while damning some finer ones.  While that would be nice, just to keep the hair-splitters at bay, the fact is that all American “adventures” have been authorized by Congress, and their quasi-declarations have  consistently satisfied the constitutional requirement in the Courts’ eyes, as late as 2003 with the invasion of Iraq.

But not Dr Paul’s.

He rails about our “unconstitutional” adventures as a narrow-minded Christian and Muslim might debate, each thumping their respective Holy Book, saying “It is written, it is written”, then walking away, shaking their heads about what an idiot the other fellow is.

There is no common sense or moral compass in his arguments.

In the end, Congressman Ron Paul is not a breath of fresh air and honesty in this campaign, but an uber-orthodox prig, a 19th Century European fussbudget, closer to Metternich, or more recently, Madelaine Albright, running hither and thither getting treaties signed, making sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, then walking away, assuming they are all self-enforcing once the legal language has been satisfied.  He hasn’t wrapped himself in the Constitution but in a cynical view of being American.

Ron Paul’s pedantic legalisms refuse to allow him to consider any moral component in American foreign policy. Inasmuch as the broader war we now find ourselves engaged is a war between two polar ideals of morality, good versus evil, Dr Paul is astoundingly disengaged from this central issue of our time, while pounding on the letter of the Constitution as if it were a 1939 Ford truck Owner’s Manual.

He could never have recognized the “new template” being served up in the Philippines. He could not draw any conclusion from these liberating events; freeing slaves, freeing Pacific islanders, freeing Europeans, or freeing tyrannized Arabs.

Ron Paul is the dinosaur here. Not the American Doctrine of Liberty.


Citizen With Bark On

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Ron Paul reminds me of a person who is afraid to enjoy life, that if he does it will be a fearful pleasure because somewhere along the way it may be sinful.

It is time for him to voluntarily step down before more damage is done.


“Grand Kleagles” with money….
Any chance that unbeknownst to him the dems are behind this in an effort to split the R vote?


A very interesting read VB! I’m often flummoxed at the various interpretations of American Exceptionalism as it is sometimes sold or derided. One thing that’s always struck me as a positive germane thought is what you raise in the Singapore, Germany, and Japan issues pre and post WWII. That is still trying to take root in Iraq also(if the Persians keep their nose out of it, which is not likely). The people of these countries gain a direct benefit of a taste of our version of Liberty. Well, as we used to know it before Wilson, et al and the… Read more »

Lady Penguin

Once again, your analytical essay explains so much the majority of Americans don’t know let alone, Ron Paul and his followers. It is a cult, but funded by whom?

I did like this:
That One Thing, the Moral Compass of the Home