Ron Paul and Republican Politics
As everyone knows, the term “republican” in “Republican Party” is a misnomer. The Republican Party is only nominally republican. The actual support it gives to republican ideals is illusory. In matters pertaining to foreign policy, economics, and personal liberty, it scarcely differs from the Democratic Party.
Ironically enough, it is the Republican Party’s identification with the warfare-welfare state, so often in the past a source of embarrassment and despair to its best servants, that provides its only remaining strength. This connection is unlikely to be broken in the near future, even if Ron Paul should ascend to the White House. A moribund Congress and an even more dependent civil population cling together, each one knowing it will collapse if it loses control of the other. One thinks of a group of drunkards holding on to each other, swaying back and forth, barely managing to remain upright. Alone, each would invariably fall into the gutter.
It is natural enough, I suppose, for Republicans to concentrate on their social, and ignore their constitutional, responsibilities. They are merely reflecting the spirit of the age, the illusory notion that a better world can be constructed out of our man-made Gardens of Eden. After all, in a materialistic and progressive society, one can hardly expect the upholders of Big Government to take their marching orders from a document as ancient as the Constitution.
I increasingly see in the current race for the White House a futile battle over fundamentals. I say “futile” only because a civilization with such vast resources of wealth and knowledge is hardly likely to wake up one day and admit that the utopia it aspires to is a hopelessly impossible dream. The “pursuit of happiness” is, for us Americans, but a grand exercise in narcissism – a wonderful dream indeed, but one hardly attainable apart from the cross. I have never met anyone who attained happiness from their bank accounts or physical beauty or worldly accomplishments – or even their political successes.
Let me try to tell you, as simply as I can, what the Ron Paul Revolution means to me. If, by some miracle, Mr. Paul were to become our next president, it would not affect my spiritual equilibrium at all. Please do not misunderstand me. I entirely agree that the Paul campaign is a very good thing for America. If a nation is to be governed, somebody has to accept that responsibility, and I would much rather that person be a true republican than a republican-in-name-only.
I would go further and say this – that I think the grassroots movement inspired by Ron Paul has the potential for significantly reshaping the future of American politics for the good, not just for Americans but for the people of the entire world. I know as well as others that no man is more worthy of the title “Mr. Constitution” than Ron Paul – that “Dr. No” is really, in a paradoxical sense, Dr. Yes, for he is, so to speak, above all a man willing to acknowledge, affirm, and adhere to our nation’s founding principles.
Yet having said this, and firmly believing it, I think Mr. Paul would be the first to tell us that the Revolution is not about him, nor do I gather from his writings that his sense of personal worth or happiness is tied up very much in his politics. As people have often said, the fact that so few of his views will ever catch on doesn’t deter him one bit.
Thus, win or lose, the Ron Paul Revolution is already a success. Years from now I think we will look back on this time in our history with gratitude at having been allowed to catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty, her torch shining like a beacon, lighting up the nation and making it glow with a great reflected glory. Already the younger and marginal members of the Republican Party are clamoring for change, while the older and more satisfied members prefer to maintain the existing course. Those who are at home in the Party are inevitably tempted to look upon reform as a species of rebellion. Certainly, true reform will be costly to the Party. At every level, people will tend to shy away from the demands of the Revolution, to muzzle its prophetic impact, to take refuge in the established order. Mr. Paul himself will be accused of too quick and easy answers.
I doubt that any of this matters very much to Ron Paul. This is because I am convinced that he truly grasps the triviality of our utopian achievements and understands how foolish man is when he sees in himself the likeness of God.
So let the revolution in Republican politics go on. It is a good work. Its leaders and followers alike are entitled to say, as did John Stuart Mill, “My love for an institution is in proportion to my desire to reform it.” But slavish imitation of the past will not suffice for genuine renewal.
November 10, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.