What, exactly, is Ron Paul trying to achieve? And why is his campaign asking for little more than money in order to achieve it?
If one listens to an appreciable amount of Ron Paul’s political message, one gets the idea that Paul wants a fairly radical level of political reform. Indeed, he seems to be interested in overturning the economic corruption of the Federal Reserve Bank, and the profusion of associated corruptions. Similarly, he wants to end the federal income tax and the associated tax code, which is the breeding ground for the lion’s share of government corruption. Further, he wants to put an end to the imperial domain of the US across the world, which is made possible by an unending series of military excursions perpetrated in the name of “national defense”, but for the actual cause of the financial gain for a privileged few.
If Ron Paul were to succeed in these goals, it would transform the United States to a level that is hard to imagine. Indeed, the transformation (for the good) would be the most far-reaching change (whether good or bad) since the mega-transformation that accompanied the Civil War (which was mostly bad).
So just how does Dr. Paul plan to accomplish these herculean tasks? Does he have a master plan to mobilize millions of alert Americans to influence Congress to change its mind? Does he have a plan to initiate a massive re-education campaign whereby informed Americans help their uninformed neighbors to “get it”?
If we want to know Dr. Paul’s strategy for attaining his goals, I submit that we might find our best clues by studying the recent email campaigns sent out by Paul and his campaign manager, John Tate. See if you notice an obvious theme in the following excerpts from these recent emails. These are the ten most recent emails I’ve received from the campaign:
31 December 2011. From John Tate.
If you haven’t yet done so, please make your most generous contribution to help our campaign reach the additional $2 million we need before the end of the fourth quarter fundraising period at midnight.
30 December 2011. From Ron Paul.
So can I count on you to make a generous contribution to help me finish strong in both Iowa and New Hampshire and carry my momentum over to the other states?
28 December 2011. From Nick Spanos.
That’s why we’re asking Ron Paul supporters to help Ron Paul in Iowa and New Hampshire by signing up for the campaign’s Phone From Home Program….For months now, the campaign has been working hard to produce proprietary, state-of-the-art technology that allows grassroots folks like you to make the hundreds of thousands of calls it will take for Ron Paul to WIN the Republican nomination for President!…Besides contributing financially, there’s literally NOTHING you can do to help Ron Paul more.
27 December 2011. From John Tate.
Can I count on you to make your most generous donation to help Ron Paul FIGHT back against the establishment smears?
18 December 2011. From John Tate.
That’s why I’m asking you to make a contribution to Ron Paul’s Tea Party Money Bomb TODAY.
18 December 2011. From Ron Paul.
My appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was great – and my hope is it represents just one more vital bit of momentum in our winning campaign. But as important as that was, if you haven’t yet contributed to my Tea Party Money Bomb, I hope I can count on you to do so IMMEDIATELY.
17 December 2011. From Rand Paul.
Will you ask ten of your friends and family to donate just $10 each?
17 December 2011. From John Tate.
If you’ve already given as much as you can right now, please agree to call at least five of your friends and family and urge them to contribute, as well.
But if you haven’t given, please don’t delay a second longer.
16 December 2011. From John Tate.
If you’ve already contributed, thank you. I don’t want you to feel obligated to do so again. But please agree to call at least five of your friends and family and urge them to give as generously as they can.
Interestingly, they all ask directly for money, except for the email asking for volunteers for the “Phone from Home” initiative. And in this email, Spanos makes it perfectly clear: “Besides contributing financially, there’s literally NOTHING you can do to help Ron Paul more.”
Really? Is there NOTHING more important than 1) Giving money, and 2) joining the telephone program? Interestingly, the bulk of the emails I examined don’t agree with this idea from Spanos at all.
I examined these ten emails and here are the various “calls to action” they included:
Donate: Mentioned in 90% of the emails.
Ask friends and family to donate: Mentioned in 50% of the emails.
Watch a TV ads: Mentioned in 10% of the emails.
It would appear, therefore, if we look only to the frequency of the calls for action, that the campaign disagrees with Spanos and opines instead that asking one’s friends and family to donate is more important than participating in the telephone program.
Now, moving a little deeper in our analysis, we see that what are never mentioned in these emails are the following:
- Ask your friends and family to read a Ron Paul book.
- Give Ron Paul books as gifts.
- Read and discuss the Constitution with your friends and family.
- Study Ron Paul’s campaign positions closely so that you can be ready to make the argument to friends and family.
- Especially study Ron Paul’s stance on foreign policy and war so that you can explain them excellently to others—since this is, by far, the most contentious issue in the present debate.
- Buy and display Ron Paul bumper stickers, yard signs, buttons, tee shirts, etc.
- Walk your neighborhood, introducing people to Ron Paul’s message.
- Call political talk shows and take the hosts to task on their anti-Paul views.
- Write to networks and newspapers, demanding fair treatment of Dr. Paul.
- Hound your local, state, and federal governments until they reform themselves to no longer exceed their powers of office.
- Make plans to run for office yourself, adhering to the same paradigms as Dr. Paul.
- Teach your children about the issues in this campaign and encourage them to ponder making a difference someday themselves.
These things are absent, and yet they are exactly what would be needed if a viable and long-lasting political movement were desired. On the contrary, however, what the Paul campaign seems to be signalling is “Give us your money and we’ll take care of everything that needs to be done.”
This mentality is dishearteningly short-sighted. Obviously, the focus is to get Dr. Paul into the White House, but whatever will he do then? Does he believe that at that point, the public’s participation will no longer be necessary in the political process? Or does he believe, as I do, that the fight to reform this nation to the Rule of Law will take a couple of decades, and that it must, therefore, succeed in changing the paradigms of tens of millions of Americans?
It would seem that the sole focus is on getting a man in the White House. But I submit that this alone as a strategy is a recipe for ultimate failure. Clearly, a widespread philosophical revolt against our habitual American paradigms will be necessary to sustain any appreciable level of reform. So where’s the plan for the widespread paradigm changes?
There is none.
I’m reminded of this scene from The Princess Bride, wherein Miracle Max and his wife say farewell to the three heroes who are on their way to “storm the castle” without a plan.
I made the same observation concerning the 2008 campaign of Dr. Paul, and nothing seems to have changed since then. Dr. Paul has no apparent plan for starting and maintaining a viable movement aimed at anything other than getting him elected. And it’s even worse than that; if he and his campaign manager think that getting people’s donations is 100% more valuable than getting people’s active involvement in the message, they are miserably mistaken. They say they want a “grassroots movement”, but their actions say that they want a top-heavy political organization that relies on its supporters merely for money.
What a waste of the massive potential of the Paul supporters! And what a tragic case of short-sightedness. In a successful grass fire, each blade catches fire because of the burning blade or blades next to it, and not because some farmer with a torch individually lights each blade. In the Ron Paul campaign, however, little is being done to help supporters be well-enough informed and motivated to effectively “light” those around them. Instead, we see that the campaign simply wants more money with which to air more advertisements.
Is this what we should expect from a Ron Paul Presidency? A top-down approach, rather than a government “of the people”? One would not think so while reading the rhetoric, and yet our direct observation of the campaign would argue that this may indeed be Paul’s go-to management style. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, however, and assume that he simply hasn’t given the building of this “movement” the thought it truly deserves, and is short-sightedly affixed on the presidency as the priority.
If this is the case, then what we have here is a simple case of a lack of leadership. It need not be viewed as any more complicated than that. For all the great things Dr. Paul may be, what he is not is a strong leader of people. He has so much of the right message, yet it resides in a personality that is simply not of the ideal type to transform a nation’s paradigms. He simply doesn’t understand that people need so much more help to “get it” than he is currently offering. Nor does he seem to understand that sometimes, the very greatest act of kindness is to look someone dead in the eye and insist that he is wrong and that he must change his mind.
Perhaps it would be possible to get him elected in spite of this deficiency, but his campaign gives no indication that they understand his shortcomings—both in planning and in personality. Indeed, they are doing nothing to compensate—nothing to bolster his weaknesses. If Dr. Paul won’t do it, and his campaign won’t do it, then who will step up to the plate to “get er done”? Indeed, who else could be in a position to “get er done”?
In the unlikely event that Dr. Paul should win the presidency, there will certainly be a period of celebration and self-congratulations for a great many among his campaign staff and supporters. It will still remain, however, that the celebration does nothing to further the cause of wholesale reform or to build the movement necessary to its ultimate success. No, that will take actual work, and not mere celebration, and that work will bear a striking resemblance to my list (above) of items currently being neglected by the campaign.
It is preposterous to think that a mere president can reform an ignorant and unwilling nation—whether in 4 years or 8. So what will be done to reform the nation’s ignorance and unwillingness?
There is no plan.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul supporters seem generally to be suffering from the same error in thinking: that the success of the presidential campaign is the most important issue at present. And if Dr. Paul should lose, they, like he, will discover (or not) that nothing has been done to build the sort of movement that is necessary to get anything actually accomplished.
It would make so much more sense to have a viable reform movement putting forth its best champion as a candidate than to have a candidate trying to muster enough support merely to get him elected in hopes that he can, thereafter, build the movement necessary for true reform.
The most important thing at present (and as always), is to change people’s minds from error to truth, from irrationality to logic, from irresponsibility to responsibility, from apathy to caring. So many, who consider themselves to have recently “awakened”, make the error of presuming that “lots of people are waking up”. This is not because it is true, but because they are merely paying attention now where they weren’t before. That is, now that they are paying attention, they assume that the handful of other “awake” people they know constitutes some growing “movement”. The fact of the matter is that there are not lots of people waking up, but only a few. And of those who are waking up, not many achieve what is really needed: a complete overhaul of their political paradigms. No, they may choose to support Ron Paul only for the scantest of reasons without ever discovering the wisdom and importance of the bulk of his policies—and more importantly, without ever achieving any level of proficiency at helping others wake up, too.
This means that the guy who likes Dr. Paul simply because he is against unconstitutional federal drug laws will be completely useless to the society around him in spreading the actual core of Dr. Paul’s message, unless he is helped to become a well-rounded believer, capable of convincing others. If anything, he will be a hindrance to the cause, and not a help.
The goal here ought not be merely to get votes, but to transform supporters into avid and effective makers of the various arguments associated with the Paul political philosophy.
Sadly, this is not what is happening to any appreciable degree.
Many short-sighted people will, no doubt, find my message to be an irritation and a needless distraction during this campaign. It is very likely, however—and how ironic is this?—that they’ll have lots more time to think about it once the campaign has been lost for the very reasons I am citing here. But they won’t think about it then, either. Rather, they’ll take a break for a couple of years, and then gear up for yet another campaign (if they can find a candidate) in the hope that all that is needed is to “get a good man in the White House”.
Few are those with the foresight to understand why it is both necessary and desirable to build a solid foundation for success. Indeed, few are those who understand why it is probably necessary to the Paul campaign to build a viable philosophical movement first: because he cannot get elected without it.