What follows is a repost of a response I wrote on DailyPaul.com this morning. Someone had posted a link to this article at Forbes.com: The Grand Shi Strategy of Ron Paul. After having read the article, here is my response:
If we are waxing theoretical about the (Ron Paul) campaign, then let us consider the entire landscape, please.
This “shi” approach, which is discussed only in the most superficial terms in the article, deserves further analysis. In short, the article lauds the brilliance of “spreading out” one’s influence for a latter victory when an immediate victory is not possible.
Fine. No problem here.
The failure of the Ron Paul campaign, however, lies in what those “spread out” points of influence are actually DOING. In short, the campaign all rests upon the unproven assumption that if only a sufficient number of people can be eventually persuaded to vote for Ron Paul, then the country may be reformed back to sound government. It is all pinned (wrongly, I believe) on the hope of VOTES, therefore, and nothing more.
I submit, however, that in a corrupt system where not even the ballot box can be counted on to be uncompromised, and where the major parties (as well as most of the minor ones) are also patently corrupt and hold unconstitutional sway over the Congress and White House, managing to get a good candidate into the White House is the SMALLEST possible victory, and not the veritable coup d’état that so many enthusiastically believe it to be.
What is missed here is the crucial importance of the public BEYOND the voting booth. Sure, it takes votes to win. Yes, but it will take an unprecedented amount of public exertion to unseat the present regime that rules by oligarchy. This need is wholly underestimated in the Ron Paul culture.
In short, what will be required is to transform a critical mass of cognitive misers into sound rational thinkers who not only CAN, but who WILL make the case to America—not by mere voting, but by taking their friends and neighbors by the lapels and effectively talking some sense into them.
Voting for Ron Paul does nothing more than to give votes to Ron Paul. It does nothing to unseat the REST of the government. Yes, yes, I hear you. Ron Paul wants to fix everything. It is grossly naive, however, to assume that one man in 4-8 years could do this without a massive public support that consists of MUCH MORE than mere voting. Indeed, do you expect Ron Paul supporters also to give him a brand new Congress filled with a sufficient number of like-minded players who will repeal what Paul wants repealed and pass what he wants passed?
In our present landscape, a President Paul would surely be a veto machine doing his best to curb a lawless Congress, but he could do precious little beyond that unless he were matched with a like-minded Congress. Remember, in Congress rests the sole legislative power. Contrary to public opinion and to our de facto practice since the ascendency of Lincoln to the throne, presidents are not supposed to be law makers.
So—and this is what I’ve been arguing all along—where are you going to get the massive overhaul of public support required not only to put Ron Paul in office, but to give him the Congress he needs to get anything done?
I just don’t see that happening. And more importantly, I don’t see any plan for it.
The most exciting thing about the aggregate body of Ron Paul supporters is that they’re willing to vote for Ron Paul. I dare say, however, that the AVERAGE supporter (and there are most certainly many exceptions—but the AVERAGE supporter) is simply ill equipped to convince his neighbors to adopt a new way of thinking.
Imagine, however, if every citizen in the United States had the actual Ron Paul as a neighbor. Imagine the effectiveness of 309 million conversations with Ron Paul at the back fence in America’s neighborhoods. How effective would THAT be?
I hope you see where I’m going here. (And yes, Dr. Paul is not the most effective speaker in history, but he certainly has the skills required to reason with people one on one and to win them over.) And indeed, some of his supporters do, too. But after a few decades of trying to get him into the White House by attempting merely to get people to VOTE for him, even that minimal task has not yet succeeded. And much less, the MASSIVE task of providing him with a lawful Congress, too.
After all my study and attempts at activism, (Twenty Minute Patriot, http://www.ruleoflawrestoration.com, http://www.readitamerica.com, http://www.characternotincluded.com), I am convinced that no casual, nor any one-tiered effort at national reform can ultimately succeed. No, what must be changed here is not simply America’s president, but America’s MIND. And that calls for a different kind of campaign.
So hey, I hope Ron Paul wins the White House. That would be great. What I predict would happen immediately after such a victory, however, is that millions of Ron Paul supporters would reveal by their actions that they do not truly grasp the depth of action required to help a President Paul succeed. I imagine a great period of celebration, followed by a collective sigh of relief, and then the killer strategy: sit back and see how President Paul does.
In other words, if all you’re asking for is votes, then all you’re going to get is votes. On the other hand, if you want a support base of true paradigm-changing recruiters, then you’re going to have to build a support base of true paradigm-changing recruiters.
To date, I see no plan for the latter in place. So if you are one of these “spread out” black marbles on the Weiqi (way-chee) board, you might want to start giving some careful thought to building something deeper and wider than a mere voter base. The need of the hour, whether Ron Paul can be successfully delivered to the White House or not, is a fundamental revival of the American Character. Few realize it, but this is what America must fix before she can really fix anything else.
We are now in such a huge mess that changing out one part for a new one is of little help. Putting a new engine (or a “President”) in a wrecked car may sound like a good start, but we must admit it will do us little good without a new transmission and wheels. In other words, this puzzle is much more challenging than just getting the right piece in the Oval Office area.
So back to the Weiqi game, let us not assume that just because those black marbles are spread out across the nation, that it will be enough for them to “let their little light shine”. A great many people cringe or roll their eyes when they see your Ron Paul signs. You’ll not win them over by putting yet another sign in your yard. Adamancy, fervency, and repetition are simply not logical arguments. No, you’re going to have to learn how to go change that neighbor’s mind. Not through browbeating, but through reason. You’re going to have to teach him how to be a rational thinker—one whose thoughts jibe with reality. (And it is my goal in this present post to get YOU to think this same way, too–to adopt an overall campaign strategy that matches with the full REALITY of the political landscape, and not just with the hope of getting Dr. Paul elected.)
There are 309,000,000 “fronts” in this war. A great many Ron Paul supporters, however, seem to believe—when you really get down to it— that there is but one front: winning the White House. This is a crucial oversight that must be corrected if anything is to become of this “Shi” strategy.
My difficulty is in convincing people that such an effort-heavy strategy is necessary while they are currently so intrigued by the easy idea that just getting Dr. Paul elected is nine tenths of the battle. Yes, I know, I know. You’re going to TELL me that “it’s only the beginning”, but if you would just stop and admit this one point, I’d feel like writing this was worthwhile:
You have no PLAN for the next steps.
Yes, you SAY that once Paul is in the White House, then you’ll sweep the nation, but you have no actual PLAN for this. What you are going to discover is that it’s going to take a few years of focused effort to build the necessary base of rational influencers throughout the society. This needs to be done NOW, before you get a man in the White House. To think that it can be done later is a tactical error of the worst kind. Your president’s term(s) will have expired before you have found him enough supporting Congress members to get anything done.
Shi is brilliant, but Shi is not enough. There are two ways to prove this. One is to stop right now and “do the math”. The other way is to stay the present course without doing the math and then see if it fails or succeeds. The hard part is to get people to pause for a few minutes from all the cheers and flag waving in order to give apt consideration to the prospects of the current strategy.
Perhaps it will be a little easier to get people to do some new thinking after November. But that’s what I thought in 2008 and what happened then is that folks took a two-year breather while they waited to hear whether Ron Paul would run again. So much of the time between then and now was wasted—time that COULD have been used to build the base of rationality that will be crucial for the sort of national reform that so many (including Dr. Paul) believe is needed.
In psychology, this is called “attribute substitution”—substituting an easier question for a harder one, even if the easier one is not a good answer—or in this case, substituting an easier SOLUTION for a harder one, even if the easier solution (getting Dr. Paul in office) will not be sufficient to achieve the goals in view.
To sum it up, folks, reforming the nation is harder than you think. So instead of ONLY focusing on how to get Dr. Paul into the White House, I suggest that there should ALSO be a focus on how to transform the American Citizen so that he is in shape to be an effective overseer of his own government. Ron Paul can’t fix it by himself—even if he is elected.