EXPLAINING RON PAUL'S FOLLOWERS

January 2, 2012

Perhaps you have heard the projections for tomorrow's Iowa GOP Caucus. The latest goes like this, if the weather is fair, it will produce a Romney victory of narrow proportions with a "social conservative" second, followed by Ron Paul.

However, if the weather is bad and there is a lot of snow, it will produce a Ron Paul victory.

It seems like pundits for all across the spectrum, from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to FOX's Sean Hannity agree, that Ron Paul's followers are so strong, they would march into Hell for him to win. Nothing will stop them.

Ron Paul's followers are more reliable than the U.S. Postal Service was before Nixon banished them from the cabinet in 1971. Often falsely cited, the so-called Postal Service creed was never adopted but it was a famous saying of Herodotus' Histories, referring to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

The same motto could be used of Ron Paul's faithful following.

In the last twelve years, I have worked as a conservative activist. I have spoken on a dozen college campuses, dozens of town hall settings, and over a hundred churches about cultural changes and anti-constitutional movements that have been underway in our country.

Most of these talks were before conservative groups, "constitutionalists" and Republicans.

Recently, I have observed changes in attitude among many young Republicans and I believe the shifts in attitude I see help explain the rise of Ron Paul.

When I first started writing and talking on the circuits, leading heroes of Republican youth were Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley, Jr. Reagan will, forever be ingrained into the minds of these people who were teenagers at some point during Ronald Reagan's tenure (1981-1989). They are now the thirty or forty-somethings who have had some success in passing down Reagan's message and worldview.

Buckley's philosophy is forever engraved in his writings which will continue to be republished until Obama's posterity manages to banned them as Hitler did with his massive book burnings in the 30's.

Individual freedom, respect for constitutional limitations on government, and traditional values were Reagan's and Buckley's message. There was a sense of purpose. America as a “shining city on a hill,” quoted so often by Reagan, taken from the Puritan pilgrim John Winthrop, captured the picture.

Now, increasing numbers of campus and townhall hosts ask that I not talk about “values.” Leave out the stuff about marriage, family, and abortion, please, and just talk about the economy. Churches are more and more wanting me to stay away from "controversial social issues" that, perhaps, would be interpreted as an endorsement to vote "against Democrats."  I hear it all the time: "Our church is made up of many democrats and we do have a number of people whose children are in gay relationships."

The materialism and moral relativism that created our left wing culture is now infecting our youth on the right. Young Republicans may be pushing back on government, but too often now their motivation is like their left wing contemporaries. A sense of entitlement and an interest in claiming rights with little interest in corresponding personal responsibilities.

David Yepsen, who directs the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, recently described Ron Paul's success as a "resurgence of the libertarian and isolationist wings of the Republican Party," resulting from "hard times and unpopular wars."

But overlooked is the important role of youth.

Of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents that support Paul, 67 percent are under 34, compared to 37 percent of Romney’s and 20 percent of Gingrich’s support.

This youthful surge has helped Paul’s very successful fundraising, heavily driven by small contributions on the internet. Compared to Republicans who have raised the most funds, 48 percent of Paul’s is from small donors, compared to 10 percent of Romney’s and 4 percent of Rick Perry’s.

And youth have been critical in Paul’s on the ground organization. I watched this play out when Paul won the straw poll at the Values Voters Summit last October in Washington.

Busloads of youthful Paul supporters arrived only to hear his speech and to pay and register so that they could vote. They put him over the top.

They have little interest in a Reagan-like “shining city on a hill” message, or talk about a threatening “evil empire” abroad.

To the contrary, they are excited by the “leave me alone” candidate who thinks the rest of the world is not our business. Apparently they share Paul’s indifference to the looming threat of a nuclear Iran or the almost complete absence of the freedom they think is so important in most Islamic nations.

Chicago Sun Times columnist Steve Huntley reports one estimate of over 200,000 persecuted Coptic Christians leaving Egypt by year end. He reports a dramatic drop in the presence of Christians throughout the Middle East (the Christian population of Bethlehem is now a third of what it was 35 years ago).

The only exception is Israel, where the Christian population has more than quadrupled since 1948. But Ron Paul sees no distinction between Israel and its neighbors nor does he think Americans should care.

Self centered materialism that leads our youth to support such indifference to global realities is also driving collapse of the American family. Census Bureau statistics show that today 20 percent of America’s population between ages 18 and 29 is married. This compared to 59 percent fifty years ago.

In his farewell speech, Reagan issued a warning to the nation.

“…are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”

I doubt that Ron Paul’s vision of America is what Reagan had in mind. I also know, Ron Paul's libertarianism is not the definition of Buckley's conservatives.

One thing Paul's followers should keep in mind: Though the Neo-Reaganite would veto just about everything Congress sends to his desk, Congress will override just about everything he sends back.

In essence, nothing will change, except possibly less money allotted would be spent.


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