Unless you’ve managed to avoid the entire internet for the last four years, you’re probably familiar with Ron Paul and his horde of rabid followers. You might also be familiar with the fact that plenty of said rabid followers are a bit, um, crazy. Some are 9/11 Truthers, some are white supremacists, some are paranoid survivalists, they refer to almost any type of government action as an act of FORCE or VIOLENCE (usually in capital letters) and all of them hold Paul up as some type of infallible political messiah.
Ron Paul hasn’t dealt with any backlash from this for a number of reasons. One is because no serious candidate really cares about him. Paul’s views make him unelectable in this political climate and his supporters are – correctly – perceived as being too loyal to vote for another candidate. But it’s mostly because most people acknowledge that Ron Paul attracts these people simply because a lot of his small government policies inherently appeal to these fringe anti-government groups. After all, it’s not like Paul is actually a racist or a conspiracy nut, or that he attempts to appeal to potential supporters on the basis of these issues. Right?
Actually, it’s getting harder and harder to believe that’s entirely the case. Recently, Paul endorsed Texas Republican Wes Riddle for Congress. Riddle recently made headlines when he suggested President Obama be impeached for selling seven islands to Russia (despite the fact that this didn’t actually happen), that Western – which appears to be used here as a more politically correct term for “white” – civilization is in danger of being corrupted by non-Western – “non-white” – cultures, and that slavery was a beneficial experience for African Americans. Either he’s a bigot and an idiot or he’s batshit crazy.
Yet, that didn’t stop Ron Paul from endorsing him. Yes, Riddle also opposes the VIOLENT, FORCEFUL acts of government, like the tyranny of Social Security and providing food to those who can barely afford it. But really, it’s not as if he’s the only Republican out there who preaches the virtues of small government. Paul could have endorsed another candidate instead or simply abstained. But he chose to endorse this nutcase.
And it doesn’t stop with Riddle; Paul has also endorsed Ted Cruz, who opposes the Voting Rights Act (you know, that fascist legislation that the government has used to prevent the government from preventing people from voting). Cruz also believes that George Soros and the UN are trying to eradicate golf via the appropriately sinister sounding legislation “Agenda 21.”
Paul has also endorsed John Koster, a virulent homophobe who wants to withdraw from the United Nations and opposes the (non-existent) plan to create a NAFTA superhighway because… the Illuminati are going to use it to turn Americans into sheeple. Or something along those lines, I’m sure.
In case you haven’t caught on yet, Ron Paul is proactive when it comes to supporting candidates with conspiratorial, bigoted views. He’s also not afraid to get his own hands dirty. We’ve all heard about his racist, paranoid newsletters – the ones that he took credit for until it was no longer convenient to do so. The newsletters played upon the racial fears of white Americans and the paranoia of conspiracy theorists, exploiting unfounded and delusional mistrust of government in an effort to galvanize support for a candidate who perceived these threats to Americans and their freedoms and was willing to stand against them.
They were not the ramblings of a delusional paranoid, however. The newsletter’s racism and conspiracy mongering were explicitly designed to attract voters, “appealing to the worst instincts of working/middle class conservative whites by creating the only anti-left fusion possible with the demise of socialism: one built on cultural issues." [The strategy] apparently made some folks (such as Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists. The newsletters don’t prove Ron Paul is a racist or a conspiracy theorist, just that an element of his political strategy is appealing to these groups.
This strategy, although clearly unsuccessful, has remained part of Paul’s repertoire to a lesser degree. Paul still seeks to establish a connection to fringe groups. He associates with the John Birch Society and appears on the Alex Jones Show. Jones, for the unaware, is perhaps the most prominent conspiracy theorist in the media (on a side note: I absolutely recommend listening to his show. Apparently literally everything in life has a sinister ulterior motive designed to enslave humanity. Also, our politicians serve clockwork elves by communicating with them on DMT. Seriously, it’s the best). Paul then augments these connections by endorsing candidates who hold similar views. It’s not as overt as sending out newsletters claiming new currency or black people are going to destroy freedom, but it’s just as effective at attracting the same crowd.
Paul’s followers seem to think he is the ideal politician, in large part because much of what he embodies is perceived to be antithetical to our idea of what a politician is: corrupt, greedy and unprincipled. And Paul is very good at convincing people that he is none of those things.
But it’s a lie. Ron Paul might hold different views than many other politicians, but that doesn’t make him any less of one. And that’s what this is ultimately about. Ron Paul probably isn’t a racist or a conspiracy theorist, at least not to the degree some may try to paint him as. But he is a politician. And while he might be exalted for not compromising his policies, he’s clearly more than willing to compromise his moral principles in order to increase or maintain his political power.
If his supporters would cease braying their absurd, hyperbolic rhetoric – VIOLENCE! FORCE! TYRANNY! – long enough to apply the same degree of skepticism to their idol that they typically reserve for grainy videos of planes crashing into buildings, perhaps they might notice this. Because despite his rhetoric, Ron Paul is just another politician.