27 December 2011

Why Ron Paul Can’t Win

He doesn’t have enough hope and change:

Practiced as he is in the art of argumentation, Gavin, in the end, fails to fully persuade. He is mostly right that politicians should “stop trying to get us to stand up and cheer” and “start persuading us to sit down and think.” But he has too low an opinion of high rhetoric. As Richard Goodwin, who drafted speeches for John and Robert Kennedy and for Lyndon Johnson, has written, the basic purpose of political rhetoric is to “move men to action or alliance.” To accomplish this, a speaker has to be able to modulate, to hit a range of notes on the scale — including, at times, the highest. True leaders exhort as well as explain.
Yes, “thrill-talk,” as Gavin insists, often gives wings to “impossible dream[s]” and “inevitable disappointment.” But the words that excite us are also the words that can change us — words that stretch our national sense of self, that make us believe we really can end Jim Crow and win a war and put a man on the moon. Not every dream is an impossible one.

Ron Paul is neither witty nor inspiring when he speaks.  He is incapable of speaking in sound bites, incapable of being pithy.  And he does not inspire people with his rhetoric.  Those who support him are not inspired by what he says but by what he represents.  They believed in liberty and were committed to supporting it before they even heard of Ron Paul.  They drank the Kool-Aid before he even served it, so to speak.

But Ron Paul’s central failing is highlighted above.  He wishes to get people to sit and think, not stand and feel.  In modern American politics, people don’t want to think, they want to feel, which is how Obama managed to get elected.  Thus, Ron Paul’s political method is better suited for a different era, one in which presidents didn’t travel the country endlessly to stump, speak, speechify, appear on TV and radio, and engage in inane debates.  Ron Paul is 19th century politician trying to win a 21st century election; don’t be surprised if he loses.


  1. All correct.

    Increasingly I'm annoyed by Ron Paul. Though I favor substance over style, Paul seems to think, as you say, that substance alone can get the job done. Even for those of us who do favor substance, a little style wouldn't hurt the message.

    I hold no notion that Paul will be or can be elected. In fact, I know he won't. But I'm getting behind the message because the message he carries needs to be trumpeted at some point and by someone. Paul is merely a prototype of the type of candidate we'll see more of going forward. As time progresses and as we take on more debt and fail using various big government policies, Paul's ideas will be referenced back to and help shape the policy suggestions of more mainstream candidates and politicians. That's what these populist, fringe candidates do. If you look at it all from the top down, you realize that all of these people are playing their part and that a Ron Paul exists as a sort of vanguard that observes a series of problems off on the horizon.

  2. The idea that "if we all just sit down and think all of Ron Paul's crazy-ass ideas will make sense" is, at best, ultra-pompous. Most of us HAVE thought about Paul's ideas, and find many of them to be at best quaintly naive, at worst insane and dangerous. The problem with Paul is that he, like most Republicans, lacks any concept of "nuance" or "situation". This is a man who learned that "hammer works to drive in nails", got super-excited, and is now running around with a hammer, trying to solve every single problem with it. Car needs an oil change? Let's try a hammer. Nut won't crack? Let's try a hammer. You're having marital problems? Let's try a hammer. It burns when you urinate? Let's try a hammer. Need to hang a picture up in the house? Let's try a hammer. The baby won't stop crying? Let's try a hammer. In some cases, obviously, the hammer works great. In others it's simply useless. In yet others it's downright dangerous. But Paul (and his cadre of hard-core fanatics) don't realize it and feel that anyone who so much as suggests this is stupid or hates liberty. The problem for the Paul-iacs is that not everyone has totally drank the cool-ade. Yes, getting the government to abandon some roles that it currently holds might be a good idea, and intelligent people can have an intelligent debate over the matter. Having an (admittedly cute and lovable) idiot running around yelling "let's break the U.S. into 50 little pieces!!" is not helping this process.

  3. @Chuck- Ron does seem to be picking up on the concept of style (hints of it seen here), but it doesn't seem to suit him. I doubt, however, that his ideas will be seriously referenced once the problems become to big to ignore, for his ideas have been the foundation of federal law for over 200 years, and yet have been rejected, in part or in whole, for the last 150. There's no reason to believe we will change course now.

  4. @rushnrocket13- You need to knock off the ad hominem attacks. Also, if you are going to assert that Ron Paul's ideas are crazy, you will need to offer proof of your assertions. Since you neglected to specify your definition for "crazy," I will assume that it is definition [adj.] 1.a. from Merriam-Webster's. As such, you will need to specify which of Ron Paul's ideas and policies you believe to have flaws, you will need to identify the flaws, and explain why you consider them as such. You will also need to provide sources for each and every one of your factual assertions. If you are referencing content not found online, the MLA referencing guidelines should provide a reasonable template for your citations.

    You will also need to explain the need for nuance in policy analysis, as well as how "nuance" differs from the pretense of knowledge. Additionally, the U.S. (which is an abbreviation of United States) is already broken down "into 50 little pieces." I advise you to review the concept of state sovereignty, and I also advise you to read the constitution.

    Finally, I recommend reading the rules of this blog before commenting again. Please note especially that commenting is a privilege, not a right. As such, I will not allow any additional comments you might wish to make to remain posted unless a) you explain why Ron Paul's ideas are crazy (per the terms specified above) and b) you can show a difference between nuance and the pretense of knowledge (again, per the terms specified above). I have no patience for your vague, borderline incoherent comments, and will not tolerate it further.

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  6. Simon, you are harsh. I thought Pave Bure's (Or the S-13 missile fan's) scenario to be entertaining. I actually lol'd at the hammer analogy, and not mockingly! I wish you would have dealt with the issue he brought up in that way.
    Assume he's on target with the accusation that Paul brings a hammer to solve any problem. I happen to think that is the case. So, what is Paul's "hammer" for all occasions? Basically, his solution is to get the federal government out of the solution. Yes, this "non-solution" can be dangerous, but not in the sense of a baby getting bashed with a hammer. More in the sense of "I'm sorry you bashed yourself on your finger with that hammer, looks like you now have an incentive to learn how to use a hammer. Good luck with that."
    I'm not saying anything new here, just giving you my $.02 on responding to morons.

  7. @The Bertholds- There are plenty of blogs that that tolerate fools and trolls in the comments section. This is not one of them. Also, I do not believe in answering a fool according to his folly.