Posts Tagged ‘election’
(Accessed May 12, 2067)
Ronald Earnest Paul (Aug. 20, 1935 — Nov. 10, 2014), better known as simply Ron Paul, was a Republican congressman from Texas best remembered for his dramatic showing in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries and the small but fervent following that came from it.
Small but fervent is the best way to describe the Republican medical doctor. After more than a decade-and-a-half in Congress, and an earlier third-party bid for the presidency, Paul had developed a reputation for honesty and integrity, and his small district in rural Texas became fervently devoted to him. They accepted the quirk that he would never vote in favor of a resolution unless “expressly authorized by the Constitution” — earning him the nickname “Dr. No”  — because he had done so well to bring federal earmarks back home with him at each recess of Congress.
Despite fundraising success that eclipsed that of most of the vetted top-tier Republican candidates combined — he set the single-day record for pre-primary fundraising for his party, a record not to be broken until the 2016 Murkowski campaign — Paul never mananged a victory in any Republican primary. Due to the preeminence of winner-take-all primaries in the Republican party of the era, won a total of 16 delegates; a simple majority of 1,191 was required to win the nomination.
If he had ran for president in another time, either before the Internet or after the Republican Party found another Reagan-esque charisma with small-government credentials to pin its legacy upon, it’s unlikely that his story would have earned even this footnote in American history. As it stands, however, he made an indelible mark upon the progress of the Republican Party like few of his contemporaries.
That small support Paul materialized at the polls was fervent, and possible in large part due to a rabid fanbase on the then-new Internet, a bastion for free networking and wildly erratic sharing of information in its early years. Ron Paul was the unlikeliest candidate for this treatment — a child of the the Great Depression and the Second World War, he knew little about the limited but popular computing available at the time, least of all the Internet.
Though his supporters would soon became ardent fans of Austrian Economics, Paul’s favored economic theory and a defining characteristic of his campaign, most of his support was initially due to his strong criticism of the ongoing Second Iraq War; to his first and most devoted fans, all other concerns had been secondary. As the only Republican to both seek the nomination in 2008 and speak out against the war, this favorite son of a rural congressional district, with the help of an Internet he knew nothing about, attracted the attention of a his following of disaffected Republicans across the country who felt the party of Lincoln had been “hijacked by big-government neoconservatives.”  This lead one commentator to observe, perhaps unfairly, that his supporters “came for the pacifism but stayed for the economics.”  However, this never translated into more than a second-place win in primaries, and Paul would soon realize the uneconomical nature of continuing long past opponent John McCain had already achieved a majority of delegates.
Upon quitting his presidential bid in July of 2008, Paul used the remainder of his fundraising success from the Internet to form an Internet-based grassroots movement, codified by Paul’s best-selling “manifesto.” Like the Bull Moose Party and the Ross Perot-led Reform Party before him, Paul’s Campaign for Liberty was a hastily-organized, high-burnout affair largely built on personal devotion to the figurehead at the very top, with very little keeping the diverse membership attached to one another. There was no other figure as admired as Paul in the entire movement, and though he was a picture of robust enthusiasm during his presidential campaign, he was even then also a picture of advanced age. Even as he endorsed not one but four ill-fated presidential nominations from largely inconsequential third parties — the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party and Ralph Nader — on Sept. 9, 2008, Ron Paul was 73 years old.
Unlike the Bull Moose Party and the Perot-led Reform Party before him, however, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty would have a lasting effect on the policies of a major political party in its era. Because Paul would not name a successor before his death, what was left of his movement would be absorbed into what was left of the then-discredited Republican Party. After a disastrous detour under big-government spending policies under the at-the-time enormously unpopular George W. Bush, the Republican Party accepted all the support it could from Paul supporters, in the process modifying its economic and foreign policies to fit the right of the political spectrum.
Whether continued involvement in the Middle East quagmire or the contentious character of the gaffe-laden Biden administration played a larger role in the 2014 Republican takeback of both houses of Congress is debatable; whether the albeit short-lived Campaign for Liberty played the largest is not.
This historian speculates that Paul, at the time of his death, already saw his short-lived burst of political fame as a grand victory for Goldwater conservatism — Paul, more than any of his supporters, knew his victories would not be from achieving high office. While still waging his 2008 Republican presidential primary bid, he said, prophetically:
“[If] you’re in a campaign for only gaining power, that is one thing; if you’re in a campaign to influence ideas and the future of the country, it’s never over.”
Paul didn’t live to see the Republican sweep and its resurgence as a political power in the United States, only the favorable polling and prediction of it. Poetically, he died not 12 hours before polls opened on election day.
His legacy lives on as it did then: small, but fervent.
Given my recent addiction to presidential campaigns of all flavors and recent eras, I tend to see the world around me in terms of national politics. My addiction got crazy enough that I can comfortably postulate that, given a subject, I could tie anything to Election ’08 within three degrees of separation.
Hypocrisy at the highest level of a religious movement? From John McCain to Pastor Hagee to American Evangelicals to homophobe Tom Haggard buying meth off of a gay prostitute.
The only reason I bring up the presidential campaign is that I’m playing Final Fantasy, a Japanese video game series rather successfully imported to the States. Specifically, I was playing with the chocobos of Final Fantasy VII. These chocobos are best described as creatures your characters can ride as if these creatures were magical horses, rather than the magical, monocolored ostriches they look like.
In Final Fantasy VII, you can breed chocobos, eventually coming up with up to five different varieties, with each variety distinguished by a given color.
Today’s anecdote begins with the understanding that I like to name my bred chocobos in such a way that I can easily identify them just by looking at their names. Grace is the green chocobo; Wren is the wonderful chocobo; Blake is the blue chocobo.
Too bad I didn’t think ahead. I forgot about what I’d call the black chocobo who would be the offspring of Blake and Grace. Besides Blake, I couldn’t think of any other boy names that begins with the letter B and includes, somewhere, the letter K. Hurriedly clicking my way to a baby name Web site, I almost immediately found the answer.
I hesitated. I almost didn’t want to give my new chocobo this name, because seen by the wrong person, it could be taken the wrong way. Within two minutes, I gave in to my sick sense of humor, anyway. Within nine minutes, I decided to share my depravity with the world.
Meet Barack, my newly hatched black chocobo. When he grows up, he’s going to be president.
More importantly, there’s no way I could forget his name.
Talking Points Memo has the story:
John McCain is stepping up the rhetoric in his effort to pitch himself as the candidate of substance against Barack Obama’s empty style, making an interesting historical reference in an interview with USA Today.
“I believe that people are interested very much in substance,” McCain said, contrasting himself against Barack Obama’s charismatic style. “If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president.”
It’s unclear just how relevant this comparison will be to the average American. No voters alive today can remember Bryan’s campaigns for president, which occurred in 1896, 1900 and 1908.
Except, of course, John McCain. Get it? Cause he’s old?
Personally, I think it’s an intelligent and appropriate jab at the junior senator from Illinois. Even if it doesn’t resonate with the average voter — TPM uses relevant, the wrong word entirely — it’s a clear way to get across the style-over-substance angle which will be a centerpiece of his campaign against Obama.
Just because McCain uses his youth as a backdrop — get it? Cause he’s old? — that doesn’t mean that he can’t resonate with many voters with his message of substance. Comparing Obama to Carter, Mondale, Dukakis and even McGovern should be effective way to capture the larger part of our electorate’s middle-aged voters. Comparing Obama to William Jennings Bryan, on the other hand, will inspire the respect of history buffs everywhere, though not necessarily their vote.
I’ll probably vote for Obama in this election, and I’m a supporter not excited by the color of Obama’s skin. What excites me is a more common historical rarity.
Unlike every election cycle since about Adlai Stevenson’s second run for president in 1956, the electorate can safely vote for a candidate, rather than against one. Two genuine, decent men seek the White House, and anyone who disparages the character of either of them just wants something to complain about.
My vote for Obama will be a vote for Obama, rather than a vote against McCain. hopefully, this will be one election where one candidate’s charisma won’t smokescreen attacks on the character of the other guy. If nothing else, this election will be a historical oddity.
Not even William Jennings Bryan thought like that.