Posts Tagged ‘paul’
(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.
One of the more popular prompts for last week’s essay concerned poetry and prose and how they relate to Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It had been a popular topic in class, and my kids ran with it. Excerpts from the essays begin here.
“Poetry is easier to understand,” says one of my classmates. “Poetry makes you feel what the candidate is saying and how he feels,” says another. Poetry has more emotion and more feeling, but is it good enough to get our country where we need to go? …
I believe our government should be run by prose rather than by poetry. We need a leader, not a fellow citizen. We need someone who can show us right from wrong. Prose is always more important to have because you will always get done what needs to be done. Prose!
Another student describes how well these poetic or prosaic strategies work for their candidates.
Both Obama and Clinton have been doing a good job because both are close in delegates, so you know that they have been using their strategies well. Both strategies got the job done. …
If they continue on their speeches, there is no telling on who will win. Barack is making a strong appearance when he comes to speeches and might overtake Clinton, but Clinton is coming right back with what they want to hear.
I have a student who always talks or sleeps in the corner. Thing is, she surprised me with her own relatively well-done response. She even takes on the former Democratic governor of New York quoted in my prompt.
I disagree with Mario Cuomo. Candidates can have both during elections. They can also be both when one of them is the president. One must take courage and be tough. …
Both candidates [Clinton and Obama] are very equal. The thing that matters is that we trust in the candidates. They can speak however they want, but when it comes to solving problems, they must be serious.
Considering that she hadn’t seemed to much care for the subject or its teacher, and considering that she was sure she failed at the time, she was remarkably insightful.
Moral of the story? Keep expectations high, or your students won’t have something to rise to.
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1.
These are some of my best essays, all graded according to my rubric. As promised in the same post, they are excerpted as follows.
One student in particular outright hates America’s first serious female candidate, and defends our first serious African-American candidate while he’s at it.
Hillary Clinton would not be where she is today if she wasn’t a woman. The worst part about it being that she uses it against her equally qualified competitors who are male. Change and wanding something new is how she starts and finishes, not to mention the ever-so-sickening line, “What can be more new than a woman president?” [sic] The fact that she’s using the gender card is giving herself and females in general a horrible look. …
Obama has to fight to prove himself as a younger candidate and gets flack for being black and not being black enough at the same time. This sickens me. This is America. Why can’t people just be people and not worry about gender or race? What is it that some should feel guilty for not voting for the Black guy or that one chick running? …
If America was in fact truly the land of the free, gender and race would not matter. It’s time for people to start listening and stop watching. The fact that people like Edwards can’t get a fair shot at the presidency because he’s up against two “firsts” is horrible.
Maybe we’re not ready for change after all.
He had started his essay by contrasting the Democrats to the Republicans, lamenting that the Republicans “had great candidates like Ron Paul, John McCain and Mitt Romney.”
Perhaps to show that his answer isn’t reflective of my own carefully guarded bias, another student, to put it nicely, disagrees. It was good enough that I couldn’t help but transcribe it in full:
When it comes down to who I want to lead my country, I don’t care so much how they say it but rather what they say. Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said, “You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose.” I don’t shame his thoughts.
I believe that what you represent and how you campaign is how you will govern. We have two Democratic candidates what fit this perfectly. We have Obama who is the poet and who sways the crowd with his speeches and we have Hillary who sticks to what matters.
Yes, Obama the poet. It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, I don’t want a president who can quote Shakespeare and get me all teary-eyed and emotional and have no idea what he’s doing. Yes, he can rally a crowd and get everyone pumped up and to follow him no matter what but that makes me think of another leader in history and his name was Hitler.
Yes, he went there. Give him a break for not thinking of perhaps fairer conjectures. It continues.
Obama never sticks to the issues or what matters. He just plays the crowd, and who knows what he would all of a sudden stand for if he were in office?
Hillary Clinton may not move the crowd. She may not be able to dominate you with her every word. No, Hillary is straightforward and lets you know where she stands. I feel that I could trust someone who is telling me the truth rather than dancing around it.
Mario Cuomo got it wrong. It does not take poetry during a campaign because we have candidates in the lead right now without all the fancy “speachers.” What’s important with any leader is that they are straightforward and let us know where we are being led.
This and the essay that includes the earlier excerpt received full credit. Both would have competed for top score between the classes, had the first author not bombed the second essay with a five-point score.