Ron Paul? Really?

(Updated below)

I’ve been going to New Hampshire off and on for the last three weeks to see my brother. Week before last, I got off the highway to take the scenic route along the coast, then cut inland and went north to where my brother lives, and I noticed something fairly…odd. Ron Paul lawn signs everywhere. They outnumbered the Giuliani signs, the Romney signs, and the Hillary signs combined.

Now, I don’t want to make too much out of this, but I grew up in NH surrounded every 4 years by the primary machines of candidates from the excessively well-financed to the shoe-string-and-a-prayer. There are certain patterns that come with lawn signs, and very small but occasionally stunningly-accurate predictions can be made from watching them.

For instance: the Giuliani/Romney/Hillary signs are concentrated along the heavily-traveled coast road, Rte 1, the oldest and arguably, mile for mile, the most commercially over-developed highway in the nation. They were all mass-produced, obviously by the campaign, and placed in advantageous positions like somebody had worked it all out in advance. Very few just popped up at you where you might not expect them, which meant, of course, that they were all clustered in the same places. When I moved inland, they all but vanished.

By contrast, the Paul signs were scattered hither and thither like weeds sprouting in unused corners. Most telling, perhaps, many of them were hand-made. That wasn’t terribly unusual 40 years ago, but nowadays campaigns are so controlled and tightly-organized that it’s almost unheard of. I can’t remember seeing hand-lettered, hand-drawn political lawn signs in NH since John Anderson’s quixotic campaign in 1980 (not counting, of course, the hardy, off-center fringe whacks who make signs boosting everybody from Pat Paulsen to Lyndon LaRouche – a perennial primary favorite of the barking mad contingent of NH Pub righties – to Bugs Bunny).

There were fewer of them inland than there were on Rte 1 but unlike the signs from the campaigns of the major candidates, they didn’t disappear altogether. They kept right on materializing, seemingly out of thin air, in places off the main drags – private homes, usually. Some were remarkably crude, others had been lettered by someone with reasonably good penmanship.

In a way, there’s nothing particularly surprising about this. NH Republicans love mavericks and Paul is about as maverick as they come. What is unusual this early in the primary season (the mass of campaign-supplied signs won’t be in place for another month) is that they’re there at all, and for a candidate whose NH organization is, shall we say, underfunded.

What struck me almost immediately was the aura I was picking up of a grass-roots movement simmering under the radar. I’ve seen this before in Democratic primaries – the Anderson campaign in ’80 and the Gene McCarthy campaign in ’68 – but I think this is the first time in a Republican primary.

I’m going to go out on a slight limb here and suggest that what these signs may mean is an unexpectedly good showing in NH for Ron Paul – 3rd, possibly even 2nd. Given a Pub field led by a New York mayor who’s doing well in the NH polls but turns the stomachs of the kinds of people who turn out for the Pub primaries, an ex-Mass Gov NH voters know and heartily despise, an ex-favorite who’s changed beyond all recognition (personally, I think McCain will be out after an embarrassing loss in the NH primary), and a clutch of out-where-the-buses-don’t-run candidates so far to the right they’ll be competing with LaRouche for the John Birch Society vote, I suspect we could be looking at the potential for a real upset in February.

So, in the spirit of helping the Republicans along on the self-immolating path they’ve chosen with their eyes wide shut, I offer this suggestion for Mr Paul’s campaign song.

Update: After writing this, I ran into a piece from last week’s Boston Globe that may explain at least part of what’s going on – and it’s a little scary.

Late on a balmy Friday night in Wicker Park, a gentrifying neighborhood just northwest of the Loop, a small tribe of 20-somethings gathers outside a corner bar. Their leader, a petite, energetic 25-year-old named Meghann Walker, hands out leaflets to people heading inside.

“Do you guys know Ron Paul is going to be in town tomorrow?” Walker asks a short-haired young woman in jeans and flip-flops. “There’ll be a lot of good people there, that’s for sure.”

“Cool,” the woman replies.

Walker, a waitress and anthropology student who lives in Chicago, cried on Election Night 2004, crushed that Democrat John Kerry had failed to unseat President Bush. Last year, deeply disillusioned with the Iraq war and with politicians of both par ties who had failed to stop it, she began a political odyssey that transformed her into a libertarian Republican.

Now, she spends “every free moment” campaigning for Paul, a Texas congressman who vows that if he’s elected president he’ll abolish the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Reserve, let younger workers opt out of Social Security, and – alone among the GOP field – immediately withdraw all US troops from Iraq. She even has business cards identifying herself as a volunteer Ron Paul organizer.

“I don’t really see my friends anymore,” she said. “My new friends are the Ron Paul Meetup group.”


60 Responses to “Ron Paul? Really?”

  1. At this point, seriously, if anyone is left, we’re not debating, this is kinda sad. I just as you to click on the fisher house banner in the upper left hand corner, and please help us out, otherwise, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m so over this convo.

  2. lester says:

    mattbastard- “I am Canadian”

    no kidding! “racist, anti-choice conspiracy monger blah blah”

    of COURSE we want to roll back the New Deal and the get rid of the federal reserve and social security. do you work for the government? if not why do you care?

    and how would having more of our money injected back into the civilian economy be bad for business? Dr paul is consistently #1 or 2 in the congressional index of economic freedom. He ‘s not an isolationist, he’s for free trade. He wrote a blurb on “the politically incorrect guide to capitalism” a book written by an ANARCHIST for crying out loud.

    kyle- is it possible that there can be a phenemonon here without the prospect of a likely nomination?

    i keep hearing “he can’t win” but so what? Do you have some employer preventing you from covering candidates who aren’t on the first tier? I thought blogs were supposed to be sort of underground and outside the mainstream.

    Is it neccasary for you to cover the news EXACTLY the way hardball or the Oreilly factor already do?

    You have a ron paul topic and you get tons of hits and you are mad about it.

  3. matttbastard says:

    of COURSE we want to roll back the New Deal and the get rid of the federal reserve and social security.

    That says it all. Well, that and RP’s ‘I can’t think of anything I don’t agree with [the John Birch Society] about’ quote. So, Paul believes that us LGBT folks are trying to indoctrinate the good Christian children of America with queer-cooties? That the UN is attempting to establish a one-world gov’t? That the ’64 CRA went too damn far, man? (ZOMG CIVIL RIGHTS=COMMUNISM!!!11)

    lester, I hope you’re having fun arguing with the straw-bastard in your head. You might want to talk to someone about that – hearing voices from imaginary people can be a sign of impending psychosis.

    And that’s the last morsel you get from me. Have fun with your little circle jerk rEVOLution.

  4. lester says:, which runs many of Ron Pauls columns is run by a gay man. Ron Paul has tons of black, white asian, gay supporters and even barry manilow mailed in 2,300, who even knows what that means.

    I don’t understand how less govenrment equals bigotry to you. Do you think he is going to bring back segregation?

    Maybe because you are canadian, you don’t have the daily guilt of being morally culpable for a war you think is wrong. We have to pay for this thing and read about it every day. It would be hard for a government with no power to pull something like scooter libby ,cheney and co did so that’s what we are going for.

    If it means taking out the “good” programs too, so be it. better than having more wars

  5. K Dawson says:

    I encourage everyone to decide for yourselves. Check out the issues:

  6. Well Well Well says:

    Ron is being shut out so change to the Repub party even if you are not one.

    Check it out.

  7. Chris G. says:

    “That says it all. Well, that and RP’s ‘I can’t think of anything I don’t agree with [the John Birch Society] about”

    They key item in that quote is, “I can’t think of anything,” just because he is unable to think of all of JBS positions does not mean that he agrees with all of them. For example, I may say I can’t think of points that myself and Ludwig von Mises disagree on. However, that is not to say that there are some positions of his that I am unaware of. In case of this occurrence, I do believe I should be offered the chance to change my statement.

    If we are going to argue back and forth about Ron Paul maybe we should use less loaded terms that invoke emotions from both sides. Ron Paul is not anti-children, anti-education, or anti-poor. He simply believes that the market can offer alternatives to the coercive monopoly enforced by the government. That being said, he does believe that states should be able to decide on these matters. So if all of the collectivist utopiaists want to move to, oh lets say Vermont, they can set up there little tax funded paradise. This would set up a sort of market for the ideal balance of government intervention.

    The examples given about the FAA and MSHA are pretty ridiculous. I mean what next? Is someone going to bring up Upton Sinclair. Just because one mind cannot think up a market alternative does not mean that an alternative does not exist. Thats kind of the driving force behind a market economy, innovation. People are always going to try and come up with stuff no one else has thought of or was able to implement correctly, find new markets for products, find more efficient methods of production, etc.

    If people on this blog are going to make assertions about Ron Paul “bordering on dementia,” a pretty weighty claim, I would expect a pretty cogent argument to convince me of this proposition. Instead, I find system-system argumentation, which will only yield a result of aesthetic value to members of either system.

  8. cowbot says:

    The comments here remind me of how caged apes at the zoo show dislike for humans – by defecating into their hands and throwing shit at them.

    The analogy is appropriate as the behavior displayed here is by primates in mental cages, who advocate caged humanity, and who feel deep seated loathing and jealousy towards passerby who are enlightened, intelligent and free.

  9. Eric says:

    Go Ron Go!!

  10. Rebecca says:

    Ron Paul will end the evil empire.

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