Ron Paul’s Generational Realignment

Over at The American Conservative, Daniel McCarthy makes the case:

More significant than the overall percentage Paul claimed last night, however, is the 48 percent he won of the under-30 vote. This augurs more than just a change in the factional balance within the GOP. It’s suggestive of a generational realignment in American politics. The fact that many of these young people do not consider themselves Republican is very much the point: Paul’s detractors cite that as a reason to discount them, but what it really means is that the existing ideological configuration of U.S. politics doesn’t fit the rising generation. They’re not Republicans, but they’re voting in a Republican primary: at one time, that same description applied to Southerners, social conservatives, and Reagan Democrats, groups that were not part of the traditional GOP coalition and whose participation completely remade the party.

There’s more at stake here than the future of the Republican Party, though. The style as well as substance of Ron Paul’s movement is radically different from the 1990s right, and the substance itself is different not only in terms of what Paul’s supporters want but what their priorities are…

Ron Paul may not win the nomination, but the future belongs to the movement he’s building. Progressives hate him because he forces them to confront the fact that when it comes to civil liberties and foreign policy, Obama has been Bush and worse:

The candidate supported by progressives — President Obama — himself holds heinous views on a slew of critical issues and himself has done heinous things with the power he has been vested. He has slaughtered civilians — Muslim children by the dozens — not once or twice, but continuously in numerous nations with dronescluster bombs and other forms of attack. He has sought to overturn a global ban on cluster bombs. He has institutionalized the power of Presidents — in secret and with no checks — to target American citizens for assassination-by-CIA, far from any battlefield. He has waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, the protection of which was once a liberal shibboleth. He rendered permanently irrelevant the War Powers Resolution, a crown jewel in the list of post-Vietnam liberal accomplishments, and thus enshrined the power of Presidents to wage war even in the face of a Congressional vote against it. His obsession with secrecy is so extreme that it has become darkly laughable in its manifestations, and he even worked to amendthe Freedom of Information Act (another crown jewel of liberal legislative successes) when compliance became inconvenient.

He has entrenched for a generation the once-reviled, once-radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism powers of indefinite detention, military commissions, and the state secret privilege as a weapon to immunize political leaders from the rule of law. He has shielded Bush era criminals from every last form of accountability. He has vigorously prosecuted the cruel and supremely racist War on Drugs, including those parts he vowed during the campaign to relinquish — a war which devastates minority communities and encages and converts into felons huge numbers of minority youth for no good reason. He has empowered thieving bankers through the Wall Street bailout, Fed secrecy, efforts to shield mortgage defrauders from prosecution, and the appointment of an endless roster of former Goldman, Sachs executives and lobbyists. He’s brought the nation to a full-on Cold War and a covert hot war with Iran, on the brink of far greater hostilities. He has made the U.S. as subservient as ever to the destructive agenda of the right-wing Israeli government. His support for some of the Arab world’s most repressive regimes is as strong as ever.

Read the whole article. The reason Ron Paul has been gaining momentum in recent weeks is because people are waking up to the fact that the congressman from Texas is the only candidate in either party actually willing to confront these issues – the issues, above all others, that most desperately need to be confronted. He is the only candidate – including the incumbent – who uniformly opposes the drone war in the Middle East. He is the only candidate who seems to think it insane that the president claims a constitutional right to spy upon and imprison American citizens indefinitely without benefit of trial. America is becoming a very dangerous place, and if it weren’t for Ron Paul, those of us for whom this is a disconcerting trend would have no one to speak for us.

Says Andrew Sullivan, “Whatever happens to his candidacy, Paul has already achieved something important: the broadening of debate, the scrambling of right and left, and the appearance on our toxic public stage of a man who seems to say what he thinks without much calculation or guile.” Douthat adds, “In both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Paul has been the only figure willing to point out the deep continuities in American politics — the way social spending grows and overseas commitments multiply no matter which party is in power, the revolving doors that connect K Street to Congress and Wall Street to the White House, the long list of dubious policies and programs that both sides tacitly support. In both election cycles, his honest extremism has sometimes cut closer to the heart of our national predicament than the calculating partisanship of his more grounded rivals.”

Ron Paul is almost single-handedly destroying the imaginary boundaries between left and right that have entrenched and defined politics for two generations. He and his supporters are designing the world tomorrow’s politics will inhabit. And that is why young people love him. I remember the thrill we all felt when we first saw “V for Vendetta” – admittedly, a movie of profound moral failings – when V took over the television for six minutes, looked the people of Britain in the eyes and said, “The truth is, something is terribly wrong with this country.” It felt like the first time someone had articulated a truth that we had all felt deep in our spirits. And now Dr. Paul is articulating the same truth without pandering or condescension. All the other candidates are frolicking in the water, and he’s the only person who seems to be conscious of the tsunami that’s hurtling towards our shores.


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