As the polls still show Ron Paul possibly winning the Iowa caucus, more and more people are beginning to take a closer look at what the congressman really believes. The results are not favorable to his image. Paul has his cadre of fanatical defenders, and an on-the-ground organization dedicated to producing a win for him in Iowa. But as we all should realize, the winner of the Iowa caucus is not likely to become the Republican Party nominee — except if it is Mitt Romney.
Ask Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 caucus and went on to a resounding collapse elsewhere. Indeed, the Iowa caucus itself is hardly representative of primary contests in other states, where depending on state rules, a Republican Party primary can find all eligible Republican voters and eligible registered independents also voting. To participate in a caucus, you have to show up, spend a few hours deciding where to stand when it is time to cast your preference, and let your neighbors and friends know precisely whom you voted for. As Huckabee predicted the other day, if the weather is very bad, Paul will win. If it is good weather and easy to get about, Romney will become the winner.
As for what Paul represents, everyone should carefully read the single most incisive dissection of what drives Paul’s supporters and Paul himself. It appears on the website of “The Sultan Knish,” a.k.a. Daniel Greenfield. For some time, I have commented on the dangers of the supporters of a Left-Right antiwar coalition, one that some call the Red-Green coalition or the joining together of the supporters of Pat Buchanan and the last Stalinist in America, Alexander Cockburn. During the Clinton years of the intervention in Bosnia, Cockburn and Buchanan shared the speaker’s podium at anti-war rallies. Today, the equivalent is the similar positions taken by Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, who have indistinguishable policies.
On this issue, Greenfield makes the following observation:
When Ted Rall was recently dreaming of a left-right revolution against the government, the Paul Pot have been openly talking about it. Rand Paul discussed a left-right coalition for rolling back the “American Empire”. That sort of crossover is what makes Ron Paul valuable. The media championed him as an Anti-War Republican because he offered a left-right coalition against the War on Terror.
For all that the wonks insist on viewing America as a red and blue state lineup, there are a lot of other colors in the mix. More than the libertarians, most of whom have a limited comfort level with Paul, there are various flavors of anarchists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and people who are even further off the map. They are a politically underserved demographic and while they won’t win elections, they have the obsessive nature and the time to make a difference.
Ron Paul’s broad appeal is that he promises to reduce the power of government and American power in general, and that’s something everyone from Communists to Nazis, anarchists to monarchists can get behind. Revolutions begin with a broad front assault on the system and Ron Paul has ended up as the symbol of a broad front of those who see some political, financial or other benefit from taking down the system.
That’s why Ron Paul’s generic policy positions, which aside from drabs of paranoia are not all that distinguishable from many of his opponents, are not really the issue. His pet obsessions even less so except that they allow him to speak the language of his supporters and they make him completely irrelevant on most other issues.