Gordon Robison argues that his stance on the Iraq War almost single-handedly explains Rep. Ron Paul’s amazing fundraising ability (which recently outstripped that of Sen. John McCain, the last unreconstructed hawk on the Iraq War.)
I’m not sure it is just Iraq that drives Ron Paul’s popularity, though of course that is part of it. I suspect that it is in some important part the abuse of government by W. and his administration that has made rightwing anarchism so popular. (It has done wonders for leftwing anarchism too: witness the reemergence of Noam Chomsky as a major voice after he had been marginalized for decades).
Government is a set of bargains, a ‘moral economy.’ We let the government take a certain proportion of our money, and we expect it to organize services for us that would otherwise be difficult to arrange. Anyone who has studied any history and economics knows that the market is going to leave some people destitute, and you need government to correct for that imbalance. It is no accident that government was invented by irrigation-based societies like Egypt and Iraq, where if someone did not organize the peasants to do the irrigation work and keep it up, everybody would starve.
Bush has broken the US government. The US military was there to protect us. Bush has used it to fight a fascist-style aggressive war of choice. FEMA is there for emergency aid. Bush did not deploy it effectively for New Orleans. Social security lifted the elderly out of the poverty that had often been their fate before the 1930s. Bush declined to use Clinton’s surplus to fix the system, and has essentially borrowed against the pensions of us all to pay for his wars. Government is there to ensure our security. Bush has used it to spy on us, to prosecute patently innocent persons, to manipulate the media and instill us with lies and propaganda.
If government is to be conducted on Bushist principles, then who would not like to see the damn thing abolished?
I don’t think Ron Paul would have run well in 2000, after Bill Clinton had demonstrated the ways in which government could contribute to our prosperity and well-being. Indeed, it was so important for the Right to destroy Clinton precisely because he did make government relatively effective and popular.
Ron Paul’s popularity does not derive only from his opposition to the Iraq War. It derives from the sanity of the American people, who love liberty and reject Bushism. The opposite of fascism is not democracy but anarchy.
Given how horribly corporations like Walmart treat their employees, denying them the right to unionize and cleverly avoiding paying anything toward their health insurance, I have never understood why Libertarians think corporations would be nicer to us if we could not organize government protections from them. It is the government of the state of Maryland that protected workers from Walmart’s exploitation of them. Libertarian faith in the utopia that comes from the withering of the state strikes me as just as impractical as the similar Marxist theory.
But after 7 years of Bush, I don’t find it at all astonishing that large numbers of internet contributors would give Ron Paul money to campaign on getting rid of the Frankenstein’s Monster of a government that George W. Bush has been constructing in his macabre basement of a mind.