Friday, February 15, 2013
How I Became a Ron Paul Supporter
It occurred to me that I’ve never actually put this story to writing, so now’s as good a time as ever. At the very least some people will appreciate it before the Paul fervor becomes a thing of the past like the Goldwater Fever of ’64. Nonetheless, like Barry Goldwater, Ron Paul is an incredible statesman whose ideas are timeless.
Despite my conspicuous militancy for him throughout the 2011-12 election cycle, I wasn’t a Ron Paul supporter in 2007. Many of my friends and veterans in the liberty movement brag about being Paulbots BEFORE it was cool, and they often like to jive me for voting for John McCain in the ’08 primary as well as the general elections. Screw them; I’m too much awash in liberty for my swag to be stained by Haterade spillage. (Clean up on aisle hate.)
I’d originally heard Ron Paul’s name in 2007 during his first presidential run. This was the era before Facebook really began to take off and MySpace was still king of the social networks and most politically themed group pages had at least one militant Paulestinian posting Ron Paul spam. This was before Tom and his cyberspawn became incredibly annoying with a corporate look and endless advertisements flooding everyone’s home page (hint hint, Mark Zuckerberg).
The Paulbot MySpace friend I had was a soldier and Iraq War vet named Alex—I vividly remember correspondence with him—and anyone who couldn’t tell from his page that he was a Ron Paul supporter was obviously illiterate. I was mildly impressed that Dr. Paul’s campaign had raised nearly six million dollars in a single day, and mildly impressed that many soldiers and recent war veterans were doing video endorsements of him on YouTube (back when YouTube had barely been bought out and wasn’t a giant billboard paced for people tripping on speed). However, I paid little attention to him because I was completely enamored with the candidacy of John McCain.
Plain and simple, I supported McCain because his contemporarily fashionable neoconservative rhetoric appealed to my young Republican warped idea of what conservatism was. Better yet, McCain was a war hero—a veteran who truly suffered through unspeakable horrors as those North Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist bastards broke his body every day for five and a half years—and I was convinced we needed a war hero to guide a wartime country to swift and speedy victories in Iraq and Afghanistan after the Bush administration made quagmires of the conflicts.
I respected then-Senator Obama as a good man who stuck to his principles, and especially for having the courage to show his face as the first black presidential candidate. Keep in mind, most of the country was secretly holding their breath, expecting a racist’s bullet to end Obama’s candidacy and existence on any given day. Getting out of bed every morning and making public speeches with that knowledge took a lot of testicular fortitude.
I respected Senator Obama but I didn’t agree with him. Many people my age were completely in love with his candidacy because of the idea of finally having a black President of the
. In my opinion, they were being racially
condescending to vote for his skin color over his platform. I saw Obama not as the black candidate, but
as the candidate with whom I respectfully disagreed. United
Throughout 2007 and 2008 it never occurred to me that I was casually brushing off any second thoughts towards the greatest statesman of my era: Ron Paul. So the election came and went. I optimistically voted for McCain and was disappointed when Obama won. My mother bought an expensive bottle of champagne to celebrate the election of America’s first black president; I was worried that the next President—white or black—would make the economy worse with higher taxes and his administration wouldn’t bring us victory in the two wars. (I was right about that, but for the wrong reasons.) Oh well, I moved on and so did most Americans.
As far as Alex the Paulbot, his whacky posts about Ron Paul were entertaining and mildly interesting but I could never bring myself to read more than a paragraph before succumbing to Internet ADD. I actually deleted Alex from my friends list because he was a white supremacist and his anti-black, anti-Hispanic, and anti-Semitic posts got old real fast. I’m a pretty tolerant guy and I knew the difference between tolerance and acceptance; he has the right to have hate in his heart but I don’t need to pay attention to his hate speech. Yeah, yeah, the Jews killed Jesus and are now controlling the banks and conspiring to eliminate the white race through interracial breeding. I get it, Alex. I heard ya loud and clear the first twelve times.
At this time in my life I was a giant movie buff. All my closest friends and I ate, slept, and breathed movies. Our lives revolved around getting together for movie nights where we’d order a pizza, watch two, three, even four movies of all genres (our favorites were from the Criterion Collection closely followed by cult classics), and critique them. Akira Kurosawa, Lawrence Olivier, Boris Karloff, you name it!
I spent a lot of time visiting friends and relatives in
where I would also make a pit stop either to Los Angeles
to buy some bootleg DVDs. At the time I
worked part time for minimum wage. If I
was to build up my growing movie collection, I could spend $20 on one movie at
any store or use that bill to get four movies at $5 a piece. This is why economics is about human action
and not about calculation and advanced mathematical formulas. It’s not about how much spending or lack
thereof is occurring or about how much Monopoly money a banking cartel prints, but
rather about what decisions individuals throughout society make in utilizing
their resources. What’s the marginal
utility of a $20 bill? It could be one
movie legally purchased that I could enjoy for a while, or the utility could be
quadrupled through an illegal purchase.
I maximized the utility of my wage earnings by not spending money whenever spending was avoidable. Hence I discovered Rapidshare, Megaupload, and Bit Torrent. The bootleg movie shopping inspired me to pursue my other passion—books—through the Internet, and I downloaded quite a few eBooks and audio books. Had I not been illegally downloading audio books from an online friend’s secret Megaupload account in January of 2009, I would never have stumbled upon the audio book for Ron Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto.
I would never have decided to check it out to see what Alex the white supremacist saw in the old man. I would not have been amazed by the parallel audacity and sheer sensibility of these bold ideas. I wouldn’t have been inspired to rush to Barnes & Noble and purchase the hardcover edition. I would never have had my worldview radically reshaped. I would never have taken Congressman Paul’s recommendation to visit Mises.org and learn Austrian economics from the Ludwig von Mises Institute. I would never have discovered the prolific works of Bastiat, Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, and all the great economic writers of today who shared with me (at no cost) the idea of marginal utility which provides a solid economic explanation for my decision to buy bootleg DVDs instead of pricy legal ones. I would never have been inspired to legally purchase physical copies of many of the books on Mises.org, even buying additional copies to give to friends and relatives
My own life experience adds great truth to Jeffrey Tucker’s essays on the greatness of the internet and the evils of restrictive intellectual property, especially so in “The Death of File Sharing” and “Two Views of the Internet” from the book A Beautiful Anarchy. (Mr. Tucker also contributed one of his essays to the 2012 book I edited, VOICES OF RevolUTION: Americans Speak Out for Ron Paul.) Both of us were touched by the vigor with which Dr. Paul opposed the SOPA and PIPA Internet censorship bills.
Apart from bringing me to legally purchase greater values than I downloaded for free or bought as bootleg, illegally downloading that Ron Paul audio book which changed my worldview and brought me back into world of politics which had previously left me disheartened and bitter. I re-read The Revolution in late 2010, just after Rand Paul’s election to the Senate, and I was convinced of the rightness of Dr. Paul’s platform. I was overjoyed when he announced his candidacy and looked for ways to get involved with the campaign. The rest is history.
I’ve traveled the country on a number of political, economic, and social causes. I’ve done what I still do today not so much for my hero Ron Paul, but for timeless liberty.
* * *
Ron Paul image courtesy of GaryJohnson2012.com. A Beautiful Anarchy image courtesy of Laissez Faire Books and used via CC BY 3.0 license. Voices of RevolUTION image courtesy of Lulu and myself.