Ron Paul Hits the Third Rail of Politics

In recent weeks the thundering Ron Paul freight train has kind of derailed. Even though Paul announced that he was could not win and would stop actively campaigning on March 8, his supporters are apparently convinced that he’s still a viable candidate, despite his repeated public statements that they should move on and try to do some good working within the GOP. Nonetheless, many of them are pushing for a final surge and a surprise (and entirely delusional) victory at the GOP convention this summer. Admittedly, Paul is still making a lot of speeches and pushing his agenda, so maybe that’s contributing to their confusion, but he’s made it pretty clear he’s campaigning for his ideas not an office.

Yet if anyone had any question about the viability of Paul as a national candidate, the issue ought to be put to rest by his recent decision to leap boldly onto the electrified third rail of politics and accept an invitation to be the keynote speaker at this fall’s 50th annual convention of the John Birch Society.

For those not already familiar with the John Birch Society, it is a secretive and rather paranoid extreme-right organization which was originally founded in the era of Joe McCarthy’s witch hunts to help root out the communist infiltrators who infested American society. Those communists were easy to spot because they were all immigrants or blacks or Jews, plus the occasional homosexual. The Birchers have always been big on ‘real’ American values and good at finding imaginary windmills to joust at. They borrowed a lot of ideas from their enemies in the process, including much of the methodology and organizational structure of Soviet covert operations of the Stalinist era, with a well developed propaganda machine, multiple front groups, and a cell-like organization.

The Birchers kind of lost their way during the 1980s and 1990s, eclipsed by the rise of the religious right and losing focus with the fall of communism, but today they are back and stronger than ever, riding a wave of conspiracy fanaticism which has grown from seeds they’ve been nurturing for years. They’re still racists and anti-Semites and nativists and isolationists and conspiracy obsessed. Their followers are fanatics and the organization has a lot of the characteristics of a cult. Many participants are intensely religious and the membership has a lot of overlap with groups like Christian Identity. I give them credit for putting up a fairly reasonable seeming front on their website, but if you read their publications, email lists or blogs you see what issues really excite them.

Today they are fighting the same old battle with new names, and the fallen communist empire has just resurfaced in the even more nefarious guise of the ‘new world order’. The idea that America is threatened by a huge, covert, and many-headed conspiracy is selling like hotcakes. You can see their books at booths in the gun shows and flea markets, they’re all over the Internet, and they’ve pretty much taken over the chaotic fringes of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. Some ‘patriots’ like Timothy McVeigh find their brand of anti-government populism inspiring, and activists like radio ranter Alex Jones and the ‘9/11 Truth’ movement take many of their talking points from Bircher sources.

During the Republican primaries, Ron Paul made an effort to distance himself from the JBS as concern grew that so many of his most vocal supporters seemed to be coming from the dangerous fringe of conspiracy paranoia and reactionary bigotry. Make no mistake, a lot of good people supported Ron Paul, and the campaign offered a lot of positive ideas for much needed reforms for the nation. But at the same time a lot of the campaign’s energy came from Birchers who saw it as a chance to spread their message of nativism, protectionism, isolationism, and intolerance into the mainstream.

As I rooted for Dr. Paul I often found myself clinging to the fact that endorsements from JBS-related groups and the Aryan Nation and holocaust deniers and David Duke weren’t really Dr. Paul’s fault. He couldn’t choose who endorsed him, any more than he could reject donations from supporters based on their beliefs. After all, it was his principles he was running on, not theirs.

As it turns out, I was just fooling myself. The masks came off last week when Dr. Paul accepted the invitation to speak at the JBS convention and called the group a “great and patriotic organization.” Ron Paul’s supporters can now stop claiming their candidate has any real legitimacy. Paul can also stop his protestations that only a small faction of his followers believe in crazy conspiracy theories, because by embracing the Birchers he has confirmed everyone’s worst suspicions and made it very clear that he is as deeply mired in the culture of bigotry and intolerance as the worst of his followers.

We now know that David Duke and WAR didn’t endorse Paul by mistake. They endorsed him because he shares their beliefs. Despite his pretensions of being a libertarian, Paul is a reactionary extremist of the worst sort. This is not like the lunatic fringe endorsing Paul. This is Paul endorsing the lunatic fringe. With any luck this revelation will motivate his more idealistic followers to sever their ties with the Birchers in the movement and try to find a permanent home among the real libertarians and reformers of the Republican Party. There’s plenty of room and plenty of welcome for them if they leave their Bircher comrades and their intolerance and hate behind.

Dr. Paul’s campaign is over. Maybe his career is too. I hope it’s still possible to salvage some good out of the movement he spearheaded.

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About Dave 536 Articles
Dave Nalle has worked as a magazine editor, a freelance writer, a capitol hill staffer, a game designer and taught college history for many years. He now designs fonts for a living and lives with his family in a small town just outside Austin where he is ex-president of the local Lions Club. He is on the board of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Politics Editor of Blogcritics Magazine. You can find his writings about fonts, art and graphic design at The Scriptorium. He also runs a conspiracy debunking site at IdiotWars.com.

21 Comments

  1. That’s hilarious! I was just reading that on my own. Everyone, go read my comments, as well as everyone else’s.

    The guy says he doesn’t tolerate personal attacks, but that’s all his weak 2 page article is. No facts at all.

    Hilarious!

  2. Hey when did I say I didn’t tolerate personal attacks? You’ve confused me with the editorial policy over at Blogcritics where I’m an editor.

    And the article isn’t a personal attack, it’s a lament. The only facts needed are the documented history of the JBS and the established fact that Ron Paul is speaking to them. Doesn’t that disappoint you just a little bit? Didn’t you want – like me – to believe that Paul was better than that and not just another kook?

    Dave

  3. “The Birchers kind of lost their way during the 1980s and 1990s, eclipsed by the rise of the religious right and losing focus with the fall of communism, but today they are back and stronger than ever, riding a wave of conspiracy fanaticism which has grown from seeds they’ve been nurturing for years. They’re still racists and anti-Semites and nativists and isolationists and conspiracy obsessed. Their followers are fanatics and the organization has a lot of the characteristics of a cult.”

    If I said the exact same thing as you did, above, but about the Legacy group within this county, or any group for that matter, I would be labeled as “one of those Ron Paul fanatics”. Just because you or I have an impression of an organization or a group, based on our own history and our own observations, does not mean that those impressions are facts. They are impressions. Beliefs. Opinions. Not facts.

    The Federal Reserve operates in secrecy, without oversight, or audit. Does that make them a secretive cult?

    Tons of fanatics support Billary. Tons of fanatics support Obama. Heck, Obama himself is a fanatic. Listen to what he said about “small town people” turning away from the government and “towards guns” and getting mad about “gay marriage.” You and I both know these are facts, as they’ve been all over the news.

    I protested Bill and Hillary last year. There was an event in Austin, a fundraiser (actually, several) which people were charged over $10K per plate. You wouldn’t believe some of the idiots who attended. They wanted Bill to be President AGAIN! They said, and I quote, “I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Bill Clinton to run this country.”

    I’m sorry that you’re disappointed in Ron Paul for agreeing to speak to JBS. What is he supposed to do? Say no, and have someone else speak, and have yet more people say that he didn’t speak because he’s not really running anymore, that he’s given up? It’s not like the MSM is going to cover it, anyway. He’s got to get in front of as many people as possible. Major corporations won’t ask him to speak, as he’s against lobbyists and special interests controlling government. Yet, they’ll invite John McCain.

    I understand your concerns about some of the people within John Birch being a little out there. But they are not racist. As one of your readers commented, many foreigners make up that group. It’s extremely unlikely that they consider all immigrants to be Communists, on that basis.

    Besides, can we really point the finger at Communism? Look at all of the Socialistic programs we have in this country, and how many more are being proposed. Our domestic economy is controlled by a private corporation. An active agenda of most politicians is to increase the death and inheritance tax in order to redistribute the wealth. One of our greatest trade partners is Communist China. We are funding a Communist regime with trillions of dollars every year. In fact, our economies are completely intertwined. And I could be wrong about this last one, but didn’t Gorbachev move to the United States? Isn’t he on staff at a very prestigious university?

    As far as the editorial practice, I apologize for somehow being under the impression from something you said to me that you were one of the editors. However, even so, you know about the policy, and you DID still do a lot of name-calling. The article appeared very bitter and vindictive. I’m not saying you are bitter and vindictive. But I did have to read the name of the author twice to make sure that it was actually you who wrote it.

    Never lose the passion!

  4. Hello,
    I am disappointed in you, Dave. As I have stated before I am new to being interested in politics or government outside of complaining. I will have to read up on the Birchers as I am ingornant of them, but I do not believe Ron Paul is a racist biggot as you have described them. I don’t believe anything you say. You are a fake and a liar. You have never rooted for Ron Paul. You are bitter and arrogant. Your mask has been revealed.

    “Dr. Paul’s campaign is over. Maybe his career is too.”

    I watched the video and did not read that his campaign was over. He encouraged us to remain active and to get as many delegate votes as possible. He is still speaking and spreading his message of hope. I don’t see that he is quitting anywhere except for the same media which had already projected John McCain the winner before we went to the polls. There has been no official ‘drop out’ of this campaign. You are no better than the pack of liars at Fox News, ABC, or CNN. They play a key role in ripping off our elections along with Diebold and the others on the payroll. You are one of them Dave.
    I agree with Mark, this site is tired. Same old tired bullshit that we have been fed as long as I can remember.

  5. Speaking of fighting communism: I did my part today by protesting the I.R.S. at the post office on Cross Park.Thousands of cars were in line to hand over extortion payments to our Central Banking System,and there I was telling them that there is no actual law on the books that says so.Please check out our Constitution for verification Dave.And for everyone else please go to: http://truthattack.org/
    There are a lot of other things I would rather be doing after work,but protesting this communist entity seemed like the right thing to do.Remeber what I said about exposing the TRUTH in every area of our lives.The irs is an area of my life.lol.So what did you do today Dave besides right this shitty blog?Mark

  6. Mark, when I was checking out the constitution I found this unpleasant little blemish called the Sixteenth Amendment. Truly scary to behold.

    BTW, what time did you guys get out there? I turned my extortion payment in at about 6 and there was nary a protester to be seen. Made me kind of sad.

    Dave

  7. If I said the exact same thing as you did, above, but about the Legacy group within this county, or any group for that matter, I would be labeled as “one of those Ron Paul fanatics”.

    I in fact HAVE said exactly the same thing about the Legacy people and other religious right groups, and no one called me a Ron Paul supporter because of it. They called me a RINO.

    Just because you or I have an impression of an organization or a group, based on our own history and our own observations, does not mean that those impressions are facts. They are impressions. Beliefs. Opinions. Not facts.

    My impression of the JBS is based on their publications and the public statements of members. That those things were said and those positions taken are facts.

    The Federal Reserve operates in secrecy, without oversight, or audit. Does that make them a secretive cult?

    Unless they are worshipping Mammon I wouldn’t call them a cult. They’re also not secretive. Ful transcripts of all of their meetings are available online at their website.

    Tons of fanatics support Billary.

    The way I see it only someone in a delusional state couls support her.

    Tons of fanatics support Obama. Heck, Obama himself is a fanatic. Listen to what he said about “small town people” turning away from the government and “towards guns” and getting mad about “gay marriage.” You and I both know these are facts, as they’ve been all over the news.

    Actually, on this one I think Obama is pretty close to correct.

    I protested Bill and Hillary last year. There was an event in Austin, a fundraiser (actually, several) which people were charged over $10K per plate. You wouldn’t believe some of the idiots who attended. They wanted Bill to be President AGAIN! They said, and I quote, “I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Bill Clinton to run this country.”

    I believe you completely. I went to a charity fundraiser with some of the same folks on Saturday.

    I’m sorry that you’re disappointed in Ron Paul for agreeing to speak to JBS. What is he supposed to do? Say no, and have someone else speak, and have yet more people say that he didn’t speak because he’s not really running anymore, that he’s given up?

    But he himself has said repeatedly that he’s not running anymore and that his current appearances are to promote the movement, which makes good sense to me.

    And for the record he was invited to speak at the Republican Liberty Caucus convention that same weekend and chose the Birchers instead.

    You know, I’m particularly disappointed because in his recent speeches he’s really emphasized the idea of his supporters moving into the GOP and working with the mainstream and trying to accomplish something positive, and it just seems like linking up with the JBS undoes a lot of that good work.

    I’m probably the most anti-communist, anti-socialist person you’re likely to encounter, but on that score the Birchers and their followers lose me because they go after the wrong targets. They go after international corporations as communist front groups and after the military for having been infiltrated with commies. And after the CFR which was specifically formed to fight communism. What a stupid waste of effort when there are real threats staring us all in the face.

    As far as the editorial practice, I apologize for somehow being under the impression from something you said to me that you were one of the editors. However, even so, you know about the policy, and you DID still do a lot of name-calling. The article appeared very bitter and vindictive. I’m not saying you are bitter and vindictive. But I did have to read the name of the author twice to make sure that it was actually you who wrote it.

    I am an editor at BC, but I didn’t write the policy. And the policy applies specifically to insults directed at other users in the comments, not to criticisms of public figures in the articles themselves.

    Dave

  8. I don’t see that he is quitting anywhere except for the same media which had already projected John McCain the winner before we went to the polls. There has been no official ‘drop out’ of this campaign. You are no better than the pack of liars at Fox News, ABC, or CNN. They play a key role in ripping off our elections along with Diebold and the others on the payroll. You are one of them Dave.

    A bunch of people have said this to me. Show me some evidence. All I have to go on is Paul’s own statements which clearly say that he is no longer campaigning for the presidency. I’m willing to be convinced I’m wrong, but no one has come up with any evidence yet.

    Dave

  9. Please show me his statement officially dropping from the Presidential race. I couldn’t find it on his site. Show me the evidence where he officially dropped out of the race like Huck and the others. What I saw was him encouraging everyone to push forward and then I saw CNN and the Washington post stating that he was dropping out.
    Maybe I’m not seeing it because it’s hard for me not to have hope for a leader who would make real change for the people and not spoils for the big corporations.

    I really don’t think we got a fair shake. Everyone in the mainstream media have been dismissing him as a kook from the beginning and have denied him access to debates, removed him from their polls/stats, etc. They have made their selections. They barely even talk about the Republican Party when they are talking about our next President. They influence elections and sell lies to the World on every topic imaginable.

    If Ron Paul would have been given half the airtime as Billary or Obama he would have had a chance. Instead, we will likely have more of the same and more of it.

    Like you, I hope that some good will come out of this and that good people will get in office and turn things around. Our dollar is going down, gas prices (which affect everything) is going up, and there have been no real efforts to solve it. We are spending trillions on a war that we started, we have military bases all over the world and have even sent our Nation Guard to war, and most people are not even looking. That is my simple perception.

    I still don’t get where you are coming from. It’s not fair for me to call you a liar and I apologize for that. Do you agree that there are huge problems which no one is actively trying to fix? Are you comfortable with the direction that our country is headed in?

    Stephen

  10. Re-attempt:
    I will be the first one to admit that mixed messages have come from the Ron Paul Campaign as to his standings. A large part of that can be blamed on the influence of the MSM, who act as though he is crazy for thinking that he has a chance. Everyone is quick to label Ron Paul and his supporters as fanatics. So, aren’t we labeled as even more fanatical in believing in him, despite the fact that he and his supporters persevere, determined to write him in ourselves on the ballot in November, if need be.

    However, to clear up any confusion, one only has to go to http://www.ronpaul2008.com/ , his official site, and see that not only does the Banner Ad talk about winning delegates for your precinct for Ron Paul, but also that “Now There Are Two” with Ron Paul and John McCain is boldly and prominently displayed on the site.

    Also, if you click on my site, http://deweynewz.blogspot.com/ , you will see, all the way to the right, that Ron Paul was on Neil Cavuto’s site as recently as last night. Neil even brings up how the MSM has deliberately tried to make him a fringe candidate from the very beginning and ignored him. This YouTube video is definitely worth watching, as Ron Paul articulates a lot of his campaign resolutions and a lot of the issues troubling our econonomy and our country.

    And here is also an Idaho Falls, Idaho article from yesterday, talking about Ron Paul supporters protesting the IRS on April 15th. Ron Paul will be campaigning in Twin Falls on April 25th.

    I have more campaign updates, if necessary, including his phenomenal success in Pennsylvania and the tremendous support he is receiving on the campaign trail.

    Let’s try to please embrace his message and evaluate the critical issues which he is bringing to the forefront of everyone’s minds, as opposed to nit picking him for appearances and trying to tear him down for every little thing we can think of in a slanted attempt to assassinate his campaign.

    Thanks, everyone!
    – George

  11. Please show me his statement officially dropping from the Presidential race. I couldn’t find it on his site. Show me the evidence where he officially dropped out of the race like Huck and the others. What I saw was him encouraging everyone to push forward and then I saw CNN and the Washington post stating that he was dropping out.

    Actually, I didn’t say he had ‘dropped out’ or officially conceded, because he hasn’t. Even the two sources you list got that straight. What the article says and what he has clearly done is to suspend his campaign as he states in the video I link to in the article. What that means is that he’s acknowledging he isn’t going to win, but he’s holding on to his delegates until the convention and staying on the ballot in the remaining states. What he’s not going to do is raise or spend money or pretend that he can still win.

    And what he’s been doing since last month is basically campaigning to influence the platform and encourage his supporters to continue to participate in the process. If McCain ends up the nominee, but with a Ron Paul platform that could be pretty interesting. Remember, McCain for all is faults, DOES listen to the people and respond.

    I really don’t think we got a fair shake. Everyone in the mainstream media have been dismissing him as a kook from the beginning and have denied him access to debates, removed him from their polls/stats, etc. They have made their selections. They barely even talk about the Republican Party when they are talking about our next President. They influence elections and sell lies to the World on every topic imaginable.

    I think there was some dismissiveness, but I don’t think he was portrayed as a kook. He may not have been taken very seriously, but it was because he was seen as such a long shot not because of any particular animosity. Before he ran for president he was a popular guest on a lot of the cable news networks, and his general message should have been more appealing to most people in the MSM than that of other Republicans.

    If Ron Paul would have been given half the airtime as Billary or Obama he would have had a chance. Instead, we will likely have more of the same and more of it.

    Maybe, but I have to say that Paul’s not that charismatic, so it might actually have worked against him. What I think he has accomplished is that when the next Ron Paul runs – someone younger and more charismatic like Mark Sanford – he’ll get taken a lot more seriously from the start.

    Dave

  12. Headline from Washington Post: Paul Ends His Campaign

    If McCain ends up the nominee, but with a Ron Paul platform that could be pretty interesting. Remember, McCain for all is faults, DOES listen to the people and respond.
    Do you believe Bush was concerned with the Republican Parties resolutions or the platform? Why are we to believe that McCain would? Like George Bush, McCain will do whatever he intends to do!

    I think there was some dismissiveness, but I don’t think he was portrayed as a kook.

    I would have to disagree with that statement as I have seen it. One good example was the confrontation with dumb ass Guliani over 911 and blowback. They tried to spin the hell out of it. I have heard the commentators go as far as to call him a nut job. Nice try Dave.

  13. Stephen, I have to admit to not watching the cable news networks much at all. There’s too much ranting and idiocy for me to stand it – and not just on Fox News. The others are just about as bad, plus Larry King scares me.

    My assessment is mostly based on the Sunday morning talking head shows and on those Paul got a pretty fair shake.

    Dave

  14. Dave, I’m glad to hear that. Both that you don’t follow mainstream news and that he got a fair shake on the Sunday morning shows. I don’t really watch TV either, but see lots of YouTube clips and I will skim over RSS feeds with MSM.

    On another note, have you heard the Tim Robins speech? I was just listening and thought it was pretty good. Check it out: http://adage.com/article?article_id=126431

    Thanks,
    Stephen

  15. I generally find Tim Robbins to be a tool, but that may come from my impression when I met him many years ago – I was less than impressed by his behavior. I’ll check out the video, tho.

    As for YouTube, what you see there can’t be considered representative, because someone has pre-selected it to put on the site, and they wouldn’t have put it there if they didn’t think it was controversial or troubling, so all you get is the low points.

    Dave

  16. Well, I listened to the Robbins speech. Sounds like he wants to replace tabloid journalism with propaganda – presumably leftist. A lot of folks complain that the media is already too partisan, and Robbins seems not to see that as a problem. He also seems not to have cable, because there’s plenty of the kind of higher-quality programming he’s talking about on the cable networks.

    Dave

  17. As for YouTube, what you see there can’t be considered representative, because someone has pre-selected it to put on the site, and they wouldn’t have put it there if they didn’t think it was controversial or troubling, so all you get is the low points.

    I concur. I try to get different angles by watching different sources for the same topic. You are right about that.

    I don’t know what Tim Robins agendas are or what he would like to see. A friend turned me on to it and I thought he said some good positive things.

    Stephen

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