"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
Exclusive to STR
May 14, 2007
Get on the bus! We're getting the band back together. It's rock 'n' roll time. We're taking back America, mile by mile, man and woman alike, one convert at a time. Did you see the debates? Did you SEE them? DID YOU?!? Ron Paul (who?) totally kicked, like, all of the ass on the planet, man! He made the other poli-ticks look like the fools they were, spearing inane questions with the no-bullshit Austrian Lance of Truth like lazy fish in some South Pacific tropical lagoon! He stuck it to the Man! He could be The One, I tell you, the One! Tank, load us up! We're on a mission from God!
Stolen but omni-apropos clich': Houston, we have a problem.
I hate to be that guy. You know, *that* libertarian guy (generally Libertarian, actually), who, in the middle of the discussion about principles, starts raising questions of strategy. I hate that guy myself, because the filthy C-word inevitably passes his lips ("compromise"), and God only knows I hew to the Genghis Khan/Vlad the Impaler/Scorched-Earth school of practical warfare, where the best defense is sheer bloodthirst and the war is not over until you can pave a road across the steppe using your enemies' skulls as cobblestones. (So I am told by those victims foolhardy enough to play Risk with me, anyway. Whiners.) My idea of compromise invariably involves a guillotine. Believe me, I understand the visceral hackle-raising lip-curling antipathy to the timid, soft-skinned, mild-mannered bespectacled geek who hesitantly raises his hand at the discussion about whether it is better to tar and feather tax-eaters or simply chain them to a post and flog them and stammers "Um, um, guys? What about <obscure point X that nobody knows or cares about>, <some aspect of public opinion that nobody cares about>, <etc.>...?", sparking a new debate about whether it is better to tar and feather the bespectacled geek or simply chain him to a post and flog him. I get it. I feel your pain, to steal another omni-apropos clich' from a previous Supreme Kommissar.
However, it is written that the sons of the world are wiser in their ways than the sons of light, and that ye shall be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, and other neat quotes orbiting around the concept of "thou shalt not keep thy head in thy ass with respect to worldly matters, no matter how much thou wouldst like to". It therefore behooves those of us who are concerned about such things to ask this apparently simple question:
Do we really want Ron Paul to win?
Yeah, Ron Paul is a long-shot. However, the funny thing about long-shots is that every once in awhile they pay off. Once in a blue moon, that busted-up two-steps-from-the-glue-factory old racehorse manages to dig down deep inside and pull a victory seemingly out of nowhere. Usually, this is because all the other racehorses have been hobbled or doped, generally because some unsavory racketeer wants to ensure that his large investment maintains its high yield without resorting to the usual expedient of simply crushing kneecaps to ensure this outcome. This tableau is curiously appropriate to this situation.
The current administration has engaged in every aspect of overweening State-building madness that it is conceivable to imagine. Warfare? Got that. Destruction of the dollar? Got that too. Welfare? Yup. Education? Uh-huh. Gestapo and gulags, spying and socialism, legislation and protectionism? Circle "all of the above". The list goes on. Most of these plans have been lifted straight from the Democrat playbook (itself a cheap, speckled, and fuzzy third-generation photocopy of the original Marxist playbook). All of them have been used. The Austrian economists in the crowd will immediately recognize all of the above as having second- and higher-order effects that (a) are uniformly unpleasant and (b) take time to manifest.
Recall that the 2000 stock market shock and ensuing doldrums were credited to Bush and the prosperity of the 1990s bubble to Clinton, though in truth neither were the architects of these things, nor had anything to do with them in the first place. These occurrences were credited to these administrations due to simple temporal coincidence; Pharaoh Viagrahotep sits on the throne, therefore dumbidea.com breaking $100/share on its IPO is due to his sublime excellence; now Pharaoh Moronamun is large and in charge, therefore the sinking economy is due to his failure. We marvel at the tree, but do not consider the acorn that spawned it. We seem hard-wired to believe that if it occurs on your watch it's your fault, irrespective of circumstance or consequence.
This brings me to my main point. Those of us in America do not, as yet, feel the effects of much of the malevolent silliness enacted by this and previous administrations. Few of us are jostling to buy groceries from decrepit plucked-bare stores with wheelbarrows full of worthless intaglio asswipe pace Zimbabwe, for example, and nearly nobody has spent time inside a concentration camp (strike/edit plusquick Newspeak "terrorist detention center" stop retrofile original memoryhole) These things take time, and the time is almost nigh; one cannot piss away ten trillion dollars on credit without getting a series of decreasingly polite calls from one's creditors wondering when they're going to see their money again, nor can one establish a gulag archipelago and series of Enabling Acts and expect them to lay dormant or only used on the "right" people. The Presidency is a blade with two edges; the President takes the credit for things which go right ("O, Pharaoh!") and the blame for things which go wrong ("Oh. Pharaoh.") The Presidency has little actual power to influence things, though; the current Presidency has achieved its goals largely due to a supine and/or complicit Congress and judiciary. Want to see them finally assert themselves? Want to see some backbone and spitting defiance? Give them a President who attempts to dismantle any of the useless and despotic laws and bureaucracies we are thrice-blessed to endure. You will see a hailstorm of righteous indignation about how the Presidency hasn't the authority to declare unconstitutional and strike from the law the Omnibus Chicken Sodomy Act (with related riders governing the issuance of two types of car insurance, provision of adult incontinence undergarments for the homeless, more money for the Big Dig in Massachusetts, and regulations about the sale of flags no larger than three inches measured diagonally at football or baseball stadiums in the Western states) along with procedural hamstringing to prevent it, despite the Unitary Executive's apparently universally-accepted power to order the outright murder and/or expropriation of anybody, anywhere, for any reason. Ron Paul would, if elected President, face immediate gridlock; he could, at best, accomplish exactly nothing. What would likely happen is that he would serve as a lightning rod for further calumny leveled against "free-market" policies, which policies would be likened by critics to those enacted by the current administration. (Please, please, please hold your laughter until the paragraph comes to a complete stop.) All economic and political woes shall be laid squarely on his doorstep. And there will be economic and political woes, believe you me: two/three/four/more-front wars in the Middle East and related bills for the prosecution of the war, replenishment of destroyed military equipment and personnel, medical care for veterans, and so forth; a tanking dollar that the Chinese are decreasingly enthusiastic about propping up; a resurgent Russia; increasing costs for all things on all levels, for which the rise in gas prices is only a harbinger; unemployment; you name it. In short, the bill for the big blowout party we've been having for the last hundred years will be presented, with all interest due, just in time for Ron Paul to sign off on it.
Result: Liberty gets a black eye. Again.
We know that this hangover is going to suck; we know that whoever is at visibly at the controls when it hits will receive all the blame; why, then, do so many propose that the liberty-oriented stand up now and volunteer to *take* this blame? Does that strike anyone else as, oh, I dunno, possibly not the very best of ideas? Frankly, I find the idea of Hillary Clinton holding the bag far more appealing; at least nobody can claim with a straight face that she represents any sort of libertarian philosophy whatsoever.
The time for a Ron Paul Presidency, if a Presidency can be said to be a good idea, is *after* Left- and Right-Socialist schemes have been given their chance to fail and not before or during. Let the fool reap what he hath sown; a rich harvest of woe after a long season of folly. Do Lady Liberty a favor, Ron, and just stick around in the Congress; you cannot stop this train from derailing, the only thing you can do is take the blame for it, an act that would bring all your work for liberty to naught.