As a jaded university student, a disenchanted Obama supporter and an outspoken critic of the merciless slaughtering of innocents, I've found myself in an electoral dilemma as of late.
That is, I want to like Ron Paul, I really do.
After all, he's the kind of guy I can see myself could shoving in the face of America's badmouthers, boasting, once and for all, that we aren't all war-crazed and oil-thirsty and set on wiping the Middle East and its brood off the face of the earth. The kind of guy who's willing to call America out on pressing frivolities like heinous war crimes and racial disparities in drug arrests and (yawn) a lack of transparency in the central banking system that almost certainly led us to economic collapse. Paul is someone you might see credulously hording bricks of gold in times of economic despair, cradling, shielding them like they're little baby Rands (son, not cold-blooded author), only better, because they're more valuable than an unspoken oath of fidelity to fancily decorated paper.
A little extreme, I know, but he's a far cry from, say, someone who would murder hundreds of thousands on a false pretense of national security. Put simply, in an entirely paradoxical world, Ron Paul is everything you'd expect out of an aging politician from Texas.
He's intelligent, calculating and passionate -- not about screwing Americans out of every last freedom they have, but rather, about pouring his ideological holy water of "liberty" into society, in whatever way, however impractical and unrealistic, he can -- like by legalizing heroin. Paul is charming, too, at least as much as his untailored suit and coy "nothing-to-smile-about" smile will allow.
But in our painfully normal and ordinary world, the kind of place where "good" and "politician" are about as synonymous as "humble" and "Gingrich," Dr. Paul is a human being good to be true.
Paul is a polarizing figure, yes, but one with a tragic flaw that people like me (college students, minorities, anyone with a soul and frequent synaptic responses) should meet with the kind of disgust certain cold-blooded Republicans feel when gay soldiers audaciously appear at their debates.
Of course, Paul's questionable past, which involves him signing off on hundreds of newsletters that made inflammatory claims toward homosexuals, racial and ethnic minorities and other magnets of bigotry, has been well documented for years now. Paul has been denying the whole thing for just as long. But any notion that he isn't responsible for the content of Armageddon roadmaps like "The Ron Paul Political Report" and "The Ron Paul Survival Report" is immediately offset by the fact that they bear his very name in large print -- at the top -- where it matters. It's like The Huffington Post if The Huffington Post were an extension arm of the Klan. Yes, Arianna would be culpable.
And if the rants weren't enough for you, realize that Paul cashed in on the operation, the one that put his signature on egregious claims like "opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions," the whole time.
As Reason, a Libertarian magazine, put it in 2008: "The publishing operation was lucrative. A tax document from June 1993 -- wrapping up the year in which the Political Report had published the "welfare checks" comment on the LA riots -- reported an annual income of $940,000 for Ron Paul & Associates... If Paul didn't know who was writing his newsletters, he knew they were a crucial source of income and a successful tool for building his fundraising base for a political comeback."
Now, just because it's clear (again) that Ron Paul doesn't have a prayer of winning the November election, doesn't mean we should let him, again, escape his reprehensible past scot-free. Paul's alternative views and use of sound reasoning have recently elevated him to the status of cult hero among Reddit-obsessed societal recluses, normally apathetic stoners and independent-minded voters alike. The existence of the aforementioned fanatics has effectively declared Paul president of the Internet, if nothing else.
Globalpost, a popular international news blog said in February: "Loved for his libertarian leanings on social issues and a non-interventionist foreign policy, Ron Paul will likely be the winner of the Internet's nomination. While those that believe voting serves no purpose still far outnumber Ron Paul's Internet army, the Texas congressmen has more support on the Internet than any other Republican presidential hopeful."
This isn't so much a problem as it is a virulent epidemic that must be brought to an immediate end. Lately, I've seen far too many of my friends fall victim to the man's ideological crack-cocaine of reasonable foreign policy and unreasonable everything-else. He's consistent, they say. And hey, maybe he'll legalize marijuana. They fail to realize that he won't stop 50 individual government entities from making it illegal themselves.
At a time of great division, of cynicism and patronage to one Rick Santorum, yes, Paul is just the insane idealist we all need. What people need to realize, though, is that he's got just enough crazy in him to also be a racist homophobe when it's not inconvenient. For his 2012 campaign alone, Paul has already received more than $6,000 from "people who have identified themselves as white separatists or supremacists, or who are listed on anti-hate group sites such as the Southern Poverty Law Center." And every now and then Paul will receive a suspect endorsement from the type of ignoble public figure who, for example, advocates using the death penalty on gays. But Paul, being the tolerant and kindhearted individual he is, usually proceeds to denounce the endorsement like anyone else with a soul would.
Or wait, no he doesn't.
Paul is to bigotry what rounds are to shotguns. They don't discriminate in performing their function, but that doesn't make them any less terrible for society. Paul's function? Promoting liberty, but tyrannically.
As a favorite VICE contributor of mine put it a few months ago, Paul's racism, if completely true, makes him "unfit to be a human being." Head over to VICE to see the diatribe that implicates Paul better than I could ever imagine. Seko's piece is the eye-opener all of Paul's supporters need.
As a former "Paulestinian" myself, I know the struggle. I know it's hard, and I know it's frustrating to abandon, seemingly the only faint glimmer of hope America has for a prosperous future. But America's future is better than a 76-year-old politician with beliefs mostly reminiscent of his time. Blindly supporting Paul only makes us enablers to a man who opposed perhaps the government's most celebrated effort at promoting liberty, aside from the emancipation: the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And doing so only confirms everyone's preconceived notions about the Internet -- that it's a stronghold of bigotry in modern society, living proof that racism is alive and well, and not just curled up in the corner somewhere bleeding slowly to death.
The fact is, Ron Paul is not hero. He's a champion of non-interventionist policy and small government, nothing more.
To the Internet that I know and love: Preconceived notions of society label you ignorant already, and those comments you posted on YouTube earlier calling the president a "Muslim human toilet" aren't helping. Like it or not, I have plenty of reasons to believe you're a racist.
Throw your support toward Ron Paul, Internet, and you'll effectively remove all doubt.