Ron Paul will win the Iowa Caucus whether he actually comes out on top or not. A win for him simply means a solid showing, which he'll make. He'll accomplish that feat because he has a legion of young, and not so young, fanatical true-believer devotees that have anointed him as the political second coming of St. Paul and Mother Teresa. They do three things that are absolutely indispensable to a successful campaign: organize, organize, organize.
They do it with zest because they buy hard into his off-beat views, from slashing government down to virtually nothing; to his controversial off beat quips on race matters. During the 2008 presidential campaign, they rabidly defended Paul against all comers even after he was unceremoniously dumped from the ballots. This created a huge problem not for the Democrats but for the GOP. The millions that went into a swoon over Paul were in no mood to mob the polls to vote for another placid, corporate, Beltway insider GOP presidential candidate. John McCain was that candidate.
The absence of Paul on any ballot meant an absence of thousands of voters who in any other season might have cast a vote for the GOP. GOP mainstream leaders thought then that they had seen the last of the aged party gadfly and his fanatical hordes. They assured that his extreme choke-the-eyes-out-of-government-view would not cloud the GOP's tunnel vision drive to make President Obama a one-term president in 2012. They were dead wrong. Paul not only refused to go quietly into the night but has emerged scarier than ever in 2012.
Paul's fanatical backers have been enthralled from the moment that Paul got a national platform to yap about the issues. He is their lone Jeremiah crying in the wilderness against big government, big taxes, big corporate domination, big socialized medicine, big wars; and demanding a return to unfettered liberty and freedom (conservative interpretation of it, that is). But that's not the only thing they like about Paul. He fanned anti-immigrant flames. In a 30 second TV spot that ran in New Hampshire during the 2008 campaign, he demanded that students from alleged terrorist countries be denied visas into the U.S. Paul offered no proof that there are hordes of students pouring into America to commit terrorist acts. The ad was more than just a cheap ploy to fan terrorism fears. This reinforced the worst in racial and religious stereotyping and negative typecasting. The stereotype is that anyone in America who is a Muslim with a non-white face is a terrorist.
Paul topped that with the infamous slavery quip that he made on Meet the Press during the campaign. He claimed the Civil War was an unnecessary bloodbath that could and should have been avoided. All Lincoln had to do was buy the slaves. Other slave promoting countries, asserts Paul, didn't fight wars and they ended slavery peacefully. Paul's historical dumbness could and should have been laughed off. It wasn't. It was intently debated, and defended. The scarier point was that it was taken seriously at all.
Paul's intrepid band of true believers was unfazed by the controversy; they reveled in it. Paul gave them plenty more ammunition. He asserted that blacks are criminally inclined, political dumb bells, and chronic welfare deadbeats. There was also the alleged Paul hobnob with a noted white supremacist. Here's what Paul on his campaign website ronpaul2008.com had to say about race. In fact, he even highlighted this as "Issue: Racism" on the site. "Government as an institution is particularly ill-suited to combat bigotry." In other words, the 1954 landmark Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of education school desegregation decision, the 1964 and 1968 Civil Rights Acts, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and legions of court decisions and state laws that bar discrimination are worthless. Worse, says Paul, they actually promote bigotry by dividing Americans into race and class.
Paul's views are an arcane blend of libertarianism, know-nothing Americanism, and ultra conservative laissez-faire limited government. In the four years since Paul rammed himself on the national scene as a name, he has gripped the imagination of millions of Americans who believe that Congress and the GOP and the Democrats are hopelessly insular, corrupt, inept, and that they are rushing headlong to spend the nation into free fall debt. This, they say will ultimately reduce the country to backwash penury nation status.
Paul made sure that he would stay within reach of grabbing the GOP presidential contender brass ring in Iowa by never wavering from his stock call in the debates for a debt free, bare bones government, and a neo-isolationist foreign policy. This has been a surefire formula to stir the juices of the frustrated, angry, and naive flock. This is the nightmare Paul adroitly poses for the GOP and the nation in Iowa and beyond.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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