By Joel S. Hirschhorn
Published January 17, 2008
(Editor's Note: Raise the Hammer occasionally publishes Joel S. Hirschhorn's non-partisan political commentary about the US for those RTH readers who are interested in following US politics. -Ed.)
The good news is the huge pent up public demand for political change in the United States. The bad news is that presidential candidates have made a mockery of the concept of change while ignoring true political reforms.
Missing are details about fixing the corrupt, dysfunctional political system and restoring balance among the three branches of government and between the states and the federal government.
So what kind of change do people want? The Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey last month of both Democrats and Republicans found 24 percent of voters favor "small adjustments" in America, 29 percent want "moderate corrections," but 46 percent thankfully seek "major reforms" and a "brand-new" approach.
When people rally behind false change agents, something worse than being disappointed and having their hopes killed happens: the national energy for real change is wasted.
In the end, false change agents protect the status quo political establishment. Hope is replaced by despair for disaffected anti-establishment masses.
The worst false change agent is Ron Paul. An early sign of trouble was that Paul supporters seemed to worship him as if he is the long-awaited savior for America, akin to one of our Founding Fathers.
In their writing and behavior, they seem like members of a cult, not thoughtful political activists open to new information.
They don't appreciate the need to have disagreements without being disagreeable. Though their hero speaks of persuasion, his supporters express obnoxious in-your-face anger, disparagement, and intimidation. They show disdain for others that want major political change but do not support Paul.
For years before he became a Republican presidential candidate, I had admired Paul for his maverick behavior in Congress and had a very pleasant meeting with him.
But I had doubts about most of his policy goals, and his use of pork spending earmarks to get billions of dollars for his district was troubling. Paul remains a change talker, not a change agent.
The more I examined what he wanted to do as president the more he looked like the emperor with no clothes. He never produced detailed plans on how he would use new legislation, presidential actions or constitutional amendments.
This is especially important for his drastic changes, such as eliminating much of the federal government and putting the country's currency back on the gold standard.
His supporters never seem to demand details. Paul and his supporters exhibit therapeutic activism: activism that makes them feel good but lacks details necessary to convince others.
Yes, I have advocated a Second American Revolution and Paul's supporters also want a revolution. But a revolution requires leaders that can communicate so effectively with diverse Americans that massive public support results.
Paul and his supporters give freedom their highest priority, but do not welcome the exercise of freedom by Americans to reject their beliefs.
As Gary Wood, a Paul supporter correctly observed:
You will create more damage to our cause than good if you continue to spew hatred and poisonous venom rather than reason and kindness. Threats and nasty vile hatred will not spread our message; only detract from the importance of liberty and freedom.
Paul, the professed champion of the US Constitution, brings it up in virtually every public statement and claims to believe in a strict reading of it. But he refuses to honor what is in Article V: the option the Founders gave us to have state delegates in a convention consider proposals for constitutional amendments.
The one and only numeric requirement in Article V has been more than satisfied, as explained by Friends of an Article V Convention. Yet Paul has not demanded that members of Congress obey Article V and their oath of office to obey the Constitution. This is no trivial matter.
You would think he would honor the purpose of the Article V convention option: a way to circumvent an ineffective federal government and restore balance between it and the states.
Paul should use his candidacy to make a public commitment to get the nation's first Article V convention. That would be revolutionary.
Nor has Paul forcefully criticized the two-party stranglehold on the political system, despite once losing as a Libertarian Party presidential candidate pushing the same policy ideas.
Nor has he clamored for the impeachment of George W. Bush, whose foreign policies contradict Paul's isolationist beliefs.
There's no reason for Paul to be concerned about Bush supporters: only 4 percent of Republicans support Paul. Citizens in Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire (a libertarian stronghold), and now Michigan have not succumbed to Paul's demonology. Despite having considerable money, Paul has won no delegates.
Whether other candidates are true reformers remains doubtful. Obama's glib talk of more bipartisanship smacks of protecting the status quo political establishment.
Huckabee's religiosity and Romney's automaton personality are plain frightening, as are McCain's and Giuliani's bellicose beliefs.
Edwards looks like the real thing, but like Kucinich has been outspent by Obama and the ever-phony Clinton, whose first change priority is moving back into the White House.
Like others, I want Mike Bloomberg to enter the race as an independent candidate, if only to mount a serious attack on the two-party stranglehold on our political system.
(Ron Paul supporters can send their usual hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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