Ron Paul started a revolution, a mass movement of Americans fed up with politics as usual. That movement survived both of Paul’s recent presidential campaigns, and is alive and stronger than ever in the 2016 election, under the banner of its new leader: Donald Trump.
Now before you nail me to a cross wrapped in the Constitution with a placard reading “King of the Liberty Heretics,” calm your religious fervor and allow me to explain. Donald Trump is in no way the philosophical successor of Ron Paul; the two couldn’t be further apart in that regard. In terms of approach to governance and commitment to liberty, Trump likely has more in common with the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea than he does with Dr. Paul. Of the Republican presidential field vying for victory in the 2016 election, the candidate who most resembles Ron Paul’s ideals is his son, Rand. That’s not what this is about.
The few, proud, hardcore liberty lovers there were in 2008 instantly related to Ron Paul’s message of freedom. However, let’s not pretend that his libertarianism is what set the movement in motion; if that had been the case, the liberty firestorm would have been ignited by any number of philosophically sound candidates during the previous decades. The real appeal of the Paul candidacy was his honest, unabashed populism. Here was a man who couldn’t be bought. Who fought for the little guy. Who wanted to end politics as usual. This was a guy who was incorruptible, who had a certain crazy fire in his eye, and had speeches that told us what we all needed to hear: “I’m on your side, I won’t let you down, and I’ll fight for you with all my might until my dying breath.” Ron Paul wasn’t just an ally. He was a damn superhero.
There have been others who appealed to this primal “hero of the people” role. On the left, Dennis Kucinich energized a segment of voters tired of the Democratic Party’s rhetorically restrained socialism. Now, the mantle of champion to the politically left-leaning masses has passed on to Bernie Sanders, garnering a much more fervent support than Kucinich ever could. The right-leaning populace has also been searching for a man who will fight for them, and has (at least temporarily) found their champion in Donald Trump. Yes, he may very well be an incorrigible narcissist only in it for glory and profit, but his followers don’t know or care. He can’t be bullied or bought. He’s a major pain in the neck to the entire establishment, frequently taunting their officers like the middle school class clown. He blames all our problems on “other people” and insultingly shouts down all those who disagree. He’s 2016’s ultimate “our guy.”
Which brings me back to Rand Paul. His father blazed the liberty trail, bringing back the gospel of limited government, sound money, and peaceful foreign policy to the national debate like a veritable freedom blitzkrieg. Rand has taken up the battle standard, but instead of mounting it atop a metaphorical metal death machine and charging through another sizable chunk of establishment territory, he has chosen to mount it on a Maginot Line, fortifying his position instead of gaining (and perhaps even losing) ground. He has focused on making liberty safe and respectable rather than keeping it dangerous and cutting-edge. I’m no electoral strategist, and Rand Paul is likely a much smarter man than me who knows exactly what he’s doing. What I’m attempting to achieve here is to bring some understanding as to why so many American voters have jumped on the Trump wagon of insanity.
There’s a flame of resistance burning in hearts and minds across America, a fire that Ron Paul started. Donald Trump is gleefully feeding the blaze like a drunken pyromaniac, not caring to where the fire spreads, unlike his predecessor. Let’s pray that he exercises enough common sense to avoid burning down the whole damn country.