Hoisted from Comments: Kate G. writes:
Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Economist Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: I think the phrase "tonal in content" is exactly right. When you talk to very energetic supporters of someone who comes out of nowhere, like Ron Paul, you find that they are, essentially, a blank screen onto which their supporters (even half hearted or backhanded ones like Jerry) project their dissatisfactions with other candidates. Their actual political histories and policy prescriptions are either not understood at all or misunderstood. But even more to the point their anti-glamor is a kind of plus. In a year when each of the other parties is struggling directly to appeal to some kind of typical charisma seeking voter (you like blacks--we've got a great one! you like women--here's your chance to vote for one! You like guys on tv? Here's one!) the "outsider" candidate is always one who is stunningly, almost bizarrely out of step with glamor. Ralph Nader? Dean? (although I loved him!)and Ron Paul appeal to the "illuminati are running everythign" crowd. Their very lack of sex appeal, their insistence on being an outsider--old, thin, ugly, tired, cheap, no photos with babes etc..etc...etc...--is their shtick. Anti glamor is a kind of glamor. And that is all their followers see.
To the retort that their followers actively like one stand or another that the candidate actually takes (I love the gold standard! I'm all for state's rights! blah blah) the thing to remember is that Ron Paul's followers are not more intelligent or more historically informed or more anythign than the regular run of voters. Just like people voted for Bush thinking that "clear skies" meant he was really an environmentalist people will vote for Ron Paul thinking, somehow, that he wouldn't allow a national ban on abortions or that he isn't a stormfront stooge. People just can't face up to the actual realities of our political offerings and the cognitive dissonance is too great. Only someone totally disaffected from the system can recognize that even the alternative candidates are terrible and no real alternative....
[G]e[ting]t charged with being racists, misogynists, and anti semites... are, historically, a badge of honor for republicans, certainly. They may have turned the "anti semite" thing around by working closely with the ADL and with the very vocal AIPAC but that doesn't mean that they don't market basic anti semitic storylines to the other rubes in the Republican alliance. But neither "racism" nor "misogyny" or downright sexism has ever proven a drawback for right wing politicians in other than a general election or a brief scrum of hysteria in the papers. For their base saying, for example, that blacks are genetically inferior to whites or that women shouldn't vote are actually calling cards--check out the bell curve and its defenders and Ann Coulter's oeuvre for everything else. She may be on the way out as a saleswoman but while she was hot she was very, very, hot and her quips and cracks marketing a hard line racism and sexism were very, very, popular.
What does all this have to do with Ron Paul? Well, he's still running as a Republican and attempting to appeal to a Republican party base, isn't he? The fact that some Democrats and third party progressive types are willing to be gulled by him and his followers doesn't impress me. Politics is like a game of telephone combined with a nigerian internet scam, for some people. They are always willing to believe a half understood rumor of great riches (or a noble post political candidate) more than they are willing to do their own homework and study up on the candidates actual history and policy proposals.
Ron Paul is a republican and any Republican who hasn't left the republican party officially out of shame can't get my vote for dog catcher. Is he also a racist and a misogynist? Well, sure it takes more than one quote from a few years ago though 1992 isn't really the dark ages for information technology and apologies but I know that David Neiwert, whose work I respect, has linked him with Storm front and I doubt it it is attributable to one phony quote. But Racism isn't the half of it. How about the sexism and the poor judgement to pander to a right wing base using code words like "state's rights" to attack women's rights and put pregnant women and families at the mercy of right wing anti abortion lunatics? I choose my words wisely. It has long been shown that "state's rights" is a dog whistle phrase used specifically and solely to garner attention and respect from both racists and sexists. Other areas of "state's rights" like the "right to die" or liberal drug laws or, hell, even EPA waivers are simply not politically important. Because they don't serve as code words for racist and sexist base politics.
We "turned gay marriage" over to the states in MA. and we've been hammered for it ever since by right wing anti gay activists who demand a national law on this matter. The existence of an "honest libertarian" like an honest republican has yet to be demonstrated. In my brief lifetime I've yet to meet either one and I doubt I've found one in Ron Paul.