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Idealistic Voting Bloc: Ron Paul's Appeal to the 18-29 Electorate

Gary North
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Jan. 7, 2012

The youth vote was the big news for Obama in 2008. He was seen as the candidate of the disaffected youth. This assessment was accurate. They did rally to him. But he failed to deliver. He turned out to be the vetted President. The Council on Foreign Relations had sanctioned him, and he delivered the goods, as every President has since 1924, except for Reagan.

Obama's magic has faded. He did not shut down Guantanamo. He did not get out of Iraq until al-Malkiki's government demanded that the U.S. remove our troops. He never promised to get out of Afghanistan. So, the peace faction inside the Democrat Party, always in the minority, has once again had to eat crow.

The age of idealism is 18-29, when personal commitments are low. The cost of being an idealist are low. As economists say, when the price of something is low, more is demanded. This is surely true of idealism.

Nevertheless, some of this youthful idealism sticks for a while, sometimes a long while. The attitudes that are formed in one's idealistic youth somehow survive the years of running head-first into institutional brick walls.

In the Iowa caucuses, he received 48% of the votes of those in the 17 to 29 age group. What is remarkable about this is Paul's age. At 76, he is far removed from the presumed concerns of the youngsters. And yet his words and his voting record have gained him their support.

This is bad news for the existing Republican majority. The conservatives who entered the party in 1980, at the height of the Cold War, are still fighting the mental battles of that era. This is understandable. Their idealism was forged in an era in which the world had lived in the shadow of nuclear war ever since 1962, when the youthful and supposedly idealistic John Kennedy almost started World War III in October.

The USSR committed suicide in December 1991. The Pentagon's budget did not get cut. It was increased. The rhetoric of the clash of empires has remained. Clinton did not change this. He took us into war in Bosnia. Does anyone recall why? Bush II escalated this rhetoric. He was able to get Congress to pass the Patriot Act, which had been Clinton's goal. It was called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995. Joe Biden's office drafted most of it.

The idealism of one era tends to become established opinion in the next. "Ask what you can do for your country" became the Kennedy's era idealism. Coupled with Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation plus Johnson's war in Vietnam, Nixon solidified the system. The same rulers were in charge: the CFR. Jimmy Carter, a Trilateral Commission member from the beginning in 1973, did not change anything.

Reagan changed the rhetoric. This was important. He also sped up the bankruptcy of the USSR. But Bush's team ran the day-to-day White House. James Baker was Bush's point man inside Reagan's Administration. The system got bigger. Reagan also presided over the deficits, beginning in 1983.

President by President, the idealism of youth gets absorbed into the institutionalized system, always expanding the power of the system. Congress runs the way it was explained to Eddie Murphy in The Distinguished Gentleman. Murphy plays a small-time con man who accidentally gets elected to Congress. There, he meets the big-time con men.

Ron Paul is different. He survived Congress and did not sell out to the system. That's why, at age 76, he is so appealing to the idealistic youth in the party. He is living proof that a principled man can survive in the system. The problem is, such a man cannot move the system. The system, like an iceberg, floats along with the current of the era.

The Christian Science Monitor asked: "Does Ron Paul want to be president or a prophet?" It has been clear since his election in 1976 that the answer is: prophet.

This appeals to the young. It does not appeal to the old. The older members of both parties are still enthralled by the Punch and Judy show orchestrated by the CFR. CFR Team A fights valiantly to defeat CFR Team B. The left wing of the CFR is presently occupying the White House. Republicans dream of a victory of the right wing of the CFR.

Ron Paul has a slogan that describes this. In the "Prophet" article, he is quoted as saying this of his rivals: "They come and they go, and they all belong to the status quo." This is accurate. The young supporters know it's accurate. They are not willing to fall into lock-step with the status quo.

If he loses, he will retain a portion of his younger followers. I hope that his mailing list will be kept alive by mailings. In 1976, I persuaded him to set up a Code-A-Phone system in his home district. Constituents could call free of charge to hear a short weekly message. He took my advice. When he lost in November, he went home to Lake Jackson. But he kept that weekly commentary going. In 1978, he defeated the man who beat him by under 300 votes in 1976. I think he will do the same with his sites and email lists. Anyway, I hope so.

If he did two things, he could change the nation. First, he sets up a Ron Paul Academy. It would be like the Khan Academy: free courses aimed at for home schoolers. He could specialize: a high school curriculum. Second, he sets up a training program on how to get elected in local political races.

With the academy, he attains continuity for his ideas. With the political training program, he channels the enthusiasm demonstrated by his supporters into real-world change. If he just did one thing, namely, show his followers how to organize against bond issues, this would change the political landscape within a decade. It would strangle the expansion of local government.

This is doable. This is how the idealism of his followers could be translated into a long-term political movement based on his principles of limited civil government and the decentralization of political power.

The longer he stays in the race, the larger his mailing list will get. The longer his mailing list gets, the more influence he will have at age 85.

There is a precedent for this. William Jennings Bryan with one speech transformed the Democrat Party from a libertarian party to a statist party. That was in 1896. He ran three times as the Democrat candidate: 1896, 1900, and 1908. He lost. He stayed on the speaking circuit.

Meanwhile, his brother Charles built his mailing list. This was the first national political mailing list. It kept his brother's name in front of the voters. So influential was this list that the Democrats nominated Charles as their Vice Presidential candidate in 1924. This was nine years after Bryan had resigned as Wilson's Secretary of State in opposition to Wilson's non-neutrality regarding the war in Europe. By 1924, Bryan had become a crusader against Darwinism in the public schools. Still, the convention nominated Charles to run with New York lawyer John W. Davis, a founder of the CFR in 1921, and the first CFR member to be nominated by a political party as its Presidential candidate. He lost to Coolidge, the last President not to be have his administration run by the CFR.

The youth who are flocking to Ron Paul's campaign need not scatter if he loses. If the organization can make the transition from running for President to reconstructing American politics from the bottom up, his legacy will become a turning point in American history. If this is backed up by a pro-free market online curriculum, this will serve as the foundation of a freer society after Washington's Great Default.

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