Divided We Fall?

There may be trouble on the horizon for the Ron Paul Revolution.

The trouble stems from recent good news out of the Constitution Party national convention. Delegates overwhelmingly rejected Alan Keyes, “a warmonger, neocon, and egomanic”, favor of Chuck Baldwin, a Baptist pastor who strongly supports Ron Paul. Adam Graham, who saw the CP convention as a farce, calls the selection of Baldwin, a candidate “you’ve never heard of”, “amazingly stupid“. Jim Powers calls it a “false start” for the Constitution Party.

First, I agree with the paleocons who “praised the Constitutionalists for sticking to their principles“. Keyes is a perpetual candidate who, like Ralph Nader, seems to be overly impressed with his imagined importance and to have a bit of a martyr complex. While he enjoys more name recognition than most third-party candidates, I’m not convinced all (or even most) of the publicity is positive. Furthermore, as a newcomer to the Constitution Party, I think he should have to demonstrate his loyalty to the party and its core beliefs before running for so much as dogcatcher as a CP candidate. The CP, like any other party, has the right to freely associate, and a subsidiary right is ability to determine who can and will represent the party in any official capacity. CP members are not “amazingly stupid” for wanting to make sure Keyes didn’t switch parties just so he can be a big fish in a small pond or use the party to support an ego trip campaign. For these reasons alone CP members are not “amazingly stupid” for rejecting Keyes in favor of their 2004 VP candidate who has already demonstrated his dedication to the party and its platform. When Keyes’ neocon foreign policy stances are taken into account, I believe rejecting him is elevated from reasonable to laudable. If every conservative wanted to perpetuate the warfare state, the Constitution Party never would have come into existence.

Second, I have heard of Chuck Baldwin. Thanks to a number of articles championing Ron Paul over Mike “Evangelical” Huckabee, including some at Lew Rockwell’s well-read site, so have a lot of other Ron Paul supporters. In fact, that’s what worries me about the otherwise sensible decision to back Baldwin.

One of the strengths of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign could become one of its weaknesses if Dr. Paul remains steadfast in his resistance to run as a third-party candidate. That intersecting of blessing and curse is the diversity among Dr. Paul’s supporters. People from all over the the political spectrum (or chart) demonstrate a fanatical devotion rivaling that of Grateful Dead fans. Reasons for support are varied, as partially demonstrated by these articles at LewRockwell.com. I’ve seen evangelicals, hippies, and goths standing next to each and cheering for their common hero at one of his rallies. Will this motley crew be able to make a significant impact at the general election? I’m not sure, but the situation looks bad to me. Not only won’t Paul’s name be on the ballot in November, but there’s no immediate heir apparent to lead the movement. Chuck Baldwin is just one of the possible torch-bearers and would need a pretty strong endorsement from Dr. Paul to attract even a plurality of his army of activist voters.

For some, there can be no adequate replacement for Dr. Paul, at least not in this election. Thus, some of the “Ron Paul vote” will go to Ron Paul himself. What of the rest?

One possible beneficiary of a general election without Ron Paul is the Democratic nominee. Some Paul supporters are so driven by desire to end the undeclared war in Iraq (not that I blame them), and so frightened of “wasting” their vote on a minor candidate who can’t win, that they’ll vote for anyone other than John “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McInsane, even a Big/Nanny government Democrat.

On the other hand, there are those who cannot bear the thought of a Democratic president and will vote for McCain. Stephen Gordon sums up how I feel about them.

There are two minor parties that are likely to attract Ron Paul Revolutionaries, the Libertarian Party, for which Ron Paul was a 1988 presidential candidate, and the Constitution Party. Choosing between these may present a real dilemma for this young movement.

The newly-nominated Constitution Party nominee, Chuck Baldwin, is likely to receive a number of votes from Ron Paul supporters. As I stated earlier, he’s likely to be known by a lot of Paulites. If this post at Taki’s Magazine is any indication, he’s likely to get a large chunk of their votes. He’s unlikely to get all of them, though. The Constitution Party isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. They firmly believe that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, rather than pure libertarianism and social contract theory. To me they’ve always seemed uncomfortably close to theocracy, due in large part to my perception that they treat the Constitution like sacred scripture, a sort of Third Testament of the Bible. I think the strong Evangelical overtones of the party will be unappealing to a lot of Dr. Paul’s non-Christian supporters. Also, some of their platform planks would be unacceptable by hard-core libertarians.

Whether Paulites will vote for the Libertarian nominee depends greatly who the party chooses [link added 04/30/08]. I don’t think most Paul supporters are particularly attracted to Wayne Allen Root, Mary Ruwart, or any of the other “doctrinally pure” candidates. Former Republican representative from the state of Georgia, Bob Barr, may be a different matter. Barr gave a very supportive introduction to Ron Paul at CPAC. On paper his positions seem to be highly compatible with Paul’s, but as the aforementioned Taki’s Magazine article mentions he’s left of Paul on immigration, which may turn some people off.

Pragmatists, loyalists, constitutionalists, and libertarians, oh my! There’s another group of Paul supporters, though. They’re the conspiracy theorists, and they’re not an insignificant group, in size or influence.

I’m not sure what the Alex Jones crowd will do with their votes. Some of them lost respect for Ron Paul when he rejected 9/11 conspiracy theories during the South Carolina debate. Others are mad that he won’t support delegates pledged to McCain if they break party rules (and, ironically, make a mockery of representative democracy) by voting for Dr. Paul in the first round. If Paul couldn’t keep them happy, I’m not sure who else could. The rest are likely to lump non-Paul third party candidates with Republicans and Democrats who are slaves to the New World Order. Whether folks in the paranoid camp will vote for a mainstream or third party candidate, write in Dr. Paul, or just sit out the election is beyond my ability to make an educated guess. Suffice to say that their power as a voting bloc is likely to be as divided and diluted as that of the whole movement.

What’s to become of the Ron Paul Revolution, then? Well, thanks to the timelessness of the ideals Dr. Paul promotes, the timeliness of his new book, and social networking technologies, I think the movement’s long-term prognosis is good. This is a grassroots movement with a foundation broader than any of its cliques’. There are countless Meetups and other groups, some transitioning and others brand new, ready to spread the message of returning to constitutional principles of freedom and prosperity through limited government. There are also educational organizations forming, such as Freedom’s Ground. As long as we can continue to maintain a coalition devoted to core principles we can all agree on, we’ll have the power to take back our rights and responsibilities as American citizens.

The 2008 presidential election is a different matter. I think we can expect to Ron Paul’s support to be splintered and the effectiveness of his campaign to be downplayed by media that already treat him like a crazy uncle. The powers that be, especially the neocons controlling the Republican Party, will spin the lack of a strong showing for any single third party candidate as failure of the movement. We’ll be called a cult of personality filled with out-of-touch kooks who “blame America first”. If all we had was this election, I might be depressed by the defeat we’re likely to endure. I’m sure we’ll lose some fair-weather supporters, but I’m hopeful that if this movement’s as important and as honorable as I think it is, I can some day proudly tell my grandkids about how I joined the fight to restore liberty to our republic.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

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