2012 is almost here, and with it, the real start of the Presidential Election campaign. In less than a week a few voters in Iowa will brave freezing temperatures and pick their favorite Republican to go up against Obama in November. As I write this, most polls indicate that one Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul is poised to capture the hearts and minds of die-hard Iowans.
I can see his appeal. Ron Paul is no dyed-in-the-wool Republican. Although he served in Congress as a Republican during the mid to late 70s and early 80s, Ronnie rose to political prominence as a Libertarian when he ran for President in 1988 and got over 400,000 votes, third most that election. After that loss, Ronnie took some time off from politics and went back to medicine, his first love.
Throughout this time, though, Ronnie continued to push his political agenda, most notably through Ron Paul & Associates, a company that he established in 1984 that produce various newsletters, including The Ron Paul Investment Letter, The Ron Paul Survival Report, and Ron Paul Political Report. He gained tens of thousands of subscribers and earned millions of dollars with these newsletters promoting his Libertarian ideas.
Flash forward twenty years: Ronnie’s back in Congress and running for president, again, this time as a Republican. We’re talking 2008, now. Much fuss is made at his ability to raise grassroots support and raise more funds than his Republican competitors, but also of his inability to get much attention from the mainstream media.
Now here we are after another four years, and there is no escaping the Ron Paul phenomenon. Unlike the last go round, Ronnie is invited to all the debates. However, with increased popularity comes increased scrutiny. Journalists’ interest in Ronnie’s old newsletters was piqued because, well, because Libertarians can believe some crazy shit. They came across some doozies.
An issue of The Ron Paul Report released as “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” after the L.A. riots claimed that “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. … What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided.”
Another issue stated: “Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action…. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
Yet another issue said: “We don’t think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That’s true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such.”
How does Ronnie defend himself? He didn’t do it. He claims that he wasn’t the author of any of the articles in question, that he was too busy to read them and that he disavows what they said while accepting moral responsibility, as publisher, for their content. Or at least that’s what he’s saying now. Back in 1996 when he decided to end his political hiatus and return to politics as a Republican in Texas he told a reporter that he opposes racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.”
So Ronnie defended what he wrote until he decided he didn’t even write it.
I’m no fan of Libertarianism. While I’m with them, to some degree, on some issues like drug policy, they are way off base when it comes to business regulation, taxes, affirmative action and education. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. What’s at issue is whether someone like Ron Paul deserves to even be considered for the office of the President of the United States.
Fuck no! Seriously, either this guy’s a closet racist (you know, the kind that LOVES the black folk he knows personally, but harbors a deep hatred for their kind as a whole) or a horrible manager. Let’s give Ronnie the benefit of the doubt and assume that others wrote the articles in his name, most written in first person as if he wrote them, himself. If this man can’t be trusted to oversee what’s written in his own newsletter, how can he be trusted to oversee the most powerful nation in the world? He can’t.
I would rather he was a racist. At least then I could have respect for him being honest about his views, or perhaps overcoming them to see the light. With his inconsistent denials and excuses, the only thing Ronnie has shown America is that he has tons of crazy ideas and rabid followers who will defend him regardless to what evidence is presented. This country needs a proven leader, not a cult figure who appears, by many counts, to be, if not terribly inept, then little more than just another hater. Isn’t there enough ineptitude and hate in government, already?
Fernando Quijano III is the former President of the Maryland Writers Association, Baltimore Chapter. His work has been featured in Welter, Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore & the poetry anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. An excerpt from his unpublished novel, Forever, Lilith was included in the Apprentice House anthology Freshly Squeezed. He has been featured at the Baltimore Book Festival, Stoop Storytelling, & The Signal on WYPR, Baltimore's local NPR station. In his spare time, Fernando volunteers to lead workshops for Writing Outside the Fence, a program for the ex-offender community, as well as at the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility. Fernando was recently awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.