It occurs to me that the New York Times, which will undoubtedly endorse Obama’s reelection against whomever is the Republican candidate, should be eagerly supporting Paul’s candidacy, and especially so if he chooses to run a third-party campaign after failing to win the Republican nomination. The contingent of Republican voters that support Paul would likely follow him to a third-party candidacy, which would virtually assure Obama’s reelection. Paul’s supporters, like Paul himself it seems, are less concerned with electoral victory than with lodging a protest against the status quo. Neither of Romney, nor any of the Republican competitors de jour that arise momentarily, except Paul, and perhaps Bachman, offer anything except an extension of the status quo.
These years since 9/11 will be remembered for how utterly predictable things were. The Bushama years, as I like to call them, have yielded nothing but an utterly predictable accretion of federal power at the expense of individual and state autonomy and fiscal solvency, all the while, the tentacles of empire were extending further than any founding father might ever have imagined, girdling the globe in any place felt to matter–only China, India and Pakistan prevent it from reaching all the way around. But the accretion of federal power and expansion of American empire can’t continue indefinitely. Ron Paul’s candidacy represents the idea that there are limits to each, and that it is better to acknowledge the limits of one’s own accord, rather than having them thrust upon you externally.
Either way, a tipping point for each is not far away. The federal government, in return for expanding the depth and breadth of its domestic power, has promised it citizens more than it can ever possibly deliver. Attempts to do so anyway will yield disastrous economic results. The American Empire is likewise incapable of extending its reach, or really, of even consolidating in a reasonably advantageous manner the expansions it has lately undertaken. As domestic economic malaise inevitably continues in the face of domestic promises that can’t be kept but won’t be admitted as such lest the government suffers lessening power and influence over its subjects, America will find itself forced to retreat and retrench from international alliances and commitments.
The British Empire, from which America’s sprang, met its ultimate demise in a war (World War Two) in which it was victorious. The Soviet Empire reached the limits of its power in Afghanistan, from which it was forced to retreat. If the American Empire attempts to ameliorate its disastrous engagements in Afghanistan (perhaps to ensure its empire doesn’t also meet its death there, where its previous antagonist died?) and Iraq by further expansion into Iran or Pakistan, it will surely find its limits, and in a most devastating manner. Ron Paul’s candidacy stands for the idea that there is a better way to get to the same place American imperialism is heading–inevitable retreat and retrenchment–by doing so voluntarily. That Paul, an elderly (seventy-six) medical doctor with quite limited political experience, enjoys so much popularity perhaps reveals that some fair number of people in flyover country are more historically insightful than are the Gotham and Beltway crowd, and better understand than they that the unfulfilled promises of the nanny state will remain just that.