Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Ron Paul Post

Rarely does a day go by when I don’t get some kind of spam e-mail that promises to boost the number of visitors to my website: “Increase your hit count by 25% in the first day!” or something like that, all for a “very reasonable cost.” Well, seeing as how a 25% increase in hits would take my average up to 220, which is something I can do by just cross-posting a cat picture to Shakesville, I’m not buying it. I’ve gone back through my records over the last four years and the amount of money I’ve spent on boosting the hit count on this site as been roughly $0, give or take a few cents.

But apparently quite by accident a few bloggers have hit on a sure-fire, no-cost way to boost their hit count and generate a lot of comments. All you have to do is write a post about Ron Paul, the Republican from Texas who is running for president. He’s running on a staunchly libertarian, strict-constructionist interpretation of the Constitution platform, and he’s rattled the cages of the left and the right with his stands on getting us out of Iraq and his anti-abortion views (which Melissa McEwan notes as being inconsistent with the libertarian philosophy). The mainstream media has treated him as a “maverick” and not really taken him seriously, much the same way they treat Mike Gravel on the Democratic side or other such candidates who don’t fit into their image of what a mainstream candidate should be. In other words, they’re really not sure what to make of him.

And then there are his supporters. One commenter at Shakesville said that there must be somebody in the Paul campaign who does nothing but Google “Ron Paul” all day and send out marching orders for his stalwarts to go to any site that mentions their candidate and rally the troops. They’re vocally enthusiastic, unbending in their support, and unyielding. The one saving grace is that some of them do have a sense of humor.

I have to admit that I enjoy watching Mr. Paul in the debates and reading what he has to say. Even though he’s raised a ton of money recently, I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance, but I certainly wouldn’t exclude him from the debates or even dismiss him as a crackpot as some have done; his arguments, as Glenn Greenwald, appeal to a lot of people, although there’s obviously a lot who don’t because Mr. Paul is unapologetic in his views, and that doesn’t go over very well in the finger-in-the-wind campaign format we get from most candidates.

The problem Mr. Paul has, like most candidates who represent a fundamental difference from the rest of his party’s candidates, is that getting the rest of the country to go along with him is nearly impossible. It’s not because of some vast conspiracy on the part of the left or the right or the MSM; it’s because overcoming the inertia of the American electorate is like a dinghy trying to change the course of a battleship. The voters may say that “it’s time for a change,” but in the end they elect someone who looks and governs remarkably like his predecessors, and even though candidates like Ron Paul, Ross Perot, John Anderson, Ralph Nader, and George Wallace may come along and tickle our fancy, the brutal truth is that they are little more than an asterisk in the history books.

More’s the pity. I like having these gadflies shake up the parties, and these movements do have a butterfly effect. And anything that flusters the pundits and the Beltway insiders is just fine with me. It’s what makes watching all of this a lot of fun, and while I find a lot of things to disagree with Mr. Paul about, I’ll be the first in line to defend his right to participate.

And it’s a great way to boost my Site Meter hits.