I know that every candidate has passionate supporters, but it’s obvious that Ron Paul’s followers are especially passionate to the point of being downright touchy whenever he is strongly criticized. Or am I being unfair in my assessment?
Last week, I received an email via Townhall from an apparent Ron Paul supporter. He wrote, “You want war with Iran send your own [expletive] kids, not mine. Stop sucking up to Isreal [sic]. What a piece of [expletive] this Townhall spews. One can clearly see your [sic] for the Tea Party of Hate. I know becuase [sic] of your hate for Ron Paul.”
Now, the funny thing is that, in several dozen Townhall articles written in 2011, I mentioned Iran a total of twice (in passing, at that), I mentioned the Tea Party twice (in the space of one article, without criticism or endorsement), and most importantly, I never once mentioned the name of Ron Paul. Not once! Yet somehow I am fashioned a Ron Paul hater.
Obviously, this is just one email from an anti-Israel, anti-Tea Party, profanity-using, spelling-challenged reader, and in no way do I judge Ron Paul or the rest of his supporters by one foolish email. Of course not. And yet, there’s something all too familiar about this pro-Paul email, specifically, its unusually rabid tone.
It is an open secret that no one has supporters who are more devoted, loyal, or committed than Ron Paul, and if other candidates had followers as dedicated as his, the current political landscape would look very different.
So is that the answer to my question? Is it simply that Paul’s followers are more passionate than others, implying that they will also be more defensive and even touchy?
Or is this overly simplistic? Perhaps the real issue is that, for years, the media has seemingly failed to give Paul his due, giving other candidates more coverage and attention and even time to respond in public debates. And so Paul’s followers have simply had it with being slighted, becoming especially sensitive to criticism.
Or maybe Paul’s supporters have emulated some of his own style, being more didactic than dynamic and more cantankerous than charismatic? Maybe this is one the reasons they are attracted to him?
Or could it be that as a libertarian, he gives voice to causes and stands up for values that few other candidates believe in or espouse? Although he is a long-time politician, he is also outside the main stream on many key issues, and so, he is not only embraced as a political candidate but also as a champion of the people, an anti-establishment hero to be defended and backed with tenacity and zeal. It’s not every candidate who writes a book on “Revolution” and really means it. (Hey, when he talks about the need for revolutionary change, he’s speaking my language too.)
Or is it something else? Could it be that his positions are so extreme that it leaves his followers vulnerable and defensive? After all, when your candidate downplays the threat of radical Islam (even though its adherents probably surpass the adult population of America in number), when he chooses not to recognize the very real danger of a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran (despite all the blood currently on Iran’s hands), when one of his former senior aides, Eric Dondero, claims that Paul is anti-Israel, how can his supporters not be hyper-sensitive to criticism? (According to Dondero, while Paul is neither a racist nor an anti-Semite, he is “most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. . . . He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.”)
I actually have no axe to grind when it comes to Ron Paul, nor do I have a dog in this fight. Is he really anti-Israel, or is there a solid answer to the charges against him? Are his foreign policies naïve, or does he really understand the nature of anti-American “blowback”? Are some of his radical monetary proposals the very thing we need, or is he arguing for changes that can never occur? Has he been wishy-washy on important social issues like homosexual activism, or does he really espouse conservative morality? And is he a man of trustworthy character, or is he being dishonest when he disavows knowledge of many of his past newsletters?
These are questions for others to answer, and despite the hostile comments that can be expected in response to this article, I am not hostile to Ron Paul. My question has to do with his followers.
Why are they so touchy? Or am I being unfair?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.