Ron Paul is an unusual human being. He actually has quite a bit in common with Barack Obama in my opnion (hear me out): both men tend to serve as symbolic ciphers onto which extremely loyal followers, looking for a man of ideological purity and political benevloence, project their hopes. You can see this phenomenon in Obama's continued support in some sectors of the left that should, by all rights, be taking what the President has to say with a grain of salt considering the amount of money he has taken from Wall Street and the composition of his cabinet in terms of hunchbacked, black-hooded capitalist necromancers.
Paul has the same "reality problems" with libertarians. Many economic libertarians (or classical liberals, or whatever they want to be called) love Paul's hard line stances on a variety of issues. From the gold standard – I used to play a drinking game in political discussions with libertarians where I would take a shot when the term “fiat currency” was floated – to the PATRIOT Act, bless him for that – to FEMA, the EPA, the DOE, and other agencies he would like to eliminate – Paul seems to be a freedom lover's wet dream. Then you look a little closer and see that he has brought home pork aplenty to his district, that he opposes reproductive liberty for women, and that he is, in essence, kind of a kook.
Now, it's easy for liberal bloggers (and also for whatever the hell kind of blogger I am) to take shots at Paul, because he says controversial things, and sometimes he actually means them, and that is interesting and can make other conservative figures look weird by association. That's not a fair way to play the game, and I try to reserve that type of look-at-the-freak dogpiling for those who truly deserve it, like Michele Bachmann or Glenn Beck.
Paul has crossed the line this year, though. He hasn't become a laughingstock; he has become a dangerous cult figure who now acts like exactly that; a new David Duke without the overt racism (although his mysterious and "accidental" connections to racist literature have always been fishy) but with a new, thinly-veiled threat of political violence; a particular kind of political violence.
There are consequence through action, but are also much less-often publicized, less well-understood consequences that are tied to inaction. Seth Abramovitch, with Gawker media, writes:
Should the state pay [an indigent person's] bills? Paul responded, "That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody—" He never quite finished that point, letting the audience's loud applause finish it for him. So Wolf Blitzer pressed on, asking if he meant that "society should just let him die," which earned a chilling round of approving hoots from the crowd. Paul would not concede that much outright, instead responding with a personal anecdote, the upshot being that in such a case, it was up to churches to care for the dying young man. So basically, yeah. He'd let him die. As it turns out, Paul was not speaking purely in hypotheticals. Back in 2008, Kent Snyder — Paul's former campaign chairman — died of complications from pneumonia. Like the man in Blitzer's example, the 49-year-old Snyder (pictured) was relatively young and seemingly healthy when the illness struck.
He was also uninsured. When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder's surviving mother (pictured, left), who was incapable of paying. Friends launched a website to solicit donations.
The Gawker article (give it a read) goes on at great length about how Snyder is the reason Paul got into the race back then, and was the wind beneath his wings &c. Any way you look at it, it was a tragedy.
It was a tragedy that should have taught Ron Paul a blunt-force lesson about reality and ideology. If your close friend and former campaign manager dies young and leaves piles of medical debt behind, and you continue to hammer health care as an individual responsibility that anyone can pay for, you are either lying to yourself, or your mind is so warped by political ideology that you literally cannot see a reality that does not conform to your worldview even when it slaps your familiy friend's grieving mother with a half a million US Dollars in unpayable debt. "Welcome to the new economy," as they say.
Either way, Ron Paul, who didn't stand much of a chance of taking the nomination in the first place, is done, but I suppose the main point here isn't that piece of old news.
It's just an old-fashioned case of me saying: good riddance.