At a time like this, you either fire the leadership of a campaign or you stand behind them. The third option is to give up, but Ron Paul supporters don’t seem like the type to give up.
I’ve been in Ron Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton’s presence a total of two times. Those two times lasted a maximum of 30 seconds each. I have no personal loyalty to Jesse Benton nor animosity for him.
What I do as of late is to follow the liberty movement and write about it. The atmosphere of the liberty movement has suddenly shifted. Two days ago, the blogosphere called the liberty movement victorious. Some in the mainstream media were even saying the same. The delegate strategy was working and the media was just starting to discuss this unorthodox move more in depth. It was great for the liberty movement and Ron Paul’s campaign. Things looked strong and full of potential.
A poorly written press release followed by a series of imprecisely worded statements at a press conference given by Jesse Benton was received by a press ready to cannibalize Ron Paul and coronate Mitt Romney. Things quickly started to get ugly.
The liberty movement made that possible. Only a story with traction gets heard by people. Despite the fact that the Ron Paul movement is as strong today as it was two days ago, Paul’s supporters for some reason gave this story traction. An interesting thing I’ve found out about Ron Paul supporters is that they long ago dismissed the main stream media. They long ago said to themselves, “The media lies and we don’t need it. We can become the media.”
The growth of Ron Paul’s movement over the last year and last five years aren’t because of favors owed in the mainstream media, but because, in part, of one-on-one dialogue among friends, family, and neighbors as well as the volunteer-heavy work of phoning entire states of Republican voters and simply talking to them. Ron Paul supporters carried Ron Paul’s ideas to people and disseminated those ideas.
I’d long observed that while this was a slow and arduous process; these Ron Paul supporters were clever people. While media reports can swing markets, electoral results, and even rally support for a war, it can only do so when people are listening to those media reports. Ron Paul supporters weren’t listening. They understood that a mainstream media strong enough to give them everything they wanted was a mainstream media strong enough to take everything from them. Usually impervious to media spin, it was strange to watch the effect that the stories of the past few days have had in exposing rifts in the movement that supports Ron Paul.
The September 11 attack didn’t directly destroy American liberty. The attacks directly caused tragic deaths. Some of the reactions from the American government made 9/11 worse. We begged our government to gobble up our liberties or ineffectually fought as those liberties were gobbled up. Some of us even watched idly.
Future generations will look back at us for this in strict judgment, just as contemporary Germans shamefully recall the abysmal moral compass of their forefathers in the 1930s and ‘40s.
We all know that America cannot be successfully invaded – too many guns and ornery folks for any foreigner to successfully invade. No external enemy could bring down the largely free society that America historically has had. Only by internal “attacks” can our liberties be sacrificed. No external force could eliminate those liberties.
Ron Paul’s movement is impervious in a similar way. His supporters want transparency, fairness, open systems, rule of law, and constitutional government. Because of the nature of their movement, nothing can take these people down. Their political goals welcome anyone to join the group as long as they share the same message and it’s easy to tell who’s with you or against you. Everyone is welcome into this big tent just as long as they share those similar values. The movement is decentralized and inclusive. Nothing can take these people down. Nothing except themselves.
Grassroots money and support channeled to and focused by official campaign staff in accordance with a clear strategy is bringing strong wins this year for Ron Paul and his supporters. That teamwork has been great and as far as I’m concerned will provide the liberty movement with many more victories this year. I recognize the long-shot odds, but one of those successes, I still believe, can be Ron Paul getting the Republican nomination. Ron Paul’s plan is working.
Will Ron Paul at this stage fire his campaign manager Jesse Benton?
Would you fire someone you trusted just because he made a few mistakes, especially if that meant needing to go out and finding someone better in a political environment where trustworthy people are hard to find? Would you hire a stranger to run your campaign during the thickest fight, where your opponent wants nothing more than to remove you from the process?
Will Ron Paul at this stage fire his campaign manager Jesse Benton?
I doubt it.
This offers Ron Paul supporters some other decisions – to quit showing support for the campaign or to continue supporting the campaign. As I’ve already said, Ron Paul folks aren’t really into quitting.
I don’t like the defeatism I hear coming from people in Ron Paul’s campaign. I don’t care for their negativity. I don’t like the many mistakes they make.
And that’s OK. Everyone makes mistakes and no one’s perfect. That’s something I just need to get over when I observe the campaign in action.
Even if Jesse Benton or Ron Paul thinks it appropriate to suggest the liberty movement might not be successful in making Ron Paul the president this year, the individual members of the liberty movement are entitled to a difference of opinion.
I don’t write in support of anyone or against anyone. I write because I wonder if the most vocal members of the liberty movement realize the responsibility that accompanies their freedoms. Paul’s supporters can, of course, freely and anonymously post their views on the internet, but it must be understood that at this most crucial point at this crossroads of the campaign, many members of the liberty movement are opting to paralyze their own movement.
The liberty movement needs leaders right now instead of a few hurtful anonymous posts on the internet.
Regardless of what the heads of Ron Paul’s campaign think, the liberty movement has a national convention to get to. And it never was about the campaign anyway.
The people who think Ron Paul is a great candidate, but who think the campaign sucks might try some other more productive avenues.
- They could start a PAC, raise money, help contribute concretely to a win, instead of drowning out the campaign’s strategy.
- They could rally together friends and help win votes and delegates for Ron Paul.
- They could admit that maybe they just need to quiet down and follow obediently sometimes.
There are people in Ron Paul’s movement with 30 years of experience running winning campaigns, but you’d never hear them say they want to remove Jesse Benton as campaign manager. They work for the campaign without pay and realize that for an organization to function, some people must accept a role in the campaign and to diligently work in that capacity from the beginning of the campaign all the way through to the end. These people humble those around them with their knowledge of how to win campaigns, yet they also encourage those around them to work harder instead of chatting idly about strategy. They do that by recognizing their place in the campaign and working as hard as possible on excelling in that role.
No matter how good a David Axelrod or a Lee Atwater might be for Ron Paul’s cause, I have a hard time imagining that Ron Paul’s supporters would be any happier with them. There’s an old Slovak saying that goes, “There are people who complain even in paradise.” This is similar to the English, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Some people will never be happy and to try to please such people is a fool’s errand.
If Benton screws up, at least he’s a Ron Paul person. It’s a believer in liberty and a believer in Ron Paul as a person, a campaign manager handpicked by that candidate.
Ron Paul has spent 40 years stressing his positions on liberty, 40 years developing his “name brand.” Always the long-game thinker, the long-game thinker that his supporters have come to love, I’m not surprised to see him avoiding a “go for broke” style of thinking. After 40 years of work, the man wants to leave more of a legacy than just “the man who incited riots in the GOP” or “that old guy who spoke on prime time television at the RNC.” The man is a long-game thinker and my guess is, as much as he wants a win in the year 2012, his mind is focused on the future.
When it comes down to it, each member of the liberty movement is an individual, Ron Paul is an individual, and Ron Paul’s campaign is an organization. When those three components are working in sync, they function better. The hurtful, angry words don’t get the liberty movement any closer to working better.
A supporter of the movement reminded me a few weeks ago “United we stand, divided – they win.”