by Gilles d'Aymery
(Swans - September 8, 2008) Some 10,000 devotees of Ron Paul journeyed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend the September 2, 2008, "Rally for Liberty." They gathered at the Target Center (if it's not Pepsi or Coke, it's Target, Wal*Mart, or Home Depot...), a basketball arena, to offer a Libertarian counterpart to the Republican National Convention and to hail their father-figure hero, Ron Paul. That mini convention of sorts illustrated through its rostrum of speakers the deep-seated reactionary character of the Ron Paul phenomenon. It exhibited the most debased nativism, America First, anti-immigrant pestilence, anti-civil rights rhetoric, white supremacism, cultural conservatism, anti-environmentalism, and everything that would bring us back to the 18th century's vision of indenture. It was a truly sorry day to witness well-intentioned people fall for such a reactionary political movement.
It was indeed organized as a mini convention. It had its own master of ceremonies, the insipid MSNBC political analyst and self-defined Libertarian Tucker Carlson. The national anthem was sung by a proud member of the US armed forces. The benediction gave a hint of what was on the menu. Barb Davis White, a Republican running for Congress in the Minnesota 5th district, which is held by Keith Ellison, a moderately progressive Democrat and first Muslim member of Congress, boasted that she would win the election and take the seat away from "liberalism, fascism, and socialism." She concluded her prayer with this most ludicrous exhortation: "May god bless America and may America bless god!" The "May America bless god" is a testament not only to the arrogance but to the delusion and idiocy of that part of Americana. It went downhill real fast from then on.
The next speaker introduced by the colorless Tucker Carlson was Howard Phillips, the chairman of the Conservative Caucus, who reminded the audience that they were part of the "constitutional wing of the Republican Party." Phillips is an Evangelical Christian (the Christian Reconstructionism kind) who opposes publicly-funded health care, subsidies to "illegal aliens," gay rights, abortion, etc. In the 1970s and '80s he supported Apartheid South Africa and the "freedom fighters" in Nicaragua. A member of the New Right and the Christian Right, he was a founder of the Constitution Party (aka, US Taxpayers Party) and its presidential candidate in 1992, 1996, and 2000. He's joined force with paleoconservative right-winger Phyllis Schlafly and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi (of WorldNetDaily fame) to oppose and rail against -- as he did in his remarks at the rally -- the North American Union (a theoretical union of the United States, Canada, and Mexico) and the NAFTA Superhighway.
Phillips was followed at the podium by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and a right-winger on steroids with all the right connections. Grover can be traced back to the College Republicans in the early 1980s where he befriended convicted felon Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition (other notable members of the College Republicans are the late Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Sen. Rick Santorum...and Hillary Rodham Clinton). An early Reaganite, he moved flawlessly to support Bush Sr.; helped Newt Gingrich to write the 1994 Contract with America; and with his friend Karl Rove was an ardent supporter of George Jr. in the 2000 presidential campaign. Another defender of Apartheid South Africa, he even became an adviser to Jonas Savimbi, the thuggish head of Angola UNITA. Grover sits on the boards of the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association.
Another speaker at Ron Paul's rally was writer, historian, and self-help motivator Doug Wead, who allegedly coined the term "Compassionate Conservatism" when he was a special assistant to Bush Sr. Wead was also very active in the 2000 presidential campaign of Bush Jr. His ties to the Republican Party are irreproachable.
After Wead, Lew Rockwell, the paleolibertarian and long-time associate of Ron Paul, gave a speech that was so poorly delivered that I stopped listening to him within minutes. Rockwell, besides editing LewRockwell.com and being the head of the Mises Institute, is known as a strong proponent of right-wing libertarianism advocating the Austrian School of Economics and the devolution of power back to the states. Like Justin Raimondo, his alter ego at antiwar.com, Rockwell is a member in good standing of the "Old Right," the America First non-interventionists, cultural conservatives, opponents to the New Deal, and firm believers that the foreign policy of the U.S. is controlled by Israel and the "Jewish lobby" -- positions that are shared in various degrees by another "Libertarian," Alexander Cockburn of counterpunch.org.
Talking about Alex Cockburn, it was reported that Bob Barr, the 2008 Libertarian candidate, made an appearance at the rally to underline the similarity of his agenda with that of Ron Paul and his followers. Cockburn recently (August 23 / 4, 2008 CounterPunch Diary) wrote, after putting down Ralph Nader, that "Face it, if you want to stay true to reason and conscience, the man to vote for is Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate." Barr is not just a conservative, he is a far-right-winger who gets the wink from a so-called Left Libertarian. However, what may look like strange bedfellows ought to be tempered in light of the political evolution of Cockburn who has increasingly espoused conservative and at times reactionary positions (e.g., his views on environmentalism).
Back to the Ron Paul rally, the next speaker should alarm and trouble the legions of well-intentioned Paulistas. Walking to the podium was John McManus, the president of the John Birch Society (JBS), who proudly announced that Ron Paul would be a key speaker on the occasion of the JBS's 50th anniversary next October. McManus boasted, "If you like Ron Paul, you'll love the JBS!" The JBS is one of the most ultraconservative organizations in America that to this day consider liberals "secret Communist traitors." Birchers, as the members of that society are known, believe in the Illuminati-Freemason conspiracy of world domination and clearly identified with the Old Right, though share much with the New Right in regard to their nativism, "constitutionalism," and opposition to the theoretical North American Union. More rabid right-wingers would be hard to find on the American political scene.
Jesse Ventura, the former wrestler and governor of Minnesota, was part of the rostrum of speakers. A fiery rhetorician who opposes both parties, he called for a Revolution and the defense of the Second Amendment so that the populace may take up arms to defend the rights of the people against the government and the "coming" military dictatorship. He then went into a long conspiracy rant regarding 9/11 and ended by asking people to call upon him so that he would run for president in 2012 to save the Republic. Barry Goldwater, Jr., the son of the 1964 Republican Party presidential candidate and "father" of the New Right also addressed the attendees of the rally.
(Note that the entire event was broadcast on C-SPAN and also note that C-SPAN diligently skipped Ralph Nader's Super Rallies in both Colorado and Minnesota...and Democracy Now! of Amy Goodman fame gave airtime to Ron Paul's speech but none to Ralph Nader's speeches -- just note...)
So here it was, on September 2, 2008, a motley crew of deeply conservative and more often than not reactionary speakers, from the Old to the New Rights, from the nativists to the Federalists, from the anti-civil rights to the anti-immigrants crowds, from the so-called free marketers and property rights defenders to the USA-USA-USA chanting mob, from the conspiracists to the negativists and the supremacists -- they were all there to introduce their idol of the day, the father of the next revolution that would bring us back to an 18th century mythologized past, Ron Paul; a demagogue who, if circumstances grant, would love to become the American Pétain of the 21st century.
The saddest part of this sorry narrative is that so many well-meaning people, many of whom consider themselves "progressives," have fallen for the age-old phenomenon of reactionary politics in a time when we, in America and in the whole world, must devise inclusive -- not exclusive -- policies to move ahead for the sake of our descendents and that of the Other (the planet). In the meantime, Ron Paul will have achieved his goal: Have most of the dissenters on his ledger vote for the Republican candidate (a role played by Dennis Kucinich on the Democratic side).
One is hard-pressed to find much love in this rEVOLution.