St. Paul Was in Minneapolis Last Night

“Tonight John McCain will be in St. Paul, but St. Paul will be in Minneapolis.”


That was a line spoken yesterday by Doug Wead at a political convention in Minnesota. The first “St. Paul” he mentioned was the city where the G.O.P. is holding its convention; the second one is Ron Paul, leader of the “constitutionalists” who convened in his name yesterday in Minneapolis for a counter-convention.

INSERT DESCRIPTIONPaul as the messiah.

The two gatherings couldn’t have been much more different. The G.O.P. convention, where the candidate has a good chance of winning the Presidency, felt more anxious than triumphant. The Paul convention, meanwhile, felt like a celebration even though its candidate got only a sliver of votes in the Republican primaries and wasn’t even invited to speak at his own party’s convention.

Paul himself was more dour than his supporters. “The American Republic hangs by a thread,” he reminded them, “and a thin one at that.”

The G.O.P. convention has been a tribute to not only “country first” but, primarily, to government itself. The Paul convention, representing “the revolutionary wing of the Republican Party,” was as anti-government as a political convention could be. Arguments were made against nearly every task that government carries out, including taxation (not surprisingly) and regulation (of just about any sort), but also the funding of education.

The Paul convention was upbeat, heartfelt, and a bit on the wild side. If you didn’t know better, you might not have known their candidate had lost.

INSERT DESCRIPTIONGrover Norquist speaking at the Ron Paul convention.

His supporters rallied with a vigor seeming to suggest that they felt their concerns represent the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans — whereas in fact, if they really did, Paul would have gotten an awful lot more votes. Paul supporters see themselves as the true G.O.P., representing the best intentions and true will of the American people; the big-biz G.O.P., meanwhile, seems to see Paul supporters as a lunatic fringe.

What were the biggest applause lines of the day at the two gatherings? At the G.O.P. convention, the delegates responded mightily to 9/11 references, “country first,” the stories about McCain’s captivity in Vietnam, and the protection of unborn children.

The big applause at the Paul convention went to lines about abolishing the Federal Reserve, getting the U.S. out of the U.N., and being left alone by the government. Grover Norquist, president of the Americans for Tax Reform and a board member of the National Rifle Association, summed up the prevailing view succinctly: “Taxes bad, guns good.”

INSERT DESCRIPTIONSite of the G.O.P. convention.

One of the very biggest applause lines of the day, believe it or not, came upon a mention of the Austrian School of economics, which was followed by this line: “And by the way, free markets do not cause housing bubbles and mortgage crises.”

What does?

That’s easy: Government.

[Note: Here’s my discussion of the Paul rally on The Takeaway.]

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  1. Ari says:

    I am a libertarian and mild supporter of Ron Paul. Based on my own experience, when you really get the chance to speak to people, they tend to be more libertarian than numbers show. On issues, many people are interested in less government intervention in daily life. The actual voting process is generally 2 candidates and parties refusing to discuss issues, but instead swift boating each other into oblivion. Everyone refuses to speak candidly about any issue in detail, whether its abortion, taxes, health care, the war in Iraq etc etc. At least Ron Paul will speak candidly about each issue, and that alone is endearing, whether you agree with him or not. Regardless, things need to improve.

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  2. Tyler says:

    Government is causing bubbles. How convenient.

    Remembers me of hopeless communists, who believe devoutly that communism works, the soviet regime just hadn’t perfected it.

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  3. Renee says:

    “On issues, many people are interested in less government intervention in daily life.”

    Honestly, how many daily government interactions does the average person have? I mean, besides using money?

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  4. Scot says:

    “Honestly, how many daily government interactions does the average person have? I mean, besides using money?”

    The better question is what can you do that doesn’t involve some type of government taxation or regulation?

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  5. Vincent says:

    Whenever you’re talking about a 3rd Party or a minority viewpoint, members of that party tend to be on the more extreme side. This would be similar to attending gatherings with the extreme left or the evangelical right.

    Once that viewpoint reaches a tipping point, then it becomes mainstream because the moderate/independent minds join that mindset & movement.

    This is like how in many places, Mormons are seen as some lunatic version of Christianity, but in Utah, it’s normal.

    So Ron Paul has a lot of fringe supporters, but I’ve found if you ignore some of the crazy segments of his movement and focus on what he himself says, his arguments are sound. He has very logical arguments for his viewpoint backed by Austrian economics and US Constitutional history. At the very least, he’s got more honesty, integrity, and intelligence than the vast majority of politicians.

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  6. Annie says:

    Renee, besides money we have:

    Taxes (income and sales amongst many)


    Corporate Laws

    Trade Barriers

    Education (public and private)

    Interest rates


    just to name a few. They all play a part in what you can or can’t do, and believe it or not, who you interact with.

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  7. Robert says:

    Renee, well let’s see:

    You get up from bed and fix yourself cereal – the government regulates what information needs to go on the box.

    Then you take a shower – the government regulates and manages water quality and supply.

    Then you get into you car (think emissions standards regulation)…or make a phone call (telecom regulation)…Your question made me reflect and I am surprised at the answer – we have innumerable, albeit indirect, daily interactions with the government.

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  8. cheesesteak.the.impaler says:

    Uh, wage and labor laws, whether or not airplanes are cleared to fly over your home at low altitudes, food and drug safety, that’s just the tip, but “government” is pretty much in everybody’s life to more than just the dollars in their pockets. Ari’s cohort aside, I think most people when pressed actually welcome these regulatory roles. Sure, if Ari tells his friends they’re being tyrannized or what have you, people will balk at their oppression, but that’s not really a candid or honest portrayal of reality either.

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