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Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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From the Back Cover
An enigmatic and surprisingly successful politician, Texas Representative Ron Paul is unique among Republican candidates. He has strong traditional conservative bona fides: he supports cutting taxes, shrinking government spending, cracking down on illegal immigration, and outlawing abortion. But he is an equally passionate advocate for such seemingly progressive-left stances as ending the drug war, opposing military interventions in the Middle East, abolishing the PATRIOT Act, and constraining the Federal Reserve.
Despite such seeming contradictions, he has represented his conservative Texas district for twelve terms now, on and off since 1976, and has twice won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the right wing's most energetic young activists gather, in 2010 and 2011.
Paul has been condemned across the political and media spectrums as an unbearably radical kook since rising to national prominence with his 2008 presidential bid. But to his growing number of activist supporters, he is the only national politician standing for the Founding Fathers' vision of constitutional liberty. He has touched a constantly growing number of government skeptics who see the political status quo as increasingly unsustainable. In the early days of the 2012 primary season, Paul is capturing a surprising number of votes, highlighting a division between libertarians and big-government conservatism that will define the future of both the Republican Party and American politics.
In this indispensable guide, journalist Brian Doherty details Paul's career, traces the evolution of his ideas, and explores his significance in American politics. Ron Paul's rEVOLution introduces us to Paul's revolutionary ideological armies, many of them Americans previously divorced from the political process because they believe no one speaks for them. The Paul Revolution is a rising generation of cross-partisan activists concerned with government overreach. These supporters see this freethinking, plain-talking iconoclast as the lone leader prepared to grapple radically with the realities of a government crippled by debt that has dramatically expanded domestically and overseas.
About the Author
BRIAN DOHERTY is a senior editor at Reason magazine and Reason.com. He is the author of three previous books, including Radicals for Capitalism: A History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement and Gun Control on Trial. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and National Review, among other publications. He has been a commentator on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including The O’Reilly Factor and Glenn Beck. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Doherty is one of us in describing Ron's impact in the political environment. A few times, supporters will find themselves laughing out loud at their own level of intense loyalty to Ron Paul as the author describes the passion of his followers.
One particularly interesting discussion in the book surrounds Peter Thiel and his sponsorship of the Seasteading Institute, an organization that encourages the creation of "floating cities--which will give people the opportunity to peacefully test new ideas about how to live together. The most successful will become thriving new societies--inspiring change around the world."
All in all, you will enjoy reading the book. I derived the most value from the chapters on the seeds of the movement and seeing how far Ron Paul followers have really pushed the cause of liberty.
Doherty's writing style moves from one interesting tidbit to another interesting tidbit, and like many others, I was compelled to finish the book in one sitting rather than space it out over several days. He properly leaves the reader with a sense that while Paul's story may have come to an end, this may only be the start of something much larger, inspired primarily by Dr. Paul and his steadfast adherence to the Constitution. In fact, as he highlights, it would appear there seem to many new politicians, like his son Rand Paul, that are now using our Constitution as a litmus test for any new laws.
I'd recommend this book to anyone trying to understand how so many in younger generations, and even many in old, became so captivated by Dr. Paul during the last two presidential campaign seasons.
If you are not, herein you'll find the political biography of Ron Paul, why he chose to run for Congress and for the Presidency, and the origins of his main ideas. If you only want to be familiar with his ideas, maybe this is not the ideal book for you. Ron Paul's books themselves are probably better for that, particularly "Liberty Defined", his de facto campaign manifesto for the 2011-2012 cycle. This book assumes some familiarity with his ideas. Its subject is not Ron Paul's positions or worldview, but the movement he has launched, half intently, half unwittingly.
This book is written by a libertarian and Ron Paul supporter since the 1980s, and it shows. At times you get the feeling he is too fawning over his subject. That said, it's also clear that Doherty honestly tries to be fair and not write a purely apologetic work, even though he knows most of his audience will also be Ron Paul fans and libertarians. For example, he exposes that, while most people are comfortable to vote for less-than-perfect politicians when they agree with them half the time because they are perceived as lesser evils, in the case of Ron Paul his particular brand of honesty makes people reject him on even small differences. The case is best exemplified by the controversy over the newsletters released on his name, perceived as a proof of racism even though his opposition to the war on drugs and foreign adventurism is more minority-friendly than any policy supported by anyone else on the main parties. Doherty doesn't mention it, but Ron Paul's position on abortion (he is a firm pro-lifer) is another such deal-breaker for some who agree with him on the rest (and it is his most conspicuous deviation from the libertarian mainstream, if that term can be applied.)
However, for all the people for whom the perfect is the enemy of the good (a phrase heard only too often in libertarian circles), Ron Paul still has supporters all the way from anarchists committed to not support the state in any form to nearly-establishment Republicans; from left-wingers interested in drug legalization or gay rights to right-wingers opposed to high taxes, socialized health care, and the public education system; this with his added focus on a non-imperial foreign policy and a return to the gold standard. This is the magic of the movement he is behind - its extreme social and even cultural diversity; and this is what Doherty tries to communicate. As he says, the real success of Ron Paul will come if and as this liberty movement changes the landscape of American politics. This would come about partly through cultural changes from the grassroots and partly through the uphill task of reforming the Republican party from the inside. And yet, Doherty and, by his account, Ron Paul himself, are surprised at the successes the movement has had so far. These successes have happened in spite of the partially overlapping but at the same time competing visions of the Tea Party by the right (which intersects the Ron Paul Revolution through his son, Sen. Rand Paul), which rarely recovers the name of Ron Paul or his ideas outside the realm of fiscal and economics; and Occupy Wall Street by the left, which shares the concerns about the power of banks colluded with the state and the imperial foreign policy, but does not support such Paulian positions as balanced budgets or a stronger defense of the Second and Tenth Amendments. In this context, it's hard for anyone leaning libertarian not to be excited at the prospect of a mass movement with such transformative potential in American politics. If you want to read about that enthusiasm of Ron Paul inspired activists from everywhere in the U.S. and of all walks of life, this is the book for you. Whether you are trying to build floating libertarian-anarchist city states, establish an agorist community in your own hometown, or lead a Republican county committee; whether you care more about gold, or wars, or drugs, or homeschooling - there will be something for you here.