2008 You Say You Want A Ron Paul Revolution?
posted by February 1 at 13:45 PMon
By Ryan S. Jackson
He hadn’t come into view yet, but the UW’s Red Square was now roaring the words: “Ron! Paul! Ron! Paul! Ron! Paul!” The crowd, which previously had been milling in little pockets and cliques, suddenly coalesced into a stampede pushing forward, and I felt for a moment like I was going to get knocked over.
Trampled to death at a fucking Ron Paul rally. That would be my obituary, wouldn’t it?
Congressman Paul and his entourage —a pair of University of Washington security guards and his national campaign manager—had just arrived for yesterday’s on-campus rally, and Paul was cheerily autographing signs and assorted pieces of paraphernalia all the way to the landing in front of the student union building where he would be speaking.
He climbed up onto an improvised dais and waived to the crowd. The woman behind me, who had brought her infant with her to event, asked the child in a sing-song voice, “Can you see Doctor Paul? Wave to Doctor Paul!”
Paul hadn’t even started speaking, and this was already utterly surreal.
Ron Paul's event at the University of Washington yesterday had been described in the press release as "Soup With Students." There might well have been soup at one point, but as I was running ten minutes late, by the time I arrived a decidedly soup-less crowd was already waiting outside for the congressman to speak.
I had had expectations for the people coming to the event, and none of them fit. This was a primarily young, diverse, and unnaturally enthusiastic crowd of probably six or seven hundred people. While on the fringes there existed the obvious middle-aged internet political creatures, shuffling nervously while they searched for their MeetUp.com comrades, this looked like roughly the same demographic that I had met while covering events for Washington for Obama.
To his credit, Congressman Paul seemed to know exactly what this crowd wanted to hear. His stump speech more or less consists of the following points:
-The Constitution is still pretty fantastic.
-The government can't legislate virtue.
-Bring the troops home now, from everywhere.
That's possibly an overly glib assessment of the man's deeply held beliefs, but the unshakable feeling you get while listening to him talk is as though you're watching Rock n' Roll High School. The government just wants to keep you down, children, but Doctor Paul wants you to rock! Smoke all the pot you want, and while we're at it, let's burn down the IRS!
And it wasn't just the prospect of drug reform and a drawing down of the US military that got cheers. A brief jaunt into inflation and monetary policy drew thunderous applause. Were they really going to go nuts for the gold standard? By the time Paul rose to a crescendo with, "This is not a Ron Paul revolution, this is your revolution!", the crowd wasn't so much enthusiastic as it was uncomfortably frenzied.
As Paul finished and slowly made his way back inside, I waded through the crowd to try to reach the person whose sign had been nagging me throughout the whole event. It read in huge block letters, “Ron Paul Stole My <3.” I wanted to talk to this person.
The sign belonged to Christy Nieto, 33 of Bellingham. She stood with a group of people she described as “the posse”: all young-ish, one of her friends holding a dueling sign with the words “Ron Paul Is A True Hero.” She asked if I would hold her sign so she could take a picture of me with it.
I declined politely.
Christy was there yesterday for a lot of reasons, the Federal Reserve being a big one.
“The Federal Reserve, like Federal Express, is not a government agency. It was started by the Rothchilds and the Rockefellers. You can learn about it by watching ‘Money Masters’ on home video.”
Other than secret oligarch banking concerns, Christy was also drawn to the more traditional Paul platform points of isolationist military policy and abolishing the IRS.
Also amongst “the posse” was one Kevin Burke, another Bellingham native. Kevin, whose clothing choice for the event mixed the finer points of Jim Belushi and The Unabomber, had been drawn to Paul initially in 1988, during the congressman’s run for the presidency as a libertarian.
We had a meandering discussion, and I think he thought I was another lying member of the mainstream media when I told him the Ron Paul Blimp was out of commission. But one thing he told me stood out above the rest:
“[Paul], in my opinion, is a twenty first century version of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Payne, and Patrick Henry, all rolled into one. If those gentlemen were alive today, I could pretty much assure you they would be voting for Ron Paul.”