Sunday, August 17, 2014

Confessions of a Former Paulista

I saw Ron Paul on bookTV recently. This got me thinking about all the usual Ron Paul issues. I must confess that, back in aught-seven, I myself was a junior Paulista. But our story today, dear readers, begins slightly before I "discovered" Dr. Paul.

I was raised under what you might call a typical conservative "fundagelical" Christian values system. My parents still operate under this regime of "thought." They're not exactly "single-issue voters"—more like "triple-issue voters": abortion AND Israel AND guns—but they're definitely conservative Republicans. So I grew up very conservative, myself. I often tell the "story" in youtube comments [sections of basically any video that even mentions Rush Limbaugh] of how, while being conservative, we were also relatively poor, and so, during the summer, my mom would take my brother and me [which IS correct pronoun usage!] to the PUBLIC PARK to get a GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED lunch, and I would sometimes bring my little battery-powered radio so I could listen to RUSH LIMBAUGH because [Alanis Morissette irony joke—THAT never gets old *coughcough*]! Then, in high school, I went through this phase in which I thought Bill O'Reilly was right about everything. I even read his book—The O'Reilly Factor! NOT Those Who Trespass! D= His book surprised me a little. From what I remember, he even made some [maybe not quite "progressive," but let's just say] reasonable points about how race, class, and gender really do still matter in this country. I could say more things about Mr. O'Reilly, but maybe some other time.

I should probably point out here that I've always been a voracious reader—I'll read basically anything I come across, including product labels and even the occasional end-user license agreement! So one time, I think around the end of '06/beginning of '07, after I had already been in college for a couple of years, I was doing some cleaning around the [parents'] house when I came across this pamphlet that was basically about jury nullification, but it was about some other stuff as well, so let's go down that rabbit hole, Alice—here, hold my hand. Everything's gonna be ok...

Jury nullification is when a jury ignores the judge's instructions and decides not only on the facts of the case, but on the law itself—well, if we're calling it "nullification," then that means that they've already found the defendant not guilty by reason of "the law in question is bullshit." "Can a jury actually do this?" you ask. Um, yeah, sure, why not? What [legal] consequences will you face? None: "Jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return." That's Radley Balko. He counts as a "source," right? Wikipedia seems to think so. Anyway, some laws ARE bullshit, so what are you gonna do? Convict someone for violating a bullshit law? What are you, a fucking robot!? Be a human being! Didn't you watch The Apartment!?

Anyway, the main point for which the pamphlet was arguing was that America is a republic, not a democracy! And you can see the Ron Paul threads starting to come together. So what does it mean for 'Merica to be a republic and not a democracy? Well, that depends. On one end, you have people who want to restrict voting rights because they'll say, you know, when you give "the blacks" and "the hispanics" the right to vote, they only end up voting for the government to give them free shit by taking it away from decent, honest, hard-working white folk—No! Wait! I meant, "tyranny of the majority" or some shit! Honest! Wait, what!? The majority of voters [not to mention the political leadership] in the U.S. is white!? Well, shit, why don't I stay here and get my story straight while you check out some beachfront property I have for sale in Arizona? By the time you get back, I'll make sense. Promise! ...and, scene! <bows>. On the other hand, The Pamphlet said that a republic is MORE "democratic" than a democracy, because we get THREE votes: in addition to our vote at the poll, we also have the grand jury and the regular jury. This affords us another opportunity (two, actually!) to "vote" on the laws.

It's kind of funny—my parents like to blame my boogeyman teachers and professors for my becoming an atheist, but they didn't really have anything to do with it... I credit The Pamphlet for causing me to think about political issues in new ways, which, in turn, led to my thinking about other things in new ways, which, indirectly, eventually, led to my becoming an atheist and a feminist, but before that, I was a libertarian. So it wasn't long after I discovered The Pamphlet that I discovered Ron Paul—oh my, how convenient. I also give him a lot of credit for causing me to think in new ways about a lot of things. Of course, now, I think that Ron Paul is wrong at least 70% of the time [or about at least 70% of the issues he addresses], which is honestly better than most politicians I know of, especially Republicans. But I feel like I needed to go through that in order to learn the arguments against the Paulian stance on various issues. It's very Hegelian in a way. I started at point A (standard conservatism), then moved to point B (Paulian conservo-libertarianism), and finally, wound up somewhere completely different [not that I've stopped moving and am now just standing still]. But I still had to go through point B to get to point C. This itself is an oversimplification, because there was a time in 2009 when I identified as an anarchist. What's funny about THAT is that I stopped identifying as an anarchist a long time ago, but I don't think my beliefs are all that different.

So my point is that while, now, I often disagree with Dr. Paul, I still have a lot of appreciation for him for "inspiring" me to think in new ways and to question things I had taken for granted. Even now, I try to think about new arguments I come across rather than just dismissing them [although I think it's fine to dismiss arguments you have heard before and successfully refuted as long as they're not accompanied by new evidence, and as long as you periodically revisit every argument, even ones you thought you HAD successfully refuted].

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