The problem with Reid Smith’s assessment, I would suggest, is that we have been here before and done that.
I confess that as I listen to all these young people going on about Ron Paul I hear exactly the same sentiments I heard… dare I say I myself occasionally voiced… when I myself was in college. All my peers running around college campuses or Washington or somewhere bemoaning exactly what Mr. Smith captures so exactly below:
However, I’m also bloody well exhausted of a Cold War paradigm that continues to shape presumptions about U.S. policy, and the seemingly insatiable need to rattle sabers from the comfort of our keyboards……
It would seem that Mr. Lord is either unwilling or unable to admit that I’m not alone. Many of my generation are similarly tired of this status quo. Although he dismissed the “non-cons” as a conservative aberration, Mr. Lord cannot ignore the fact that the vast majority of young caucus-goers support Ron Paul. Before dismissing Paul’s utter domination of the youth vote as anomalous, I would remind you that this is the same generation of young conservatives who have watched their friends, family and classmates blown to smithereens in the distant backwaters of the global stage — their sacrifice financed by untold treasure spent to reshape and refine the political infrastructure of foreign failures. They’re sick and tired of “business as usual” and their ardent support of Ron Paul is indicative of a genuine commitment to change.
The villains in those days were President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew. (No computers, unfortunately. Posters and typewriters sufficed.) I dallied with this for a bit, finally recovering and being one of approximately five Nixon supporters on a campus of Franklin and Marshall College’s 2,000 or so member student body.
The Ron Paul of the day was, as I mentioned in passing in my earlier post, South Dakota Senator George McGovern. Senator McGovern had electrified the young with his defeat of two pillars of the Democratic Party’s Establishment — Maine Senator Edmund Muskie and former Vice President and then-Senator Hubert Humphrey. He was your basic leftist’s leftist, as a young man a delegate to Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party Convention in 1948.
All the buzz words Mr. Smith uses were in play then: the “status quo,” “business as usual,” and, well, as a much later Jerry Seinfeld might say, yada yada yada.
As I eventually later in life figured out, I was going through the standard and necessary youthful rebellion that always comes against the “status quo.” But most assuredly neither I then nor Mr. Smith now are the first at this and in fact this is not about the “status quo” at all. Much less is it about a “Cold War paradigm” and rattling keyboards.
Long before either Reid Smith or Jeff Lord were even twinkles of thought, long before the Cold War or the “Cold War paradigm” there was the “King and Country” debate between the young students of Britain’s Oxford Union in February of 1933. The formal title of the resolution was:
“That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country”.
It passed 275 votes to 153, with the Ron Paul devotees of 1933 winning the day. Over in Germany, the new Chancellor, Herr Hitler, took note of the sentiment as he spent the rest of the 1930s dealing with two like-minded British prime ministers (Baldwin and Chamberlain) — both conservatives.
In other words, the real complaint here is not about the status quo but human nature itself. As Russell Kirk noted — and he certainly wasn’t the first — human beings are imperfect. They are now, they were when I was in college and back in 1933 and for that matter back in 1861 or 1066 or… well… forever. Human beings can be many positive things… they can be loving, charming, responsible, caring. They can also be extremely violent, psychotic, mentally unbalanced and a whole host of other things. They may be Communists, Nazis, Islamic Fundamentalists, the Ku Klux Klan or the guy next door. Whether Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Osama, Al Capone, Lee Harvey Oswald or the husband in your town who beats his wife to a pulp… this is the reality of being a human being. If it weren’t, there would be no need for the local police much less the U.S. Marines. You would not need the lock on your door much less worry today about computer hacking.
So — respectfully — I take Reid Smith’s point. But it’s an old one that pre-dates not only us but our ancestors. And in an imperfect world, as some but not all learn, the most dangerous people of all are people like Ron Paul or McGovern or those Oxford Union students and one of their heroes — Neville Chamberlain. Why? Because however unintentional… they send a signal to deranged minds inviting violence, mass murder and mayhem.
It would be lovely to think we can perfect human nature. But this is not only not a conservative belief — it’s a dangerous belief. It is flatly untrue. Today, tomorrow or thousands of years ago. It is, one might say, the eternal status quo. And on occasion — OK, more than occasion — it stinks. And Ron Paul or no Ron Paul, the newest “younger generation” or the last few thousands of “younger generations” — Non-Cons or No-Cons, that human nature will not be changing.