Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

Ron Paul's rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired

by Brian Doherty
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In disorganized fashion, journalist Doherty (Radicals for Capitalism) tries to explain how Paul and his supporters—“homeschooling Christians and couch-surfing punk rockers, college professors and famous actors”—are “changing the shape of American politics.” Doherty attempts to frame Paul in a historical context by tracing the argument for a “separation of government from banking” as far back as the Van Buren administration, while also comparing Paul to William Jennings Bryan, suggesting that “the two politicians’ character, style, populist appeal, and most specifically their anti-imperialism mark them as kin.” Though Paul’s recollections about marrying his high school sweetheart, getting drafted in 1962, and, as a doctor, seeing “an infant was put in the trash and left to die” provide the book’s most compelling passages, a full picture never emerges. Instead, Doherty rehashes existing accounts of Paul’s first House election in 1976, hastily mentions Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign on the Libertarian ticket, and rushes through the next 20 years to his 2008 Republican presidential campaign. The chapters mostly proceed chronologically, but without any coherent, compelling structure or narrative. In a too transparent effort to link the book with Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, Doherty briefly summarizes the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries and concludes, “Paulites will represent future,” though how or why Doherty makes this claim remains unclear. Agent: William Clark, William Clark Associates. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A breezy and generally admiring though not hagiographic look at the quixotic fixture at the far-right extreme of the last couple of presidential elections. Reason editor Doherty (Gun Control on Trial: Inside the Supreme Court Battle Over the Second Amendment, 2009, etc.) would seem to share Ron Paul's libertarian leanings, though he professes some amusement and bewilderment at Paul's tactics, if not his message. Paul, for instance, has often spoken of terrorist activities as the blowback attendant in our messing around in other countries' business, to which Doherty responds, presumably channeling Joe Six-Pack, "Whoa--a history lesson, recognizing consequences to our actions, an empathetic approach to what the rest of the world would think?" The rhetorical trick gets a little old, but it's clear that Doherty cares greatly about capturing what Paul's supporters think about him and his ideas and, moreover, that he cares about representing them fairly. Much of the narrative is thus given over to fan notes, as against the words of the supposedly elite media. Not that the fan base is huge to begin with: "Paul's rigorous hewing to a vision of government that almost every part of America's learned political, academic, and media elites considers silly was only the start of his problems with the American electorate." Doherty offers considerable insight into some aspects of Paul's ongoing presidential campaigns. The chances of his ever being elected, after all, are vanishingly small, but one desired effect might be the opportunity to influence the choice of vice president, as he might have in 2008. Yet Paul, a maverick if nothing else, keeps his own counsel, insisting, for instance, on giving lessons in Austrian economic theory and demanding the abolition of the Federal Reserve rather than sharpening crowd-pleasing attacks on America's foreign wars and the ill-advised war on drugs at home. Illuminating, if sometimes a chore to read, and a welcome aid to understanding the evolution of Paul's offbeat ideas.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062114792
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/15/2012
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.06(h) x 1.06(d)

Meet 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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