I have been composing an open letter to Ron Paul supporters for some time. It usually gets added to after I have had a frustrating interaction and is in response to that frustration. I have waited to write this until I had time to step back.
I want to start off by saying I think there are different types of Ron Paul supporters (just like there are different types of Obama supporters, etc.). There are the folks who fundamentally believe the government has overstepped its reach and that libertarian principles can restore our country. I think my grandfather fell into this category. He was a responsible, hard-working, independent man who worked hard for his family. Pro-gun and pro-freedom, he supported the power of the people.
The second group is what I like to call the new age Ron Paulers. This is a crew that has really come out over the past few years and is primarily comprised of college students and young adults. They are fed up with the war, paying too high of taxes, maybe facing employment problems and want a revolution. It is this group that is vocal on websites, blogs, and forums. They are unbending in their opinions and espouse thoughts that if the rest of America was informed enough, we would be in their camp.
I'll call the third group zealots. Every political group has them; these are the people who will do whatever it takes to get their voice heard, even if it means violence, rigging voting, etc. When I went to Occupy Dallas, I met many Ron Paul supporters (and no, they weren't disguised as Paul supporters). Some of them belong in the second group...they wanted a change and were curious about how Occupy could help with this. Others definitely belong in this third category. Because this is an extremist faction, I don't even think it's worth commenting on.
The group that I want to address is the second group. People who may not have always been politically active but are finding excitement in this political cycle. People who believe the government is so large, it needs to not just be shrunk but an amputation of power needs to occur. People who read/watch Infowars as their primary source of news.
My friends, I have a bone to pick with you. In your enthusiasm for you candidate and excitement over him being the closest he has ever come to being president in his years of running, you seem to have forgotten a few things.
1) I have researched all the candidates. I have great respect for Ron Paul and believe his emphasis on the constitution and freedom is a message that needs to be shared. In my heart of hearts, having researched and weighed the options, I cannot vote for him. This does not mean that I am misguided or unlearned. When you tell me I need to study and pray more and I'll come to the same conclusion as you, I find it insulting and condescending. It is possible to see the same facts and come to different conclusions. I respect your right to believe Ron Paul is the answer right now and should be the GOP nominee for president. I disagree with this but I am not running around slandering you and calling you names (like "sheeple"). Please show me and other supporters of other candidates the same respect.
2) Getting Obama out of office is the objective. If you truly love your freedoms they way you claim, I don't see how you can support having Obama in office 4 more years. Do you have any idea how much additional damage he will do to our freedoms if he doesn't have to worry about being reelected?!? When you say you're going to vote Obama instead so that Ron Paul will win in 4 years, I question your resolve to protecting our freedoms. As an aside, there are RP supporters who have said that if RP is not selected as the nominee, they will work mightily to defeat Obama. These are the Ron Paul supporters I find I have something in common with. While I have supported Romney for years, this election cycle, I really did carefully consider if he was the best candidate. I looked into Ron Paul, Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, and others. I read, studied, watched debates, videos, talked with people, etc. I did my due diligence. I chose Romney. Had Romney dropped out or been beaten by Santorum or Gingrich, I would have mourned the loss and then jumped right in to supporting that candidate to defeat Obama. I appreciate the RP supporters who have experienced similar feelings and are willing to support whatever GOP candidate is selected to defeat Obama as they realize how awful his policies are for our country.
3) Ron Paul and Mitt Romney have a great deal of overlap. If you watched the debates, you could see as Ron Paul supported positions of other candidates. And he did support many positions of other candidates. When you say that Obama and Romney are the same, you're also saying that anyone that has overlap with someone else is the same. So we should call RP Obaul?? No, any reasonable person recognizes the differences. I ask you to be reasonable.
4) This is a recent trend that has started and probably what is most disconcerting to me. I have been told by Ron Paul supporters over the last few weeks that Americans have become too stupid and lazy, they cannot vote for themselves. They need people to step in and do what's best for the people even if it is against the will of the people. (If you're asking if you read that sentence correctly, you did. And yes, it's scary.) They promise a revolution and acting as "wolves in sheep's clothing." This reminds me of a Ron Paul supporter I met who when I labeled him as such at a convention said "How did you know? You're not supposed to be able to tell." Any time a group of people believes they need supercede the process the Constitution lays out, it is in direct violation of concepts upon which this country was founded. Obama was a bad pick for this country. BUT the people elected him. I will fight, blog, vote, contribute time and money to help the people make a different choice this election, but I respect the process by which he was elected.
I think again about my grandfather. What a force he was. And while he was the kind of man who wanted government out of his life, he did support Ronald Reagan as president. My goal in writing this blog is not to squash enthusiasm but to promote flexibility. An unbending tree breaks in the harsh winds. If one is so stuck on Ron Paul and so rigid in thinking to assume that Romney is truly no better than Obama so it's Paul or bust, they will be responsible to 4 more years of lost freedoms. You may be able to live with that but I am not sure our country can.