I have watched Ron Paul for a very long time and one trend I see over and over is the split that emerges between people of roughly under the age of 40 and those who are older when his name is mentioned. I have no polling data to back this up, but young people seem to like Ron Paul and older people seem not to.
This is by no means uniform. I know plenty of older folks who love the good doctor and plenty of young people who do not like him, but generally the above statement holds I think. Why is this?
Fundamentally I believe it comes down to faith in the markets and whether or not one is playing for the future, or if one is clinging to the past.
Young people have much to lose in the economic quagmire we find ourselves in, namely their future. They recognize that times have changed, that the old economic regime is corrupt, and in order to get things going in any real way (not government stimulated) fundamental reforms must be implemented. Many, including myself would embrace a gold standard or a standard based on a basket of commodities. This is a radical departure from the Fed centered fiat currency regime. It would disrupt the current economic order, but a reset is needed and many young people recognize that it is vital that we head in this direction before it is too late. The economic hubris of the 20th century has come home to roost. We would like a real economy.
Older people understandably believe they have much to lose with a reality based economic system(I know this is a loaded term) such as the one Ron Paul advocates. In fairness they likely do.
If one has spent a lifetime compiling paper currency, amassing sums large and small in IRAs and retirement plans, a gold centered revolution could be pretty scary. For many people, especially those who are just now retiring, they have lived their entire lives with the understanding that the money they have saved will provide for their future. It’s a pretty reasonable assumption.
They, and even many long committed “conservatives” believe in the current system. The truth is, they like a large state. They like Social Security, and indeed many rely on it (which makes economic sense if one believes that the current New Deal based system is sustainable and they had always been told that it was.)
The baby boomers are also children of the Cold War where a massive military in the face of the Soviet threat seemed to, and arguably did, make sense. A large state is deeply engrained in the grey matter of the older generation and this is completely understandable.
However even older people must adapt when the alternative is catastrophe.
We are not yet at the point where a majority of thinking people understand the extent of the economic challenges that lay before us. My sense is that many smart older people know that there is much that is wrong, and that something must be done, but that the regime to which they have given so much of their lives can still be saved without real change. In fact many bristle at the thought. Ron Paul is an agent of change, and so they bristle at Dr. Paul.
Aside from the new economic paradigm Ron Paul introduces, something that is at least equally as scary for some is Ron Paul’s foreign policy stance. The thought that the United States should dominate the world, and that it would be dangerous for it not to, runs deep in the baby boomer generation.
For a generation that it is said to not only recognized the folly of Vietnam but brought an end to it, the boomers seem pretty keen on keeping the war machine going. The concept of the military as “big government” is lost on many baby boomer conservatives.
It doesn’t seem lost on many active duty members of the military however, who have given more to Ron Paul than to any other presidential candidate in this election cycle. But most of those active duty folks are young.
What I write here is probably moot of course. It looks like the establishment has gotten Mitt-“I don’t worry about the poor” -Romney, just as it wanted. But Ron Paul will collect enough delegates to make noise at the convention that is for sure.
Also, though the Republican establishment may feel that it has effectively put down the libertarian uprising, liberty oriented Republicans are the future if the GOP wishes to remain viable.
The libertarians are young, committed, information savvy, economically correct, and they are going to see their time in the sun like it or not.
The smartest, most innovative political thinkers on what is called the “right” aren’t in the Romeny, or Gingrich camp, they are in the Ron Paul camp. And the GOP knows it. But the party will fight this reality every step of the way. The real question is whether the Dick Cheney types would rather commit party suicide than capitulate to the New Wave. We’ll see.
Just as the Goldwater Republicans overtook the Rockefeller Republicans, the Ron Paul Republicans will take things further down the freedom path as they eclipse the Bushies.
Time may not have come today, but it is coming.
This article was originally posted at AgainstCronyCapitalism.org.