It sure looks like Crazy Uncle Ron is taking the Hawkeye State by storm, doesn’t it? Recent polls have Dr. Paul surging into the lead and the casual observer is left to conclude that his message of hardcore Constitutionalism at home and a suicidal isolationism abroad has become the new Macarena craze for the 2012 election. At least, that’s the lay of the land from a high altitude perspective.
Down on the ground, however, the perspective changes as we gain a better understanding and appreciation of what’s actually going on in the ever-evolving Iowa Caucuses.
Fortunately, we have a sherpa for this trek in the person of AmSpec columnist Jeffrey Lord:
There is a reason Ron Paul is doing well in Iowa (as seen in this recent story.)
And yes, it is directly related to the fact that Iowa is a caucus state rather than a primary state, where the organizational skills of a candidate with a small core of passionate supporters can make more of a difference.
But there is a second, hardly discussed factor at work in Iowa politics: Iowa is a state that has historically produced or supported political leaders whose left-wing foreign policy sentiments were somewhere in the same cornfield’s as Ron Paul.
It’s a revealing peek inside the collective mind of the Iowa electorate, from the ranks of which emerged Henry Wallace in the early 20th century.
In short, as with Ron Paul today and as Paul demonstrated afresh in the latest Fox debate, Wallace believed that the cause of America’s difficulties was — America. It was America provoking the Russians to their behavior, not some messianic Communist urge to take over the world that was the real problem. The spreading Soviet presence in Europe and elsewhere be damned.
WALLACE’S BELIEF, OF COURSE, is now precisely the core philosophy of Ron Paul and his allies, although today it is applied to America’s struggle with Islamic fundamentalists. It was also the philosophy behind a Paul mentor, Murray Rothbard. Rothbard, a conservative with William F. Buckley Jr. and the rest at the beginning of the modern conservative movement, also believed with Wallace that the Cold War was America’s fault. Rothbard’s real philosophical alliance would eventually reveal itself in later years as he split with Buckley. Rothbard went on instead to ally himself with the leftist inclinations of the Students for a Democratic Society — the infamous SDS that birthed Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Jane Fonda’s radical husband Tom Hayden. In addition to Rothbard, Paul is a big fan of the leftist intellectual and progressive writer Randolph Bourne, whom he cites favorably in his book The Revolution: A Manifesto. It is Bourne who inspires both Paul and his followers to frequently quote Bourne’s far left “wisdom” that “war is the health of the state.”
I’m not entirely sure that the Iowa electorate has swallowed the Wallace Perspective hook, line and sinker but I wouldn’t discount his influence, either. I’m inclined to believe that Dr. Paul’s recent surge is the fruit of the unflagging efforts of his legions of tireless Paulbot supporters – for whom Paul appears to be less a preferred candidate than the charismatic leader of a political cult.
Whatever the case, I wouldn’t place much stock in the outcome of the Hawkeye Cauci except to say that if Dr. Paul wins it, the victory will accrue to Mitt Romney’s favor by pitting Der Mittmeister against a bona fide kook – forcing an already waning Newt Gingrich to the sidelines as Romney goes on to triumph in New Hampshire.