Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ron Paul at the Peace Center Amphitheater, Greenville, SC

I forgot to charge up my nice new camera's battery... d'oh! ...and thus, cribbed these ultracool photos from the Greenville News. If they make me take em down, oh well. But in the meantime, I can show you where I went, and who I saw tonight.

Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul gave a speech to hundreds of revved-up followers in the Peace Center Amphitheater, in downtown, Greenville, South Carolina, this evening. I was dumbfounded (and impressed) by the fervor. There was music, food, and almost balmy weather. I actually enjoyed the event.

I used to call this place Mayberry, but in the last decade it has turned into what David Brooks calls a Latte Town. It was interesting to see Ron Paul's middle American populists in the pricey mall-atmosphere that downtown Greenville has become. Greenville was built by working class people, like those at the Ron Paul rally. Now that the mills are gone, and once-humble Reedy River neighborhoods transformed into the millionaire's River Place (with appropriately upscale restaurants and hotels), I could easily guess which families were headed for swanky Soby's, and which were headed for Ron Paul. Many of the people in the surrounding, trendy, spanking-new restaurants and apartments came out on their decks, cocktails in hand, to have a look at the spectacle. I felt the impact of them looking down, quite literally, on us.

Not the money people, in other's words. Not your father's Republican party.

Standing around beforehand, sipping hot chocolate with Carolina fans for Ron Paul, I tried to sort out his appeal. Lots of these people were saying they don't usually get involved in politics, so what brings them out for Ron? Let me count the ways. The GrannyWarriors, with their pet monkey, never tire of telling you how much they love Ron. The collapse of the dollar, among other concerns, is one motivation. But overwhelmingly, I heard young men especially say that the trashing of the constitution in fighting an undeclared war (with no end in sight), was something that they felt strongly about.

Ron Paul was introduced by a conservative talk radio guy from Charleston (whose name and radio station I didn't catch), who promptly confused me by trashing Sean Hannity. Huh? Again, not your father's GOP.

"Why is the national media talking about Huckabee in Iowa when Ron Paul has more money and bigger crowds? Why do they patently ignore the actual numbers, in favor of coverage of Giuliani and Romney?" he asked. Indeed, I hadn't thought of it, but Ron Paul doesn't get much mainstream TV coverage.

Living in an early primary state and deciding to become a Political Blogger(tm), I dutifully signed up for all the campaign updates. It's been an illuminating exercise in what politicians consider important: money. Most campaign emails do not discuss policy, ideas, intentions, plans for the country, etc. They discuss CONTRIBUTE HERE, with a bright red button you can click to take you to the contributors page.

Here, as in other respects, Ron is far ahead of the rest of the pack. Certainly, he asks for money, but he always includes strong political statements in his email. He actually assumes people on his mailing list care about what is happening. And he doesn't talk down to them. Decidedly not a movie star of any sort, he repeatedly says WE instead of "I"--as in WE can do this together, not I will do this for you.

There is the sentiment in the crowd that he is a savior, but also, somehow, that he is an ordinary person. I find the confluence of the two sentiments odd, but thoroughly American and completely fascinating.

One of my political mentors, the late Steve Conliff, taught me to think strategically about elections. A radical and Yippie, he nonetheless deliberately ran as a Republican candidate for governor, not as a Democrat. He used to counsel us to vote for the most liberal Republican in the primaries, drawing the most conservative party to the left, which he felt was crucial. Then, cast your vote according to precinct in the general election. If your precinct can't waste a single Democratic vote, you know what to do. However, if the GOP has the election sewn up in your neighborhood (as SC is a predominantly GOP state, and there is little chance of that changing in 2008), get creative. Send messages. Vote for the Green Party, or Ron Paul, or a write-in candidate. Do something.

Let them know that Tweedledee and Tweedledum are simply no choice.

Ron Paul: Missing weapons put soldiers at risk
Ron Paul: No escalation with Iran

Listening to: Magazine - A Song from Under the Floorboards
via FoxyTunes


ressurectingadream said...

Thank you !! that was a wonderful post.

Teresa Warden
Greenville Grassroots

DaisyDeadhead said...

Brian Frank's photos of last night's rally are up, also!

Anthony Kennerson said...

Thanks, Daisy....but I think I'll pass until Cynthia McKinney gets the Green Party nomination and hold out for a genuine antiwar progressive that isn't economically and socially so reactionary.


Bryce said...

i still ain't buyin what he's sellin.

Anonymous said...

The other candidates care about winning the election. Ron Paul cares about America! Wake up America! Ron makes sense, knows his stuff, has voted for liberty every time in the past and will work for us in the future, NOT for a bigger paycheck for government!

sillygeuse said...

PREFACE: I am NOT attacking your or your beliefs!! I feel very strongly about this, so I get a bit zealous sometimes.

I am a bit surprised that as a woman you can support a man who supports telling you what you can and cannot do with your body. Overturning Roe v Wade, as Paul wishes to do, reduces us to mere chattle once again. Can you really get behind that? Are you planing to adopt one of the 1.3 million babies that won't be aborted? Are you prepared to actually pay higher taxes to support those babies no one wants to adopt? I feel that any candidate's stance on abortion is indicative of what will REALLY happen if they are elected. The rest is just bloody talk!

DaisyDeadhead said...

SG, as I said, voting strategically. ALL of the Republicans in the race take the same position. My state WILL go Republican by a sizable margin. Therefore, voting for the most lefty Republican, to draw the party to the left. That's all I can do, in my state, other than write-in.

And certainly, there is LOTS of stuff (Social Security, health care, etc) regarding Dr. Paul that I disagree with. But I tend to see modern elections as "the democratic sham" (Karl Marx) that are bought and sold to the highest bidders and therefore something to manipulate, not something that gives us the best leader(s).

It's interesting that when he was running for president as a libertarian, his position was pro-choice (as Romney once was, too). No one has called him out on that, but if he got the nomination, surely he'd be called to account (as Romney, considered a "serious" candidate) has been already.

More than anything, fascinated by the populism and the class differences between the Republicans who back RP and the ones who back the established candidates. I'll need to do some further studying to figure out how populism got to be a GOP thing, rather than a Dem thing...also, very interesting to me that the most unequivocal anti-war sentiments are (in this particular political race) held by the most populist candidates: Kucinich and Paul.

Thank you for your insightful and feminist comment! :)

Sillygeuse said...

Okay I can see your point. I think it really bites that you cannot truly be open mided about your choices in your state because you already know how the vote will swing. I don't mean that as an insult in any way or mean that YOU specifically are not open minded. I simply mean that our current system allows for this siutation to occur all too freqently and that is a true shame. It's almost as if we have to choose the least of the evils in order to have any kind of adequate representation. So much for democracy!!
Hugs to you from the closet feminist. If my husband only knew.... LOL Thanks for bringing up a valid argument to my stance. You are the first to be capable of doing so and I admire that greatly!

DaisyDeadhead said...

Yeah, it bites. :( My home state (Ohio) was a swing state, and I remember how exciting that was! This map is a pretty good guide to Dem/Rep and swing states.

South Carolina has been Republican since forever...

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