Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis.) A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)
We hear this claim all the time: Ron Paul has a “cult-like” following. I guess because people are so devoted to him, flocking straw polls in droves while supporters of other candidates can’t be bothered to get off the couch to vote for their guy, people assume there must be some kind of cult of personality at work. Instead of asking what’s so wrong with the other candidates that they generate so little enthusiasm, critics instead assail Paul’s supporters.
Yet the Paul movement, as should be obvious, is the very opposite of a cult. For one thing, their leader hardly ever uses the word “I.” For another, they have substantive reasons for supporting him. Speak to a Ron Paul supporter and you’ll find someone who knows much more than the average person about topics like monetary policy, the Constitution, U.S. history, economics, etc. That person can give as many solid, substantive reasons for supporting Ron Paul as you have time to listen to.
Contrast this to what we often see from supporters of other candidates. They like theirs because the candidate “looks presidential,” “seems like a leader” (isn’t that kind of cultish?), was a businessman, gives a nice speech, etc. In other words, the reasons tend to be entirely based on the person as opposed to the ideas the person champions.
I am not trying to turn the accusation around and say supporters of other candidates are the real cultists, though you can see the sense in which the shoe fits. Their support for their candidates is much too fickle, as the poll fluctuations we’ve seen make clear, for the “cult” designation to work.
But for heaven’s sake, what explanation is there for the support for Herman Cain? Is it his stance on the issues? The Tea Party people supporting him are supposed to be against bank bailouts, which Cain supported. They’re supposed to be against Mitt Romney, whom Cain supported. They’re supposed to care about the debt, and Cain is criticizing Ron Paul for being too extreme in wanting to balance the budget in three years! They’re supposed to care about the economy, but Cain gave the economy a clean bill of health on September 1, 2008, on the eve of the collapse.
So Cain directly defies the principles his supporters claim in the abstract to stand for, yet they support him anyway. And people say Ron Paul’s supporters resemble a cult?
Now, now, I am not saying the Cain movement is a cult, but I am saying that it makes no sense, in light of the above, to single out Ron Paul’s supporters — of all people! — in this way.
(For the specifics regarding my points about Cain, see ‘I Support Cain’ Means ‘The Country’s Fine Just as It Is,’ The Trouble with Herman Cain, and ONE WEEK Before Collapse, Cain Says Economy Great.)