Recently I had a discussion with a group of libertarians that was for me very frustrating. In the case of many in the conversation it was clear that their isolation from reality had led to what I call the "Dungeons and Dragons view of politics." In this group a sub-discussion had broken out about whether Ron Paul was a libertarian or merely a paleoconservative.
Even after this more discussions broke out with each person involved announcing what particular subsidiary of libertine thought of which they considered themselves a part. In other words some were Orcs, some were Rogues, and still others Paladins. These discussions can often be normals in certain circles of libertarians. But much like D&D weirdos all I can do is restrain myself from starting a punchfest. Now I know how my dad felt when he talked to John Birchers.
The New York Times magazine is doing a piece this Sunday on Ron Paul of which most I've already read in advance. It paints a view that Ron's supporters are basically a loosely organized group of the people and views I described in the previous paragraph. Whackos. Fringe.
I'm in partial agreement with this notion of the whacko support but this oversimplification is even a stretch for the New York Times. Like all groups of Americans, they are more complex than they appear and with Ron Paul's supporters it goes far beyond Federal Reserve conspiracies, black helicopters, and one world government.
That said, it really bothers me what is considered mainstream thought among "normal" citizens when it comes to political thought. I remember during the 2004 race when "security moms" were seen as a segment society that both Bush and Kerry had to win. It was seen as important and normal for both of these candidates to use rhetoric to simply make these "security moms" feel better. Whoever had the plan that made them feel secure would get their vote.
So while there are real problems in this country that need to be discussed, it's the "whackos" that dare to address them while the "normal" citizens simply want to feel secure.
Unmanageable domestic obligations (entitlements)
Unfairness of the Income Tax
International military intervention
The failed war on drugs
Which government managed health care plan is best?
Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
Same sex marriage
You'll notice that in large part the "normal subjects" are matters that don't impact the average person's life but are instead simple enough for everyone to have an opinion. These subjects serve as distractions and enrage your everyday sensibilities. They know you care deeply about these subjects personally so they'll talk about them even though these politicians can do little to make a substantive difference regarding them.
This coming year politicians will be spending millions of dollars doing polling to find out what angers you, scares you, or makes you feel insecure so they will know how to scare you with ghost stories about their opponent. While all this is going on, the whackos will be discussing real political subjects between games of D&D and World of Warcraft.