I had two interesting experiences over the weekend, totally unrelated to the non-event of Hurricane Irene, which only dropped an inch of rain on northern Virginia. On Friday I went to dinner with a mixed group consisting of the women who are in my wife’s quilting group together with their husbands. All of the men were in their late fifties-early sixties and everyone but me and my wife was an evangelical Christian. One husband was a former employee of an airline and retired but the rest were all recently unemployed, having held management positions that have been made redundant. They have been looking for work but, at their age, they are finding nothing even when willing to take large cuts in pay and benefits. One will be moving back to his family home in Ohio next week because he can no longer afford northern Virginia. I was the only one with an actual job. Two of the men have been prominent in local Democratic Party circles and the remainder vote Republican. All agreed, to my surprise, that the US economy is broken and that it is the result of the wars and globalism that have marched together hand in hand over the past ten years. They also all agreed, even when they do not support specific policies, that Ron Paul is the only honest man running for the presidency. Which is not to say they all would vote for him, but the approval rating was 100%.
On Saturday we had a reunion lunch with the CIA Rome Station class of 1980. The last time the whole group was together was shortly before the 2008 election, when everyone but me and my wife indicated that they would be voting for McCain-Palin. This time around it was different. No one in the group has any longer a connection with the government as employee or contractor, so, apart from their pensions, they have no vested interest in who wins the presidency. I was kidded about my Ron Paul bumper sticker but everyone was quick to add seriously that Paul was the only honest man running, that he had predicted the economic collapse, and that his message has been consistent. They even agreed emphatically when I quoted Paul’s pledge to bring the troops home from overseas on the day after he is elected. This is coming from Cold Warriors, mind you, men and women who spent careers doing without question whatever their government asked them to do. Again, no one said they would vote for Ron Paul but nor did anyone say they would not.
Which is all to suggest that maybe something is actually going on in the body politic, that people are willing to listen to Ron Paul even though four years ago they would have thought such an idea ridiculous. And he has a passionate base of supporters. Do you remember the scene in the Godfather where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) sees a Cuban rebel die for his cause and realizes that the insurgents just might win? Recent opinion polls seem to be saying the same thing. Whether or not Dr. Paul can actually win the presidency, his ideas about the state of the US economy and Washington’s catastrophic foreign policy have reached the mainstream and are resonating.