By Mark Anderson
While the corporate media keep throwing two gubernatorial bookends—Rick Perry of Texas and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts—in our collective face, as if they are the only Republican presidential candidates to consider worthwhile and electable, rank-and-file military personnel continue to show major support for Representative Ron Paul during his second shot at the GOP nomination for president.
This is happening despite the fact that Perry, the nation’s longest continuously serving state governor, once served in the Air Force and achieved the rank of captain—but by itself, that evidently is not enough to win the hearts and dollars of military personnel. There is no clear indication, as of yet, that this reality will change.
What sets Paul apart is his insistence that what is rapped as “isolationism” is simply non-interventionism, and that it needs to be rediscovered as the wise foreign policy that was embraced by the nation’s first president, George Washington.
A similar trend occurred during Paul’s previous presidential bid in 2008: The ones asked to bleed on the battlefield, then, like now, are not totally sold on the American imperial doctrine of endless wars spreading into more and more nations. Thus, these active-duty personnel not only philosophically support Paul’s message of non-interventionism militarily in other nations’ affairs; they also are complimenting their words with money for Paul’s campaign.
“He’s a straight shooter and he speaks from the heart,” Air Force Master Sgt. Bill Baker was quoted as saying, about Representative Paul, on the Northwest Military website. “He’s not about slandering other candidates. All he does is talk about the issues.”
Back in 2008, Paul’s top three contributors were from the ranks of the Army ($78,000), Navy ($55,000) and Air Force ($55,000), in round numbers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). He led the way, then, in military contributions.
Now, the CRP shows Paul in a dead heat with Obama, but well ahead of the other GOP contenders in the following military contributions: Barack Obama, $34,482; Ron Paul, $32,089; Mitt Romney, $4,100; Herman Cain, $3,500; Michele Bachmann, $2,550; Newt Gingrich, $900; and Rick Santorum, $250. The most pro-war GOP candidates, from Romney on down, received the least amounts. Obama is cited as getting some soldier support for announced troop draw-downs and allegedly taking out who the world was told was none other than world-terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden.
CRP, via its Open Secrets website, shows that Paul had raised more than $21,000 from individual Army, Air Force and Navy donors before the first (ending June 30, 2011) contribution deadline. Paul announced his candidacy on May 13. The Army contributions alone, at around $10,600 at the time, topped his list at that time. Meanwhile, Romney’s top donor as of June 30 was Goldman Sachs. And no military contributors were listed at that time for him.
CRP contribution figures are not yet available for Governor Perry, whose late candidacy was not announced until August.
Notably, less than a month after Romney’s June 2 announcement that he would seek the GOP nomination, Goldman Sachs—the infamous investment bank associated with bailing out bankers and robbing the people to do so—already had poured just under $294,000 into the campaign of Romney, a longtime business apparatchik who’s the son of the late Michigan Governor George Romney, a pro-war, pro-big business Mormon.
The younger Romney’s contributors’ list posted by CRP is a veritable “who’s who” of economic infamy: Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., among others. Let’s just say the Constitution won’t be the first order of business in a Romney administration.
“Our fighting men and women take an oath to protect America, defend our Constitution and defend our borders,” Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign manager, who also worked for Paul’s 2008 campaign, said in a statment. “They look at Ron Paul and see a leader who takes their oath seriously, and who will fight to ensure that we don’t misrepresent that oath by sending them off to police the world, instead of defending our country.”
Army Sgt. Ryan Treat, stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia, spoke of his support for Paul in a video shot for Ron Paul Flix: “I don’t like the extended wars we’ve been fighting in the Middle East,” the 10-year veteran said. “The soldiers are dying for what I don’t think is a noble cause.”
Paul also got front-page coverage in a noted military newspaper, The Ranger, showing a large picture of him. The enclosed news was headlined “You Want Him,” reflecting the response of soldiers to Paul’s beliefs. The publication, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, is based in Washington State at Fort Lewis.
This writer followed the Paul campaign closely starting in 2007, covering a CNN debate in New Hampshire and several other stops along the way, including directly watching the vote-count in the tabulation room in Victoria, Texas, when it appeared a congressional challenger might unseat Paul from his 14th district House seat while Paul was distracted by his presidential run.
Currently, Paul placed second in the Iowa Straw Poll just behind Representative Bachmann, won the California Straw Poll and had respectable showings in the September 7 California candidate debate and subsequent Florida debates in Tampa and Orlando. He won the MSNBC Internet poll just after the California debate by a large margin. But the media clearly want a safe and pliable GOP nominee who won’t monkey-wrench the big business-big government machine that calls the shots, so it will indeed be interesting to see how the media treat Paul if his candidacy survives longer than it did in 2008.
By the time Paul stepped down from his 2008 presidential run—right after his big September 2008 rally attended by 10,000 people that AMERICAN FREE PRESS covered in Minneapolis, Minnesota—it became clear that his 2008 run was mainly for building national name recognition and to lay the groundwork for a broader movement that came to be known as the Campaign for Liberty. Paul followed through by encouraging everyday people from various walks of life to run for office at the local, state and federal levels on the basis of the Campaign for Liberty theme. A centerpiece of that theme was to throw away the assumption that Republican candidates must be pro-war.
While Paul appears reluctant to embrace the realistic and historically effective use of import tariffs as a means of reestablishing the United States industrial base, and clings to the Austrian School free-market economic model that seems to lack real-world solutions, his non-interventionist stance regarding the military is a precious breath of fresh air when U.S. military involvement seems to observe no limits: Ten years in Afghanistan, 7 to 8 years in Iraq and new misadventures in Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere—an expanding list of commitments which needs to be countered by a growing chorus that shouts: “Enough!”
Let’s hope that our soldiers stand at the front of the line in such an important endeavor. If Paul succeeds in rallying enough troops against endless imperial wars, he will have already done more good than any typical establishment wind-up toy could do serving in the Oval Office itself.
AFP Roving Editor Mark Anderson is a veteran reporter who covers the annual Bilderberg meetings and is chairman of AFP’s new America First Action Committee, designed to involve AFP readers in focusing intensely on Congress to enact key changes, including monetary reform and a pullback of the warfare state. He and his wife Angie often work together on news projects.