A thoughtful reader [editor's note: all of our readers at this point qualify as "thoughtful"; apparently we are not attracting the "TMZ" crowd. Although I shouldn't presume. You may confess your secret TMZ obsession confidentially, offline] writes the following regarding Ron Paul:
His message is generally that we should not be locating power in political institutions, and especially that America should not be militarily intervening abroad (much to the embarrassment of the other Republicans at the debates).
This thoughtful reader gets my larger point (whether he agrees or not, I’m not sure) that it’s problematic– and perhaps even wrongheaded– to look to the realm of politics for the restoration of America. The follow-up question, then, is: Can a politician’s anti-federal-government views, and proposed policies, effect– or at least abet– the restoration of America? And a related question– a question that goes way beyond Ron Paul– is: Is being anti-government the same thing as recognizing the limits of politics?
As a society I think we are seriously confused about that second question. I think there is a deeply shared feeling in America that we’ve gone badly astray. One response to that general dis-ease is to re-emphasize personal responsibility [a good thing]– and blame government [not altogether a good thing]. There are some things that we need government– even the federal government– to do, given the unprecedented-in-world-history interconnectedness of peoples, cultures, and economies. To recognize the limits of the political realm to effect the renewal we need, is not the same thing as saying– as many in our state of New Hampshire and around the country do– that government is, always and everywhere, bad.
To claim that government is always and everywhere bad, is the same coin– flipped, of course, but still the same coin– as claiming that the hope of the nation can be neatly pinned, like a campaign button, onto the outcome of a presidential election. The restoration of America– if it is to come at all– will come from a deeper place than where the “Got Hopers” and the “Tea Partiers” are looking.