Many Ron Paul supporters find themselves at odds with the Republican Party over the issue of American involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Ron Paul they believe that wars of occupation and nation building are unconstitutional and they cannot understand why Republicans who claim to share their belief in the Constitution support those wars.
They make the same mistake that Ron Paul himself did when he attacked Rudy Giuliani over this issue in the first presidential debate of 2008. They make themselves look anti-Republican and even anti-American because they do not understand the perspective of many traditional Republicans or the basis on which those Republicans find themselves supporting these wars.
Then the battle-lines are drawn up and both sides become entrenched in their ideology without trying to understand each others’ perspective. The Ron Paul supporters become convinced that traditional Republicans are a bunch of pro-war “neocons” and more mainstream Republicans get the idea that Ron Paul supporters are radical, anti-American peaceniks, when the truth is that neither perception is even close to accurate.
While there are a small number of Stalinistic, pro-war expansionists in the GOP, their viewpoint is alien to the party and is not shared by most Republicans. Most Republicans who support our current wars do not do so because they are in favor of war or of imperialism, but because they are unquestioningly pro-America. They may believe in a strong national defense, but they do not believe in wars of conquest and occupation. They oppose the anti-war position, not because they like war, but because they dislike those who take issue with the actions of America as a nation no matter what the reason.
They operate from the perspective that our government is good, not because government is good, but because our government is American and America is good. They therefore assume that the actions of our government, including making war, must be good and right actions because they are the actions of an American government.
Despite its inherently irrational nature, this would be an understandable and even excusable position for them to take if the government of the United States were, in fact, the government which we are supposed to have under the Constitution and if the government still followed the principles of the Constitution and the founding fathers. If that were the case and the government entered into a war, then it would be impossible for that war not to be undertaken justly and it would be traitorous to oppose it.
Most Republicans act on the assumption that we still live under a government which operates legitimately and constitutionally and that is the basis for their outrage with those who oppose the government’s actions. They are not awakened to how far we have drifted from legitimate, American-style, constitutional government and they are still acting on the mistaken assumption that we have the government which we ought to have and that its actions are legitimate on that basis.
So if you are a Ron Paul style constitutionalist, don’t make the mistake of calling other Republicans “neocons” or warmongers just because they defend the nation’s actions even when you believe those actions are wrong. From their perspective that makes you a traitor and an enemy of the Constitution, because all they see is that you are attacking the Republic, not the reasoning behind your actions.
You can’t change the perception that the government is good by attacking the government because those who still believe the government is good will turn against you. It’s kind of a catch-22 situation.
You need to convince them not that our government is bad, but that the government we have is effectively not our government at all. You can do this by laying out for them what government ought to be under the Constitution and then let them see for themselves the shortcomings of government as it is compared to government as it should be.
The fact that the Democrats are in power also presents a valuable opportunity, because Republicans of all varieties are willing to believe that Democrats and their policies are evil. So if you go after big government and its excesses as products of Democrat policy you can get your foot in the door very easily.
It’s a short trip from condemning the actions of Obama and the Democrats to realizing that those actions are wrong even when they are the actions of Republicans. Patriotic Republicans who would never question the actions of their government under other circumstances will quickly change their tune when they are perceived to be the actions of Democrats or even of Republicans who are acting like Democrats.
Before you can even begin to discuss the war with them you need to lay this sort of groundwork and make them aware that our government is no longer operating on Constitutional principles. That is where you really disagree and once you resolve that disagreement by educating them, then the secondary issues of war and nation building and the tyranny of the security state will become ones on which you will soon find common ground.
When they understand that you are defending the Republic as it ought to be rather than attacking the Republic as it is they will understand that you are allies, not enemies.