Political Animal


April 25, 2013 3:20 PM Ron Paul Broun

By Ed Kilgore

Just yesterday I wrote about the continuing rise of “constitutional conservatives” in Georgia as led by Senate candidate Paul Broun, as counterpoint to the usual Beltway talk about GOP extremism being a wave of the past. So I was more than interested by the news (from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Daniel Molloy) that at this early stage of the ‘14 cycle, Broun’s candidacy has been endorsed by Ron Paul.

Now from a practical point of view, this means Broun will get some additional foot soldiers for his campaign—and more importantly, access to the Paul fundraising machine, no small asset for a candidate whose main weakness (other than the ill-disguised glee of many Democrats that this Todd-Akin-Waiting-To-Happen, rather than some conventional party hack like Jack Kingston, might be the GOP’s Senate nominee) is money.

But I think the Paul/Broun alliance is significant as a window into the ideology that both men claim as their own: “constitutional conservatism.” It definitely goes beyond their shared antipathy to the Fed. Its essence is a fusion of private-property absolutism with a theocratic view of American Exceptionalism, expressed via a divinization of the Declaration of Independence and selected elements of the Constitution, all interpreted through an “originalist” filter.

I’ve written about this fusion quite a bit before, but can’t let the subject go because every time I turn around there’s another Major Pundit of the Left or Right arguing that conservatives are split between “libertarians” like the Pauls and “social conservatives” like Broun, or that the Tea Party Movement replaced the Christian Right in conservative politics, or that both movements are dead or dying. Far from representing the eclipse of the Christian Right, Ron and Rand Paul have intimate connections with the Christian Reconstructionist movement. And far from representing some atavistic Christian Right faction that is being displaced by “economic conservatives,” Paul Broun and people like him strongly believe capitalism unregulated by the state (and particularly the federal government) is as religiously justified as bans on abortion or same-sex marriage, which means an awful lot. It’s no accident a lot of conservative evangelical homeschoolers love the Pauls, or that Broun has a lifetime rating of 99% from the Club for Growth. Nobody doubts Broun’s Christian Right street cred who has seen this remarkable video of the fiery Georgian denouncing most of the teachings of modern science as “lies straight from the pit of hell”—in a speech to a Southern Baptist hunters’ club, moreover:

But Broun is also fond of boasting, as he did in a fundraising letter long before Paul’s endorsement, that “Truth be told, except for foreign policy, Ron Paul’s voting record and mine are virtually identical.”

Sure they are. They’re both “constitutional conservatives,” and despite the incomprehension and mockery of the pundits, it’s a movement that’s alive and growing in GOP politics.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 25, 2013 5:04 PM:

    The Republican Party is currently comprised of three Manichean groups (pure white = good/black = evil/anything other than pure white, is evil, and hence, unacceptable, because it isn't pure).

    I had, in an earlier comment, indentified only two of them:
    1. The Manichean Christians - The first ones in the Repbulican Party, welcomed in my Reagan. You're with God and Jesus, or with Satan. Period!

    2. The Capitalist Manicheans - Pure, unfettered, market-driven, non-regulated Capitalism, with low tax rates, and low wages and low/no benefits for the plebes.

    3. And the latest ones, John Bircher Manicheans. McCarthyite conspiracy lovers, for whom Ike was a communist. They were excluded from the mainstream party, from Goldwater, until 2009, when the Republican Party, seeing the first indications of a looming demographic disaster, desperately reached out and welcomed them - many of these are Tea Partiers.

    Though there may be some single-issue purists, most have a lot common ground on Jesus = pure good - Satan = pure evil/Capitalism = pure good - Socialism/Communism = pure evil. With the Birchers falling into mainly with the Captialist Manicheans, but with extra-added, wild conspiracy theories.
    Note: There may be some Capitalist and Bircher Manicheans who are Agnonistics or Atheists, and have no ties at all with their Jesus colleagues. But they will be nearly as reviled and dispised as Liberals, Democrats, and Satanists.

    So, there already ARE a lot of areas of common ground.

    So, how to rupture this Confederacy of Dunces before the Rapture?
    If we can cleave off the Jesus loons, and convince them of what used to keep them out of politics - that money and politics are too "Worldly," and that they should focus their, and their families, energies on the next world, we can leave the Republicans with only the Capitalists, who'll never stop believing in the power of money, and the Birchers, who'll never stop believing that there's a conspiracy behind every human action, and every animate and inanimate option.

    We need to re-educate the Jesus Manicheans, of Jesus's own words:
    "Render unto God, what is God's.
    And render unto Caesar, what is Ceasar's."

    Why are you mixing the two together, Jesus-freaks?
    Help the Rapture come, pray, and leave the Money-changers and the politicians to cause it.

    The Republican Party loses a lot of their loyal footsoldiers.

    But, of course, not the religious politicians.
    Most of them are in the Jesus-business for the votes, money, and power.
    But, they can be picked-off, one by one.

  • David Martin on April 25, 2013 5:51 PM:

    It's perhaps worth noting that Broun's famous talk mentions, after evolution, the preachers "straight from hell" who do baptism by sprinkling rather than dunking. I haven't seen signs of Methodists, Presbyterians, or Catholics being offended. Maybe I'm missing something.

  • Sean Scallon on April 25, 2013 10:04 PM:

    "with a theocratic view of American Exceptionalism,"

    There you ago again. The American Exceptionalism crowd HATES Ron Paul because Paul isn't for going around the world to prove America's exceptionalism unlike the necons who do the most promote it. When has Paul ever said "the teachings of modern science as “lies straight from the pit of hell” or something like that? Hmmm? Never. Why does he support Broun? I think a lot of it has to do End the Fed. You take your allies where you can get them sometimes. The bottom line is, among secular and non-religious voters in GOP primaries, Paul did the best of all the candidates. You think that's a coincidence? No, it has something to do with the man and message he had and who it appealed to.

    Oh by the way, he's also retired. What do you care what he does anymore?

  • Mimikatz on April 26, 2013 12:58 AM:

    I think there is a name for conservative Christianity plus rampant capitalism plus the glorification of ignorance and reverence for the glorious past. It is fascism a la Mussolini.