“Dr. Paul cured my apathy”: Ron Paul’s libertarian discourse
Goad, Rhiannon Jade
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During the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, many young white men found a political hero in the 77-year-old Republican Congressman from Texas, whose rallies often center on obscure, technical arguments concerning the Federal Reserve. It is because of the grassroots support of the young white men who adore him that Ron Paul has become a major figure in today’s political scene. What attracts young white men to Ron Paul? This paper explores the history and discourse of Libertarianism to better understand the political subjectivity and identity of Ron Paul supporters. In Chapter 2, I historically contextualize Paul’s libertarian discourse. I argue that the discourse of libertarianism is characterized by claims to an apolitical, ahistorical past in which Libertarian rhetoric naturalizes discourses of free market capitalism, “classical” liberalism, and “authentic” Americanism. In Chapter 3, I shift focus to Ron Paul’s career and policy positions and argue that Paul’s Libertarian discourse naturalizes existing hierarchies of race, class, and gender. In Chapter 4, I explain the interview methodology used for this project. Finally, in Chapters 5 and 6, I explore how libertarian discourse is (re)produced or disrupted through the personal political discourse of Ron Paul supporters.