“Hate,” the contrary to love, is the correct word.
We can well imagine and do know, in attempting to answer this question, that it comes from an assortment of predispositions. “Conservatives” hate him. “Liberals” hate him. And men “in-between” hate him. At least, some of them do. Plus, of course, it exists in different degrees.
For a couple of reasons at a bare minimum, a large number of men are naturally obscurantist.
The fact is that most don’t think deeply about politics, institutional-social arrangements, or economics. It takes a good deal of research and independent thinking to arrive at, or even to be familiar with, serious libertarian political conclusions, especially because the educational upbringing that practically all of us get is antithetical to it. And frankly, the average man, who is specialized in the division of labor in non-political endeavors, doesn’t have the time to think these things through.
Worse, to a large extent he is likely dependent on the statist framework which in the present age is omnipresent. Dependency will make him unlikely to oppose that framework and its omnipresence will make him take it for granted. Psychologically it’s always difficult to go up against something ubiquitous in society——especially if it’s something treated with reverence by him and his fellow man. The modern identification between State and society is what does it. Thus if someone comes along that challenges that framework, he is going to be viewed with dislike.
Another thing to consider is economic theory, something Ron Paul and libertarians talk about a lot. Good economics is very abstract, and in some ways can be more abstract than mathematics (or at least the mathematics that most are familiar with or vaguely acquainted with). Thus it’s difficult to understand. No man, however, can claim to understand society much unless he knows some economics. Though I’m biased towards economic understanding, it’s very difficult to see how someone can appreciate Ron Paul’s points or any libertarian’s points without knowing what opportunity cost is or how exactly free-market pricing allocates resources. Without thinking about “the unseen” (as written about by Frédéric Bastiat), a man cannot comprehend alternatives to statism.
Finally, we must consider democracy per se. Democracy doesn’t give an edge to better ideas or sounder visions. A trouble with undertaking to understand, e.g., economic theory is that it doesn’t pay to do so. Voters better informed have no more influence than those less so. No incentive exists for a single voter to become knowledgeable. It costs time and the results in democracy are negligible for one man. Given man’s nature, he will be inclined to hold onto his cherished opinions. He will be obstinate. Since serious thought is not promoted in democracy, man will pick opinions like he picks his favorite cuisine.
Say what we will about the free-market, there is some incentive for man to improve and costs for not doing so in competitive capitalism. Men might demand goods that are abhorrent, but it’s the best economic system we have nonetheless. Is democracy the best political system? I have my doubts——many actually.
It could be that if we took the positive qualities of the free-market and somehow applied them to some functions of the political system we would then get better results. The problem is having that happen. For a similar reason that democracy doesn’t promote good ideas by default, and might by default actually tend to promote bad ideas, it similarly might be impossible to see a better political system based on the free-market get formed because of public opinion preventing it from happening. A public opinion, moreover, that has been corrupted by democracy. Despite what other libertarians might say, there is therefore reason for continued pessimism. Yet if there is any chance for real change, it can only happen with libertarians instructing this mass public. Although, the good news is that Ron Paul’s support largely comes from the young, and the future is for the young.
In any case, there really are a lot of “conservatives” in the sense of accepting the status quo of ideas. If it is not outright acceptance, it’s mostly the taking for granted those ideas. Perhaps ironically, probably the majority that fits this description are on the political Left. A good deal are on the Right, as well, but a Right that is entirely subservient to what progressives have accomplished.
It is just that man’s “prejudices” against new and different ideas, ones away from statism, must be broken through somehow. A Ron Paul directly challenges these prejudices. That’s why members of the status quo establishment treat him like dirt. It additionally gives us an explanation of why some hate the man. I have seen, read, and heard them.
Another group, a subset of the Right, to consider in this context is the typical Republican-conservative talk radio show host and listener. They are a little different, although it might be a distinction without hardly any significant difference. Nevertheless, at least in their case they usually talk and act if they they are challengers against the status quo. “Progressiveness,” “big government,” “the mainstream media,” and “the liberal education establishment” are their enemies.
On the surface, in addition, they ostensibly seem to desire at some level different or new ideas to sweep away the current order of things: Education to abandon liberal intellectuals and propaganda; the mainstream media to change its biases; limited government to replace big government; and a conservative attitude to rid progressive sentiments on Christianity and the family and so on.
Ironically, however, the greater the degree of hate against Ron Paul, the more likely it seems to come from this “conservative” direction. That’s probably because he shows them for what they are; namely, empty and unprincipled in desiring to limit the State. Yes, there’s the foreign policy issue. Does that explain it? No, (probably) not as much as him showing them as empty and unprincipled. Besides, they hardly ever really challenge Dr. Paul’s foreign policy views, except to create a straw man of them. Even on their own standards, the current neoconservative policies have helped radical Islamic beliefs. Iraq is no longer secular and is more allied with Iran, for example. And those that hate Dr. Paul on foreign policy act as if the sky would fall in the U.S. if nation building ended. But it is questionable how many of them actually think that deep down.
By the way, it always seemed naïve to me when Ron Paul supporters thought he had a very good shot to win the Republican nomination. No group is going to overturn the statism of today, which has a long tradition, anytime soon. Politics hasn’t been capricious. The ideological battle for liberty, if it is ever won, will take time. We have to think for the long-term, and hence focus on the young. They are less hostile, relatively speaking, to Dr. Paul and new ideas.
A President Ron Paul in all probability couldn’t accomplish that much change, but he can act as a teacher to help set the grounds for change. Just by running for office he is doing that. Accompanying acknowledging that the future is for the young, and that they are not parochial, we have to see that the decentralization of information can work to our advantage by opening up a greater competition with the mainstream media. We further must see that decentralizing education should be a goal of our movement. The current environment only helps produce an antagonistic atmosphere to the ideas of liberty.