Monday, January 07, 2008

Is Ron Paul for real?

Until his 2008 run for the White House, Ron Paul was an obscure (some would say, obscurantist) politician from Texas, who regularly voted against spending measures and was a throwback to the days when a member of the Senate might actually have read the Constitution and was guided by its timeless principles.

While the Republican Party had long ago pissed on writings of the Founding Fathers, becoming just another face on America’s two-headed beast of oligopoly, Paul was a principled holdover from a time long past; a time when there were members of Congress who stood for something and took their oath of office seriously.

It’s obvious to anyone that’s spent anytime investigating a Libertarian reading of the Constitution that Paul is firmly in that camp. Influenced by Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises, Paul supports classical liberalism and free market capitalism. It’s a telling indicator that holding these positions in 2008, gets one branded as an anachronism and finds his followers labeled as “kooks.”

This isn’t Paul’s first run for the office of president. In 1988, he was the Libertarian candidate for president. His run was more symbolic than anything and he captured fewer than 500,000 ballots, or 0.5 percent of the popular vote. In 2001, a movement among Libertarians and Constitutionalists couldn’t convince Paul to make another run for the nation’s highest office. Meanwhile, in 2007, Paul was elected to Congress for his 10th term, not bad for the man who refused to bend his firm convictions.

From Wikipedia:

Paul has been described as conservative, Constitutionalist, and libertarian. He advocates a non-interventionist foreign policy having voted against actions such as the Iraq War Resolution, but in favor of force against terrorists in Afghanistan. He favors withdrawal from NATO and the United Nations, instead supporting the idea of strong national sovereignty. Having pledged never to raise taxes, he has long advocated ending the federal income tax and reducing government spending by abolishing most federal agencies; he favors hard money and opposes the Federal Reserve. He also opposes the Patriot Act, the federal War on Drugs, and gun control. Paul is pro-life, but opposes a Federal ban on abortion, advocating overturning Roe v. Wade to let states determine the legality of abortion.

Paul’s 2008 run seems to be a different type of campaign, than his inaugural run, 20 years ago. For one thing, the campaign is much better financed. In fact, on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, Paul’s campaign raised over $4 million in one day, mostly from private citizens. The campaign raised nearly $7 million in the last quarter of 2007. Indications are that funds continue to pour in, at the start of 2008, fueled primarily by working class supporters, making Paul’s campaign a true grassroots movement.

Running on a platform that seeks an immediate end to the war in Iraq (unlike other politicians, like John McCain, who indicates we might be there for another century), reestablish fiscal sanity (tied to the gold standard) and restore lost civil liberties to the American people, Paul is the true conservative. Instead, his rock-ribbed ideals find him ridiculed by the faux conservative blowhards, from Limbaugh, to O’Reilly.

Interestingly, while Paul’s fundraising rivals all other challengers, except Hillary Clinton and with a very respectable finish in Iowa, he was strangely absent in discussions on Sunday’s news programs. Obama this and Hillary that, “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, they said.

Surprisingly, Paul made the cut for Saturday night’s ABC/Facebook debate. On the other hand, Fox (fair and balanced, my ass) snubbed Paul, by excluding him from their Sunday night GOP gathering of dunces.

Appearing on CNN's American Morning program, the internet fundraising phenom said voters had been cheated by Fox's debate protocol, which required participating candidates to notch at least 10 percent support in national polling.

"I think this is an awful embarrassment for Fox to do something like this," said Paul. "We got 10 percent in Iowa, raised more money than any other candidate in the Republican side in the last quarter, and our polls in New Hampshire are much better than Giuliani."

None of this has deterred his rabid band of followers. It’s difficult to get a read just how strong Paul’s support might be. While the media and those wedded to the usual political status quo do all they can to marginalize Paul, he continues to garner new supporters, once they begin to understand that, unlike the glib Obama, who talks about change, Paul actually holds positions that would truly turn politics as usual, on its head.

It's obvious to me that Paul has no home in what passes for today's Republican Party. While he won't get the GOP nod for president, he might go the Indendent, or possibly Libertarian route. If Bloomburg got into the race, these two indies could cause serious havoc and upset the political apple cart and really make voting in November fun again.

Viva la revolution!

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