Why the most important Republican nominee for the 2012 elections is the one you’ve probably never heard of.
Let us begin with a test: how many 2012 Republican candidates can you name? The sure favourite Romney; Gaff prone Perry; Pizza king Cain; Tea Partier Bachman; the unfortunately named Santorum maybe? How about Texas Libertarian Ron Paul?
There is a famous dictum by Mahatma Gandhi saying “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” This dictum was famously used in Paul’s 2008 nomination campaign and again now, though if could you not name him in the quiz above, then it seems he’s still stuck on the first stage of Gandhi’s quote. It should come as no surprise that you may not have heard of him. If you speak to any follower of Paul, they will claim that the mainstream media is purposely ignoring the 76 year-old Texan.
Indeed, if you observe the major media outlets, one can perhaps concur with such an accusation. During most of the televised GOP debates it was hard to tell if Paul was even there with the little amount of attention he was given. For instance, at the latest two and a half hour long CBS News debate the Congressman was give just 89 seconds to answer his only question; and was not even allowed to finish at that. A study conducted by the Pew Research Centre Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that from May 2nd to October 9th of this year, Paul only appeared in two per-cent of all elections stories. The weekly publication The Economist, which champions itself in propagating a limited government agenda, has also ignored the campaign trail of the libertarian.
You may be wondering why this matters. After all, there are other candidates that are not given the same limelight as say Romney, Perry or Cain. True, but unlike his neo-conservative rivals, Paul is perhaps the most important candidate running. The reason why he is such an important candidate is because he is so far removed from his republican fellows. So much so that he makes tea partiers such as Bachman appear socialist. Indeed, Judge Napolitano, the presenter of Freedom Watch called Paul “the Thomas Jefferson of our day.”
In essence, he is an enemy of the state; Paul is a libertarian of the constitutionalist sort. He believes that government should be strictly restricted to the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution. Though placing precedence of local government over lager government, Paul asserts that notion of personal freedom and individual responsibility. Taxes should be kept to an absolute minimum. Ultimately, the government has no legitimacy or authority over Americans unless, of course, there is a threat to freedom. Paul does have some congruence with the Republican Party, such as being anti-abortion (though for freedom rather than religious reasons) and taking a strong anti-monetary policy stance. But some of his proposals do touch a nerve with his party. He advocates free trade and the use of marijuana, and strongly holds a non-interventionist foreign policy. He is against all forms of torture, unlike his Republican rivals who see it as necessary to gain information on supposed terrorist attacks in Americans. Rather than having a heavy military presence both home and abroad (despite being an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War), the Texan argues that diplomacy and free trade are far more effective and moral tactics. In fact, he believes that the cause of most hostilities towards America is because of its military presence.
Such a viewpoint has made him few friends. Those who have followed the debates will remember the infamous photo of Rick Perry apparently threatening Paul during an ad break. The Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called Paul’s foreign policy “dangerous stuff if you have power.” Nevertheless, whether the political elites like it or not, Paul has had a direct influence on American politics. In 2009 Paul wrote the bestseller End the Fed which heavily criticised the use of monetary policy in American and called for the Federal Reserve to be abolished. Prior to the book’s publication there was hardly any discussion about the Fed in either party. Now, with the worsening economic condition both globally and domestically, more questions are being asked about the usefulness of the central bank, with other Republican candidates now suggesting they would reform the Fed if they won the presidency.
In spite of the apparent media blacklist with Paul’s name on it, the congressman does possess a strong and resilient, though small, following. Since the start of the debates Paul has held a consistent approval rating in the mid-teens. Moreover, he as the biggest amount of support from veterans than any other candidate, possibly because of his strong stance against interventionism and war. Though perhaps his biggest support comes from fellow libertarians. Despite their numbers increasing, Libertarians and minarcists in America are still a rare breed. What is more, these fellow Libertarian groups mainly use alternatives form of media as their news source and for communication. Podcasts and radio shows such as No Agenda, Anarchast and theAlex Jones Show are notable examples. These alternative news sources are strong supporters of Paul’s campaign and constitute a substantial part of his campaign fund. But these small groups are also Paul’s weakness. Because of their political beliefs, many individuals reject the elections and will not vote, even for a fellow Libertarian. One caller on the Anarchast radio show said they hope Paul wins the nomination, but would not cast their vote because it meant they consented to having a government.
As much as some wish for Paul to win the nomination and become President, most accept that he will not win. This is because of both the media blackout and the fact that many hold his beliefs as extreme and radical. And being in his late seventies, it is unlikely Paul will run again in 2016. Nevertheless, it is the writer’s conjecture that Paul knows this, and the main reason why he is running is to get propagate his message of freedom. And despite the lack of mainstream attention, more and more people are becoming enlightened by his Libertarian viewpoint. In some ways, then, he has already won.