During the course of the 2008 election cycle Ron Paul became the favorite punching bag of the neoconservative right and the Big Government left. During the Republican debates through fall 2007 and winter 2008 you could hear the brainy Texas Congressman being booed by members of his own party sitting in the auditoriums during those lonely business-as-usual hug-fests in which he was the only one speaking the truth.
The neoconservatives—with their full flock of favorites in the 2008 race like McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson—lambasted Paul as being a dovish, anti-empire dupe. The far left saw him as a threat because of his interest in restoring powers to state governments and his unabashed understanding of limited government and local control. Know-it-all pundits like Sean Hannity railed against his calls for traditional non-interventionism. Fred Barnes, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham derided him as a kook. The War Party hammered his reputation and honor at every turn.
But in the end it was his rag tag army of free-thinking young people, thoughtful working professionals, paleo-conservatives, and fiery libertarians who made thousands of phone calls to voters at their own expense, set online fundraising records to ensure his message was heard, and trudged through the snow and ice of early primary states to keep his campaign humming.
Ron Paul’s brigade, which was given about as much of a chance of success as Washington’s by the time it reached Valley Forge, wasn’t enough to get him the nomination in 2008. However, the movement that was started in support of the seventy-something physician born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania set a brush fire that is now burning across the nation. In a stunning upset, Paul defeated the pack of neocons to take the straw vote prize at the annual CPAC event just two months ago. Last weekend he lost to Mitt Romney by just one vote (439 to 438) at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference’s straw poll.
The biggest shockwave, however, came on April 14 when the highly credible Rasmussen Poll showed Paul trailing Barack Obama by just one point in a hypothetical 2012 presidential contest. The poll suggests that Obama would receive 42 percent to Paul’s 41 percent. The real key to Paul’s success isn’t that he enjoys heavy support from his fellow Republicans, but instead he is favored in a landslide by those who don’t identify with either party. "Obama earns 79% support from Democrats, but Paul gets just 66% of GOP votes. Voters not affiliated with either major party give Paul a 47% to 28% edge over the president," says the Rasmussen Report.
These numbers ought to dampen spirits at the White House, especially considering that Obama enjoyed significant support among independent voters in 2008. A Paul candidacy—either as a Republican or independent—could eat into Obama’s support in this vital constituency. The current crop of Republican contenders like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and others should also be cognizant of the fact that this poll indicates that the public has had enough of the insider, establishmentarian gamesmanship they all appear to embody.
The Ron Paul agenda would be very clear: respect for the Constitution, a humble foreign policy built on genuine diplomacy and not gunboat diplomacy, peace, non-interventionism, accountability and transparency, fiscal responsibility, and a resurgence of intellectualism and reason in our political culture.
Specifically, Paul understands that fiscal conservatism begins with ending the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which have already cost American taxpayers (and future taxpayers) over $983 billion since 2001. He opposes the costly maintenance of over 700 military installations in over 135 counties around the globe. President Paul would take on the unnecessary use of public money for foreign aid and nation building abroad while fighting against taxpayer-funded bailouts at home.
He’s been a staunch supporter of auditing the unwieldy federal reserve, eliminating the income tax, repealing the Patriot Act, restoring civil liberties protections, closing Gitmo, rolling back Bush/Obama efforts to expand presidential power, amending the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, withdrawing us from the WTO and NAFTA to protect American sovereignty and jobs, and is a long-time opponent of fast track trade negotiating authority for the president.
In his 2009 book The Revolution: a Manifesto, Paul stated that "Truth is treason in the empire of lies. There is an alternative to national bankruptcy, a bigger police state, trillion dollar wars, and a government that draws ever more parasitically on the productive energies of the American people. It’s called freedom." Perhaps the country is ready to listen to the truth rather than the spin.
This new Rasmussen Poll and Paul’s recent success among the rank-and-file at major straw poll events tells this original Ron Paul for President supporter (as an elected Republican Committeeman, I endorsed his candidacy in January 2007 before he officially announced) that Americans, regardless of party affiliation, are waking up to the fact that Ron Paul can best restore liberty, peace, and prosperity to an embattled nation yearning for a return to excellence.
Nathan Shrader is the Vice Chairman of the 5th Ward Republican Committee in Philadelphia and is running in the May 18th Primary Election for Republican State Committee. He can be reached through his web page, www.NathanShrader.com.