A recent article by Don Luskin on his evaluation on Ron Paul’s popularity reminded me about some conversation I had with a local radio talk show host recently on this subject. The host insisted that Ron Paul was a freak that shouldn’t be given a platform at all. But Luskin had it right when he said it is “time to take the TEN-TERM Texas congressman seriously”.
That’s right, ten-terms. I am not personally endorsing Ron Paul for reasons better left to another post, but I do recognize that he has a loyal following and appears to be gathering the support of lunatic fringe groups on both the right and left sides of the aisle, as well as those of us who are simply out of any political classification. He draws thousands of supporters from libertarian groups and anti-globalists in an almost cult-like following giving millions of dollars to his campaign to fight the “establishment”.
You cannot count this guy out. Luskin points out that Paul placed second in Nevada and beat all other candidates like Huckabee, Thompson and Giuliani with 14% of the vote. Of course he only got ¼ the votes that Romney did, but nonetheless, he IS a formidable candidate in this race, and in fact, got 10% in Iowa, 6% in Michigan, 8% in New Hampshire and 4% in South Carolina where you’d think he’d get zero. Whether you think he’s a bit loony or you think he’s the savior of Federalism, it is quite a surprise that conservatives are throwing him such widespread support. And as other candidates are dropping out of the race because of a lack of funds or nationwide support, Paul is just heating up.
Think about it:
He raised $19.5 million in the final quarter of 2007 alone, from 130,000 individual donors. That makes him THIRD in fundraising behind the two top Democrats.
The average contribution was $150, leaving a massive amount of fundraising potential remaining among his current contributors alone. (…a potential $200 million)
He raised $6 million in one day in what many consider the record for single-day political fundraising in U.S. history, and raised $1.8 million YESTERDAY (1/21/08) as well.
In fact, “front-runner” Mitt Romney raised over $18 million in the same quarter, but $8 million of it was a loan from Romney himself.
Dr. Paul has the “mo” an independent needs – his campaign flaunts the fact that if he gains any more traction and can get a mere 200,000 people to donate a thousand dollars each, he will have nearly as much cash as both Hillary and Obama combined. He has nearly that many contributors on his speed-dial as I write this piece.
Now to some of us this is a scary thought, to others it is an awesome in-your-face to the diluted Republican Party we’ve watched sell itself off in pieces for the last 6-7 years. Ron Paul is about simplicity. Sure, he has skeletons in his closet but his supporters don’t care. And yes, he seems more like a Ralph Nader in a slightly newer suit than a Ronald Reagan-like leader.
But there is a growing rebellion among the political left and right that is increasingly frustrated with a government that believes it has the solution to problems, instead of removing itself from them. In fact, no one called Reagan “fringe” for believing the same thing when he said that “government IS the problem”, but it is in fact the same philosophy built on the history that Americans prosper most when government does not try to help them.
The talk-show host I mentioned earlier had also expressed skepticism that Ron Paul doesn’t seem to spend any of the money he has and maybe someone should investigate him. But could it be that Paul is bracing himself for a larger, national campaign and he’s holding the cash until he needs it most? Is it possible that Paul is actually preparing for a third or fourth party candidacy? If McCain wins the Republican nomination, expect this.
Some are skeptical about Ron Paul simply because of the company he attracts. They figure that if 9/11 conspirators and SK-toting long-beards can come together under the same tent there must be something fishy about him. Could it be that we have marginalized OURSELVES by forgetting that the other half of this country may have completely different political views but the same mothers and fathers and history as we do? Isn’t it possible that Americans are looking for a leader that appeals to the buried human nature in us all of self-preservation and independence?
We take a political position on myriad issues and determine that our favorite candidate is the one who can make it HAPPEN. But I think many of Ron Paul’s donors believe THAT is actually the problem – government should never be allowed to “make” anything happen. The greater good of society is borne out of the individual’s pursuit of their own liberty, not the collective majority vote in an election or the “vision” of a candidate of “change”.
Maybe Ron Paul’s candidacy is reminding people of something that the rest of us should pay heed to: we all (liberal and conservative) have a God-given nature that desires the freedom to do what is right, and prosper with the dreams that define us. And the Government has tried for a hundred years to help us achieve our dreams and rid ourselves of the “primitive” side of humanity, not realizing that maybe that primitive nature is where greatness comes from… it’s where liberty finds it’s value. Don’t we WANT a leader that we can all unite under as he deconstructs the system that forces us all to either conform or resist? Maybe the Republican Party needs to get its’ act together and see what the rest of America is crying out for. Not a “New Conservatism”, not “reform”, but “retraction” and an elimination of “vision” for America. Just give me liberty and the freedom to make the most of it!