There’s a curious blindness evident when political pundits talk about Ron Paul. Though he’s been a major candidate for the Republican presidential nomination since the early days of the race, he’s been virtually ignored. When they do mention him, they preface their remarks by saying something like: “Although he’ll never be the nominee . . .”
Here’s a guy who has polled high since the beginning of the nominating process. Romney has been on top in most opinion polls since the beginning. Other candidates took turns as the “anti-Romney” candidate: Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, now Santorum. Romney has consistently polled in the low to mid twenties and is seen as the likely nominee by most. Paul has been just as consistent as a major candidate, but pundits treat him like he’s not there. Bachmann won the Ames, Iowa straw poll last August with 28.55%, but Paul was so close with 27.65% that less than 1% of the vote separated them. Who got all the publicity however? Bachmann. Paul was virtually ignored.
So why does he get so much consistent support from Republican voters this year? Three reasons:
First, he proposed $1 trillion in specific cuts to government back in October. No other candidate did that. Gone would be the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Interior, as well as Housing and Urban Development in a Ron Paul Administration. That appeals strongly to people who know America will cease to be America if we don’t drastically cut the federal government. The out-of-control deficit is killing us all. Voters know it, but the other candidates lack the political courage to say it explicitly the way Ron Paul does.
Second, he believes people should solve problems for themselves rather than look to government. During his appearance on Fox News Sunday this week, for example, Chris Wallace quoted from Ron Paul’s 1987 book “Freedom Under Siege” in which he wrote: “The individual suffering from AIDS certainly is a victim – frequently a victim of his own lifestyle – but this same individual victimizes innocent citizens by forcing them to pay for his care.” Wallace then asked if he still felt that way.
Paul answered: “I don’t know how you can change science. Sexually transmitted diseases are caused by sexual activity. That’s been known for some 400 or 500 years, how these diseases are spread. If a fault comes with people because of their personal behavior, and in a free society people do dumb things, but it isn’t to be placed as a burden on other people, innocent people. Why should they have to pay for the consequences? That’s a sort of a nationalistic or socialistic attitude.”
Wallace then baited Paul saying: “Do you think someone with AIDS should not be entitled to health insurance as opposed to someone who has a heterosexually transmitted disease?” Paul responded patiently - explaining how the insurance market would handle it and offered the example that one doesn’t seek insurance after getting pregnant, but before.
Third, he has consistently spoken against fighting prolonged wars in the Middle East. Paul supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 but not the protracted conflict there. He opposed the Iraq War and the US effort in Libya. Many conservatives would agree that fighting a conventional war against unconventional enemies is foolish, but Paul wouldn’t act against Radical Islam at all unless Congress declared war. Therein is the Achilles’s Heel of Ron Paul’s foreign policy. There’s no nation-state against which to declare war, so how would he propose that we deal with Radical Islam - which is not a nation-state, but a movement across the Muslim world on five continents?According to the Des Moines Register, Paul said: "I don’t see Islam as our enemy. I see that motivation is occupation and those who hate us and would like to kill us, they are motivated by our invasion of their land [and] the support of their dictators that they hate."
In the same exchange, Paul reiterated his belief that the September 11th attacks were motivated by American actions. While conservatives agree with Paul about strict adherence to Congress’s exclusive constitutional authority to declare war, they’re appalled (no pun intended) that Paul would blame America for September 11th. It’s a deal-breaker for conservatives including this writer, but it’s a plus with Paul’s legions of young supporters raised to believe America is imperialist. That Ron Paul’s Libertarian beliefs would include repealing marijuana laws is also a plus with them - and they comprise the bulk of his powerful, enthusiastic, boots-on-the-ground, campaign organization.
Results of the Iowa caucus just came in as I’m filing this. Paul came in a close third behind Romney and Santorum. Sarah Palin advises the GOP to be careful not to marginalize Paul and his supporters. Good advice. The GOP establishment has been foolish to ignore the appeal Ron Paul’s consistent, strict-constructionist view that federal government be cut back drastically. Ron Paul is not a fringe candidate. His consistently-large voter support makes him viable no matter what the pundits claim.