Politics is very much like fashion…fickle and unpredictable and many ideas never get beyond a fringe following…but sometimes events reach a tipping point and what was considered ‘avant-garde’, ‘niche’ or even ‘risqué’ becomes all of a sudden mainstream and the accepted wisdom/fashion.
Is that that we’re observing with Ron Paul? Have Ron Paul’s ideas reached a tipping point?
The latest poll from CNN, conducted in the few days leading up to September 11, 2011, before the last GOP candidates debate shows that Paul has managed to double his support since the last survey conducted by the cables news network only two weeks earlier!
The survey indicates that 30% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP support Perry for their party's nomination, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 18%. Romney, who's making his second bid for the White House, had been leading the list of Republican candidates in the national polls, but since Perry launched his campaign a month ago he's jumped ahead of Romney to capture the top spot.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is at 15% (but she’s not even in the race!) . Then is Ron Paul, who's making his third run for the White House, at 12%. Every other candidate is in single digits. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was at 10% in the last CNN poll, now stands at only 4%.
With Palin out of the running, the headline stays the same: Perry 32%t, Romney 21%, Paul 13% and all other candidates, including Bachmann, in single digits.
Although still way behind the frontrunner Rick Perry he’s closing in on Romney and put the previous strong contender Michele Bachmann out of the race.
His success comes as a surprise to the many in the mainstream that have played Ron Paul off as a fringe candidate seemingly unlikely to secure the Republican nomination. His hardcore ideology is considered too socially libertine for religious conservatives and too economically callous for crossover Democrats.
He has always had passionate group of followers, who although small in number have always been well organised and vociferous about the qualities of their leader. So what’s happening now?
Ron Paul’s campaign chairman Jesse Benton said recently ‘The straw poll results in Iowa, our growing poll numbers and our strong fundraising show that our message is resonating with Iowans and Americans everywhere,’. Jesse continued ‘our message was the same in 2007 as it is now in 2011, but this time we have quadrupled our support. That means our message is spreading, our support is surging and people are taking notice.’
One of my favourite quotes comes from Seneca…‘luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. Ron Paul’s message is being delivered certainly at the right time in the right place…but is he ‘the right man’?
I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, actually I’m not even American! However, I do like a good debate and what’s happening in the US at the moment in the race towards the election of a GOP candidate is very interesting indeed and it’s a sign of the times we’re living in.
A Sense of sense of Déjà Vu- Part 1
Is RP 2012 just like RP 1992?
Ron Paul is in many ways popular for the same reasons as billionaire Ross Perot was in 1992. He's feisty.
Like Perot, Paul has built a following by simply stating what's on his mind, in a way that comes off as honesty in the moment rather than a rehearsed mantra with predetermined talking points…and that’s refreshing. The appeal is that when Perot and Paul speak, we don't feel like they're lying.
Perot and Paul have both proved themselves adept at grasping public sentiment. Where Perot made sense out of the federal budget process by likening it to a family budget, Paul takes advantage of the fact that the average American cares more about their tax bill than they do understanding the intricacies of diplomacy involved in foreign aid and the maintenance of military bases abroad.
Never mind that macroeconomics and microeconomics can't work the same way and that if Ron Paul brings all of the troops home from all of the US bases abroad, that unemployment will skyrocket and America will lose its ability to use the threat of military action credibly to keep peace in unstable regions.
The appeal of both Perot and Paul has been their ability to simplify complex matters into one line soundbites that the common man can digest without having to think through consequences.
Paul and Perot have prescribed major surgery without consideration for the aftermath or recovery. In Perot's case, he wanted the nation to elect him so that everyone could sit around a table and decide what to do, and in the case of Paul, he wants to take the nation back to a purely constructionist methodology for interpreting the Constitution, without deference to the fact that perhaps not only the world has changed considerably, but also the US role in it over the last 200 years, requiring a rewrite or at the very least a re-interpretation of it.
Ron Paul talks and acts as if he has nothing to lose and without giving much thought to the aftermath of the policies he’s promoting. Telling you what’s wrong with the current system, but how would you solve the issues Ron? Ask yourselves has he ever explained (either in ’08 or now) his views on the answers to the solutions he's proposing? Do you know the answers to?
- After you reduce the size of the military and federal government, how would you create jobs for displaced employees?
- What would you do to reduce our trade deficit and bring manufacturing jobs back to the US?
- After you eliminate the Federal Reserve, how would you manage the money supply and interest rates?
- After you eliminate the IRS, how would you finance the federal government?
- The federal government is bankrupt – what financial obligations would you default on?
- Would your balanced budget require higher taxes or just less spending?
- How many illegal immigrants in the US would you deport?
- How would you reduce the US dependence on imported oil?
- What is your solution for the housing crisis?
- What changes would you make in airport / transportation security?
- How would you reform health care?
A Sense of sense of Déjà Vu- Part 2
Ron Paul 2008 vis-a-vis Ron Paul 2012
The 2008 Paul campaign was a ragtag coalition of anarchists, antiwar activists, goldbugs, paleoconservatives, hard-core libertarians and conspiracy theorists. His grassroots supporters threw raucous rallies, floated a Ron Paul blimp, lionized the 17th century British revolutionary Guy Fawkes — infamous for his attempt to blow up Parliament — and raised huge chunks of cash through online ‘money bombs’. But his organization was hapless when it came to translating that enthusiasm into votes.
When he ran for President four years ago, Paul drew a zealous but narrow following, and his warnings that murky monetary policy, runaway spending and a sprawling foreign empire would ruin the country struck many Republicans as kooky. His GOP rivals smirked or simply ignored him. Although Paul raised a staggering $35 million, he captured just 1% of Republican delegates.
But in the four years since, the world has changed in mostly grim ways that seem to affirm Paul’s worldview. His vision of an eroding Constitution and a Washington — Wall Street cabal helped spark the Tea Party movement. Conservatives who once sneered at his foreign policy as being ‘isolationist’ have grown weary of war. His call for a more accountable and transparent Federal Reserve has morphed from quaint obsession to mainstream Republican talking point in Congress and on the campaign trail
Rarely does a single political commercial reveal as much about a presidential campaign as the ad unveiled a few weeks ago by Ron Paul.
Here is audio-visual near-proof of a crucial difference between Liberty: Too Big To Fail ‘12 and the rEVOLution of ‘08:
This ad shows that this time the libertarian Republican thinks that he’s in it to win it.
The production values are upper tier, the choice to attack Texas Gov. Rick Perry (the candidate to beat as he’s leading the polls by a long margin) indicates a candidate trying to elbow his way past other grassroots-pleasing types, and the Reagan-good, Gore-bad message of bedrock conservative principle is plainly tuned to tickle the ears of mainstream Republicans.
However, for all its immediate relevance, Ron Paul’s candidacy remains quirky and idiosyncratic. The blame for that rests with the man himself. What elevates Dr Paul above the other candidates deflates him in the polls. At the podium he speaks without notes on whatever subject seems to come into his head. To see him in person is to experience the apocalyptic magic of wild prophecy.
His rambling discourse on the moral and economic bankruptcy of America smacks of something missing in modern politics – the truth told honestly. He is so real, he’s unreal. His constituency laps it up. But that constituency – while holding a valid claim to Republican orthodoxy – is too small a base from which to launch a triumph of reason. And an ideologue like Paul could never compromise enough to reach beyond it. For the moment, the man and the movement are locked into a passionate conversation to the exclusion of others.
The fact of the matter is that a base that wasn't too keen on listening to Ron Paul in 2008 has shifted substantially in his direction since then. This presents Paul with an opportunity -- and a challenge -- that he didn't have in 2008.
The key question about Paul's campaign is one that the straw poll was never going to help answer:
Can he build on his sizable (but ultimately limited) base of core supporters and develop mass appeal within the Republican Party?
It seems pretty clear to me a ‘major impediment’ to that is the fact that ‘establishment politicians’ who now talk like Ron Paul because Ron Paul's issues are now prominent in the campaign! Although the base of core support for the things Paul believes to be true has grown…they’re simply not joining Paul's camp. Instead, Paul has to compete with opponents with establishment ties and bigger war chests, who have co-opted him.
In a Nutshell...What's my View of Ron Paul as a Presidential Candidate?
Ron...Enjoy your role as a Kingmaker...The King Job is Not For You
Libertarian or Republican or a Constitutionalist? Austrian Economics Zealot? A lone preacher in a land of non-believers? A maverick?
The reality is that Ron Paul 2.0 isn’t all that different than the original version. For all the focus on how the Texas congressman is running a different race this time around, he is still the same libertarian iconoclast who is unwilling to modulate his views.
There is no doubt that this time he’s a serious contender, but he is not a serious contender for the Republican nomination…Why? Simple: Because he is not a Republican, he’s a libertarian, which places him at odds with the vast majority of the party -- never mind any real Democrat (who on principle favor government).
While his ideals on economics and small government are appealing, his personality is somewhat abrasive and off-putting. He doesn't understand that winning arguments does not equate to winning friends. He simply isn't electable at the national level, despite his extreme popularity with the small-government crowd.
Ron has not learned how to disagree in a persuasive way with anyone, besides those who are already libertarians, and his lack of polish and general wonkishness are his biggest liabilities.
Ron Paul makes the classic marketing error while marketing himself: People don't want to be debated…they want to be seduced!
Ron Paul is the Ralph Nader of the American right and his presence in the primaries sparks an interesting debate whose outcome will be useful.
The reality is that neither Perot in 1992 nor Paul in 2012 could be considered candidates with the wisdom to become presidents, but both men certainly bring important issues to the table worth discussing.
It could be that like Perot, Paul's contribution to the nation is his involvement as a candidate in the public discussion.
Moreover, the USA is still undoubtedly the world’s leading superpower. It has China’s (gross) economic size, matches Russia’s strategic military power, and is as technologically advanced as Japan with 2.5x its population. Therefore, when the Americans elect a President, they’re also electing a world leader, something Ron Paul is not nor wants to be! His views will take the US backwards and inwards…and as that position can’t be left ‘vacant’…China is game over the top spot is yours!
In big politics, those who don't bend are broken. Paul may have been able to survive as a loud-mouthed, hard-line Representative, but being President requires many hats. And Paul only has the one. Ron Paul’s personality is more likely to give him a heart attack in his first month in office…
Final point… one aspect of the Paul phenomenon that has received little attention so far is his age.
Born in 1935, he will be 77 years old on Inauguration Day 2013 — the same age Ronald Reagan was when he left the White House after serving two terms! If Paul were elected and re-elected, he’d be 85 at the end of his time in the White House. Even though Americans are living longer, most people would probably agree that’s too old for a president…
All that said, Paul's people are demonstrating that whether you organise around a maverick independent billionaire or a maverick libertarian Republican, a concerted mass of people who have figured out how to combine and multiply their voices online can force their way onto the national stage.