A Refreshing Voice
By Blair Boehm
Ron Paul took third in the Iowa Caucus and second in the New Hampshire primary. He nearly won the Iowa Straw Poll, draws massive crowds and has a huge social media following. All of this support is afforded to Ron Paul despite having been largely neglected by the media, pundits and even his fellow candidates. So what is so special about Ron Paul? Ron Paul is running on a message that he hopes will win him an election, as opposed to a candidate running for election so that he may finally promote his message.
The benefits of the latter method of campaigning is that a candidate will have a better chance of winning and putting into action what he or she believes is for the best; a “the ends justify the means” scenario. The problem with this method of campaigning is that it is both disingenuous and harmful to the election process as a whole. It is disingenuous because it requires the voter to make a decision based more off of trust than fact, rather than fact supported by trust. The process is harmful as a whole because it slows to a crawl any form of political evolution. By having two parties with two narratives and series of candidates that hold fast to those narratives, the general public has no ability to learn and amend their views to a changing world. Instead we see two parties becoming more and more alike to appease the growing independent crowd, but neither moving forward with any appreciable speed.
Ron Paul is, in many ways, the antithesis to this method of campaigning. He has a message that he seems to care more about than winning an election to eventually get the chance to implement. He seems to have rejected “the ends justify the means” rhetoric and gone the radical route of trying to sell his views to the American public. By doing this, Ron Paul has managed to alter much of the conversation in the debates and even had many of his views adopted by the rest of the mainstream candidates. Every candidate talked about cutting the size of government, but after Paul detailed exactly which agencies would be eliminated the rest fell in line with previously unheard of specificity.
He is also the most unapologetic candidate in the debate circuit, to the woe of the other candidates. While Mitt Romney falters with his onetime support of homosexuals, his healthcare law and a variety of other views that fall outside of the approved narrative, Paul will stick by his belief that the War on Drugs is both damaging and a failure. He will gladly talk about how the Patriot Act is more harmful to American citizens than the protection it is supposed to provide. He absolutely loves to talk about how horrible the Federal Reserve is and how our interventions abroad are both expensive and causing more harm than good. To another candidate these beliefs would be cause for some serious back pedaling; to Ron Paul it is just another day on the campaign trail.
It is true that most people vote both on whether they agree with the views of a candidate and whether they trust the candidate as a person. In Ron Paul’s case, even if they think his views are a little on the extreme side, his trustworthiness would be hard to question. He could easily win the consistency award among all of the candidates in this field and even those of the past few decades. He has even held his ground with particularly his most unpopular beliefs during, not one, but two presidential election cycles! In these times of extreme corporate influence and political pandering to lobbyists I truly believe that this man is the least likely to be corrupted by the Washington influence.
So to ask the question again, “what is so special about Ron Paul?” He is the candidate that both political parties have been describing in their rhetoric for the last four years. He is a Washington outsider, with experience in Washington, who can deal with lobbyist, has a bold new plan for the future and actually does not care about poll numbers! Most importantly though, is that Ron Paul could serve as a model for the future of campaigning in America. He probably won’t win the primary and even he has alluded to the fact that he probably won’t win the presidency. The reason he gives hope to the future of campaigning is that these facts do not bother him nor deter him from campaigning. Paul is running to promote his message from the grand soapbox of a presidential election. His being on this stage and delivering his message is a victory in and of itself.
Ron Paul has a huge following because many people either like his message or recognize that he actually represents a choice aside from the status quo. Because of his campaign American politics have been injected with some new ideas that will hopefully ferment into a step in a different, more refreshing, direction. This is what is so special about Ron Paul, when a person runs on their message rather than to win an election they don’t necessarily need to get the majority of the votes to be victorious.
Blair Boehm is a recent graduate of Iowa State University where he received a Masters degree in Public Administration and a bachelors degree in Political Science. He was born and raised in Ankeny, Iowa and has worked as (among other things) a bartender, legal intern and research/teaching assistant for Dr. Politics.