by Heath Calvert
I’d been walking around sharing the phrase “fire it up” for about three weeks, borrowing glittery talking points about the exciting race between the first possible female and the first possible African-American president, but I still felt like I didn’t understand what changes these candidates were positing other than a replacement nameplate on the oval office desk. If you’d told me at the start of this presidential primary that I’d take off work and roadtrip to New Hampshire and South Carolina for the campaign of a pro-life republican from Texas, I’d have probably jump kicked you in the chest. In his defense, he’s from Pittsburgh.
Who is this man, and how did I find him since you can’t find him anywhere in television or print? I was sweeping my bedroom passively watching the Republican debates, when, somewhere between Romney’s “I’d double the size of Guantanamo” and Guiliani’s 37th invocation of 9-11, a soft spoken man you’d only know from C-SPAN2 started talking about the Constitution. He continued stating that we had armed Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, that we’ve been bombing Iraq since the end of the 1st Persian Gulf War, to remember that the CIA had overthrown Iran in the fifties, and that if we had followed the aforementioned Constitution perhaps we wouldn’t have gotten ourselves into so much “mischief.” I blurted out something that sounded like “wrudafuk.” What presidential candidate uses CIA and the word “mischief” in the same sentence? Then he offers to give Rudy Guiliani a reading list, and “blowback” becomes a familiar word to a lot more people than those who read Chalmers Johnson or the latest National Intelligence Estimates. I become a fan of Dr. Ron Paul.
I began internet researching in my obsessive fashion and eventually discovered some Ron Paul videos on YouTube from rallies around the country. He talked about things like eliminating the IRS, our history of meddling in foreign governments, dissolving the Federal Reserve, ending the war on drugs, and pardoning all non-violent drug offenders. I had no idea what he was talking about, and neither does America.
Ron Paul is a paradox. He is a ten-term Texas congressman who voted against the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, the Real ID Act, internet regulation, those acts last year that stripped Habeas Corpus and Posse Commitatis, plus this week’s Democrat sponsored Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (a precursor to internet filtering and University monitoring by the Department of Homeland Security). Democrats shutdown when they see the letter “R” next to the word Texas, and Republicans can’t say “he’s not a republican” enough. He will quickly remind you that Republicans used to be the antiwar party, and in fact George Bush had been elected on a promise to stop policing the world. Republicans used to be the party of small government, fiscal responsibility, and sound money. Now sound money isn’t a sexy topic, but those listening to Ron Paul are starting to wake up to the gravity of what threats can be brought by a steeply declining currency, ballooning debt, excessive militarism combined with over extension, and a government that seems more interested in collecting data on it’s own citizenry and protecting corporate marketshare than preventing future attacks.
We can fundamentally change our idea of what our government should be, and return to constitutional principles. Ron Paul’s position is that the government shouldn’t coddle us from cradle to grave. Central bankers like the Federal Reserve, which isn’t part of the federal government, shouldn’t have the power to manipulate the worth of our currency and thus our way of life. His position is that we shouldn’t police the world or unconstitutionally interfere through bureaucracies like the CIA. Only Congress has the power to declare war. Plus, we can’t afford it anyway. We don’t need the IRS harassing American citizens and taking our hard earned money and sending it out for destinations unknown. In fact, let’s eliminate it. We’ll pay for it by bringing home our soldiers from around the world, saving over a trillion dollars. While you’re giving us our taxed dollars back, we’d also like you to return those civil liberties you’ve been whittling away at so you can give lucrative contracts to the homeland security/military industrial sector company you’re going to quit the government to start, run, or lobby for.
Much is said about the national constituency of Ron Paul, more often than not describing them as “young 9-11 truthers,” or “hillbilly Libertarian whackos,” but the campaign that Ron Paul has built is a revolution, and it is growing. Ron Paul, despite being ignored by mainstream press, trounced republican opponents with over 18 million in grassroots fundraising last quarter alone. Rudy Guiliani could drop out after coming in third in Florida. Mike Huckabee doesn’t have the funds to finish. John McCain, despite a voting record similar to Clinton, will most likely lead the delegate count with Romney trailing close behind. What will be the interesting story is Ron Paul staying in the race (he leads in fundraising, he also leads in contributions from active military personnel), bringing a significant enough number of delegates to the convention to possibly decide who becomes nominee. After canvassing in New Hampshire and South Carolina, I’ll tell you that most people are undecided and will vote for whomever the tv tells them to. Ask Ron Paul supporters and they’ll tell you that Ron Paul’s success may not be seen by him gaining the most votes in this election, but his ability to positively influence the Republican party’s platform now and in the future.
Doctor Paul is indeed curing apathy. In fact, listening to him speak, at times, can be like receiving a medical diagnosis. I had never been active in the political process. Nor had most the people I’d met for that matter. They were all just curious to hear this man with so many seemingly common sense ideas that the establishment branded radical. What’s so radical about our Constitution? The Constitution was written to restrict the government, not the people. Give me a choice between three lawyers and an ex-Air Force flight surgeon that’s delivered four thousand babies. I’ll take the doctor anyday.