Every four years, a lot of people run for president of the United States. This election cycle there are eight Democrat candidates and 11 Republican candidates. Of course, pretty much everyone who pays attention to the news will know of the major contenders like Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain, all candidates who grab fistfuls of dollars and headlines.
Once in a while, though, there are candidates that fly under the radar and yet have a major following behind them. Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas, is one such candidate.
In all likelihood, you’ve never heard of Paul, but on Capitol Hill he’s been nicknamed “Dr. No” for his refusal to vote for anything he believes isn’t allowed by the Constitution for Congress to vote on. He voted against the Iraq War, the only Republican candidate to do so, and the PATRIOT Act. He has never voted to increase taxes. In fact, during the first Republican debate, Paul said he wanted to completely dismantle the IRS and repeal all income taxes. Not something you usually hear presidential candidates saying, huh?
Of course, how could you know from his lack of coverage in the mass media. After the first Republican debate, MSNBC, ABC News, and C-SPAN all had online polls asking who won the debate, and Paul won on each Web site. Yet we have hardly heard anything about him from major news outlets. Certainly, nobody reported that he had at the very least a surprisingly good showing at the debates, and that’s newsworthy to me.
So, why has the media all but ignored Paul? It’s hard to say. I would venture a guess that a big part of is his lack of an ability to grab a reader’s attention. The majority of the media are for-profit businesses, after all, and it’s in their interest to show people whatever it is they want to see. Hence the Paris Hiltons of the world.
Perhaps it’s because of Paul’s unusual position as being a strict adherent to the sort of extremely limited Federal government which the United States started out with. Perhaps he doesn’t want big media attention, preferring instead to have a grassroots, everyman sort of campaign.
Paul has certainly made his positions clear, which are very different from the other candidates, liberal and conservative alike. His views, above all, are reflected in a strict adherence to the Constitution, which gives him fairly libertarian views. He is against almost all federal interference in the free market and drug prohibition laws of any kind. He is strongly against amnesty for illegal aliens. He believes that juries should not only decide whether the defendant is guilty of committing a crime but whether or not the law itself is just, a very rare view that makes me like Paul even more.
Would I vote for him? Not necessarily. While a lot of what he stands for appeals to my conservative-libertarian mind, like his stand for the Second Amendment as a check against tyrannical governments, an equal amount conflicts with my liberal heart, like his position against amnesty for illegal aliens.
One thing is for sure, though. Paul is going to shake up this primary like few of the elections in recent memory. It will be interesting to see how the other candidates to a nominee who actually seems to vote according to his beliefs instead of the political climate.