Opinion: Ron, Paul, Ron! The Case for the Original Tea Partier

<strong>House Subcommittee on Monetary Policy:</strong> Ron Paul (R-TX)

Ron Paul is running for president.

Paul has been coming to Iowa for many years and has visited numerous times this year alone. I’ve been to Paul events. Many of my college students love him for the same reason they loved Ronald Reagan and their grandpa. He simplifies things to the bare bones and he represents personal freedom. He’s also bona fide “Mr. Budget Cutter” so he jibes with fiscal conservatives of many stripes. Here are some of his strengths as he heads again for Iowa in chase of the elusive and valuable Iowa caucus victory.

Ron Paul is running for president.

Paul has been coming to Iowa for many years and has visited numerous times this year alone. I’ve been to Paul events. Many of my college students love him for the same reason they loved Ronald Reagan and their grandpa. He simplifies things to the bare bones and he represents personal freedom. He’s also bona fide “Mr. Budget Cutter” so he jibes with fiscal conservatives of many stripes. Here are some of his strengths as he heads again for Iowa in chase of the elusive and valuable Iowa caucus victory.

1. Paul has always had a passion for cutting government spending and he now can say (and does), “I told you so.” That fits neatly with the position of the Tea Party movement and with Iowa fiscal conservatives.

2. He is alarmed by the swelling national debt. That’s a good complement to the reduction in the federal budget and again gives him solid points with conservatives (including many Democrats).

3. He’s not impressed with nor does he practice political compromise. He has stuck to his position for many years and articulates it publicly at debates even when it makes him seem like some third party fringe candidate. In actuality he is – he’s a libertarian with a twist.

4. He is indifferent to and maybe even has contempt for the GOP poobahs who have run the party and now exercise national and regional leadership.

5. We remember well that fateful date Dec. 17, 2007, when Ron Paul’s supporters raised over $6 million in one day, mostly through social media, much to his surprise and puzzlement since he did not seem to understand what that was. That date was, you guessed it, the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. So, Ron Paul can claim to be the founding father of the Tea Party movement!

6. He seems to support letting states make drugs including heroine and prostitution legal, adding that all of these were once legal in the United States and regulated by the states. Now there are two policies that warm the cockles of the heart of many reformers who argue that legalization of all vices would bring them out of the criminal underworlds and then the criminal justice system, reduce violence and abuse, and allow private and government agencies to regulate them. On the other hand most Republican voters probably don’t agree with him on these issues!

7. Paul wants to eliminate half of the federal agencies and stop what he calls military “adventures” overseas. I’ve heard him say that and the crowd (mostly college students the last time I heard him) cheered in wild applause.

In Iowa Ron Paul did not score well in the 2008 caucuses. He only won one county of the 99 (Jefferson with 39%) and he came in fifth overall with 11,817 votes (10%). He went on to keep the hope alive until June but did not win any caucuses or primaries. But he did make lots of contacts and I can attest to the fact, not a single enemy. In fact, even those who disagree with him passionately on his issues find him likeable and “sweet” the latter comment from a Democrat friend who talked to him at a meeting.

Now we are in a new world, very different from 2008. National polls (NOT polls of GOP voters or Republicans) clearly show that Americans are concerned about exactly the issues that Ron Paul hectored about for many years. The budget, the deficit, the hemorrhaging of lives and money in wars overseas, big, intrusive and growing government - these are all on the list of high concerns for all Americans.

If there is a perfect Tea Party Movement candidate it’s Ron Paul. It’s not Donald Trump (“Combover Don” as he was recently called at an event I attended), not Pawlenty who ran big budget deficits as governor, not Mitt Romney (The Mitt) who created a government healthcare system, not Newt Gingrich who is THE consummate “insider” (has morals issues and lobbies for Big EtHanol), not Rick Santorum whom a Republican friend of mine in South Western Iowa calls “the pipsqueak,” not Chris Christie (do they still call him “Goombatz” in Jersey?), not Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who appears to have spousal problems. He has been married twice to the same woman and the tabloids are already speculating that she had an affair, left him to marry another guy, and live in California for three years and then returned. Can you just imagine the hunt for that guy, his friends and the “sordid” story - “mom abandons her children with father for California fling!” -that the trash media will tell? Huntsman, Bachmann, Palin, Johnson, Cain, Krager, Bolton, Huckabee – whew! – I don’t think so.

Well, I’ve made my case.

Ron Paul is the prefect (albeit quirky) candidate for the GOP in 2012. Will he win the Iowa caucuses? Probably not but he could come in second or third which is good enough. Will he win the nomination for president? He may be able to. His young techie supporters could help him raise the hundreds of millions (a billion?) dollars it will take this coming year to win the White House.

In any case, Ron Paul will have a big effect on the rest of the field because he’ll suck lots of oxygen from all the others. This time I think he will have more Republicans cheering for him in those debate halls and the media will pan the camera his way more often instead of simply panning him.

Steffen Schmidt is professor of political science at Iowa State University, blogs for the Des Moines Register, WNYC “It’s a Free Country”, and is Chief Political Correspondent for Insideriowa.com.