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August 16, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Ron Paul Ignored

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Jon Stewart had perceptive routine about Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who almost won the Ames Straw Poll and was ignored by the national pundrity. Here it is:


Politico also had apiece on it, "Ron Paul remains media poison," by Roger Simon. He noted that Paul came within 152 votes out of 16,892 cast of matching Michele Bachmann, and in the national media's mind "it was as if Paul had been sentenced to the Phantom Zone."

Why do media people do this?

In covering elections, they focus on the race--on who's going to win. And there is a powerful reason to think Paul has no chance of winning. The news people know this--or, anyway, they believe it -- but seldom explain it. To the supporters of Dr. Paul, it seems like the media folks have all gotten together in a bar, hoisted schooners and said, "Hey, let's just ignore this turkey."

Here's the reasoning. Paul is a radical, a candidate of ideas. That makes him unlike any of the other candidates, and therefore not interchangeable with them. That's different with, say, Pawlenty. When Pawlenty pulled out, his people redistributed to Romney, Perry, etc. Pawlenty's people will support another Republican who they think can win. So as Pawlenty drops out, and Cain, and Santorum, and Gingrich, etc., do also, their people add to the front-runners. But none of them will go to Paul, because he's not like them. Their support is wide and shallow; his is narrow and deep. And that means he cannot be nominated.

I have said this several times before, and always get angry emails from Paul fans who accuse me of wrecking democracy, etc. One I was confronted by a Paul supporter who asked, "How do you know this?" Well, I can see it. It's not difficult. My thought was, "How do you not know it?"

That's not to say Paul's candidacy is without meaning. He is a radical in a non-radical party. His job is to take ideas that are off the table and bring them on the table. With Paul, those ideas are an end to foreign wars, a sound currency and a much stricter constitutional order. He has brought these into the tent--back into the tent, really, because they are old Republican ideas from the 1940s, 1930s and earlier.

Paul is an old man, and this has got to be his last time running. Maybe 2012 is the end of Paul and his influence. But maybe the ideas circulate. Conservatives who never questioned the "support our troops" slogan begin to reconsider foreign wars, and what they contribute, if anything, to the kind of world they want. Seeing the dollar shrink against gold, and even against the loonie, they begin to think about a sound currency. Maybe it is not the gold standard, which Paul supports; maybe it is some other way to stabilize the money. But they think about the inadequacy of fiat money in the hands of a Ben Bernanke. And that changes the party.

I think that is why Paul is important, and why it is a mistake to ignore him. Sure, he is not going to be president. But he has changed the conversation inside one of the two great parties -- and that is a very big thing.

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