Ron Paul

GOP candidate Ron Paul is no ordinary politician. Since last fall, he has entertained audiences during 18 Republican primary debates with humor, passion for his beliefs and stinging one-liners such as his comment during the most recent Florida debate that aired Jan. 26, 2011 on CNN about the need to send some politicians to the moon.

Of the issues that set Paul apart from the remaining GOP presidential candidates, three issues stand out: foreign policy, government spending and personal liberties. Paul’s stance on these issues, along with a loyal following of young adults and military supporters, may just propel him, along with the Libertarian movement, into the political mainstream.

Not Paul’s First Presidential Race

Alarmed that excessive government spending on foreign wars and entitlement programs would lead to huge budget deficits and an eventual monetary crisis, Paul entered politics in 1976 as a Republican and won Texas’ 22nd Congressional seat. Angered by huge military spending during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, Paul broke with the Republican Party in 1988 and ran for president as a Libertarian. Then, as now, his platform advocated shrinking the size of the federal government by returning power to the states, eliminating foreign aid and foreign wars and returning the U.S. to the gold standard. During his campaign, he traveled to college campuses with the message of “Get government off our backs,” according to a New York Times report on Oct. 17, 1988. Paul was only on the ballots of 46 states, yet that did not deter him from getting his message to young people. “‘These kids will vote eventually, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll go home and talk to their parents,” added Paul. After his defeat, Paul returned to Texas to resume his medical practice. Paul returned to the Republican Party and to Congress in 1996, where he has served in the 14th Congressional district of Texas since.

Libertarian views appeals to youth

Paul’s appeal to America’s youth this election season is rooted once again in his libertarian ideology that advances the rights of personal freedoms and rejects government over-reach into citizens’ private lives. “The founders were Libertarians. They didn’t want to regulate the market, nor did they want to regulate personal lifestyles. And they had a non-intervention foreign policy,” explained Paul to Scott Simon of NPR on Jan. 7, 2011.

Libertarianism, according to http://www.libertarianism.com combines the right to exercise personal freedoms with responsibility and tolerance for others’ personal liberties. Libertarianism also promotes a “non-interventionalist” policy when it comes to foreign aid and foreign wars. In his opening remarks at the CNN presidential debate that aired Nov. 11, 2011, Paul said, “I am convinced that needless and unnecessary wars are a great detriment. They undermine our prosperity and our liberties and add to our deficit.”

Paul’s strong allegiance to libertarianism values, such as non-intervention and respect for civil rights, have galvanized young Republicans, as well as many independents. These values are magnets to the college crowd, who appear disillusioned with war, massive government spending, overregulation and corporate bailouts. Nine Facebook pages and websites such as www.youthforronpaul.com and www.yaliberty.org are havens for young devotees to show their support.

The momentum among young Republicans and independents swelled during the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary in January. Paul won 48 percent of the vote among Iowa caucus-goers under 30, and 47 percent of the youth vote in New Hampshire. “Paul’s 47 percent support from 18- to 29-year-olds was the strongest level of support for any candidate by any age group,” according to Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Foreign Policy

A self-described “non-interventionalist,” Paul believes that America polices the world with the country’s own agenda and has been bullied into nation building by the United Nations. Instead, Paul advocates friendship and free trade to solve the world’s conflicts. This, he believes, will also strengthen America’s economy.

A strong opponent to America’s war against terrorism in Afghanistan and proposed sanctions against Iran for building nuclear weapons, Paul introduced his own Golden Rule at the South Carolina debate that aired Jan. 16, 2012 on Fox: “Don’t do to other countries what we would not want done to us.” Critics warn that Paul’s stance on foreign policy is naïve and dangerous. During the GOP debate that aired on Dec. 15, 2011 on Fox, former presidential candidate Michele Bachman defended America’s need to guard against Iranian intentions. “Look no further than the Iranian constitution, which states unequivocally that their mission is to extend jihad across the world and eventually set up a world-wide caliphate.”

Defense of capitalism

In a CNBC interview that aired Oct. 18, 2011, Paul sympathized with Occupy Wall Street protestors who were “sick and tired of bailouts,” but he also criticized their attacks on capitalism. Paul supports the free-market system and is an outspoken critic of the federal government for over-regulating private business. Paul firmly believes that left alone, the markets will correct themselves and the economy will rebound. “Government should not pick winners and losers. They should stop bailing out the unsuccessful [businesses] and punishing the successful [businesses],” added Paul. Under a free-market system, “there is a better distribution [for services and goods] and a higher standard of living,” explained Paul during an interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC on May 5, 2009.

Tax Hawk

Paul also levied heavy criticism of the U.S. tax code during his Oct. 18 CNBC interview. “Our current tax rates are a symptom of too much spending.” A fierce opponent to the personal income tax, Paul has been called a “tax hawk” by his peers. If elected president, he plans to rein in government spending by cutting $1 trillion from the budget by eliminating five federally run departments, cutting foreign aid, ending foreign wars and ending corporate subsidies, just to name a few. In addition he promises that his annual salary will not exceed the median household income in America, which according to Paul, is just over $39,000.

Constitution in Crisis

A stalwart for the U.S. Constitution, Paul explains on his campaign website, that he “never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.” Paul further believes that the Obama administration, like others before it side steps the Constitution when it comes to government over-reach. On HYPERLINK “http://www.paulhouse.gov” www.paulhouse.gov, Paul writes that the “Obama administration, like so many administrations in the 20th century, chooses to ignore the Constitution entirely.” He continues, “The current administration has unabashedly stated that Congress’ unwillingness to pass the president’s jobs bill means that the president will act unilaterally to enact provisions of it piecemeal through Executive Order” and that “Obama explicitly threatens to bypass Congress, thus aggregating the power to make and enforce laws in the executive.” In Paul’s view, recent measures taken by President Obama subvert the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

Freedom Above All

Many political pundits don’t give Paul much of a chance of winning the Republican nomination, but as long as this race continues to offer Paul a voice for freedom, he’s likely to tough it out at least through the Florida primary on Jan. 31, 2012.

Paul’s Libertarian message is what’s most important to him. To Paul, personal freedom and civil liberties trump any security offered by the federal government. In the May 5, 2009 MSNBC interview, Paul reminded his fellow Congressmen to “believe in freedom and believe in the Constitution. That’s what built this country. I don’t think either party right now offers a whole lot to the American people, who want to see some really serious changes.”

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