In modern times, third-party candidates have been little more than a curious distraction from the main event, often siphoning enough votes from one major party to ensure victory by the other. Al Gore, for example, is convinced that Ralph Nader’s votes put George W. Bush in the White House.
Ron Paul was a third-party candidate in 1988. Running as a Libertarian, he finished last. In 2008, he is running as a Republican, and he is causing a curious distraction in the Republican congregation. Bill Kristol, Mr. “New Republican,” to many, calls Ron Paul a “crackpot.” But Paul’s simple message is inspiring people on both sides of the political spectrum and recruiting thousands of young, previously disinterested voters.
The simplicity of Paul’s message disarms his critics, who, like Kristol, rather than stand and debate, denigrate and discount the candidate. Though his message is simple and straight forward, his philosophy is way beyond the grasp of his critics.
Paul advocates abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. “Can’t be done,” say his critics. Paul advocates withdrawing from the United Nations. “Can’t be done,” say his critics. Paul advocates returning to commodity money. “Can’t be done,” say his critics. But a growing number of common people – the voters of America – are asking why it can’t be done.
Ron Paul is not only a constitutional scholar; he has a grasp of free-market economics that few people can claim. When Paul calls for the abolition of the IRS, it is not simply to rid the people of the nuisance of unnecessary tax forms and the pain of escalating payments. He actually understands the economic forces at work, and how the removal of this bureaucratic and economic burden can fan the flames of prosperity for the entire nation.
Every American should set aside the time to listen to a speech by Ron Paul, in which he explains how his philosophy leads him to the policy proposals that cause heartburn in is critics. Rarely does a voter have an opportunity to see what’s behind the sound-bite reports, or why the candidate takes a particular position. Bill Kristol, and others who give Ron Paul no respect, should listen to this speech, and learn more about freedom and the free market than is taught in any college.
Third-party campaigns have rarely been successful in American politics. They have, however, served to raise issues to national awareness. Ron Paul’s Republican candidacy is given little or no chance by the pundits and pollsters. His supporters ignore the polls, and they continue to amaze the experts with record-setting “money bombs” and ferocious displays of enthusiasm on campus, in urban centers and in the hinterland.
Should Paul fail in his bid for the Republican nomination, his supporters will, no doubt, urge him to continue his effort as a third-party candidate. He has said that he has no intention of doing so, but he has not flatly ruled out the possibility.
Whether he wins or loses, as a Republican or as a third-party candidate, he has opened Pandora’s box to the treasures of freedom to a generation from whom it was hidden by the public school system. The tremors being felt throughout the Republican Party could well be precursors of an upcoming upheaval in the Republican platform. The power of Ron Paul’s message could erupt and spread the principles of freedom all over the Republican National Convention.
It is impossible to champion the principles of freedom, while at the same time, embracing the Law of the Sea Treaty – as far too many Republicans have done. Ron Paul rejects this, and other treaties that bring no benefit to the United States, while encumbering this nation with sovereignty-stealing, money-draining obligations to an international authority.
It is impossible to claim reverence for the U.S. Constitution, while at the same time embracing government policies that take private property from individual citizens – as far too many Democrats and Republicans have done. Ron Paul rejects the notion that government must control and direct the destiny of its citizens.
His philosophy describes a governmental system that exists to protect the “unalienable rights” of its citizens. He stands as a lonely defender against governmental mission-creep, inherent in all governments. He rejects the notion that government is omnipotent and, therefore, entitled to direct the lives of its subjects.
He makes no apology for standing on the same constitutional rock that launched the idea that “government is empowered by the consent of the governed.” His message, and his appeal, is the determination to hammer this principle back into the machinery of government.
It is the appeal of his message that is spreading among the young and previously disinterested. Freedom is contagious. Even a glimpse of what could be – without the layers of government bureaucracy and international intrigue – is causing people to respond in ways that threaten the Republican establishment.
The message Ron Paul brings is neither a Republican, nor a Democratic message. It is a message of freedom for Americans. To many, it is a new message, and it is, indeed, most appealing.