Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Ron Paul Phenomenon:
Manufactured or Real?

by Hummmbert
FIRST of Three Parts

No doubt about it: Ron Paul seems to be everywhere in the news these days. If he's not raising one million dollars in seven days, he's taking down a straw poll in another small hamlet or winning online media polls after a Republican debate. But is the Congressman from Texas riding an increasing groundswell of popularity out among Americans? Or does he have an ardent cadre of uber-supporters?

As the only Libertarian in the presidential race from either party, Paul's views on the War in Iraq are probably his best known. He unabashedly wants a troop pull-out and no "foreign adventures". But some of his other positions are positively mainstream conservative.
From Wikipedia:
Paul says that the Republican Party has lost its commitment to limited government and has instead become the party of big government.[2] He regularly votes against almost all proposals for new government spending, initiatives, or taxes.[3] His unwillingness to vote for proposals not expressly authorized by the Constitution, along with his medical degree, have earned him the nickname “Dr. No.
Mainstream conservative positions, check.
Paul supports free trade, states' rights, tighter border security, gun ownership, unofficial and voluntary school prayer
Again, all good conservative positions. It's some of Paul's other stands that have Libertarians cheering and mainline Republicans shaking their collective heads.
He favors changing the military "don't ask, don't tell" policy to only discipline heterosexual or homosexual behavior if it is disruptive. Paul opposes the Iraq war.
He is against the War on Drugs (a Death by 1000 Papercuts' position, as anyone perusing this site will soon discover) and "an unshakable foe of abortion".

Andrew Sullivan, predictably, says Paul is the real deal.
The conservative pundits are now referring to Ron Paul as a "crackpot." Hannity predictably savaged him last night (see above). The Hewitt site has an image of a man in a tin-foil hat; Dean Barnett and Hugh Hewitt both call for removing Paul from the debates, when he has been the best thing about them so far. Bill Benett wants him out. I'm getting the usual ridicule for taking him seriously from the usual GOP apparatchiks. They're scared, aren't they? The Internet polls show real support for him. Fox News' own internet poll placed him a close second, with 25 percent of the votes from Fox News viewers. We have a real phenomenon here - because someone has to stand up for what conservatism once stood for.
And here's at least one source accusing CNN of deleting information from their website that's beneficial to Paul.
[A blog] mysteriously disappeared from CNN’s website and redirected to the June 3rd democratic debate after overwhelming support for Ron Paul. From GNN

Google "Ron Paul" and one finds over 43 MILLION results. So something's going on. However, until all this Internet and "soft support" translates into hard electoral gains--in a real election, with real voters--Paul won't be taken seriously by many.

There's much to like about Ron Paul--and much to dislike. His position on the War in Iraq remains a deal-breaker for many in the G.O.P.

One prediction: he'll remain controversial, stirring as many jeers and he does cheers. He's going to have to show that he's truly popular with 'Main Street' voters, just not his hard-core supporters who range the internet and call-in polls. Until he moves beyond that second tier of Republican candidates, and challenges the front-running four of Romney, Giuliani and Thompson and McCain, he and his supporters will be on the outside looking in.

But still the question remains: Is this apparent Ron Paul support real or just a result of zealous supporters? And if the support is real, will it continue to grow? Can he move into that Top Level of candidates?
We'll take a look at that in Part Two.

First in a three-part series examining the "Ron Paul Phenomenon".
NEXT PART: Is it Real?

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