Written by Sam Marsh
Megaphone Staff Writer
If you drive through the southern part of this country looking for campaign signs, there is little chance that you will see anything but than Ron Paul signs. This is strange, considering any poll or the results of the primaries.
So why does he seem to get moral support, but not the votes?
And another question I hear a lot: Who is Ron Paul anyway?
Basic stats are: 72 years old, medical doctor, representative, constitutionalist and Libertarian.
Some of these even need explaining. A “constitutionalist” is someone who supports basing U.S. policies strictly on the Constitution, which, for some reason, is a controversial idea.
Libertarianism is the idea that the role of the federal government should be as limited as possible – giving the state governments more of the responsibility for social services, laws, etc.
Also important to the policy is limiting taxation; trusting people to take care of themselves and not having the government do it for them.
Considering his age and the antiquity of his message, Rep. Paul has an unusually large amount of support coming from young voters.
This comes in large part from a self-perpetuating Internet campaign, with large groups of supporters on many college campuses.
This is an ironic fact, considering that Paul admits to not knowing very much about the Internet himself beyond liking the way it promotes the flow of information.
That flow of information has been very profitable for Paul. With as small of a base as he has, he has raised over $100 million in this campaign. On Nov. 5, 2007, Paul set a one-day fundraising record by raising $4.3 million, a record soon broken by himself when, on Dec. 16, when he raised $6 million.
Other interesting facts are that, as a representative, Paul refused congressional pensions because they were funded by taxpayers’ money and did not allow his children to apply for federal student loans for the same reason.
Although his district is largely a rural, farming area, he consistently votes against farm bills because they favor large agri-business and not small family farms.
Consequently, he has defied conventional wisdom and has high approval ratings in a farming district despite this voting record.
One accusation I’ve heard leveled against Paul is that he is a racist. There are two bases for this idea.
One is a series of newsletters published in the 70s under his name that quoted some studies concerning crime levels by race in Washington D.C.
Upon closer inspection, the statements were not directly attributed to Paul himself, although they reflected conventional wisdom of the time.
The other idea is that all Libertarians are racists. The only evidence behind this idea is that in the 1970s there was a branch of the party called the John Birch Society that, in fact, supported many racist ideas.
By that same logic, however, the Democratic Party is racist because from about 1880 through the 1950s, it received support from the Klu Klux Klan in the south.
Paul announced that he was going to shift the focus of this campaign to being re-elected to the House of Representatives. He said it was more important to serve those who have supported him since the 1970s in south Texas than to chase the White House.
He has not dropped out yet and is still trying to get the word out about constitutionality – hoping to force other candidates to address the issue.
There has been more emphasis on this issue in this election season than previous ones, due largely to Dr. Paul.
As in his 1988 run, the campaign has been more about raising awareness about his political ideas than seeking the presidency, because he hopes to raise awareness of the value of the Constitution for future generations.
Finally, I’ll leave you with what Campaign Chair Kent Snyder was told while first working for Paul in 1988: “You’re working for the most honest man in Congress.” Who told him that? John McCain.