By Rowan Wolf
It is quite possible that Ron Paul could win the Iowa caucuses. It is even possible that Paul could come out quite strong in a number of other primaries.While it is a long shot, Ron Paul could even take the Republican nomination; however, this latter is highly unlikely. Namely because Ron Paul is too far outside the pale of the current Republican Party. Regardless, Paul could find himself in a power position this year – a big step up from his usual marginalized status within the party.
For those who are not familiar with Ron Paul, he can be a very attractive candidate for a wide cross-section of the population. He is generally not acceptable to the “right” or the “left” for different reasons. Ron Paul is known as “Dr. No” because he votes ‘no” so often – from the Iraq War to aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina (Copeland, Washington Post, 7/9/06).
Ron Paul is an Ayn Rand, “Austrian Economist” Libertarian. He claims to also be a “constitutionalist.” What he does not claim to be is a liberal, though there are some on the right who argue that he is. He is pro-corporate, and sees nothing wrong with the Citizen United ruling that said corporations can throw unlimited monies into campaigns.
On the surface, Paul is an attractive candidate to many at this point in time. In part because he is largely rejected by the Republicans, he is seen as a rebel at a time when rebellion seems to be popular – from Tea Party to Occupy Movement. He is also attractive “on the stump.” I watched one of his Iowa speeches. It was full of “individual freedom” and “individual liberty” and very short on specifics. Both those phrases are potent rhetoric in the US where those are key icon cultural phrases. It could garner him a win in Iowa.
The way I see it, among the various possibilities are two that Place Ron Paul in a power position. One possibility is that Ron Paul does well in Iowa and elsewhere, and then bales out of the Republican Party before the convention to launch a presidential run as an Independent candidate. Why bale? Because the party would never stand for him taking the nomination. In a run as an Independent, Paul could prove a credible threat to in a presidential run – at least in 2012.
In another, and perhaps more likely, scenario, Paul can find himself as “king maker” for whoever does get the Republican nomination. This is a possibility already being noised about by some pundits. What Paul would “charge” for his endorsement is something that is not being discussed, but it would likely include something that the Republicans would want anyway – such as privatizing Medicare, or ending Social Security – stands that Ron Paul shares.
Which brings us to why Ron Paul is not the candidate that the less conservative and even “progressive” might think he is. Paul cares not a whit for the social contract for individual freedom means each stands alone. There should be no social safety net. In fact, there should not even be public education. On the other hand, he does not see it as government’s responsibility to regulate business either. So there should be no safety regulations, not environmental regulations. Business, like individuals, should not be bailed out by the government. Back on the individual side, Paul is against Civil Rights legislation, thinking that equality would somehow “just happen” in a laissez faire free market economy.
Which brings to light the truth of the Libertarian, and Ron Paul, platform. Small government is not one that offers any protection for the individual or the society. It is also not one which protects the interests of the individual or society. Hence, Paul supports opening up all public lands for oil, gas, coal, exploitation. In fact, under Paul, there would be no public lands.Everything would be private and go to the highest bidder. There would be no national parks which have preserved wild spaces to the present time – spaces that would not be there without such protections. For Paul, and Libertarians in general, there is no “commons” nor need for them.
Time and circumstances have colluded to make Ron Paul a more attractive candidate than he has ever been. At age 76, Ron Paul may have finally come into his perfect moment. We can only hope that people are more informed than usual for Ron Paul’s world is not one that I relish.