"Most Respected, Least Expected" was the caption on a recent YouTube video discussing the 2012 presidential prospects of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside — and that might be true.
Paul has been writing the right prescription for U.S. policy, both foreign and domestic, for nearly 40 years. But we’ve failed to take his advice, so today we find ourselves in the midst of exactly what he has been warning us about for decades: a prolonged recession with rising gas and food prices, unsustainable national debt and an unstable monetary system causing unrest and uncertainty in many of the world’s economies. He has been consistent in his admonition to Congress that failure to rein in debt and spending and adhere to strictly limited constitutional authority would drive the country into bankruptcy. He’s had the wisdom to see the unintended consequences of flawed policy, and while the media has written him off as a fringe figure, we are now living with the consequences he predicted. Once jester, now prophet.
His un-Republican positions on foreign policy, drug legalization and returning the U.S. dollar to the gold standard have been anathema to the GOP rank and file, but the Tea Party has proven that Americans are as fed up with the Republicans as they are with Democrats; both parties were complicit in getting us where we are today. Many have noted that the Republican base has moved markedly to the right since the last presidential election and have seen the rise of activists far more receptive to Paul's gospel of limited government, individual freedom and an uninhibited free market.
Paul is a mascot for the growing libertarian discontent that sparked the Tea Parties and is inspiring new generations of young voters and fiscal conservatives across the country. Don’t forget that he and his supporters pushed Congress to pass an "audit the Fed" bill, a feat that was long rumored to not be viable. But many things unthinkable have become reality in this world. A successful, effective, cult-like following and ample funds supplied mainly through grassroots “money bombs” have all served to lend credibility to the good doctor and his various efforts.
But do wisdom and respectability and an enthusiastic following matter in today’s political climate? In a world where public opinion is largely driven by sound bites in the mainstream media, can a Ron Paul presidential candidacy make headway? That depends largely on what the Tea Party does and what young people do. A recent Esquire article noted: “Philosophical and systematic and pure in a way that young people may be best qualified to understand, he lays bare the contradictions. That is the reason his ideas have spread like hidden veins throughout our culture, the reason he has become such a stunning challenge to the existing order. He means the words that everyone else just uses. He's flinty as a Founder and solid as the gold standard — not just the messenger but also the message.”
While television and conservative talk radio continue to marginalize a Paul candidacy, unrest and anxiety over the nation’s economic woes fester, and a passionate and energized base of young people supporting him grows. The declaration of A.W. Tozer aptly fits the masses behind the movement: “We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.”
Tozer, of course, was talking about Christians heralding their savior, but maybe this movement isn’t all that different. Paul and his message have remained the same, but the country is quite different from when he started his political career, and many are becoming more open to the truth he has heralded for decades. Let’s hope the rest of the nation gets to this same place of passionate support before we find ourselves standing in long lines at the soup kitchen.
Debra Medina was a Republican candidate for governor in 2010.