Ron Paul a viable candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination
Ron Paul is typically viewed in Republican circles to be little more than a minor nuisance – a libertarian crank who has no real chance at winning the GOP nomination and is generally unelectable. Paul ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988 and a Republican Party candidate in 2008 with limited success.
But this time around, Ron Paul has a legitimate shot at winning the nomination, as well as the general election. A number of new developments have energized the Texas representative's campaign, bringing him to the forefront of this election cycle's events.
Some modifications to the GOP nomination rules by the Republican National Committee favor Paul much more than in previous years. This time around, states traditionally using winner-take-all primaries will have to wait until April, according to the new rule. If states with winner-take-all setups decide upon an earlier date, they will be stripped of half of their delegates (with the exceptions of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina). Additionally, a rule already exists that penalizes states that move their primaries up (except Iowa), meaning that if New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina move their dates up (as they historically have), they will also lose delegates.
Paul benefits from this largely because the proportional voting states will likely hold a larger influence than they have in the past, and Paul is more likely to gain momentum by sticking through the race. Paul's campaign scales well with time, and it's likely that he could win a war of attrition through March and April. Additionally, Paul's major focus in this campaign has been Iowa, which will have all of its delegates. Paul already has a strong history here, coming in a statistical tie for first with Michelle Bachmann in the Iowa Straw Poll and holding numerous endorsements from the Republican State Central Committee. The caucus format also suits Paul, and it is likely that if he grabs the plurality, he'll snowball through the rest of the process.
In addition to these rule changes, Paul's campaign offers something that the Republican Party desperately needs: passion. Paul supporters are typically very active and vocal. Overall, Paul's organization is unmatched. His grassroots base appeals to the populist element in the nomination cycle and has propelled him to the top tier of fundraising without "bundlers" like many of the other top candidates utilize. The main reason the party needs him is because he appeals not only to baby boomers, but also to young voters. Paul's ability to draw young voters to the Republican Party is indispensable, and the GOP should be careful not to alienate its future mainstay.
Overall, this translates to the fact that he's very electable. Because his national supporters don't naturally fall along party lines, he's able to steal even liberal voters while gathering masses of independent voters that enjoy his Constitutionally-based message of freedom. Polls show Paul consistently even with or beating President Barack Obama in 2012, performing in the top tier of Republican hopefuls. A Harris poll in mid- September shows Paul beating Obama by a 51-49 margin; similarly, a Reuters/ Ipsos poll during the same time period shows Paul versus Obama at 49-51. This shows Paul is definitely competitive, and would become more so if he were nominated and the Republican Party gave him some legitimacy instead of ignoring the introducer of ideas that have so far shaped the GOP campaigns.
Perhaps, this should have been expected. Ron Paul has so far been the only truly consistent and principled statesman that we've seen in years. Americans today seem more concerned with packaging than with substance. But after seeing what that led to with the election of Obama, conservatives and liberals alike are coming around to the need for something new. Paul has an authenticity and intellectual honesty that befuddles the current GOP offering. He has had the experience in legislature, he has predicted all of the economic problems with uncanny accuracy and he has offered solutions that have not been taken. If the GOP does decide to take Paul, it will signal a fundamental change – a realignment – in the party that would usher in another age of prosperity. Really, the only question is an elementary one: do we elect Paul now or kowtow to a base so far to the right that it alienates the rest of the country and leads the GOP into oblivion? I know what my answer is.
Matt Kindy is a Baker College sophomore.
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