Why Ron Paul Will NOT Be President Of The United States (But May Well Affect Who Is)

Crazy RonA few weeks back, I began what is to be a series of spotlights on select individuals from the impressive pair of packs currently snarling at each other for their respective alpha positions in the upcoming Presidential Election of 2008. These spotlights, I established, are to focus on some certain aspect of each person’s candidacy from a purely analytical point of view. Not a full evaluation, mind you… just the shit I want to point out, basically. I began this series with piece on Democratic front runner (then more than now) Senator Hillary Clinton, and so felt that the next entry should focus on a GOP candidate. I first considered choosing the Republican front runner, but there are two problems with writing such a post at the current date:

  • As of right this moment, it’s still extremely difficult to tell who that is. And whoever it is, it ain’t by much.
  • All the seeming front runners are apparently thus far doing their best to seem as uninteresting as possible, perhaps to avoid pissing anyone off too early. For whatever reason it’s working, and they’re all pretty fucking boring at the moment.

So I decided to highlight someone on the GOP side who actually WAS distinguishing himself in some fashion, the Internet’s Favored Son, Representative Dr. Ron Paul.

There’s one thing that one can say for certain about Dr. Paul. Of all the candidates, he is the one whose principles are least likely to come under attack. His consistent and legendary refusal to participate in any federal aid program in any capacity either in his personal, professional, or political career is well known. His positions are logically argued, his commitment is unwavering, and his authenticity is without question. Quite frankly, I’m amazed he’s survived in American politics as long as he has. More to the point, it’s a fucking miracle.

And, romantically motivating as it would be to see a stoic libertarian throwback to the Goldwater days shock the States of this Union and the nations of this Earth and actually take the White House (ushering in an age of glory or despair, depending on your take on it), the unfortunate truth is that it would take an even LARGER political miracle than the one Dr. Paul has already lived to make that happen.

lolRonFor starters, if Paul even finds himself in the general election at all, it will likely be as an independent or third-party candidate of some variety. There are two major obstacles to his becoming the Republican Party nominee. The first is that the performance on these grand intarwebs, impressive as it has been, has yet to translate into poll numbers that get the man anywhere near the top three slots in his party. The second is that the voting infrastructure of the GOP, fractured though it may be these days, isn’t giving him any particular nods. There’s as good a chance as any he may pull a surprise in the early states, but I would expect the Republican machine to kick in at that point and finally figure out who they like (think Bush over McCain in 2000). And “Dr. No” probably doesn’t have the party loyalty they’ll be looking for. The other Republicans are afraid of the internet too, I think, but that’s just a guess.

So that leaves the possibility of an independent candidacy. Perhaps the most exciting prospect of the ’08 race is that a Ron Paul independent candidacy is FAR from out of the question. For one thing, he won’t “rule it out completely” which is political speak for “we’re thinking about it already”. Also, there’s no reason to believe that a man of Dr. Paul’s known principled stances wouldn’t run with the wishes of his supporters after the surprising dollar figures they’ve thrown into his campaign. Add to that the facts that his spending has thus far been geared toward saving rather than going for the early knockout, and that he has in fact run on a third party platform before, and we could all well be looking at three known names on the ballot come November.

It’s been suggested that Paul’s primary run was designed to be less an actual attempt at the GOP nomination than it was a period to establish a name the media won’t have any excuse to ignore when he announces himself an independent candidate. If that WAS the plan all along, it’s brilliant. If that’s what it’s evolved into, it’ll still work.

PerotHowever, by “work”, I have to point out I mean “work to get him a newsworthy space in the general election”… and not “work to make him the President”. The general election is, near as I can tell, still shackled up by the twin dinosaurs of the Electoral College and entrenched state-level political structures catering to the two major parties. Just ask Ross Perot, assuming he’s not eating applesauce in a mint-green cinder block room somewhere.

And that leads me into what I mean by “may well affect”, when it comes to the ultimately elected candidate in 2008. HOWEVER many votes an independently running Ron Paul would glean from around the country, they’ve gotta come from somewhere. And that means, much like Ross Perot, he’s going to be sucking them off another candidate.

At first glance, this seems like it would be bad for the Republican nominee, whoever that winds up being. An old-school small government conservative could wind up pulling a HOST of varied voter-types from the ranks of the Republicans, especially if a neo-con/fundamentalist Christian base forms again around the official candidate. But there’s a Hank McCoy sized x-factor in play, which could draw just as many votes from the Democrats. Namely, Ron Paul’s position on Iraq.

If Paul becomes a prominent figure in the 2008 race, he’ll be the only candidate on the field with “full and immediate withdrawal” as his position on the matter of Mesopotamia. And it will be an unassailable position, because he’s voted that way since the very beginning. The GOP will not field such a candidate (they don’t even have one, other than him, do they?), and the Democratic front runners are all vague on their position at best, but clearly not favoring a quick pullout.

Paul StatsWith getting the hell out of Iraq as soon as possible an idea that has monumental support on the left, it’s a complete guess as to which side of the aisle Ron Paul would yank more votes from. Or whether he would cancel himself out, mathematically difficult as that might be. The bottom line is this: it would create a vast unpredictability, for both the Republicans and the Democrats. It would turn the 2008 election into the political equivalent of a random shootout, with both the major candidates fearing who Dr. No was going to do the most damage to. It would be wild, murky, and volatile all around, and the conclusion would be likely unknowable until the very eve of election night, if not some weeks afterward.

Regardless of victory, it could well be precisely what this country needs.

Out for now…

– Paris “Rev” Battle