Ron Paul: Rising From Obscurity And Influencing The Debateby Doug Mataconis
Today’s Washington Times, the conservative paper of record in Washington, D.C., profiles the rise of Ron Paul from the unknown candidate to sleeper:
Aides helping Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with his long-shot run for the Republican presidential nomination never thought they would need more than the corner of a one-bedroom apartment.
They were wrong. The campaign has outgrown its second headquarters, a 348-square-foot office.
Mr. Paul has more campaign cash available than former Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Federal Election Commission records show, and the antiwar conservative has become an Internet sensation.
Though political pros say Mr. Paul’s chances of moving into the White House are between slim and none, some expect him to have an effect on the Republican race.
And that impact is the same one that I’ve always hoped he would have, influencing the debate in the Republican Party on issues ranging from the Iraq War to individual liberty:
Influencing the Republican stance on major issues is the most likely outcome of the Paul candidacy.
“While I am very skeptical that he will win the nomination, historically challengers’ biggest impact has been in shaping the debate â€” forcing the more popular candidates to address issues they might like to gloss over,” said Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas. “I suspect Paul’s principled opposition to massive government spending and the war could reach out to two different GOP groups â€” one large, one not so large â€” with the message: ‘You are not alone.’ ”
Mr. Matthews sees a twofold effect for Mr. Paul: “His libertarian bent makes him the most principled of the Republican candidates. The large segment of the conservative base shares his rebellion against the GOP’s willingness to become part of Washington’s big-spending establishment. And as the only antiwar Republican candidate, he may provide a safe harbor to conservatives who are increasingly growing dissatisfied with the war.”
And if it leads to a revival of the libertarian-oriented conservatism that started with Barry Goldwater and reached it’s climax in the election of Ronald Reagan and the albeit ultimately disappointing `94 takeover of Congress, that can only be for the better.
I still stand by my belief that Paul has no real chance of winning the election, but winning isn’t always everything. Ronald Reagan lost the nomination in 1976 and yet, within a few short years, the entire party with was him.
H/T: The Crossed PondÂ