Take careful note of this for the future – and remember I was very early to tell you to watch out for Barack Obama. From National Post via Ed my son.
“A year ago, American conservatives were dreading the onset of a new era of liberalism. Barack Obama was inaugurated as President and the media declared conservatism dead for at least the next eight years. Today, conservatives are re-energized and some even predict a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate, in November’s mid-term elections.
Excitement and hope were palpable at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual confab of American right-wing activists which took place last weekend. But renewed optimism wasn’t the biggest story coming out of conference, it was the surprise victory of Representative Ron Paul in the annual CPAC straw poll of presidential contenders. Paul, the perennial outsider, garnered 31% of the votes, defeating names like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (22%), Sarah Palin (7%) and Newt Gingrich (4%).
Leaving aside the unscientific nature of the poll (only 24% of the record 10,000 attendees voted, and nearly half the delegates were under the age of 25), this result cannot be ignored and could be a portent for where the conservative movement is heading. Ron Paul is the unlikeliest of political stars. A doctor by training, he is a reserved, soft-spoken septuagenarian with ill-fitting suits and no particular charisma. Yet he has become a folk hero to legions of young, tattooed libertarians who advocate legalizing drugs, as well as to increasing numbers of conventional conservatives.
The reason? Paul is capturing the conservative zeitgeist. Known as “Dr. No” in Congress because he votes against everything, including awarding citizens the Presidential Medal of Freedom because he believes it to be an unauthorized use of public funds. Paul has become the vehicle through which devout libertarians believe they can become part of the mainstream.
Conservative activists may despise President Obama and his radical agenda, but they are almost as peeved with Republicans, who have shown over their time in power an inability to cut spending and reduce the size of government. Paul has become the standard-bearer of discontent with the Bush era’s “big-government conservatism.” One of his long-time hobby horses is shutting down the Federal Reserve and returning to the gold standard. To move that idea forward, Paul has introduced legislation that would require the Federal Reserve to be audited; the bill enjoys substantial support from Republicans and Democrats, with a staggering 313 co-sponsors. Passing such a law would have been considered total lunacy two years ago. Today, largely due to the Fed’s culpability in fuelling the 2008 financial crisis, the bill could become law.
Paul also wants to disentangle the U.S. from foreign involvement, including removing all troops from foreign soil and pulling out of the UN and NATO. The divide in the conservative movement over foreign policy is as pronounced as it’s ever been, with some openly questioning not only the 2003 Iraq war but the American presence overseas in general. Paul is attracting these people’s interest.
It is very unlikely Ron Paul will win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, if he even runs, which is not a given. But Paul and his followers will still have an enduring impact on Republican politics in the coming years. Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and lobbying for limited government, is gaining influence among younger activists and providing a strong base of support to congressional candidates who support Paul’s brand of libertarian politics. If Paul himself doesn’t run, another candidate in sync with his views could step up to the plate and do very well.
It has become clear over the past year that despite the naysaying, America is still a centre-right country. It has a President trying to impose on it a left-wing agenda. The people are recoiling. One need only look at the recent election results in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia to understand this. Democrats are on the run, and American conservatives can hardly wait until November.”