Yes, it is amazing that the Republican Party is now on the verge of making Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) the front runner for its nomination for President of the United States. Paul holds a clear edge in the upcoming Iowa Caucuses (click here for the latest polls from Real Clear Politics) and, if he wins there, he will be a clear, legitimate first-tier contender.
Why is this so strange? Who, really, is Ron Paul? Sometimes he talks like the ultimate peace-nik and civil libertarian; other times like a right wing ideologue ready to let poor people starve and sick people die. He is always engaging, consistent, and unabashed. Where is truth?
Take a listen to this video (above). 2012 is not the first time Ron Paul has run for President, and it was not always as a Republican.
Back in 1988, Congressman Paul, a practicing doctor (obstetrician) in Texas who had already served eight years on Capitol Hill (1976-1984), ran for President on the Libertarian Party ticket. During that campaign, Paul received an invitation to match wits with the leading conservative intellectual of the day, William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review and author of the seminal book God and Man at Yale. Buckley back then hosted a weekly TV show called Firing Line that was the cutting edge forum for conservatives.
The video above is the result. During this one-hour program, Buckley grills Paul on what he considered a long list of Paul’s unrealistic, radical views, including the abolition of the FBI, the CIA, the draft, the entire Federal income tax, and about 40 percent of the United States government.
Several things about it are striking: (a) how well Paul defend’s himself against Buckley’s attacks, (b) the consistency between his views in 1988 and 2012, (c) the fact that Paul’s views — particularly on taxes — that were considered so extreme by a conservative like Buckley have now become Republican mainstream and (d) that as recently as 1988, a major TV show in America could still present an intelligent, respectful, interesting, and thoughtful debate on these points.
Congressman/Doctor Paul won 432,179 popular votes for President as a Libertarian in 1988, about 0.5 percent of the total, and would then return to Congress in 1997. Deep changes are taking place this year in the American body politic, and the emergence of libertarian Ron Paul as the Republican front runner for president may be the most dramatic sign yet.
Who, really, is Ron Paul? Check out the video. And if you like the first part, here are the links to Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
And if you happen to live in Iowa or New Hampshire, do not vote without seeing this first ! Enjoy.