People get tired of me writing about Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Hell, I get tired of me writing about Ron Paul. Sometimes I feel guilty about it. I try to avoid it more than you might imagine. But there’s good reason I can’t.
This month, former Republican Govs. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush held a town hall-style meeting at a pizzeria in Virginia. The meeting was supposed to launch what they’re calling a “listening tour” where Republican politicians listen to citizens’ concerns and “start a conversation” with voters. But the conversation that unfolded hardly addressed any specifics.
True to form, Romney claimed he was a conservative without mentioning what qualifies him or his party as such. Bush made headlines by saying it was time to “leave Reagan behind.” He also offered this little gem: “You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don’t like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.”
That men like Romney and Bush want to reach out to voters to rebuild the Republican Party is understandable. But that they don’t seem to have any clue how to do it and must grasp for principles to promote is not only illuminating, but unsurprising, as the careers of such Republicans have always been guided by whichever way the political wind blows. You want Reagan? They’ll be Reagan. Tired of Reagan? So are they. You like Obama? Bush says the Republicans will try to come up with something like that too.
Also this month, the Washington Independent, a nonprofit news site, ran a story called “Ron Paul’s Economic Theories Winning GOP Converts” in which the congressman’s weekly luncheons have seen increased attendance amongst fellow Republicans who come to discuss conservative economics and libertarian principles. Reports the Independent, “Paul’s unexpected and sudden clout with his fellow Republicans comes as the GOP engages in a tortured internal dialogue about its future. Few of those conservatives, however, have spent much time criticizing the very foundations of America’s modern economic system and worrying about a 1929-style crash. Few of them had a drawer stuffed with off-brand economic ideas and forgotten libertarian texts, ready to explain what needed to be done. Ron Paul did, and as a result the ideas that made the Republican establishment irate enough to bounce him from a few primary debates are more popular than ever.”
Said conservative author and attendee James Bovard of the luncheons, “There’s a growing recognition that the GOP is intellectually bankrupt and morally bankrupt … I’m glad that Paul is putting together these meetings. I hope the battle of ideas is changing.”
Bovard is right. And the current battle of ideas within the Republican Party is exactly why I find it nearly impossible to shut up about Ron Paul. Let’s face facts: A Republican administration saddled this nation with its largest debt in history, and now the current Democratic administration is already projected to far outspend their predecessor. This is no slippery slope. It’s an avalanche.
Priority one for conservatives should be stopping government spending. But how? Leaders like Romney and Bush don’t seem to have a clue, other than trying to form some sort of all-male version of The View. “You can’t beat something with nothing,” says Bush of Obama, yet his Republican Party seems destined to try.
Ron Paul’s Republican Party doesn’t have to look for “something,” as the congressman has been championing constitutional, limited government for three decades, usually by his lonesome. What’s the difference now? A growing number of Republicans now seem willing to join Paul, not just to tweak big government or diddle with marginal tax rates, but to attack the root problem of spending and even the heart of the U.S. monetary system, the Federal Reserve. (At the recent tea parties, one popular rallying cry was, “End the Fed!”) Paul’s bill HR 1207 to audit the Federal Reserve now has 143 cosponsors and that number continues to rise.
There are other leaders who exhibit the same consistent fidelity to small government, most notably Gov. Mark Sanford, but to date, there exists no other contemporary figure that has inspired a movement as sizeable, organized, and ambitious as Paul’s.
Just ask Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sen. Graham recently addressed the Greenville County GOP and shamelessly warned that Obama was “spending us into oblivion,” even though he voted for the $800 billion Wall Street bailout and now supports nationalizing banks. Addressing the many Paul supporters in the audience, Graham said snidely, “Ron Paul is not the leader of the Republican Party.”
Would Graham have said the same of Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush? Of course not, and it’s no surprise that the career-long, big government senator would dismiss Paul and be more comfortable with conventional Republicans who are as clueless as he is.
But now is not the time for conventional Republicans. When conservatives have described themselves in the past as Goldwater or Reagan Republicans, everyone knew what they meant. And if there is any real chance that the current, horrifying growth of government can be reversed anytime soon, America will learn what it means to be a Ron Paul Republican too.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the “Morning Buzz with Richard Todd” on 1250 AM WTMA.