I had someone ask me recently what is the appeal of Ron Paul as a Presidential candidate. Paul heads into the Iowa Caucuses tonight neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney for the lead in the polls--despite getting ZERO attention from the cable news networks. I gave that person my new answer to explain Ron Paul: He is Barack Obama for people who actually know something about politics. By that, I mean that when Ron Paul speaks everybody is able to hear what they want to hear.
In 2008, Barack Obama was truly a blank canvas upon which a majority of voters painted their own picture. He was young and optimistic, hip and funny, he was multi-cultural and he didn't have a twenty year voting record in Congress to actually define his stances on anything--all he really promised was "hope and change--so anything you hoped for or you wished would change became "his" platform--to you. Now, those voters have found out that President Obama is not an agent of "change" and everything they "hoped" they would get they did not.
So enter Ron Paul to become the new voice of the disaffected. For those of us Deficit Hawks we hear him talk about reducing government spending and balancing the books (the only candidate to do so in the 2008 campaign). Those opposed to expansion of government hear him talk about limiting Federal powers to those only contained within the Constitution. The anti-war crowd hears him talk about bring the troops home immediately. The Occupy crowd hears him talking about doing away with the Federal Reserve and breaking down the big banks. The potheads hear him talk about ending the war on drugs. Gay rights activists hear him say he doesn't care who gets married to whom. The Tea Party hears him talk about doing away with the IRS. Even the anti-Semites hear him talking about ending unquestioned support for Israel. Like the Apostles who spoke in tongues in the Bible--everyone hears Ron Paul talking their language.
But by being everyone's candidate, Ron Paul is no one's candidate. Even if he was elected by some major miracle, he would have ZERO political base in Washington. As other pundits have pointed out, there is no "Ron Paul Caucus" in Congress. Outside of the deficit reduction idea, he would have no chance of passing any of the other legislative ideas he proposes--and Washington would be plunged into even deeper gridlock.
I voted for Ron Paul in 2008 as a form of protest against two other candidates who were only talking about new ways to spend even more money we don't have. If he somehow was the GOP candidate in November, I'll be writing in Paul Ryan on my ballot--as a form of protest against two candidates who have no ability to lead a country.