Thank You Ron Paul
In 2007, I was just a conservative commentator who was lucky enough to have a weekly column in the Charleston City Paper and regular segments on 1250 AM WTMA’s The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd. I believed in the GOP of National Review contributors like Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver, politicians like Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater, and political commentator Pat Buchanan, who I’d supported for president in both 1996 and 2000.
My brand of conservatism was the small “r” kind that defended the Constitution and stressed limited government, at home and abroad. It was anti-state, anti-authoritarian, and antiwar. To my fellow conservatives who defended torture, a power-hungry executive branch, the Patriot Act, and the Iraq War, my perspective certainly seemed peculiar. Truth be told, the age of Bush and Cheney was a dark one for traditionalist conservatives like myself. Our numbers were few and influence was nearly nonexistent. Then Ron Paul ran for president.
Rep. Ron Paul’s ideas about the Constitution, individual liberty, and limited government were rooted in America’s founding days and conservatism’s origins. When the Texas Congressman emerged on the national scene, his ideas seemed fresh and exciting to a new generation, and that generation flocked to his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Before Paul, I didn’t mind that my brand of conservatism seemed antiquated. I was more interested in the fact that it was true. Paul took the same ideas — views he’d espoused since he was first elected to Congress in 1976 — and popularized them amongst wandering conservatives, neglected libertarians, disaffected liberals, apathetic voters, and throngs of young people who’d never heard a politician speak like him.
A million people voted for Paul in the 2008 primaries and that number doubled to two million in 2012. The early Tea Party sounded the same anti-government siren Paul had been blaring for decades, only this time as a mass movement. Today’s changing attitudes about social issues were uniquely fitted for Dr. Paul’s decentralized, constitutional approach. People were fed up with partisanship disguised as principle. They were tired of war. They feared mounting debt. They sensed an increasing loss of liberty.
Thanks to Paul, my once seemingly peculiar and ghetto-ized right-wing point of view now has a national audience. People often ask me how I became a Ron Paul supporter. In a way, I felt like he arrived to support me. He came to rescue what I had long considered true conservatism from the wilderness. Politically, we had long been on the same page. Now, thanks to him, there was a page — and millions have joined us.