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PROFILE RON PAUL - FORGING A NEW PATH IN AMERICAN POLITICS


Judging from the almost universally young crowd present on election night in New Hampshire, one would expect to see a rock star appearing on stage.


However, as people chant: “President Paul! President Paul,” a very slight 76-year-old man with thin grey hair steps up on stage. As the libertarian Texas congressman starts speaking the audience silences, and then roars again when he leaves.


Of the remaining candidates in the Republican


presidential field, perhaps none have followers more loyal than Ron Paul - at times reminiscent of the allegiance people pledged to President Obama in 2008.


Dr Paul, an obstetrician turned congressman, has built up a devoted, growing crowd of followers throughout 22 years as a libertarian agitator. He has also established himself as “Dr No”, both inside and outside of congress. Indeed, he has never been one to play by the book or retreat from an unpopular position, frequently breaking ranks even within his own party.


His route to Washington is a peculiar one. Born on the 20th August, 1935, he grew up on a dairy farm outside Pittsburgh, working on a milk delivery route from an early age. Raised by Lutheran parents, two of his brothers became church ministers. After finishing medical school, he was drafted into the air force on the Texas Gulf Coast, where he served as a flight surgeon. Then he opened his own practice in 1968, famously delivering more than 4,000 babies.


Dr Paul was always interested in the issues that would become the two foundations of his thinking: the U.S. Constitution and the Austrian school of


conservative economics. The 8


latter, as espoused by Frierich Hayek, whose arguments for free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought made him a popular figure in 1940s America and again today. These principles justify Paul’s beliefs in small government, the free market and individual freedom.


His strict adherence to the Constitution and frank manner of speaking resonates with people who believe him to be authentic and sincere, a rarity in politics. Lew Moore, Paul’s national campaign manager said: “He doesn’t deliver stump speeches. His idea is to write three words on an envelope


who control monetary policy, the power to create financial bubbles, the power to maybe bring the bubble about, the power to change the value of the stock market within minutes. That to me is just an ominous power and challenges the whole concept of freedom, and liberty, and sound money.”


This explains why people as varied as anti-war veterans, religious conservatives, legalise cannabis campaigners and a growing number of celebrities support him. Bruce Buchanan, an expert in presidential politics at the University of Texas, Austin,


peoples lives at public expense.


Paul’s current placing on the electoral podium sends an important message about the American political system. As more and more voters become disenchanted with politicians delivering recycled lines, they are willing to support alternative and even radical new solutions.


“IT’S MUCH EASIER


FOR ME TO FOLLOW A SET OF


PRINCIPLES THAN FUSSIN’ AND FUMIN’ ON KNOWING EXACTLY WHEN


YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO THROW IN THE TOWEL”


His success is all the more unexpected since the media has systematically neglected him. According to the Pew Research Center’s Media Survey, the Texas Congressman received the least news coverage of any GOP White House candidate. In fact, between May and October 2011, he was the subject of just two percent of campaign stories. Some journalists, such as Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, held the media up to scrutiny by asking how Ron Paul became ‘the 13th floor in an hotel?’


According to a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans desire a third party. For this reason Ron Paul’s rise, despite the media censure, may reveal that for some he is the very embodiment of the alternative to the Republican/Democratic duopoly - the relatable and straightforward character Americans are looking for.


and then go out there and talk for 50 minutes.”


Most notoriously he was one of only six Republicans to vote against the 2002 resolution to invade Iraq. He also opposed the Patriotic Act and use of torture on terror suspects, supported ending the War on Drugs, advocated cutting the military budget and to close overseas’ bases.


Furthermore, in 2004 he was one of the first to predict the financial crisis, declaring: “Doesn’t it ever occur to you that maybe there’s too much power in the hands of those


said: “This is his moment. He speaks to a restive country that is anxious about the economy and sceptical of government intervention at home and abroad. And in the process, he’s redefining the Republican Party.”


His common sense approach to deficit reduction and strengthening national security by bringing home all troops and ending foreign wars may appeal to those tired of the costly and casualty-ridden wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He could also draw voters through his call to end government intrusion into


It is ultimately unlikely that Dr Paul will be elected as the Republican candidate. However his electoral success in Iowa, where he finished third, and New Hampshire, where he came in second after Mitt Romney, shows his success is not due to a stroke of luck. In fact, his burgeoning appeal comes from the desire of many voters for a political alternative – a shift in governance as well as in U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Both the Republican and Democratic parties should not simply brush this off, but strive to respond to the peoples’ discontent


ZLATA RODIONOVA


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