COMMENTARY | According to polling, Texas congressman Ron Paul looks to be the front-runner in the upcoming Iowa caucus. This comes as a surprise to much of Washington, as Paul’s campaign has remained largely underground so far. Additionally, many wonder if Paul can gain support in enough other states to receive the Republican presidential nomination. Polls suggest that he is unlikely to gain that support. Moreover, the staunchly libertarian Paul’s views on many issues differ too strongly from the Republican base for his campaign to gain much momentum beyond Iowa. Below are some issues for which Paul’s views will probably be seen as too “out there” for voters.
I will admit that here is where I most admire Paul’s consistency in his libertarian stance. However, many Republicans will likely be skeptical about Paul’s restrained approach to national defense. Paul has issued warnings against America “acting as the world’s policeman” and against excessive defense spending and the military-industrial complex, both of which aren’t likely to gain support among voters who might otherwise support the candidate. In fact, some have called his foreign policy stances “dangerous,” “naïve,” and even “un-American.”
In 2004, Ron Paul notoriously was the only congressman to vote against a bill marking the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He argued that “the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased racial while diminishing individual liberty.” For Paul, the Civil Rights Act violated a principle that he holds essential, that of the liberty of private business owners. However, Paul’s stance on this controversial topic is unlikely to gain support with even a fraction of his constituency. Frankly, it is on this issue that I think Paul comes across as most out of touch with American history and the changes in American society brought about by the Civil Rights Movement.
The Death Penalty
Ron Paul has spoken against the death penalty as uncivilized, fallible, and often racist. While his position here is in line with that of many Democrats, it is unlikely to win support from many Republican voters.
Government Spending and the Economy
Like virtually all the candidates in the Republican primaries, Ron Paul has spoken sharply against excessive government spending and debt. However, here, as on many issues, he goes farther than other candidates. He calls for a complete and thorough audit of the Federal Reserve, an institution which he calls “dishonest,” “immoral,” and “unconstitutional” and compares to a spendthrift teenager with credit cards. He also talks about a return to the gold standard. Even those deeply concerned about out-of-control government spending may find Paul’s positions to be extreme.