Photo: Courtesy of CNN
At last night’s debate, Jim Cramer, in his sweaty, too-close-at-the-party way, asked Ron Paul the following question: I’m on the frontlines of the stock market. We were down 400 points today. We’re not going to be done going down if this keeps going on, if Italy keeps — the rates keep going up. Surely you must recognise that this is a moment-to-moment situation for people who have 401(k)s and IRAs on the line and you wouldn’t just let it fail, just go away and take our banking system with it?
Paul, totally unruffled by the “gotcha” question, answered directly from his convictions.
No, you have to let it — you have to let it liquidate. We’ve had — we took 40 years to build up this worldwide debt. We’re in a debt crisis never seen before in our history. The sovereign debt of this world is equal to the GDP, as ours is in this country. If you prop it up, you’ll do exactly what we did in the depression, prolong the agony. If you do — if you prop it up, you do what Japan has done for 20 years…
Of course this answer terrifies everyone. How can we not use the government to support home-ownership? How can we let banks take losses on their bad business decisions?
Any other politicians would be terrified of scaring the big banks, or worse, scaring Big-Homeowner – the millions of people who live in the suburbs and vote. Not Paul. You could never say Paul isn’t faithful to his convictions.
And many conservatives believe in their hearts that Paul is right. Government is underwriting an unsustainable American lifestyle.
Paul doesn’t sugar-coat his answers. He doesn’t state them in a way most calculated to appeal to his audience. He states them without artifice.
And this is why his devoted core of supporters are unlikely to go to any other candidate. They find this quality totally refreshing, and energizing. Paul is different from every other politician they’ve seen.
Sure, if it becomes clear he can’t win the nomination- sure they will be less enthusiastic about going to the polls. But as long as he is in the race, Paul will get votes.
This quality of his is also why he doesn’t attract more support in the Republican party. Voters like to be flattered. The media criticises candidates for what they call “pandering.” But voters want pandering. That is how they determine whether a candidate even understands their concerns.
Paul’s brand of honesty may be too stringent for the American electorate now. But he is building a movement that will shape the Republican party and American politics for years to come. He’s accomplished more in four years than anyone thought possible. It may not add up to a primary win. But it is a triumph.
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