With everything that has happened so far in this election cycle, it might be easy to overlook one of the Republican Party’s historically most ridiculous candidates: Ron Paul. In fact, between the war on women’s reproductive rights, marriage scandals and some of the generally ridiculous comments made by candidates (“Corporations are people too, my friend!” – Mitt Romney), Ron Paul may in fact come off as a reasonable alternative.
Before the race has settled into its current pattern, it seemed for a moment as though he may emerge as just that. Paul took third in the Iowa caucus and second in the New Hampshire primary, and it appeared for a few weeks like he might emerge as a serious contender. Paul’s election results have since dropped off – he is generally coming in behind Romney, Santorum, and sometimes Gingrich. But lest we lose sight of Paul’s refreshingly eccentric political positions in the hype of the election, let’s take a look at some of his more defining quotes:
"You want to get rid of drug crime in this country? Fine, let's just get rid of all the drug laws." -2011 CNN Republican presidential debate.
One of the few Republican candidates whose policy on social issues still appeals to liberals, Paul supports abolishing federal regulations on the use of marijuana, as well as the laws regarding abortion, the death penalty, and other hot topics. This does not necessarily mean, however, that Paul is taking a liberal stance on these issues. Rather, he wants to turn the reins of regulation over to state governments, allowing policies to be decided on a state-by-state basis.
"How about getting rid of the Department of Education and Department of Agriculture. Just go down the list. Get rid of it. Cut the budget in half. Everything that's not constitutional. That's a good place to start." –MSNBC interview, 2009
While his social policies may appeal to leftists, Paul is famously conservative financially – possibly more so than any other current Republican candidate. A Paul administration would cut government spending on just about everything. At the same time, Paul would drastically reduce taxes, and he advocated removing the income tax entirely.
“I am convinced that there are more threats to American liberty within the 10 mile radius of my office on Capitol Hill than there are on the rest of the globe.” –Texas Straight Talk: On Reinstating the Draft, February 16, 2009.
Sticking closely to the idea that a federal government should play an extremely limited role in the lives of Americans, carrying out only those operations which are explicitly stated in the Constitution, Paul views “big government”, like the extensive bureaucracy currently in place in DC, as a threat to US citizens. Furthermore, he is against any kind of interventionist policy and opposes most US military endeavors.
“I think this fence business is designed and may well be used against us and keep us in. In economic turmoil, the people want to leave with their capital. And there’s capital controls and there’s people control. So, every time you think of the fence keeping all those bad people out, think about those fences maybe being used against us, keeping us in.” –Republican debate, September 2011.
And speaking of threats to US citizens, Ron Paul is also a famous advocator of conspiracy theories. Most recently, he voiced the idea that America’s fences may also be used to keep its citizens in. He has also spoken out on the idea that American interventionist policies were actually behind the 9/11 attacks, among other things.
Despite his eccentricities (or maybe because of them), Ron Paul has always had a strong grassroots following, especially among college students, liberal-leaning Republicans, and constitutional extremists. But will this be enough to get him back into the race? Or will he say anything else along the campaign trail to further jeopardize his chances? Only time will tell.