By Teresa Welsh |
The Republican Party has been treating Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas—who managed to last the longest in the race against his main rival Gov. Mitt Romney—like a non-person lately. While inviting Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, to give a prime-time speech, Republicans have locked out his father, who has done more to bring new, young energy and money into the party than any other GOP presidential contender.
Paul raised nearly as much money—$36 million—as his more prominent opponents Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum combined on his way to earning around 11 percent of the primary and caucus vote this election season, and managed to win control of various state delegations through intelligent command of the caucus process. This is important because it shows Paul's supporters are good for more than just showing up and voting, but for playing the long game of politicking on the state and local level with energy and skill, which the GOP will need to contend against President Barack Obama.
Paul's supporters have their fervor because they know the Republican Party, and the country, are facing a true fiscal crisis, one that requires radical action to solve. While Ron Paul was the only Republican candidate with a fiscal plan that got America to a balanced budget within three years with no new taxes, Mitt Romney mocked the idea of instant trillion dollar spending cuts as being damaging to the economy.
Paul's voters understand the crisis America has created through its overreach both in domestic governance and overseas is not something for our grandchildren; it is real and it is now. The crises in Europe this summer prove that not even governments can just borrow eternally to handle their crushing debt.
The Republican Party has been, rhetorically, the party of limited, constitutional government that respects its citizens' liberties. Ron Paul has been the candidate who energized hundreds of thousands of active, involved, giving young voters to truly get excited about those ideas.
The best thing the GOP could do to guarantee its future and relevance is give Paul—and more important than Paul, his supporters, who are the necessary future of their party—all the respect and attention they can, from speaking slots to actually adopting Paul's vision of a government that lives within its means, has a foreign policy focused on defense rather than running the world, and believes in the liberating energies of free people in a free market.
About Brian Doherty Senior Editor of Reason magazine and Reason.com
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation