Ron Paul: The Living Embodiment of the Third Party…

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( Let’s do a mash up of completely divergent public figures who in totally different stratospheres fascinate and enthrall, and sometimes antagonize, Evelyn Lozada and Ron Paul.  In the lexicon of the glamorous, yet troubled, Lozada of the Real Basketball Wives, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the wiry-framed libertarian, went from being a “non f’n factor,” in the race, to a real factor in the upcoming Iowa caucuses.  His surging polling numbers in Iowa, and popularity amongst young, independent, and even some democratic voters, have stoked the ire of his Republican adversaries and ignited a fire-storm of press scrutiny ranging from the effectiveness of Paul’s legislative history to decades old allegations of homophobia and racism. 

The fact that Ron Paul transitioned from being ignored to that of a target is a testament to his growing political prowess as a Republican presidential contender—at least in Iowa.    While the media portrays Ron Paul as a spoiler and his Republican opponents take aim, his faithful still flock and his numbers continue to soar.  What makes this rakishly thin, quixotic OB/GYN turned  politician so alluring and such a spectacle?  His burgeoning appeal rests in the desire of many voters for a political alternative—a desire for a dramatic shift in governance and in U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans desire a third party.  Metaphorically speaking, Ron Paul’s meteoric rise may reveal that to some voters he is the very embodiment of that third party alternative to the Republican/Democratic duopoly.  Paul’s common sense approach to deficit reduction and fostering national security by bringing home all troops and ending foreign wars may be appealing to those put off by the costly and casualty-ridden wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ron Paul could also draw the support of voters shining a periscopic lens on civil liberties, through his call to end government intrusion, at public expense, into people’s private lives.

Though the racial rhetoric in old newsletters may prove his tragic flaw, the implementation of some of Paul’s more practical political positions could be his re-defining moment of atonement.  His support for ending the militarized war on drugs—which has contributed to the mass incarceration of the poor and people of color in the last two decades—is arguably quite progressive and far from racist.  While he’s heckled by some critics as a “dangerous isolationist,” his position against pre-emptive strikes and interventionist foreign policy was actually in vogue during the Bush years when President Bush was highly criticized for instituting secret prisons, pre-emptive strikes, and drone attacks. 

Ron Paul to some is quirky and eccentric; however, might that thin and nimble frame serve as an apt analogy for his frugality and political belief system.  While certainly conjuring up controversy for his criticism of social safety nets, Ron Paul is just as critical of “corporatism,” what he calls those bail outs and corporate welfare he claims to disavow. 

Through his platforms, Ron Paul straddles the worlds of the Occupy and Tea Party movements—managing to attract support in both camps, while also ensnaring college-age voters and some minority support with his anti-war and anti-war on drugs rhetoric. 

However, like all great heroes in Greek mythology, Ron Paul may have a tragic flaw—those lingering allegations of racism and homophobia. Whether voters are able to see past old allegations to embrace the sensibility of his current platforms will determine whether like in a Greek tragedy those flaws prove fatal.  

Staff Writer; Joy Freeman-Coulbary

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