By now, everything that can be said or written about the election 2012 has been said and written . . . except for what might have happened if Ron Paul had been the Republican nominee.
I think he could have won. Here is why:
Something that wasn’t talked much about leading up to the Republican nomination of Mitt Romney instead of Ron Paul was Paul’s appeal across ideological lines. I voted for Obama but would have strongly considered voting for Paul. My girlfriend, the archetype of academic liberalism, would have enthusiastically voted for him, based on what she knew about him during the primaries. Why?
Because he tells the truth as he sees it. I voted for Obama even though I want him to do more about military expansionism and erosion of civil rights. These two issues are central to Paul’s platform, along with eliminating the Federal Reserve, which I see as the source of the county’s financial woes. While I strongly disagree with Paul on points like cutting the federal budget as drastically as he would, and I’m not as libertarian as his view on the role of the federal government, I largely agree with what I heard come from him throughout the campaign. He was a lone voice of truth on Bullshit Mountain, using John Stewart’s hilarious summary of the Republican/FOX disinformation campaign.
Yet, the Republicans considered basically everyone else except Paul and John Huntsman, and Huntsman was the candidate the Obama campaign feared most. I mean, apparently they would sooner have a Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, or that twit from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, as their nominee than the guy who actually had a chance.
When Romney said 47% of voters would never vote for him, he was right. He ended up with 47% of the popular vote, and needed to peal off another 3% to make the election competitive. Peel off 5% and he’s on the way to a convincing victory. That means he takes one in ten of Obama’s votes to win. But he really had no shot at getting those votes. Paul, however, had a shot.
The 47% who voted for Romney would have voted for Paul, because, to use Romney’s logic, they were going to vote for the Republican nominee no matter who it was. Only around 5% of voters are truly “swing voters” who go either way from election to election. Because politics in Washington has become so partisan and so polarized, most voters are already in one camp or the other. For example, I have voted for Republicans, but would not even consider it now because a vote for any Republican, in my mind, is a vote for the entire party, which has driven right off the deep end, and I can’t support that. But put Ron Paul on the ballot and now you give me the opportunity to vote for a Republican who can talk some sense into other Republicans. You peel away a vote from Obama. At the very least, you change Obama’s tune and force him to confront his support of policies that he didn’t support when he ran for President in 2008.
But no, even though Paul came in second in the primaries and was the best alternative to Romney except, perhaps, Huntsman, he was treated like the ugly girl in the wedding party. He was even harassed by TSA agents while trying to fly home during the Republican convention because, Paul claimed, he would not endorse Mitt Romney.
So we are left to wonder what might have been. One thing we know for sure: the Republican establishment hated Paul because he took no marching orders, and, according to a plethora of analysis and reporting, the nomination was outright stolen from Paul.
Oh, what might have been.