Ron Paul: The Once and Future Conservative Favorite
Rep. Ron Paul today seems to be little more than a voice crying in the wilderness of Republican politics. But the Texas libertarian and 2008 presidential candidate may have a lease on the future of the Republican Party’s conservative wing, at the age of 74.
Paul, the big winner in the presidential straw poll at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, ascribes his victory to young people who don’t like the way the Republican establishment is handling things.
“Right now, I think there is a disconnect with the people, especially with the next generation,” he told MSNBC. ”They feel like the burden is being dumped on their shoulders and I think that’s what the vote represented, a lot of young people saying they don’t like what’s happening.”
The self-effacing congressman from southeast Texas got 31 percent of the 2,395 votes cast, leaving much bigger names way behind. Mitt Romney polled 22 percent vs. Sarah Palin at 7 percent and Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent.
“It’s hard to translate that into policy changes. But if we’re advocating changes that are right and proper, I’d say the young people are where you need to go,” Paul said. “When I go to the campuses, I come away very encouraged. When I go to the Hill … they won’t admit anything’s wrong.”
He believes establishment Republicans don’t really want to take steps like cutting federal spending or safeguarding civil liberties or undertaking fundamental changes in foreign policy.
Anyone think a Republican victory in November would make a difference? Paul says forget it.
“There’s always hope. But I’m afraid their opinions haven’t changed,” he said. “There is not three Republicans, I think, in the House that would vote to cut anything overseas — foreign aid, or anything. And yet we’re spending $1 trillion a year to manage our empire.”
Photo Credits: Reuters/Larry Downing (Paul); Reuters/Brian Snyder (Young Republican)