As a college student it’s not very often that you get the chance to speak over the phone with a presidential candidate. I had that chance on Tuesday as I was fortunate enough to be invited by U-WIRE to a conference call where Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul fielded questions from about 15 college journalists from around the country. It was the first of what will hopefully be a series of opportunities for college newspapers to connect with presidential candidates.
Paul is, of course, the congressman from Texas who is known as “Dr. No” for his opposition to any and all legislation which is not authorized by the Constitution.
Paul swears by the ninth and tenth amendments, advocating a minimalist federal government which delegates much of its authority to the states and leaves most power in the hands of individuals to make their own decisions on how to live their lives. Contrast this to Mike Huckabee, a much higher-polling counterpart in the Republican presidential race who was recently quoted as saying that America needs to amend the Constitution to bring it in line with “God’s standards.”
At this point I should admit, if you haven’t already guessed, that I am not an unbiased party in this regard. The “Ron Paul 2008” sign in front of my house gives away my allegiance in this election (although my roommate is the one who placed it there, it counts for me too). Mind you, I’m probably in the minority among Paul supporters in that I don’t spend every minute of my free time spamming political web forums with Paul propaganda, nor have I maxed out my credit card so I could participate in one of his campaign’s “money-bombs.”
Nevertheless, I was pretty excited when I found out last week I’d have the chance to ask Paul any question I wanted on behalf of the Technique, but the hard part was deciding exactly what to ask. I ended up asking him what, in light of the disconnect between him and the mainstream Republican candidates, needed to happen before American voters pay more attention to things like his pet issues of inflation and the illegitimacy of the war in Iraq from a constitutional standpoint. For those not in the know, Paul frequently points out that Congress never passed a declaration of war with Iraq, as required by the Constitution before entering into a war.
I didn’t quite get the answer I was looking for. Calling my question “challenging,” he said that financial constraints and a lack of support from the mainstream media prevent his campaign from achieving more national attention. He said he can only continue doing what he’s been doing and hope that his campaign continues the growth it has been experiencing as of late. He said that he was happy with his success in some of the smaller states but that he needed to continue to work hard to do well in the large states.
Ho-hum. I guess I was thinking a little more long-term. I am unfortunately not expecting Paul to rise beyond his single-digit polling numbers to make the ascent to a serious contender this year, so my support for him is more symbolic than practical. I’m more concerned with the impact his campaign is making on the political landscape than on gauging exactly how remote his chances of winning are to the nearest tenth of a percent.
I see Paul’s campaign as something much more important and valuable than yet another futile attempt by a relatively unknown candidate to usurp the front runners.
Never in recent history has there been as visible a platform as Paul’s pushing a message of returning government to the state and local level, where people can actually have somewhat of a say in deciding how they are governed (as opposed to thinking anybody on Capitol Hill cares about one out of 300 million people) and where politicians can best be in touch with the issues facing citizens.
If civil liberties, economic freedom and the Constitution are as important to you as they are to me, I strongly urge you to cast your vote for Ron Paul on Super Tuesday, even though he won’t win. The only vote wasted is one cast for a candidate who you do not sincerely support.