Maybe you've seen them clogging your news feed with constant links, flooding discussion boards and online polls, proudly displaying the bumper sticker, or just anxious and eager to preach about their man, but wherever or however you know them, you probably know a Ron Paul person.
Certainly every politician has their contingent of passionate supporters, people willing to take a bullet for their candidate of choice, but Ron Paul people have got to be some of the most ubiquitous, vocal, and yes, annoying people ever. Don't get me wrong, when I say "they" are that way, I really mean "we". I'm not ashamed to declare my support for Dr. Paul, and I've been told by friends and family that I may be obsessed, or have an idol problem. I don't see it that way. I definitely value many things more than politics, and I don't woship the man, but I do respect him.
Why does he earn my respect? And why are we "Ron Paul nuts" the way we are? Perhaps you've concluded that he, Ron Paul, and his supporters are just plain crazy, and you haven't given it a second thought. But if you look more closely, there's something so incongruous about this man of clarity and conciseness, that you may wonder. Why does this 76 year old man receive so much support from the young, whether on college campuses or on the internet? He is one of only two presidential aspirants to have actually served in the military, yet is an avowed non-interventionist, saying "we accomplish much more in peace than we do in war." He proposes cuts to military spending and closing bases around the world, argues against the current wars, and is certifiably the most anti-war of all the candidates, yet receives the most money from active duty military. How is it? I would like to try to explain what makes his supporters tick, at least from my perspective.
Ron Paul supporters are usually very vocal about him for one simple reason: If they don't talk about him, no one else will. You likely won't hear his name mentioned on the news or in major papers and magazines as a "top-tier" candidate. If he is mentioned at all, it will be with the caveat that he is 'unelectable' or that 'he has a passionate, but small following'. Ron Paul has polled consistently above others in the race who have received much more air time. Tim Pawlenty, who has now ended his campaign, and former governor of Utah Jon Huntsman are two notable examples. When Ron Paul took second, trailing by less than one percent, at the Iowa straw poll last weekend, one headline read, "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third." Some may believe that a benevolent and wise media should do our vetting for us, picking the preferred candidates and leaving out the electoral dross. I don't think that's how it should work. Let the people decide who is 'electable' by voting for and electing that person.
Ron Paul asks supporters and detractors alike to bring some background knowledge to the equation. When he talks about quantitative easing, he assumes you know what that means. He expects you to follow along when using phrases like, "monetizing the debt" or "liquidating malinvestment." You should know what America did in Iran in 1953, or what happened in Beirut in 1983. Ron Paul prefers substantive debate to monosyllabic slogans. He challenges his supporters to dig a little deeper, read a little more, and I believe they appreciate the challenge.
Some of the fervency has to do with his near prophetic warnings about the bursting of the housing bubble and coming economic collapse as he ran in 2008. It could be his humble and reserved nature. Perhaps it is the fact he isn't very telegenic, and doesn't have the polished style of some of his competitors, but just seems to be telling the truth. I don't know all the reasons for the feverish support he receives but maybe he says it best. "I have my shortcomings, but the message has no shortcomings. The message of liberty is powerful."
I encourage you to learn about Ron Paul and what he believes, and not just from what you hear. If you don't come away always agreeing with him, you will at least have developed a measure of respect.