Ron Paul revolution sweeps CPAC

The Texas congressman’s small government philosophy was a big hit.

by Jacob Swede

At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, a symposium of the rightâÄôs most vehement factions, all the major contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination sallied forth to give speeches and take contributions. But the Republican favorites were overshadowed by the elfin Texan Ron Paul, who emerged victorious with 31 percent of the vote. Perhaps you remember the name? Ron Paul was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, competing with the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain. He had plenty of forgettable moments, almost all of them culminated in poorly masked chortles from the other on-stage Republicans. His most memorable moment during the Republican debates occurred when he stated that American interventionism was a primary motivator for the Sept. 11 attacks, which has now become an accepted analysis. Immediately after making this claim, Giuliani foisted in some of his favorite Republican platitudes, calling the statement âÄúextraordinary.âÄù It certainly was an extraordinary statement for a Republican. Neoconservatives had been so busy spouting red, white and blue firecrackers that they managed to overlook facts crucial to responsible policymaking, particularly their partyâÄôs preference for government decentralization. Over the course of the election, Mike HuckabeeâÄôs policies gelatinized into RomneyâÄôs, and RomneyâÄôs into McCainâÄôs until the Republican presidency became a nomination by attrition. All the while, PaulâÄôs synthesis of Libertarianism and Reagan Republicanism provided stalwart contrast. He was a little Texan with a big penchant for Federal Reserve auditing, bailout blocking and non-interventionist foreign policy. Paul eventually lost, but he had managed to ignite a firestorm of enthusiasm among Internet-centered voters and became a main inspiration for one of the fastest-growing and active Republican submovements, the Tea Party. Since then, the Tea Party has incorporated fringe Republicans and Libertarians, indulging the inanities of ReaganâÄôs unrealized dream of the minimal state. Although Paul and his followers have been used to playing jester in the Republican court, the trend indicates a change is coming. Sarah Palin was the first to catch on to this shift, recently attempting to usurp the Tea Party from Paul. Incredibly, the Tea PartyâÄôs favorite pin-up girl finished with an abysmal 7 percent at the CPAC, a mere one point higher than our own Gov. Tim Pawlenty. This is no surprise. Even a delegation as deluged with ignorance and self-imposed blindness as the Tea Party was able to see the irony of Palin to critique the teleprompter while reading zingers off her hand. By fiat of the Tea Party, Palin has now fallen further out of favor with the Republican Party, almost into obscurity. When Republican favorites decide they want to pose a threat to PaulâÄôs swelling support, and by extension a stronger run at the presidency in 2012, they have to start making legitimate concessions to Tea Partiers. If the CPAC straw poll is any indicator of the Republican Party, neocons have much to fret. For now, it appears traditional Republicans, like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who finished second with a disappointing 22 percent, will need to capitalize on the Tea Party movement or risk reciting tunes out of the jesterâÄôs songbook come 2012. Jacob Swede welcomes comments at [email protected]