I don’t agree with everything said in this story, but it does a pretty good job of putting the long term revolutionary aspects of Ron Paul’s campaign into proper context. As I’ve said before, when the 2012 elections are over, candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will be nothing more than asterisks in the history books, while Ron Paul will remain the most important political figure of our era. Reports CBS News:
As Paul’s team will openly admit, his presidential run has doubled as an effort to advance the Libertarian movement. And on that measure, there are reasons to already view it as a success.
Start with the vote totals… Paul has consistently won more votes in the 2012 cycle than he did in his presidential run four years ago. In Ohio, he went from 49,027 votes in 2008 to 111,238 votes in 2012; in Michigan, he went from 54,434 votes four years ago to 115,712 votes in this cycle. He more than quadrupled his vote total South Carolina, tripled it in New Hampshire and doubled it in Georgia.
Throughout the campaign, Paul has attracted the sort of crowds that also-ran candidates rarely see, including the 4,600 people that turned out to see him in Champaign, Illinois, on Wednesday. Meanwhile, his passionate supporters have continued to pour money into his campaign, even as Paul’s odds of winning the nomination have gotten ever longer.
“It does seem like this is a real step forward within the Republican Party,” said John Samples, who directs the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank. Noting that Paul’s supporters tend to be younger and previously disengaged from the GOP, he added: “He’s reaching a new constituency, and he’s doing it in the context of a party that has concerns about the future…”
Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman, said he does see evidence that Paul’s ideas are making a difference.
“There is a big debate right now inside the Republican Party on getting out of Afghanistan,” said Benton. “Look at the monetary issue. You’ve got candidates across the country campaigning on sound money, the gold standard, auditing the Federal Reserve. You’ve got internet freedom – Republicans came together and they opposed SOPA.” Benton also pointed to GOP efforts to cut spending, though he said such efforts have not gone nearly far enough…
Benton stresses that the Paul campaign is not giving up on winning the nomination, though he concedes that Paul is not going to get the 1,144 delegates necessary to secure it before the GOP convention in August. He argues that if no candidate secures the nomination before August, Paul will ultimately triumph at the convention.
“A brokered convention is now our stated goal, and winning the nomination for Dr. Paul at said convention will require extensive politicking,” he said. “We plan to head to a Tampa with every political bullet we have loaded in our gun, ready for the convention fight…”
No matter what happens, Libertarians seem committed to moving the Republican Party toward their beliefs over the long term… Samples, of the Cato Institute, says Paul may ultimately be remembered as the man who moved the Republican party away from the George W. Bush model and into the future.
“There’s generational change going on here, and perhaps as time moves on you’ll see a different kind of Republican who’s closer to him,” he said. “And as you look back, you might say he kind of foreshadowed what happened.”
Benton’s message to the party, meanwhile, is simple: Adapt or die.
“The party’s at a crossroads,” he said. “They’re either going to start to embrace real limited constitutional government – and I think a lot of people are – or they’re really going to struggle nationally.”
“If they want to shrink this down into a little teeny tiny minority party,” he added. “They can keep catering to the neoconservatives.”