Four years ago, Ron Paul was completely marginalized by the political-media establishment. His contrarian views on the increasing centralization of power in the hands of a tiny minority residing in Washington and on Wall Street, endless military intervention abroad and economic intervention at home, the fiat money perpetuated by the Federal Reserve, the ongoing attacks on personal liberty, and the destructive war on drugs were literally mocked by other presidential candidates, debate moderators, political pundits, and the press who reported the stories.
Four years later, those topics are all at the center of the political debate.
Rick Santorum, who recently stated "Government needs to be big if people don't order their lives correctly," voted five times to increase the debt ceiling and claimed it's ok for states to outlaw birth control, now claims he's fighting for freedom and against big, intrusive government.
Newt Gingrich, who supported the death penalty for those caught with more than two ounces of marijuana, yet who admits he smoked marijuana in college and whose personal life contains example after example of 'cut-and-run' behavior, claims he'll return the country to an era of personal responsibility and freedom.
Mitt Romney, the Red Candidate of the One Percent, claims he'll restructure the economy to allow the middle class to thrive once again.
And President Obama, the Blue Candidate of the One Percent, the President of legal assassination of American citizens, the escalation of the War on Medical Marijuana and the largest growth of government (and government debt) in the history of mankind, is suddenly talking about consolidating government departments, scaling back the military, and using that money to protect domestic programs.
Tea Party favorite South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who stated only two years ago that "you can't be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative" and is on the record saying that gays shouldn't be allowed to teach at public schools, now says "The new debate in the Republican party needs to be between conservatives and libertarians."
Thirteen states "are seeking approval from their state governments to either issue their own alternative currency or explore it as an option. Just three years ago, only three states had similar proposals in place." The Tenth Amendment Center details ongoing states' initiatives concerning the Transportation Security Administration, the National Defense Authorization Act, insurance mandates, intrastate commerce, environmental protection, hemp freedom, and Real ID, among others. Discussions of issues such as federalism and nullification are back on the table.
...and this brief survey is a tiny sampling of the churning of ideas going on.
These ideas are not just taking hold in the hallowed halls of government. Ron Paul's single-digit support in the 2008 election cycle has grown to more than 20% of voters in the Republican primaries this time around. This is hardly surprising, given that only 35 percent of Americans support the use of military force in Iran, fifty-four percent of Americans fear that government actions meant to improve the economy will actually cause harm, sixty-two percent of Americans believe that stimulus spending is a failure which simply created more debt, and a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana use.
These are not new positions for Dr. Paul. Since his decision to enter politics in 1971, he has been focused on the issues of crony capitalism, sound money, personal liberty, and reduction of empire. The following video features his speech to the House of Representatives on April 24, 2002, where he accurately predicted the growing turmoil in the middle east, the collapse of the housing bubble and the resulting destruction of the economy, the rise of the security state at the loss of personal liberty, the growth of class warfare, and other ancillary events. Headlines and video clips from the intervening years illustrate the accuracy of his predictions. His closing statement: "I have no timetable for these predictions, but just in case, keep them around and look at them in 5-10 years. Let's hope and pray that I'm wrong on all accounts. If so, I will be very pleased." Unfortunately, he has nothing to be pleased about from that perspective; his predictions have proven eerily prescient.
Please take six minutes to watch this amazing work. I'll still be here when you get back.
The rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements, both disgruntled by the damage caused by crony capitalism although they are not fully aware of the source of their frustration, can be traced to the issues long-championed by Ron Paul, and the grassroots liberty movement created and empowered by his candidacy is not going away at the end of this election cycle, having only grown stronger since the last election cycle.
The Republican nomination is still up for grabs. In the latest national Reuters/Ipsos poll, Mr. Paul garnered 21 percent of the votes, besting Mr. Gingrich (19) by 2 percentage points and Mr. Santorum (18) by 3 percentage points. Only Mitt Romney polled better, at 29 percent. And while several recent polls show that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the only Republican candidates who poll favorably against President Obama, a recent CBS poll showed that independent voters, the important demographic in November, favor Ron Paul over Obama by seven points.
What this column illustrates above all, however, is that regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, regardless of who wins the Presidential election in November, the real winner has already been determined.
On the battlefield of ideas, Ron Paul can claim a decisive victory.
So let me ask again: "What has your candidate done to change the world?"
Bonus video: From the first link in this article, in case you missed it.