Heading into Iowa’s first GOP presidential primary Jan. 4, 2012, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) shows uncanny interest in the Hawkeye State, where plainspoken Midwesterners usually pick mainstream candidates. Paul’s Libertarian ways appeal more to the radical fringe than religious conservatives, more concerned about banning abortion and gay marriage than abolishing the tax code and Federal Reserve Board. “Not only would we audit the Federal Reserve, we may well curtail the Federal Reserve,” Paul told cheering crowds at a rally in a small Iowa city last week. “End the Fed,” Paul tells curious onlookers, not sure what the Fed does to keep banks from going broke and promote U.S. economic growth . If Paul gets his way, there’s would be no vehicle for rescuing cash-strapped financial institutions. Paul would have troubled banks file for bankruptcy.
Paul’s Republican colleagues aren’t sure why Paul appeals to disenfranchised voters. At age 76, he’s by far the oldest in the field of seven GOP candidates. “Paul appeals to people whose knowledge of major issues is superficial (and) he sees conspiracies where there are none,” said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group. Paul caters to disenfranchises voters looking for radical change next November. Despite getting Osama bin Laden and ending the Iraq War, some folks don’t see the difference between from President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Both Obama and Bush supported the Afghan War and Wall Street bailouts. Paul’s anti-War message resonates with a large group of voters fed up with the U.S. government paying for foreign wars when they can’t pay for domestic programs here at home.
Paul’s message plays well with the Tea Party, a loosely knit group of anti-tax conservatives, seeking, by whatever means, to shrink the size and influence of the federal establishment. Paul, a physician by training, vehemently opposes to Obama’s health care program, designed to insure some 30 million Americans. “It’s sort of like me living on the Gulf Coast, not buying insurance until I see the hurricane,” Paul told breast cancer survivor Danielle Lin, opposed to her getting health insurance. “Insurance is supposed to measure risk,” said Paul, showing the kind of insensitivity and heartlessness that would expand the growing U.S. homeless population. Paul advocates an immediate $1 trillion cut to the federal government, abolishing the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce, Interior and Housing and Urban Development, all of which serve the needs of ordinary citizens.
Whipping up doom-and-gloom, Paul appeals to apocalyptic thinkers, seeing the end of the world in sight. Paul blames Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernake for just about everything, including creating hyperinflation through the Fed’s treasury bill buy-back program called “quantitative easing.” Paul accused Bernanke of trying to bail out the Eurozone with U.S. tax dollars. He wants the Fed audited and ultimately abolished, letting free market capitalism run its course. Had Paul gotten his way in 2008, most major U.S. financial institutions would be bankrupt. Paul doesn’t believe in the Fed’s intervention in the U.S. economy. He’s hard-pressed to propose some viable alternative. Paul follows the dubious Austrian Economics School that says central bank intervention leads to hyperinflation and devaluation of the currency—both of which haven’t taken place.
Only by unfettered free markets, according to Paul, can the private sector begin to create real, non-government jobs. “I’m afraid of violence coming,” Paul told a group of 600 in Bettendorf, Iowa, referring to government preparations to control anarchy and rioting. While there’s nothing wrong with looking into crystal balls, Paul’s visions are almost always apocalyptic, warning about hyperinflation, currency devaluation and street violence. “This monetary crisis is well-known by the international bankers. They want the U.S. to come in and solve this problem,” said Paul, referring to fixing the Eurozone. “The dollar will probably eventually disintegrate and be taken over. But I don’t want the U.N. issuing currency,” making more non-sequiturs than a back-ward nutcase. Paul likes to fuel endless speculation about the dollar collapsing and new reserve currency emerging at the U.N.
Paul’s statements hold just enough kernels of truth to satisfy conspiracy nuts, showing no real knowledge, only enough paranoia to win votes. While there’s no hyperinflation yet, there’s just enough speculation on the dollar’s collapse. When the Eurozone encountered its own economic crisis, it wasn’t the dollar that lost value. Using words like “probably” and “eventually” deteriorate give Paul a way of manipulating like-minded profits of doom-and-gloom. Paul wants the dollar to return to the gold standard, something that would quickly bankrupt the nation. Without a central bank to print money, the country would go back to the financial panics that plagued the nation before creating the Federal Reserve in 1913. Paul’s approach, like the Tea Party, seeks the destruction of the federal establishment. Returning to colonial rule is Paul’s way of ending the federal government.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.