Recruiting Disciples

We got to sit down with GOP contender Ron Paul last Friday for 45 minutes of discussion in the office. I videoed all of it, and now it is on YouTube. And it’s on fire.

The first clip has more than 3,500 views. I posted it three days ago. The other two clips (each one about 15 minutes) have almost 800 and more than 400 views. They both went up yesterday. They are all high definition, so they took around six hours to upload. Combined with the holiday weekend and it didn’t happen in an instant.

But the disciples flocked almost instantly. People love Ron Paul. His message resonates. Newt and Giuliani got around 100 and less than 50 views, respectively. Ron Paul is getting 35 and 70 times as many views.

But you have to wonder whether all that fervor can translate into a candidacy, and whether a Paul 2012 candidacy would be electable come next November.

You can hear me ask RP that in one of the segments. He says he is electable because his time has come, and the issues he’s championed for 30 years are now in vogue. He also said he is willing to be bipartisan, reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on certain legislation.

But Paul’s steadfast adherence to his values is both a good thing and a problem. While it is refreshing to talk to a politician who doesn’t seem like he’s shifting with public opinion, the only time Ron Paul works with the opposition is when they see eye to eye with him. He is uncompromising in the most literal meaning of the word. That unwillingness to compromise means he often doesn’t, even if at times that makes him ineffectual.

But his honesty and integrity draw supporters. It’s probably much easier to get behind a candidate like Paul than one like Romney, who changes his positions repeatedly on important issues, but it isn’t as easy to get a guy like Paul into office. Despite three decades in Washington, Paul is still an outsider. Romney would work within Washington’s power structure. Paul is looking to tear that structure down. It would be pretty easy to see how easily a bipartisan effort to stop Ron Paul could take shape.

And while that may seem all the more reason to support Paul (everyone says they hate D.C. politics, even if they only ever see it from afar), the fact is his libertarian ideology isn’t the system that led to America’s past successes, and like any other -ism it might just fail. It would be scary to scrap the model of government that has held true for the last 100 years on the promise of a Texas doctor. No one really knows what effectively denuding the federal government would do, but suffice to say that would be real change.

But even if he was elected, even with the recent flare-up of the Tea Party and other limited government factions, the president doesn’t have that power. He would make some changes, and they would galvanize the opposition, and four or eight or twelve years later the pro-federal government forces would retake the White House. The U.S. government was built to lumber along, not to make leaps. The ideology of an -ism would break across it’s bow, and the disciples would lose their shepherd.

Just look at the disciples who elected Barack Obama. They had faith. They believed. Yes we can? Not in Washington, no you can’t.

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