Well, I did some more reading about Mr. Paul. Interesting fellow. His spiel of hewing strictly to the Constitution has been ignored for years, considered too crackpot. But not now. Why? Here's a couple of reasons from the last two days (and I didn't even have to dig that hard to find them):
1) NY Times (11/28) reported that the Supreme Court upheld a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow home searches without a warrant.
San Diego County’s district attorney has a program called Project 100% that is intended to reduce welfare fraud. Applicants for welfare benefits are visited by law enforcement agents, who show up unannounced and examine the family’s home, including the insides of cabinets and closets. Applicants who refuse to let the agents in are generally denied benefits.
The program does not meet the standards set out by the Fourth Amendment. For a search to be reasonable, there generally must be some kind of individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. These searches are done in the homes of people who have merely applied for welfare and have done nothing to arouse suspicion.
According to the editorial, the 9th Circuit believes that the home visits aren't really "searches", you see.
2) TSA, our buddies at the airports, will require airlines and travel agents to collect full names, gender and BIRTH DATES so they can check them against the terrorist watch lists. They believe that by doing so there will be less mismatches. Passengers will not be required to submit these answers, however that noncompliance may result in longer delays in the airport if their name matches one on the watch list.
Apply for welfare and you give up your Fourth Amendment Rights? Allow even more of your private data to be released? Will the agencies, airlines and TSA value that data, keep it secure? Will they do a better job than, let's say, Ameritrade or any of the other corporations who hold your private information but seem to "misplace" it on occasion?
Ron Paul's message would have seemed pretty bizarre a decade ago, but right now it's making sense to a lot of people. I'm still skeptical that returning to a minimalist government will fix stuff, but the man does have his moments. He does not believe we should be meddling in the affairs of other countries. Iran (remember the Shah?), Iraq (we used to love Hussein), etc. etc. Haven't had a great track record there. He suggests the use of Letters of Marque, which apparently is mentioned in the Constitution. Of course, we went to war against Iraq instead.
He's against the embargo against Cuba since it really hasn't done one damned bit of good. He is definitely pro-life, but believes that's not the purview of the government to regulate abortion. That's a State level issue.
Paul would like to ditch out most of the government agencies (Federal Reserve, IRS, etc.) And a few cabinet posts. I doubt that will happen. Bureaucracy is alive and well in DC. They'll do anything to keep The Firm running as is, including throwing the country under the bus.
Paul cites Washington, Jefferson and some of the other Founding Fathers, using their wisdom as his message. Fresh from a fight with a tyrannical king, they were worried about a standing Army and dangers of an overly strong government. Hence all the personal freedoms mentioned in the Constitution and other documents. The same ones that are now vanishing day by day.
Will Paul make to the White House? I doubt it. Still, his strong showing should be a wakeup call to those in power. There are a sizable number of Americans who are not happy with the direction their country is headed (last polls were in the 70% range) and the daily erosion of freedoms is beyond troubling. Some call us paranoid. I rather like to think it as "wary". We're not seeing that the two main parties are doing much to help the situation. They're too worried about their jobs. Paul's message is simple: Return to a Constitutional America. Whether his plans would make things worse, I'm not sure. At least they'd be different than the status quo, which I think is part of his appeal.
I'll continue to wander through the other candidates' positions as time goes on. I've already given Romney a few negative points for his repeated comments about not having a Muslim in his cabinet. Of all people, you'd think Romney would understand that religion is not the measure of the person. His answer should have been: "I really don't care who a person chooses to worship. If he or she is the best candidate for the job, they're in." But then that would open-minded. That particular trait is sadly lacking in DC these days.
12/7 - I've done a bit more research and realize that Mr. Paul and I do have a number of issues we disagree upon. One in particular: assault rifles. Now this will not earn me love from many firearms owners, but I actually support a ban on assault rifles (Mr. Paul does not). I have always supported a ban. I've actually fired one, an AR15. They are one sweet firearm. They are not for hunting. They're not ideal for home protection unless you're holding off an Army. I understand Mr. Paul (and others') concern about banning one firearm will lead to banning them all. That's always a risk. Still, assault rifles are designed for military and police use. That's where they should remain.