by Jonathan Geissler

Last week, the first of three presidential debates took place at the University of Denver in Colorado. President Barrack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney discussed key domestic issues while the event drew more than 67 million television viewers—a record for political events. However, in watching the debate, some viewers were left skeptical, fully aware that both candidates have been anything but true to their word in the past. On Wednesday, President Obama and Governor Romney rehashed their respective parties’ talking points, but there was little beyond that in the way of substance.

Understandably, voters to a greater extent are now identifying themselves as independents or moderates, having grown weary of and disillusioned by the vicious political model of left versus right partisanship and the bickering that comes with it. In voting, many now follow the principle of “the lesser of two evils,” which states that when faced with two bad choices, one is not as bad as the other and should therefore be chosen.

We are sensibly prone to think that the responsible thing to do is vote for an inferior candidate because the opponent is a greater threat. However, if everyone continues to think in this manner, this prevailing trend will never end, and the widely discussed and ultimately favorable “third party” will never come about. Besides, common sense should tell us that voting for the “lesser” of two evils is still voting for an evil after all.

Instead, we should yearn for someone in power who does not adhere to beliefs simply to appease his or her party platform. We should demand higher standards than that. We should hunger for a candidate with consistent beliefs and convictions; someone you feel you can really trust; someone who is sincere, genuine, intellectually honest, and who speaks from the heart.

Such a person exists. In fact, he was in politics for nearly forty years, and he was a candidate for president up until May of this year. His name is Ron Paul.

Yes, Congressman Paul is out of the running. There is no chance of a movement large or influential enough to push Paul into a position to even remotely contend for the presidency. However, there remains a hard-core base of ardently driven supporters for the 77-year-old from Texas. The country’s current situation has encouraged people to begin thinking about the possibility of a legitimate third party. This would have Washington’s political establishment feeling the winds of change, receiving a firm message that Americans are unhappy with the status quo. This political reconstruction would no doubt begin with Dr. Paul.

This past election cycle, Paul quadrupled his 2008 Republican Presidential primary vote total, finishing third with over two million popular votes and third in delegates with an estimated 190. He accrued 21.4% of the vote in the Iowa Caucus and 23% in New Hampshire. This high turnout baffled Republicans who questioned why more and more voters were so captivated by Congressman Paul, given his nonconformity to either side of the aisle. In truth, however, this is one of the major factors that drew politically disenchanted Americans toward him.

His position against the ongoing war on drugs, for example, resembles that of a socially liberal ideology, as does his opposition to the federal death penalty. However, he maintains a staunch pro-life position on abortion and a Conservative view on education. Actually, if there is one thing that rings true of his stances on social issues, it is that they promote the right to life, individuality, family, and personal liberty—all inherent components and desires of our human nature. Paul’s pro-civil liberty views have ignited a freedom movement, drawing support from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike. Regarding foreign policy, Paul differs most from the Republican norm. While others vying for power sometimes sound too eager for foreign intervention, Paul urges caution and discretion. His message is quit simple: “Bring our boys home.” He was the only candidate this year promoting the idea of immediate withdrawal from the Middle East. The validity of this political posture is only magnified by the fact that his campaign had received more contributions from military personnel than President Obama and all the other nine original GOP candidates put together.

With regard to economic policy—what many consider to be Paul’s greatest strength—it can be argued that there has not been a more fiscally Conservative member of Congress. He has always believed in a strong free market system that the people, not the government, sustain. He has long spoken out against extravagant government spending that is increasing the burden of debt on future generations. Having forecast the economic collapse and the current debt crisis, Paul has shown an understanding of the complexities of the economy. He promised to veto any unbalanced budget and has consistently voted against raising the debt limit. Unlike Romney and our current commander-in-chief, he would look to begin the process of eliminating the income, capital gains, and estate taxes completely. Not satisfied with the smaller cut proposals, Paul had vowed to cut one trillion from the annual federal budget in his first year alone, and he is adamant that the wars waged in other countries via foreign interventionism have added greatly to the debt.

The costs of wars in the Middle East since 2001 have bypassed $1.3 trillion. According to a Pentagon official, the amount of money the United States military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan is $20.2 billion. The US maintains over one thousand military bases abroad, and only Paul has proposed to close a significant number of them. Critics of Paul argue that this is dangerous policy for the sake of national security, especially during times when foreign threats from the Middle East are high. However, he does not propose cutting defense spending, but rather reducing superfluous military spending on ground troops in distant lands. For example, there are still more than 90 operating American military bases in Germany remaining from World War II.

Dr. Paul is also known for his criticism of the Federal Reserve, believing it to be another leading cause of the current debt crisis. Destructive in that it encourages the printing of more money for unnecessary deficit and government spending, Paul has spoken against its policies throughout his thirty-seven years in politics. One would be hard-pressed to watch a rally speech without hearing the thunderous applause that greets him at the mention of the Fed and the chants from throngs of far-traveling supporters: “End the Fed! End the Fed!”

Dr. Paul argues that the agency has unwarranted control over the economy with its complete oversight of the money supply. Permitted to print as many dollars as it wants on a whim, it has unchecked, unprecedented power to control the economy. Its governing body is not elected by the people, and is therefore unaccountable to them. Paul believes we must expose the secret manipulation of currency.

The first audit of the Fed in fact revealed $16 trillion in bailouts to foreign banks and corporations in less than three years—all accomplished without a voting process in any chamber of Congress. As a proponent of the Austrian school of economics, Paul understands how fluctuation of the dollar with its inevitable inflation hurts the working poor, whose meager incomes become worthless, and the elderly, whose savings are diminished at retirement. While President Obama has stated that he does not believe that “it is good policy to second-guess the Fed,” Paul has been the only prominent politician determined to dismantle it.
In addition to a strong political message, voters take into account the character and integrity of their candidate. Prior to entering politics, Paul earned a living as a medical practitioner and obstetrician-gynecologist, delivering more than 4,000 babies and providing care for those in need, no doubt an indication of his compassion and humanity. It is reasonable that so many young voters flocked to Paul, who is currently settled in with his wife in a modest Texas ranch.

During times when flip-flopping politicians have become the norm, Paul has been consistent and unchanging. Rather than spewing talking points and zingers in an attempt to attract followers and prompt applause or changing his stance on the issues in order to fit an audience, he speaks his mind, having never altered his message throughout the course of his political career.

This past summer, on a crisp morning in front of a swarm of passionate, screaming supporters, then-presidential candidate Paul exclaimed, “This country is in a revolution! They’re sick and tired of what they’re getting, and I happen to be lucky enough to be part of it!” This is the quintessential quote that represents the persona of Dr. Paul: humble, passionate, and visionary. He is not a particularly eloquent orator, albeit with double Teleprompters, like our current president. He lacks the marketability that Republican contender Mitt Romney has in his favor. But the optimal candidate transcends slick good looks, oratory skills, and strict partisan adherence.

Americans should demand someone who is trustworthy with a relentless message that makes sense for this country. We want to feel a sense of fulfillment when we cast our vote for a President who honors the vision of our country’s founders and speaks from the heart.

The old mantra that every vote counts certainly applies this November. The election essentially comes down to Obama vs. Romney. A vote for Ron Paul on Election Day might send a message, but at this point, would not change the direction of the country or its administration. Voters must still vote to uphold the values enshrined in our constitution.

However, the ideas of Ron Paul have awakened Americans to seek a candidate who will uphold the constitutional guarantees to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He has awakened the enthusiasm of both seasoned and newly registered voters, many of whom recognize that the economic crisis and the erosion of our liberties require that we vote against the incumbent. With the understanding that time is required to build a credible third-party initiative, perhaps 2013 will see its beginning. Imagine the possibilities initiated by the ideals of this unassuming Texas physician.