It always perturbed me that the wide variety of neocon commentators on television regularly pronounce with such fury and unison that Ron Paul "can’t win" but never give any reasons why he couldn’t win the presidential race.
At first, I assumed that these guys would be denying he had a chance up until and including Ron Paul’s inauguration day. And why shouldn’t I assume that? The pundits probably don’t give any reasons he can’t win, I thought, because there aren’t any.
Then I thought more deeply, and found that there are plenty of reasons why Ron Paul can’t be elected. Here are the ten top reasons why Ron Paul can’t win, in the format of David Letterman’s Top Ten List. My logic is flawless. As Bill O’Reilly would say, "you can’t even argue it."
10. Ron Paul is too popular among people who know where he stands. Instant polling numbers among focus groups watching the debates have his popularity at about 75 percent. But Americans don’t vote for people who are that popular. It’s true that George W. Bush got a little more than 50 percent of the vote in 2004 — just barely — but that was a fluke. Bush’s popularity numbers have since sunk back to the traditional 25—35 percent range. Before 2004, not one of the winners in the last three Presidential campaigns even got 50 percent of the vote. Dubya didn’t even win a plurality of the popular vote in 2000. So it’s a clear modern precedent that in order to become President, you need to be unpopular rather than widely popular. Ron Paul simply can’t win if he remains that popular, and there’s no reason to believe people will begin to hate him.
9. He’s got too much money, and nowhere to spend it. It’s great that Ron Paul’s official campaign is raising nearly as much money as the frontrunners. But it won’t do him any good. What would he spend it on? He doesn’t need to spend it on local campaigning, because he’s already got more than 700 Meetups across the country. (More on that in reason #8). Many of these Meetups are printing bumper stickers, fliers, and yard signs without money from the campaign. They are creating phone banks on their own. A few are even making their own media advertising buys. Therefore, the campaign doesn’t need money for any of these things. So the massive Ron Paul campaign fundraising, while impressive, is superfluous at best. Money simply won’t help.
8. Ron Paul is cheating by harnessing the fervor of an army of volunteers, rather than the method pursued by the other candidates — who must pay a huge campaign staff to get their message out. It’s not fair that Ron Paul has excited volunteers who will spend their own money to get him elected, while the other candidates have to pay lots of people salaries to work for their campaigns. So don’t think that the other candidates won’t cry "foul" when they notice that most of Ron Paul’s campaign contributions are "off the books" in these Meetups. Collectively, the Meetups may be spending more money than the frontrunner campaigns. I noticed this myself recently when I attended a Ron Paul Meetup in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. I got handed a wad of Ron Paul bumper stickers from a guy who printed them up himself. Others passed me self-printed fliers and lapel stickers while the whole group passed the hat to print road signs on their own. Do you really think these expenditures were sent in to the Federal Election Commission as a campaign contribution? I doubt it. "We need a campaign u2018fairness doctrine’ to level the playing field," the other candidates will argue, quite possibly to great effect.
7. Ron Paul tells the truth. Ron Paul has a 20-year career in Congress of always voting the way he’s promised, even sometimes on positions that could hurt him politically (See reason #5 for more on this). He’s honest even when it hurts him, and that’s great. But let’s face it, Americans long ago tired of electing honest presidents. They very much prefer presidents who will lie to us "for your own good." This explains why they elected George "Read my lips, no new taxes" Bush, Bill "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" Clinton, and most recently, George "Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone" Bush. Need I elaborate more? The American people long ago tired of honesty! Honesty just doesn’t sell.
6. He’s for lower spending AND lower taxes. Most Americans want lower taxes, so Ron Paul’s halfway there, but they don’t want to cut spending. Americans want a candidate who talks about lower spending but actually increases spending. This explains the Bill "the era of big government is over" Clinton and George "compassionate conservative" Bush presidencies. Of course, Americans also want balanced budgets … and Ron Paul’s philosophy would give them both lower taxes and a balanced budget. But I still think the American people would settle for another candidate who promises to enact a balanced budget precisely four years after the end of his last term — four years after any influence he has over spending ends.
5. Ron Paul is a man of principle. Ron Paul is known for voting against pork even for his own congressional district. He voted against the Iraq war even when the American people were backing it in polling by three-to-one margins. He’s the "1" in more 434-1 votes than all of the rest of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives put together. He doesn’t take congressional pay raises or participate in the generous congressional pension system. While that might lead some people to think it would attract voters to his candidacy, it actually hurts him. Despite the fact that his campaign rallies regularly draw more supporters than any other candidate, these huge crowds have made him a very, very lonely man. Crowds are isolating psychological phenomena. Getting the biggest crowds at rallies only exaggerates the loneliness that people always have in crowds. Psychologically speaking, he can’t take any more of the loneliness of those crowds. No one could. That’s why the other candidates have limited themselves to smaller crowds of mostly salaried campaign officials and government employees.
4. Ron Paul has peaked. He wins first or second place in all of the online polls, so his expectations have been raised too high for him to win a primary. Ron Paul has already lost the expectations game, unless he can somehow pull out 274.8 percent or more of the total vote in the Iowa primary. I’m no mathematical expert, but my accountant tells me it’s mathematically impossible for Ron Paul to pull in that kind of a vote.
3. He’s been against the Iraq war from the start. You might think that taking a position against the Iraq war from the start would help a candidate in a campaign where the American people oppose the war by a two-to-one margin or more. But the truth is, the American people don’t want a know-it-all candidate who has demonstrated foresight. They want a dumb bumbler that they can make fun of; it’s the same social phenomena that caused people to watch the old Jerry Springer show. They want a president who can’t pronounce "nuclear," preferably one who physically resembles a simian.
Also, and perhaps more importantly, the troops are about to pull out a dramatic victory from Iraq. Not with the current surge, but with the post-surge surge. The fact that Ron Paul is raking in more campaign contributions from veterans than any other candidate should not be taken as a sign that the troops want out of there. The troops aren’t voting with their wallets, they’re just getting tanned, rested and ready for the final surge. The campaign contributions are a diversional maneuver designed to draw out al Qaeda fighters, and those weapons of mass destruction Sean Hannity says were secretly stored in Syria. The post-surge surge will also expose the mystery behind Area 51, end world hunger and cure male-pattern baldness. This issue will be a loser for any anti-war candidate in short order. Just wait and see.
2. Ron Paul’s a medical doctor, OB/GYN, and a graduate of Duke Medical School, but not a government health care management professional. Therefore, no American could possibly take him seriously when he gives his opinion on medicine. It’s a good thing that Dr. Paul has not been given an opportunity to comment on any question about health care in any of the Presidential debates, because the other candidates’ expertise on medicine would blow him away. It’s only a matter of time before they embarrass him.
Other candidates like Mitt Romney have experience as part of a "management team" capable of delivering a "wide range of services." Ron Paul has only ensured proper health care for a few thousand individual people. The other candidates know that government policy can deliver much better health care for less cost than country doctors. Take, for example, Boston’s "Big Dig." The Big Dig, the depression of Boston’s central artery, is the largest public works project in history at $15 billion and counting. This could never have been accomplished by the private sector, and the Big Dig construction is almost finished after 10 years and going only 800 percent over budget. It’s true the Big Dig has already killed a motorist who was crushed by the falling three-ton concrete blocks used as ceiling tiles. (How could anyone possibly have foreseen such an outcome from an innovative design of precariously fastening concrete ceiling tiles?) But the truth is that we need government to bring the same cost controls and safety controls of the Big Dig to health care. Ron Paul just doesn’t understand this vital macroeconomic point.
1. George Stephanopoulos says Ron Paul can’t win. George Stephanopoulos may only stand nine inches tall without television camera tricks, but that’s because he’s the only documented Greek Leprechaun in modern history. He therefore wields powerful clairvoyance powers that can shape the future. That explains Bill Clinton’s election and reelection over the seemingly unstoppable Bob Dole. If you don’t have George Stephanopoulos on your side, your cause is hopeless. Fortunately for Boston Red Sox fans, Stephanopoulos withdrew his longstanding "The Red Sox can never win the World Series" edict in October 2004.
Let’s face it, the evidence against a Ron Paul victory is overwhelming. Dr. Paul will never be the "front-Ron-ner." At least, not until he takes his oath of office at his inauguration.
Thomas R. Eddlem [send him mail] is a radio talk show host, and a writer for Pro Libertate, AntiWar.com, and — of course — LewRockwell.com. He is also Legislative Action Director for RightSourceOnline.com. And he’d probably be a Ron Paul backer if he thought Dr. Paul had a chance to win.