Considering his surprising 3rd quarter fundraising numbers and the media attention that has followed for Ron Paul, it is clear that he has a chance (however small) to win the Presidency. Should this libertarian reverie somehow become a reality, here's how I imagine it might happen.
The Paul campaign continues unloading its newfound cash on radio and television ads in the early primary states, especially New Hampshire. Dr. Paul heeds Concord Monitor's Mike Pride's suggestion and moves to the state, invigorating the already strong grassroots support in the "live free or die" state. The New Hampshire legislature votes to move the primary up to December 11. On that day, shocking the MSM and their "scientific" polls, Ron Paul wins the New Hampshire primary with 35% of the vote. CNBC.com editor Allen Wastler calls Paul supporters "Real REAL good." The victory puts Dr. Paul on the map, and the Republican establishment begins to panic. Increasing numbers of disillusioned voters who had not planned to vote realize that Paul has a real chance to win and come out to the polls in droves. New Hampshire's extremely early primary date allows thousands upon thousands of independent voters in other states to change their party affiliation to Republican in time to vote for Dr. Paul in their states' primaries.
While the other undistinguishable Republican candidates write off Paul's New Hampshire victory as a fluke and continue to jockey for votes, Paul's libertarian message continues to stand out like a sore thumb, unifying his support and enabling him to win in many of the 23 Super Tuesday primaries on February 5. He wins several more states down the homestretch, and as the delegates mount, Paul's victory becomes assured. The Giuliani, Thompson, and Romney campaigns fold up their tents. Sean Hannity's hairline recedes three inches. Ron Paul officially wins the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination.
With Paul's victory, chaos erupts at Republican Party headquarters. The reality sinks in that either Hillary Clinton, the Mother of All That Is Not Republican, or Ron Paul, who won't preemptively nuke Iran, will become president. Neocons past and present come out of the woodwork to test the waters for an independent presidential run. Newt Gingrich becomes the most serious candidate but ultimately decides against running, realizing that 1) he won't win, and 2) running as independent would erode voter confidence in the Republican Party, and 3) A Hillary presidency would be great for Rush Limbaugh's ratings. So the Republican big wigs reach a consensus and decide to nominally back Paul while secretly rooting on Hillary. Fox News suddenly becomes fair and balanced in its election coverage.
Meanwhile, the MSM shrugs off Paul as a "protest candidate," calling his victory "a resounding indication of voter disenchantment with the Republican Party." The MSM proceeds to roll out the red carpet for Hillary Clinton, vastly underestimating the public's widespread negative perception of her.
When Focus on the Family's James Dobson endorses Paul for President, giving him the Christian Right's support, no one at Hillary's campaign headquarters worries. But when Paul starts getting endorsements from various anti-war groups (for his consistent stance on Iraq), civil liberties groups (for his anti-Patriot Act stance) and even the AARP (for his opposition to taxing Social Security benefits), the Hillary Machine goes on the offensive. Attack ads are launched in an attempt to paint Paul as a bigot, a hillbilly, a moron, a conspiracy theorist and everything else. The ads change few minds however, as Paul's impeccable voting record, his unwavering commitment to the Constitution, and his grandfatherly charm speak volumes about his true character.
Nevertheless, heading into Election Day, the MSM has Paul trailing Clinton by 8–10% in "scientific" polls carefully worded by Frank Luntz. On election night, the New York Times doesn't bother to wait for all precincts to close, let alone report, smugly going to press with the headline "Clinton Defeats Paul."
Late on election night, the pundits stare incredulously as the results roll in showing wins for Paul in state after state. While Paul holds his own in the Heartland, benefiting from an unexpectedly high voter turnout driven by a vast Hillary Fear that the polls failed to pick up on, he shocks many by winning in traditionally blue states like Oregon, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. When all is said and done, the final electoral tally shows Paul winning 280 electoral votes to Hillary's 258. George Stephanopoulos thanks the Lord he is not a betting man. Ron Paul has won the Presidency.
Maybe it's wishful thinking. Maybe it's a dead-on prediction that would put me on par with Nostradamus. Either way, imagining how a candidate truly committed to upholding the Constitution could become President sure is a pleasant thought.
Benjamin Tyler Fenton [send him mail] is an economics major at the University of Colorado studying in Chile.