I'm stunned by the way that mainstream newscasters continue to overlook Ron Paul. He's running second in the New Hampshire polls after Mitt Romney, but commentators can only talk about Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich-- even when those polls are right up on the screen. The blindness (evident on NBC Nightly News, Chris Matthews, and NPR) feeds conspiracy theory-- and may only foster the movement that Paul is leading. A couple people have pointed me to this video above, in which CNN reporter Dana Bash says she's "worried" that Ron Paul will continue to hang in there through the nominating season.
Meantime, here are two realists arguing that while they couldn't vote for Ron Paul, he presages an important shift in our politics.
Pat Lang says Paul is too old to be president, but likens our historical moment (as I have done) to the 1850s, when the slave power was regnant and it required a new party to break it.
IMO what you are seeing in the highly disciplined mass of young people who support Paul is the commencement of a powerful movement that will result in a political party.
In 1856 the Republican Party ran its first presidential candidate. Paul should run as a representative of a new party.
By the way, Lincoln, who of course ran on the Republican ticket in 1860, repeatedly attacked a "conspiracy" of the slave power inside our politics in the 1858 Douglas debates, a race he lost. He said the conspiracy corrupted Whigs and Democrats, who coordinated matters like the Dred Scott decision behind the scenes. He wanted the debate out in the open.
Then here is Steve Walt's view of Paul as a precursor:
Paul comes with too much baggage to persuade many people to follow his banner, and his views on other issues provides the media and other mainstream groups with an excuse to ignore the more interesting parts of his message. If by some miracle Paul managed to win the Republican nomination, the general election would probably look a lot like Johnson's crushing defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964.
But that historical analogy got me wondering. Contemporary political historians argue that Goldwater's defeat in 1964 laid the foundation for the modern conservative movement, which came to fruition with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Paul has done surprisingly well during this primary season, and his views clearly resonate with a sizeable core of young and fairly well-educated voters. Is it possible that Paul's brand of foreign policy restraint just needs a better champion, one who is both more broadly appealing but also not saddled by so much poisonous baggage? In short, just as Ronald Reagan eventually built on the Goldwater movement and made its core principles appealing to many Americans, might Ron Paul's views on foreign policy be awaiting the arrival of a candidate (in 2016, or maybe 2020) who can put them in a more attractive package?