How do you run for the Office of President of the United States and not see yourself as president? Ron Paul, Republican candidate for president, third-place finisher in the Iowa caucuses, said just that in an interview that I saw on Wednesday morning. “No, Not really…,” he said. Of course, that was just what the national news media aired from what he said. No matter, he was probably being honest, because the Iowa Caucuses, although the first “test” in the election process, are not historically very good at picking a winner. They don’t even determine how many delegates a candidate will get at the national convention.
If you don’t know what a caucus is, and even if you don’t care, I’m going to tell you in a sentence. It’s a meeting of (1,774 separate meetings in Iowa) voters who stump their candidate for a few minutes and when the speeches are done, the attendees write their choice on a piece of paper. The main purpose of these meetings is to elect delegates to the county convention, where they then pick delegates to the district and state conventions, where they finally pick delegates for the Republican National Convention. So maybe Ron Paul, and the winner by 8 votes, Mitt Romney, and the second-place finisher Rick Santorum, know how unimportant the Iowa results really are.
But are they? According to FOX News, only one candidate has received the GOP nomination when they didn’t finish in the top three in Iowa since 1972. That candidate was John McCain in 2008. He didn’t win the election, we know, and only two candidates that placed first in the Iowa caucuses have won the GOP nomination when an incumbent was not in office. That was in 1996, Bob Dole, and 2000, George W. Bush. But George W. Bush was the incumbent, so is FOX News wrong by stating, “In the last five GOP primaries without an incumbent, the winner of the Iowa caucuses went on to win the nomination just two times – in 1996 and 2000.” Did I find an error in a FOX News story? Nah.
So Ron Paul is spending millions of dollars running for an office he doesn’t see himself winning. Ah, national politics…or local politics for that matter.
As Town Clerk for the town of Sahuarita, Arizona, I was in charge, sort of, of the local elections for Town Council. I say “sort of,” because Pima County actually ran the election, put in the machines, counted the votes, and posted the results. My responsibility was largely to verify that the candidate met the requirements to be on the ballot and didn’t violate election laws while campaigning. Campaigning was mostly the placement of signs all over town, on every available billboard and intersection. Signs purchased from campaign funds that were highly scrutinized by my office. Reports had to be filed at specific intervals. We’re talking about campaign expenditures in the hundreds, not tens of thousands or millions, and most, if not all, of these funds came out of the pockets of the candidates themselves.
The candidates, with minor exception, were retired individuals who were looking for something to do to pass the time. One candidate told me, while walking through his desert garden one afternoon, that he was now in “God’s waiting room.” The comment has stayed with me. At seventy-some years old he was basically waiting to die, so now finished with the garden, he needed something else to pass the time. If I had asked him if he thought he would win the election, I’m sure he would have said “No, not really.” It just gave him something to do.
Did we have campaign violations? Of course we did. The biggest was the removal or defacement of rival campaign signs. Almost on a daily basis, a candidate would come into my office and complain about their campaign signs being removed or worse. Could I do anything about it? No,even if I wanted to. All I can say is I never removed one, although I was tempted, and I never saw anyone else do it.
Ron Paul isn’t doing this to pass the time, I’m sure. Although old enough maybe, he hasn’t entered God’s waiting room yet. He wants to get his policy message out to the American people. But he knows he can’t win the office, so it seems pointless to hear about returning to a constitutional form of limited government, isolationist foreign policy and minimal taxation, which is probably the one thing that makes him a third-place finisher in the Iowa caucuses. We all want that. Ron Paul thinks Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional, although he knows that it would be impossible to remove them. He doesn’t favor emergency disaster aid to states and has voted against it. He thinks the entire fiscal, tax, and monetary system needs to be reformed. He would eliminate the “Infernal” Revenue Service, eliminate federal income tax, and the estate tax. Wow, he’s got my vote. How effective do any of you think he would be getting these radical ideas through Congress? Yeah, radical.
My x-father-in-law once told me, during tax time, that the government should be sending us a bill. We shouldn’t have to figure out, or worse, pay to figure out, how much we owe in federal tax. They should send us a bill. I agreed then, and I still do. I also propose that the solution to the whole “problem” could be a flat tax. Everyone pays the same amount through payroll deductions during the year. The government would have more money than they could spend, the tax lawyers would stop making a fortune, the budget for the Internal Revenue Service would be a tenth of what it is, and everyone would feel confident that they have paid their fair share. Why is it that the corporations and the rich pay less as a percentage than the rest of us?
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it’s reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
Ron Paul didn’t say that, although he could. Abraham Lincoln said it in the 1860’s. He was somewhat of a prophet don’t you think? Did he get it right? I think he hit the nail on the proverbial head.
The United States is not a democracy, by the way. Although applauded as one every day, we are really a republic. Remember that phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, “…and to the republic for which it stands?” The framers of our constitution were afraid of a democratic government. They didn’t want the average citizen to vote and make policy which is what happens in a true democracy. In a republic that power is put in the hands of a group of elected representatives of the people. The constitution does not allow for public referendums on issues. We, the people, just vote for the candidates that represent “us.” Usually rich lawyers with agendas that are designed to improve their lot in life. Not representative of me at all.