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Taco John
12-26-2007, 11:43 AM
The audacity of nope

By: Jeremy Lott and W. James Antle III
Dec 26, 2007 06:02 AM EST

Ron Paul's supporters aren't afraid to open up their wallets to aid the Texas congressman’s long-shot presidential bid.

On Dec. 16, they donated more than $6 million in 24 hours, easily shattering the $4.3 million single-day fundraising record they set on Nov. 5.

Relying on 200,000-plus mostly small donors, Paul has brought in more than $18 million this quarter and may lead the Republican field in fourth-quarter fundraising.

In return for their generosity, Paul is offering his enthusiastic backers ... absolutely nothing.

At least that's how it would seem according to the conventional “pay to play” logic of big-time campaign fundraising.

The maverick libertarian Republican isn't promising ethanol subsidies to Iowans or free health care to New Hampshirites.

Paul opposes all kinds of corporate welfare and voted against the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Nor is Paul championing a federal bailout of cash-strapped home buyers or mortgage lenders. His solution for what ails the country is minimal taxes and hard money, not federal guarantees or easy credit.
Where other presidential candidates claim their policies will simultaneously create prosperity and financial security for millions, Paul actually says on the stump, "I don't want to run the economy. I don't know how."

Over his 10 terms in Congress, Paul has earned the nickname "Dr. No" for voting against just about every trendy piece of legislation to come down the pike.

During the Bush administration, he has opposed the No Child Left Behind Act, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Internet gambling ban, amnesty for illegal immigrants and, above all, the war in Iraq.

Paul won't even vote to award congressional medals to Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa or Rosa Parks, instead offering to donate his own money in honor of these dignitaries if his colleagues will pony up as well.

Yet Paul inspires the most enthusiastic grass-roots following of any presidential candidate in either major party. The secret to his appeal? Call it the audacity of nope.

Paul's approach is vastly different from that of his opponents. Over the course of this campaign, other aspirants have taken a more expansive view of government's capabilities.

Some have promised to “end” cancer in 10 years, others to eradicate global climate change or make all children above average in school.

One front-runner pledges to “roll back” hostile foreign governments before they can threaten the United States.

Another promises to unleash “weapons of mass instruction” to promote young students' appreciation of the arts.

And these are just the Republican candidates for president. ROFL Once it was the Democrats who put their faith in the messianic state.

Nuts to all that

Today the party of Barry Goldwater and Reagan has gone from considering government the problem to believing that when "somebody hurts, government has got to move." Washington can supply everything from universal health insurance coverage at home to universal democracy abroad.

Paul and his supporters say nuts to all that.

However alluring many voters may find Uncle Sam's embrace, those who have watched the federal government fail at everything from nation building to mail delivery have a different vision.

Tax reformer Grover Norquist summed it up with the phrase, “Leave us alone.” The late soul singer James Brown said it better: “I don't want nobody to give me nothing/Open up the door; I'll get it myself.”

As the federal government has grown larger, it has become even less competent at its core functions. National defense is being crowded out of the budget.

The borders remain porous. During Hurricane Katrina, even basic public order could not be maintained.

Difficult as it may be to believe in an era of resurgent liberalism and compassionate conservatism, for many Americans, being free from the government is more attractive than getting something free from the government. To them, the promise of liberty isn't just worth $6 million; it's priceless.

W. James Antle III is associate editor of The American Spectator. Jeremy Lott is author of “The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency.”

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1207/7551.html