Here are the October 2011 Visionary Awards:
Best judge of leadership talent in the field of technology: John Sculley, who fired Steve Jobs from Apple.
Best strategic thinker on the world stage: George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq after 9/11.
Best advocate for public-private partnerships: business leader Ray Lane, who praised President Obama’s investment in Solyndra.
Now let’s look at a real visionary, although his nickname, Dr. No, doesn’t evoke that quality. Nor does his appearance, his articulation, or his even his attitude. His name is Ron Paul. His vision for the United States is the only one that can pull our country out of its deadly tailspin. It’s the only one that will not crash and burn.
Let’s consider three objections to Paul’s candidacy:
He’s too old. Yes, that’s right. He’s 76, as the press repeatedly notes without adding that he’s too old. We want our leaders to look younger than he does. We want that vigor. Let’s let the candidate decide if he or she has enough vigor for the job. We should base our vote on other qualities.
He’s not a real Republican. No, he’s not. He’s a libertarian. If we had an electoral system that gave anyone outside the two major parties a chance, Paul could run under a different label. I can tell you, though, if the Republicans were to select Paul as their candidate, he would suddenly become a real Republican. Republicans who say he’s not a real Republican don’t know what a real Republican is. Voters decide what’s authentic in their leaders.
He’s not electable. See the general argument above. No candidate is electable until voters offer their support. To say a candidate is not electable is just to say you like another candidate’s chances better. You can make a candidate electable by offering your support, and by persuading others to offer theirs.
His ideas are too far out of the mainstream. That’s right. Those ideas about a minimal state lie outside the mainstream. Who decides what lies within the mainstream? People committed to the status quo, that’s who. Who changes the mainstream’s direction of flow, to bring new ideas into the center? People committed to change.
These self-fulfilling prophecies are a key tool for keeping people out of office. Journalists and commentators feel important when they can decide an election’s outcome before the first voter has submitted the first ballot. Yes, Ron Paul has a tough fight going into 2012. Each of the other leading candidates has some notable strengths. The fight shouldn’t be tougher, though, because we repeat meaningless rationales to explain why he can’t win the election. Would you want to lose the best candidate in the race for reasons that have no substance?
Polls prove to be the highest authority in the pre-primary portion of any campaign. If your numbers are low, you aren’t going to make it. The percentage of Republicans who favor Paul for the nomination is high enough to gain him some notice, but too low to gain more than that. Standard advice for the candidate: you’re stuck in the middle of the pack, I’m afraid – it’s time to recalibrate your message.
Recalibrate your message is what you do if you’re Mitt Romney. Ron Paul’s positions are well known and not subject to recalibration. The key thing about the polls is that they focus on likely Republican voters. Paul can win only if he draws support from libertarians and independents as well as active Republicans. He has to appeal to people who don’t normally think of themselves as members of the Republican party. He has to appeal to people who know that without real change, we’re finished. No one can tell right now how well opinion polls have captured this group’s sentiments.
Don’t dismiss Ron Paul. Everyone likes to back a winner. No one likes to back a horse that finishes way back. In a horse race, though, your bets don’t influence the outcome. In an election, voters’ decisions about whom to support are the only determinants of the outcome. Analogies to a horse race don’t apply to an election at all, unless you spend all your time looking at polls, and thinking about why they come out the way they do. We voters don’t want to think about horse races. We want to think about how to save our country.