After the spectacle that was the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the country turned its attention to St. Paul, Minn., where the Republicans coronated their own nominee, John McCain, in a four-day celebration that was a tense affair as the party attempted to shed its affiliation with President Bush and prepared itself to accept the candidacy of a senator whose voting record and moderate views have disenfranchised the conservative base for years.
Across the river in Minneapolis, a whole different party took center stage. The crowd was not composed of delegates but of anti-government and anti-war libertarians who gathered for the Rally for the Republic, a massive grassroots effort organized by Ron Paul’s incredibly successful Campaign for Liberty, an Internet outreach movement that has raised millions of dollars in just three months of existence.
The Texas representative who dazzled crowds while campaigning for president on the Republican Party ticket this past primary season has, much like Barack Obama, inspired a new generation of youth voters and reinvigorated not only the libertarian contingent, but also many Republican and independent voters angry over the failed policies of both the Bush administration and Democrat-controlled Congress.
Paul’s tough rhetoric towards government interference and his extreme opposition to the war in Iraq have earned him a cult-like following that has started the calls for a revolution. But it is the congressman’s conservative ideologies in his views of the economy and foreign policy amidst a recession and uncertainty abroad that has drawn attention from the mainstream media and undecided voters alike.
In July, I had the opportunity to attend the Ron Paul March on the mall in Washington D.C., where thousands gathered to hear the man they call Dr. Paul. The former OBGYN turned acclaimed statesmen spoke on the lagging economy, government intervention and the housing crisis, displaying the certain zeal that has defined his nearly 20 years in public office.
For me, it was refreshing to see a politician so in-line with the core issues that most affect the American public and one with an impeccably consistent voting record in Congress. As I looked around the crowd, I saw men, women, college students, blacks, whites, and Hispanics all captivated by a man who they feel is their only voice left in Washington.
Reminiscent of Barry Goldwater’s youth movement in 1964, this was not just your typical conventional protest campaign but also one that represented a larger ideal: a renewed fight against the establishment.
As the Beatles said it, perhaps it is time for a revolution against what we have become all too accustomed. Maybe then, we might just discover true, lasting change.