"Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years and woke to find the world had passed him by. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, woke up one morning recently to find that perhaps America has caught up with him."
It was October 2007 when reporting for MSNBC, Tom Curry wrote those words. Yet by Spring of 2008, it was apparent that not all of America had yet caught up to the Texas Congressman's perceptive concern for the nation's fiscal and monetary solvency.
The nation's two biggest political parties had nominated John McCain and Barack Obama, U.S. Senators with a clear record of advancing the fiscal status quo in Washington- a decades-long spending spree on credit, with the promise that future generations of Americans would pay back the trillions that Washington had borrowed. Indeed, both major parties' nominees had voted for the notoriously unpopular bailout of irresponsible Wall Street bankers.
Within the space of a year, however, the resurgent liberty movement sparked by Ron Paul's presidential bid would form the nucleus of a broad coalition of anti-tax, anti-spending, anti-bailout activists calling themselves the "Tea Party." The spirit and substance of their concerns and public policy agenda would be the most dynamic force in the world of U.S. national politics leading right up to and straight through the 2010 midterm elections. A majority of Americans have finally caught up to the vision that united so many disparate groups around Ron Paul's 2008 message, and now speculation abounds as to the Congressman's plans for 2012.
Even though Ron Paul has remained silent on his 2012 plans, it would seem that his followers have already decided for him: that the Texas Congressman and two-time presidential candidate will make another bid for the Republican Party's nomination in 2012. RonPaulForums.com for instance, a major web destination for Ron Paul's supporters, which played a central role in orchestrating his record-breaking multi-million dollar "money bomb" fundraisers in 2007, has an entire subforum entitled "Ron Paul 2012" for users to discuss and coordinate a 2012 presidential campaign.
This January, a RonPaulForums user posted a picture of Ron Paul's family from the Ron Paul Family Cookbook, in which all members are wearing sports jerseys that say "RON PAUL 12." The second man from the left in the back row of the picture is Jesse Benton, Ron Paul's grandson-in-law, the Senior Vice President of Ron Paul's non-profit, Campaign for Liberty, and a former campaign manager for Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul, in his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.
One user responded: "Jesse wouldn't do this unless Ron was going to run, it's just that simple. This confirms it!"
Ron Paul also seems to be spending plenty of time these days in Iowa, whose early presidential caucus makes it a critical stop for presidential contenders. In late October of last year for instance, Ron Paul left the following message on his official Facebook page:
"Spending three days in Iowa - great rallies with young people and campaign rallies with Liberty candidates. Great reception so far, I might have to come back soon :)"
The Politico also reported Monday that over the weekend Ron Paul accepted an invitation to speak in the Iowa presidential lecture series, which is organized by The Family Leader, an Iowa PAC with a big influence in Iowa's presidential caucuses. The Politico's Senior Political Writer Maggie Haberman wrote that the move furthered Ron Paul's "2012 presidential tease."
If Ron Paul does run for president in 2012, he will bring many of the Tea Party's ideas to the table. Voters will want to know what a "Tea Party" president would do in Washington. To answer that question, Congressman Paul published a very detailed public policy essay in March 2010 entitled "My Plan for a Freedom President: How I would put the Constitution back in the Oval Office." While detailed and policy-specific, the essay is also clear and easy to understand- it was written for and originally published in Young American Revolution, a campus magazine for college students.
Agree or disagree with Ron Paul's "Tea Party" agenda, he differs from most presidential hopefuls in the stark clarity of his policy positions, as contrasted with the vague platitudes and broken promises that most politicians offer on the campaign trail. Not only are Ron Paul's principles clear, he has a decades-long record of consistently legislating on the basis of these principles as a U.S. Congressman.
With a possible Ron Paul candidacy, what you see is what you get.