There is a tendency to imagine politics as a straight line, going from Left to Right, or statist to individualist. I think, though, that it would be more accurate to imagine it as a curve, with the two ends sometimes straining to meet each other. Ron Paul’s libertarianism, which includes a Truther strain, deep hostility to Israel and Jews, support for Cynthia McKinney, and a healthy dollop of paranoia, is closer in tone to the far Left than it is to the Republican Party with which he’s allied himself.
There’s no doubt but that Ron Paul has good ideas. Up to a certain point, his libertarianism is appealing, insofar as he talks about small government and greater individual freedom. And then he veers into crazy land, and ends up sounding exactly like Van Jones or some other paranoid anti-American guy on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Nevertheless, crazy or not, he’s got fans in Iowa. Before Paul starts congratulating himself on his compelling message and amazing traction, he might want to look at Iowa’s political legacy, which goes back to a radical Progressive who held views remarkably similar to those that Paul spouts now. In other words, when it comes to Iowa, this ground’s already been fertilized.
UPDATE: For a more detailed analysis about the myriad problems with Ron Paul, check out this Dorothy Rabinowitz article (which may or may not be behind a pay wall). As I’ve said, Paul has some good ideas about small government and they shouldn’t be discounted. Those ideas, however, are inextricably intertwined with an often amoral world view that must be considered in discounting Paul as a serious candidate.