No one can deny the nascent phenomenon of the liberty movement in America. It is riding a populist wave against government-insider deals that are making the rich richer and the poor poorer and sacrificing individual liberty in the process.
While all the candidates now pay homage to the movement, the real question is this: Who can best ride this wave? Michele Bachmann, a one-term congresswoman from Minnesota? Or Ron Paul, a 12-term congressman from Texas?
Here are the pertinent points. Bachmann is a new face and is polling well, at least for now. Her best chance — indeed, her only chance — is in Iowa. A win there and she can conceivably pick up delegates in the South as well.
Her critics describe her as a less cerebral version of Sarah Palin. Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you, and that means that with each success the media scrutiny or vetting will increase.
The real concern about Bachmann is her timing. Is she serious about running for president after only two years in Congress? Moreover, activists in the liberty movement decry her record. As a legislator in Minnesota she allegedly proposed $60 million in earmarks.
In Congress, in 2007, she appropriated $3.7 million in federal pork. She is a poor poster girl for freedom from big government. A report shows Bachmann’s counseling clinic got $30,000 in state and federal subsidies. A family farm received a $260,000 federal farm subsidy.
And here is the big one: In 2008 she voted for Nancy Pelosi's stimulus bill.
Ron Paul, by contrast, is not only the father of the modern liberty movement — the man who made it fashionable to believe in the constitution again — but he has been consistent over a lifetime and seemingly incorruptible.
By comparison, Bachmann looks almost opportunistic. As a tax attorney she allegedly went after a taxpayer earning less than $10,000 a year — and at a time when Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, wasn’t paying HIS taxes.
In contrast, Ron Paul has been the champion of the little guy, arguing for years, for example, against government taxing of waitresses' tips.
Bachmann has appeal to social conservatives. She is a Christian, a Lutheran, but then so is Ron Paul, who was Lutheran in upbringing and now attends a Baptist church.
Paul refuses to promote his faith for political purposes but told a reporter in 2007 that he “believed in Jesus Christ as his personal savior” and sought God’s guidance in many of his important life decisions. He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 51 years.
Consider the following. Ron Paul has money and a ground game. And he has both in spades. Having a ground game this early has not been seen since the Reagan campaign of 1980.
In fact, one could argue that those two things are all that matters at this stage in the process. Romney and Huntsman have money and with it they will be able to hire foot soldiers but they represent a return to George W. Bush’s version of a Republican ”conservative,” which means $500 billion annual deficits instead of $1.2 trillion.
Well, you say, but Bachmann is tied for first in this week’s Iowa poll. Keep in mind, Rudolph Giuliani was the front-runner at this same stage in the process last time. And his eventual, total delegate count at the Republican National Convention was zero.
Only a few months ago, Donald Trump was soaring in the polls. Which brings up the subject of vetting. Trump was not ready for the nation to learn all about how he built his casinos and all the details of his private life. With each success for Bachmann, the scrutiny will increase.
There is a reason why most candidates have to run for president numerous times. But Ron Paul is vetted.
Finally, there is the whole thing about making a decision and sticking to it. Let’s say you move to Bachmann because you are impressed with her polling numbers. And then the media exposes some story that hits her hard and the numbers drop. Or Ron Paul spends some television advertising and his numbers climb. Will you move back?
The problem with moving from candidate to candidate is that each time you move you lose.
Bachmann ’s showing in the polls has one explanation: media exposure. She has borrowed Ron Paul’s views and his tea party, and she is appealing to the masses with his arguments. The media have given it all some air time, something consistently denied to Ron Paul.
But don’t worry, don’t panic. The fact that the public has responded is a good thing, an encouraging sign. Remember, the media did its worst against Ronald Reagan in 1980, calling him a racist and a warmonger and he eventually prevailed. His cause was to save America from totalitarian communism. Our cause is to save it from ourselves.
Stay true. Be positive. It’s still early. Ron Paul’s message will get out.
Meanwhile, Paul is now poised to pull off an upset of historic proportions. I, for one, am not going to miss it.