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Change Yes, Ron Paul No

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Americans want a real political leader, a real change agent.  Ron Paul has never been a change agent.  He is a change-talker.  His claim to fame is voting against legislation, not writing bold legislation to produce change that actually became law. 

Ron Paul’s obnoxious supporters like more traditional political activists can spin and delude themselves about election results.  But the Iowa caucus results could not be clearer: The vast national desire for political change is manifesting itself through support for both Democratic and Republican change-candidates.  Despite Paul being flush with money and having a large number of workers in Iowa, he was solidly rejected as the leading change agent. 

Even with a huge historic turnout of about 348,000 participants, Paul did not attract significant numbers of independents that could easily participate in the Republican caucuses.  They went to Obama, Edwards and Huckabee. 

On the Democratic side, of some 232,000 people that turned out for the caucuses, nearly doubling what it was four years ago, about 70 percent wanted change and went for Obama and Edwards, roughly 150,000 participants. 

On the Republican side, of the 116,000 participants, about 40,000 change-voters went for Huckabee, compared to 11,600 that chose Paul, giving him fifth place.  That 10 percent for Paul was very close to the 9 percent found in a Des Moines Register poll of likely caucus voters (margin of error 3.5 points).  Interestingly, like Paul, Huckabee also wants to eliminate the federal income tax. 

In both parties, change-voters totaled about 200,000.  So Paul received just 6 percent of that large fraction, and just 3 percent of the total of all caucus participants in Iowa.  Paul was first in only one county, Jefferson, with 36 percent. 

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Edwards was absolutely correct when he summed things up this way: “The one thing that is clear from the results in Iowa tonight is the status quo lost and change won.” With all the hoopla from Paul supporters about younger people being for Paul, that’s not what the Iowa results showed.  Younger people seeking change and inspiration flocked to Obama, in particular.  There was no demographic in Iowa that overwhelmingly went for Paul.  Sure, Paul beat Giuliani, but Paul’s effort in Iowa was much bigger than Giuliani’s. 

None of these results will impact Paul’s supporters nationwide.  Earl Ofari Hutchinson wrote a great article on Alternet.org: “Ron Paul is Scary, But Those Who Cheer Him Are Even Scarier.”  He was right when he said: “The scariest thing about GOP presidential contender Ron Paul is not his fringe, odd-ball racial views. It is that people take him seriously.”  But now Iowa has thankfully shown that the vast majority of Americans, especially those seeking political change, reject Paul. 

After losing badly in Iowa Paul said: “The other candidates talk about tinkering with the status quo.  We dont want to tinker; we want to change the status quo.”  He said that his campaign is on the upswing and gaining support among independents, frustrated Republicans and unhappy Democrats.  Just one very big problem: The Iowa results show that all these people are much more likely to vote for other Democratic and Republican change-candidates. 

Paul’s supporters claim that he will do much better in New Hampshire where Libertarian Party members hold a number of offices.  I don’t think so.  Several polls taken before the Iowa results found Paul at just 5 to 9 percent.  Will Paul get a big boost from Iowa?  I don’t think so.  Paul had predicted he could finish in third place in Iowa, and many of his supporters think he will do that in New Hampshire.  I don’t think so.  Paul will likely finish fifth in New Hampshire, in large part because more independents will go to Obama and McCain. 

When Paul first ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, he won just 0.54 percent of the vote.  Iowa shows that his second presidential bid will not produce much better results.  Paul is definitely not tapping in a major way into the national populist movement, major desire for political change, anti-status quo sentiment, or even the anti-Iraq war issue.  Clearly, other Democratic and Republican change-candidates are doing much better.  This reality will not affect Paul’s passionate, cult-like followers that are solidified like cement in their belief that Paul can and should be our next president, something that Paul himself probably never really believed. 

Most Americans can appreciate what Paul’s supporters cannot see: Paul is a change talker who has never shown any capabilities to be a real leader and a real change agent.  His supporters are too clouded by self-delusion to honestly question and understand why the vast majority of Americans seeking political change reject Paul.  They want a revolution and so do I.  Whether any of the current crop of presidential candidates can produce a much needed Second American Revolution is doubtful.  Still, we must keep seeking it.

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Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the (more...)

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You're long on opinion and short on facts. How... by rp haigh on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 7:28:00 AM
Indeed Bush sent many swingers to the Dem tent whe... by Jeanette Doney on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 8:01:10 AM
Your questions about Paul's record of producin... by Mike Klein on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 8:36:16 AM
I think it's a stretch to characterize Huckabe... by Mike Klein on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 8:38:46 AM
I think anyone who can excite people to donat... by Peter Wedlund on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 8:41:26 AM
Ron Paul's 10 percent showing in Iowa illustra... by John Danforth on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 10:03:00 AM
Because Paul has not been successful in his "... by BugMan on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 10:30:22 AM
No matter what is said.  Paulbots ARE scarier... by C.Bid on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 11:17:48 AM
It's annoying to contemplate oil at $100, food... by John Danforth on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 11:35:58 AM
Member for 1 week six days. 24 comments all R... by C.Bid on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 1:02:15 PM
If only the Paul bearers would realize that they h... by S. Ford on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 2:12:52 PM
At least to this point in the thread, I haven'... by Mike Klein on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 3:29:37 PM
This thread is practically a tea party compared to... by C.Bid on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 5:18:41 AM
I heard you speak in Boston...your views on 9-11 w... by Sherry Mann on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 11:38:25 AM
My father used to tell me: “Son, half of Ame... by Mark Bennett on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 12:03:44 PM
Kaneh bosm!!!... by Garry Minor on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 1:37:09 PM
It's evident that you have not done any inves... by Cap'n Stubbs on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 1:00:28 PM
It's evident that you have not done any inves... by Cap'n Stubbs on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 1:01:35 PM
 THE SAME OLD POINT THE FINGER AND THERE THRE... by RICHARD SHADE on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 1:08:46 PM
I know I'm a n00b here but some people need to... by S. Ford on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 2:15:14 PM
 THANK YOU... by RICHARD SHADE on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 1:08:42 AM
The Iowa results for Huckabee demonstrated that th... by Ed Beard Jr. on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 2:23:26 PM
Again, at least on this thread, I don't see an... by Mike Klein on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 3:31:51 PM
The nation has been shown the scam that is the Fed... by john riggs on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 3:40:47 PM
I haven't made a choice yet, I lean toward Edw... by Timothy V. Gatto on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 4:47:54 PM
The political establishment is vast and very power... by C. Terrell Daniels on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 9:28:42 PM
RON PAUL HAS OPEN UP AMERICA'S EYE'S TO ... by RICHARD SHADE on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 7:14:11 AM
The rest of us didn't need Ron Paul to wake us... by C.Bid on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 5:56:39 PM
WILL IF YOU HAVE BEEN A WAKE ALL THESE TIME, THEN ... by RICHARD SHADE on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 12:09:15 AM
It's more productive to just try to do what we... by C.Bid on Tuesday, Jan 8, 2008 at 9:14:17 AM
You missed a few threads teeming with the kind of ... by C.Bid on Saturday, Jan 5, 2008 at 9:31:14 PM
  All people are intitled to their opinion. j... by GUY P. FRASER on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 7:01:16 PM
Unfortunately I find it very hard to agree with an... by Damocles on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 12:05:48 PM
No offense intended, but might I suggest reading o... by C.Bid on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 1:57:42 PM
I am not at all new to this site, it's just th... by Damocles on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 2:14:13 AM
Thank you for laying out your reasoning behind you... by C.Bid on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 11:03:48 AM
That was 40, count them 40, delegates awarded by t... by jacob klein on Sunday, Jan 6, 2008 at 2:05:44 PM
  We already live in a self-reliant society.T... by dc2412 on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 7:51:11 AM
I like your questions...... by C.Bid on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 11:06:03 AM
Ron Paul no, Dennis Kucinich yes. ... by Ty on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 12:09:16 PM
truly a crap article... by mark DiMoney on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 1:13:58 PM
It's merely the author's take on what happ... by C.Bid on Monday, Jan 7, 2008 at 6:47:13 PM
From Rothbard:“Capitalism is the fullest exp... by dc2412 on Tuesday, Jan 8, 2008 at 12:31:03 AM