If I was a Republican, I'd support Ron Paul. (See a Ron Paul interview on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGGOiv7sA4w. I just picked this one but there are many more, enough to give you the full flavor of who this candidate is.)
I don't agree with Paul on much. He's running as a Republican but he's actually a Libertarian. I call myself a semi-Libertarian but my instincts lean more Progressive. I believe in an activist government that tries to help citizens who need assistance, whether that is providing special education to developmentally disabled children, offering financial aid to those who have fallen on hard times, regulating corporations to protect us from their penchant for greed, passing laws that force us not to discriminate against our neighbors, be they African-American, female or gay. Well, the list goes on and on.
But having said all that, I do agree with Paul that our government has become too big, not that being bigness is bad in and of itself, but with bigness comes corruption and that's our main problem. Big money breeds big corruption and legislation by lobbyist. And that is in both parties although, like everyone else, I generally tend to agree more with the lobbyists on "my" side, like unions and environmentalists, so they don't bother me as much.
In his interviews, Ron Paul seems to be sensible enough to realize the country couldn't change on a dime. Lessening the size of government would be a long-term project but, of course, he wouldn't have a long term. In fact, he'd be lucky to have two short terms. Maybe in that time, he'd set America on a mildly libertarian course.
But maybe not, because my favorite thing about Paul is that he's an equal opportunity antagonizer. He'll provoke the liberals with his ideas about doing away with the I.R.S. (which means no money for their pet programs) but he infuriates the conservatives when he airily states that we should end all foreign aid, keep only a modest army for self-defense and stop being the world's policeman. If he ever got to be president, he'd make so many people mad, they probably tar and feather him and run him out of town on a rail.
Right now, that's our second big problem. We have divided ourselves into warring camps, sending our legislators out to jump in their foxholes, the better to lob grenades at the other side. Ron Paul might actually bring bipartisanship back to Washington as Republicans and Democrats banded together to keep him from putting his ideas into practice.
What I'd be most interested to see, if I could be sort of floating somewhere in the ozone layer watching what happened in a Ron Paul administration, would be if and where people would move. Because Paul is only interested in the feds. Any responsibilities not specifically given to Washington in the constitution would be reserved for the states so they would, more or less, be free to build whatever kind of society desired by their citizens. So, if California wanted to have a generous welfare state and Texas decided to do away with welfare altogether, so be it. If California approves gay marriage and Texas bans it or if Texas wants to encourage all its people to carry guns while California forbids them from doing so, fine and fine. (Not sure where that would leave the gay gun-lover but these are the choices we'd all have to make).
You wonder, would the working poor all leave the the pure conservative states to find a place where their kids would have health insurance and free lunches? Probably not, because they don't do that now. Most of us just put up with the way things are wherever we live but maybe under a Ron Paul, the divide between state philosophies would grow so wide and deep, we'd find ourselves making those leaps. If that happened, who would wealthy Mississippians hire to cook and garden and work in the convenience stores when everyone has moved to California? Who would start a business in California when they could go to Texas and not pay taxes? It just might turn out that we'd have to admit we all need each other and neither side is more important than the other.
I do believe Ron Paul has absolute integrity. I don't think he would be seduced by Big Money to compromise his principles. I'd respect the Republicans if they nominated Paul. But that's not going to happen. It's going to be Nutty Newt or Plastic Mitt or Dingbat Bachman or Sanctimonious Santorum or Huntsman Who? (Raisin' Cain is already gone) - God, help us.