Let them run

The Compass - - OPINION -

There’s a se­na­tor in the U.S. that is an icon to some, an oddball to oth­ers. His name is Ron Paul, and he has be­come the most con­sis­tent, de­ter­mined voice for lib­er­tar­i­an­ism in that coun­try and be­yond.

Lib­er­tar­i­an­ism is a be­lief in per­sonal lib­erty taken to its ul­ti­mate ex­treme. If elected, Paul would move to le­gal­ize drugs and pros­ti­tu­tion, al­low states to im­ple­ment their own leg­is­la­tion on con­tro­ver­sial so­cial is­sues, and prac­ti­cally elim­i­nate so­cial pro­grams.

He would cut the num­ber of govern­ment de­part­ments in half and with­draw U.S. troops from around the world, in­clud­ing those in­volved in peace­keep­ing.

Fur­ther­more, he would re­move govern­ment re­stric­tions to pre­vent mas­sive cor­po­rate mo­nop­o­lies, and elim­i­nate en­vi­ron­men­tal over­sight.

For most, it seems like a strange, fairy-tale world he en­vi­sions. So it’s odd that ev­ery four years, Paul makes a strong show­ing in Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions.

Other Repub­li­cans don’t take him se­ri­ously. Even the me­dia ig­nore him. Com­edy Cen­tral’s Jon Ste­wart high­lighted a string of news re­ports about straw polls that men­tioned ev­ery can­di­date but Paul – even though he of­ten placed sec­ond or third.

“How did Ron Paul be­come the 13th floor in a ho­tel?” Ste­wart quipped.

One thing the Repub­li­cans don’t do, how­ever, is dis­qual­ify him from the race. As much as his fans adore his straight-shoot­ing style, Paul never man­ages to make it into the fi­nal stretch. The more main­stream vot­ers get to know his rad­i­cal poli­cies, the lower his num­bers sag.

Like any party, the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in this prov­ince have had their share of dark-horse hope­fuls – un­known can­di­dates who emerge from the shad­ows ex­pect­ing to charm their way past the party’s old guard.

And twice in the past few years, the party has cho­sen to bury them, rather than let them dig their own graves.

The lat­est, Wayne Ben­nett, would have had a long climb to the top if he’d been al­lowed to stay in the race. He had al­ready alien­ated the party, ac­cus­ing it of sab­o­tage and com­par­ing his on­line crit­ics to ev­ery­thing from mob­sters to sui­cide bombers.

It’s the lat­ter ref­er­ence that spurred the party to kick him out of con­tention Thurs­day. In Twit­ter com­ments, he com­pared his de­trac­tors to sui­cide bombers, and sug­gested Mus­lim women and boys can’t be trusted.

Dis­taste­ful, to say the least, but that should be some­thing for party mem­bers to de­cide at the bal­lot, not the ex­ec­u­tive.

Out­spo­ken blog­ger Brad Ca­bana met the same fate. Al­though he was a long shot by any stretch in his run for the PC lead­er­ship in 2011, the party found a way to dis­qual­ify his can­di­dacy. And so, like Ben­nett, Ca­bana continues to be the ban­ished man, rather than some­one who would have likely been trounced fair and square.

Per­haps, for once, such can­di­dates should be left to the mercy of del­e­gates.

— Orig­i­nally pub­lished in the Fri­day, April 5 edi­tion of The Tele­gram

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