Stewart appeared genuinely confused as to why the mainstream media has wholly ignored Paul and treated him as an unviable candidate. He asked Paul:
Why do you think that is? You ran in 2008. You had a nice strong showing. You’ve improved upon that. You came in a very close second in the Ames Straw Poll. What is it about your candidacy that they so easily dismiss and are they right when they saw Ron Paul is not an electable figure?
Paul responded by indicating that he is obviously electable as he has been elected to 12 terms in the House of Representatives. As to why he believes the media has disregarded him as a legitimate contender, Paul answered, “I think some people don’t want to hear the message because it’s a threat to them and I’m a threat to the Establishment. Some though, they just flat out don’t understand what freedom is all about. They don’t understand how the market works. And they don’t care about monetary policy. They think we have to continue to fight wars. They don’t understand the message.”
Throughout the interview, Paul indicated that while winning the Republican nomination as well as the presidency is certainly a goal of his, getting the message out in the mainstream media and mainstream political forum is even more important, and that goal has already been a successful one. Over the course of the Republican debates, GOP contenders have begun to talk about things that at one time were not part of the mainstream political vernacular, such as challenging the Federal Reserve, adhering to the Constitution, etc.
Stewart took the opportunity to question Paul on his stance on the drug war, a philosophy that has delighted Paul’s libertarian base but ostracized his more conservative supporters.
According to Stewart, Paul did an excellent job “schooling” the public on the failure of the drug war, but Stewart contends that Paul went too far when he defended legalizing even harder drugs such as heroin.
Paul remained steadfast, however, and said, “I do talk about freedom of choice and how ridiculous the war on drugs is. We spent almost a trillion dollars on this war in the last 40 years, and I fear the war on drugs a lot more than I fear drugs themselves, and I do think drugs are dangerous … but the war on drugs which violates civil liberties, that is the real danger.”
Stewart asked Paul if perhaps his philosophies rest on far too much trust of the American people and of the market. Stewart said, “These regulations of cocaine and heroin, or the financial market, didn’t come in a vacuum. They came out of real-world demands.” Paul responded, “But you’re still trusting people to regulate them then. You’re trusting the bureaucrats and the politicians and you’re not their best friend. You want to deliver all this decision making to [federal agencies] — that doesn’t work very well.”
Paul asserts, however, that if the federal government were somehow reduced to what it was supposed to be limited to, the people have to accept all of the ramifications of that transition.
“If we can get your freedom back, just remember that the decisions you make affect yourself and you can’t come crawling to the government for help,” Paul warns.
Later in the interview, Stewart agreed with Paul’s assertions that people are willing to come forward and help their fellow man, and that the federal government does not have to embark on charitable endeavors because people are more than willing to be Samaritans. Following this line of thought, Paul said, “A free market system is the only true humanitarian system.”
Stewart and Paul went on to cover a number of other topics, including healthcare, the benefits of a free market system, and the sincerity of politicians. Paul’s responses were well received by both Stewart and his audience.
By the end of the interview, Stewart declared that Paul is "one of the last consistent politicians that we see in this world.”
Stewart’s response to Paul is a good indicator of the political climate in which the Texas Congressman is currently operating. Though Stewart has been an outspoken liberal and supporter of President Obama, he has been extremely receptive to Paul and his ideas, and that seems to be indicative of a movement growing among a number of Democrats and Independents as well.
If Paul could persuade Establishment Republicans, it seems his presidency would be all but certain.
Photo: Ron Paul (left) talks about his book, End the Fed, with host Jon Stewart