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Noah Fitzgerel Headshot

The Perplexing Popularity of Ron Paul

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His answers in debates always receive thunderous rounds of applause, he is the most popular candidate among the GOP youth, and he is a fervent libertarian. He's not Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or Rick Santorum. He is Ron Paul.

Why the big hullabaloo over Rep. Paul? According to Harvard's Institute for Politics, out of all of the candidates in the GOP field, Paul is the most popular among my generation.

I cannot find such a fact more troubling.

Paul's administration is the one that would benefit my peers the least. Why? The answer is that he is a libertarian. His rhetoric, which praises a lesser influence of government over corporations and businesses, is attractive to the anti-establishment, idealist tendencies of the youth. However, what I truly believe makes Paul so popular is our generation's lack of understanding of the true nature of libertarianism.

Paul is a libertarian running under the Republican name. According to Paul, he is doing so because running under a third-party label would not give him a viable chance to attain the presidency. So, what is libertarianism? Here's a little political philosophy 101.

Someone who is a libertarian adheres to a strain of political philosophy called libertarianism. Libertarians believe in a school of thought that creeds an absolutely limited government whose function it is to solely facilitate the honoring of contracts, protect man's unalienable rights and maintain a sense of law. According to libertarians, everything else should be a private function.
This school of thought is attractive to those who have money due to its lack of any sense of social welfare. Entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid would be scrapped in such a government. Under libertarianism, where there is no form of government regulation on any entity whatsoever, the rich would be able to spend their money (the form of influence in a libertarian society), and grow the amount they have, in whatever way they choose.

As for the poor? Well, for lack of a better expression, they are screwed. Public education does not exist in a libertarian society, nor does the concept of subsidized housing, minimum wage standards or union bargaining rights. Basically, if you're rich, you're going to stay rich, and if you're poor, you're going to stay poor.

Ideally, a libertarian might tell you, a poor person could accumulate wealth by successfully navigating the market. By successfully holding a job, he or she could receive a salary that is based off the standards of the market.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

An example would be the 2008 financial crisis. By no means was the U.S. government operating under a libertarian system, but in essence, Wall Street was. Investing companies enjoyed a regulation-free system in which they could handle their funds in any way they chose, so long as investors saw positive returns. The rest was history. Companies bought tens of thousands of sub-prime mortgages that made vast amounts of money in the short run, only to fall flat in the long run.

And now my generation is telling me that they want a president who will attempt to deregulate America's financial system? Does history not repeat itself? Give me a break.