Aaron Berk is a computer engineering junior and Mustang Daily political columnist.

At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., a poll was conducted of the participants, of which one of the questions was “Thinking ahead to the 2012 Presidential election, who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for President?” The leader was Ron Paul, who received 31 percent of the vote, followed by Mitt Romney at 22 percent and Sarah Palin at 7 percent. This news was received in various ways, with both excitement and disappointment.

Ron Paul is not a new face in politics. He has been in the House of Representatives off and on since 1976, and ran for President once as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988 and once as a Republican Party candidate in 2008. He has authored more than a dozen books in addition to being a medical doctor and father of five.

Dr. Paul is not a typical Republican. He was found to be the most conservative of all 3,320 members of Congress that have served between 1937 and 2002 according to an article published in the American Journal of Political Science. He has a markedly different foreign policy than what the Republican party is known for today: he believes in a non-interventionist foreign policy and believes we should bring our troops home. According to Dr. Paul we have too many foreign bases in too many countries (we have more than 700 bases in more than 130 countries). He believes we have too many entangling alliances and believes we should withdraw from both NATO and the UN.

I believe his standing in the CPAC poll shows what has been a growing approval of Dr. Paul’s policies. Dr. Paul was inspired to get into politics back in 1971 when President Nixon closed the “gold window.” As Dr. Paul said, “After that day, all money would be political money rather than money of real value.” Over the last forty years since Dr. Paul got involved in politics, we have seen the dangerous effects of the Federal Reserve fiat currency system compounded over time – leading to the economic conditions we find ourselves in today. It is at a time like this when people look for explanations and ways of improvement, and many people are finding that in Dr. Paul’s message.

Dr. Paul has been amazingly consistent in his ideas, all the way back to his beginnings in politics. He talks the talk but also walks to walk, so to speak. In a time when I think we are struggling with politicians who don’t keep their promises, Dr. Paul is a refreshing breath of fresh air.  He has a record that is virtually incomparable to any other current politician’s. In fact, I think if you wanted to find a political record close to Dr. Paul’s, you’d probably have to go back to the founders.

Part of what has come out of his winning of the CPAC poll has been somewhat of a belittling of the results. Allegations have been made by some that the poll wasn’t accurate or writing off Dr. Paul as crazy. His ideas are not crazy – some might disagree with them, but that doesn’t make his ideas crazy. 2,395 votes were cast in the CPAC poll, which is the highest in recent years; last year only 1,757 people voted and the year before that it was 1,558, so I’m not sure what basis people have when they say the poll wasn’t accurate. In fairness, students were overrepresented in CPAC as compared to the typical makeup of the Republican party. I think this shows that the poll is telling us the future direction of the Republican Party. Students have also been overrepresented at past CPACs.

The whole Tea Party movement is a another sign that people are looking for some changes outside of the two political parties in their current states. Dr. Paul represents some thinking “outside the box” of the Republican party. With our political system it is very hard for a third party to have a chance at a Presidency or a majority in either the House or Senate, so I think the inevitable course of action is to reform one of the existing parties, and it seems the Republican party is being subject to pressures of reform. There will be kickback from the supporters of the current form of the Republican party, but I think time will show the reformers to be the victors and they will help lift up our country.

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