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Column: Republicans Missed Opportunities By Dismissing Ron Paul

This story was written by Nathan Dixon, Indiana Daily Student

The man crusaded against the Federal Reserve System, hinted about a plan for a North American Union and claimed that the Federal Income Tax was unconstitutional.

When Ron Paul ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, he inspired legions of followers and for a time was raising more money than John McCain.

I can truly say that Paul was the phenomenon of the Indiana Universitycampus last year.

Paul carried on his campaign after it was really over, securing plenty of votes in primaries long after McCain was the presumptive nominee and holding a Rally for the Republic during the Republican National Convention that attracted almost as many people.

Alas, last week Paul decided to divvy out his influence in the least effective way possible: He endorsed four of the main third-party candidates: Ralph Nader (independent), Bob Barr (Libertarian), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution) and Cynthia McKinney (Green).

This could clash with Pauls crusade to reform the Republican Party from the inside out and leave his supporters wondering what to do.

Many would probably be pleased to see such a snag in Paulism. I know plenty of liberals on campus who scoffed with a hint of jealousy at the enthusiasm of the Paulites, and just mentioning Ron Paul around most conservatives was enough to make their blood boil.

When I first wrote about Paul last year, I derided his insistence on withdrawing from the UN and his calls to make gold legal tender. I still think he is wrong on both of these issues and plenty more, but I wish the Republican Party would have taken more from him.

In many ways, there is a gap in our political system a gap for those who marry their support of economic freedom with a similar support of personal freedom.

This gap has never been adequately filled by the wacky and ineffectual Libertarian Party. Thus many voters are forced to watch Democrats and Republicans to decide which party, during any election, is closer to their views.

I have long favored the Democrats, not least of all because I grew up during the often incompetent reign of the Bush Administration, but last years Republican presidential primary seemed to change things.

Unfortunately, Republicans have opted out of the admittedly difficult path of fixing their own party. Instead they have re-embraced the same conservative ideology that was so devoid of skepticism and self-criticism.

McCain has turned his back on an incredible opportunity this election by trying to appease this broken movement.

Many conservatives turned a blind eye while Bush mismanaged a war and busted a budget, and they are turning a blind eye now to Sarah Palins fickle foreign policy views and her history of earmarks.

Plenty of conservatives used the federal government to teach their version of sex education and tried to use it to define marriage while supposedly championing small government.

McCain could have whipped the conservative movement a movement that may have once been about ideas but is now about conformity into shape.

I am starting to miss Ron Paul.