Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Ron Paul: Why The Young Flock To An Old Idealist
Go to any Ron Paul event and it strikes you immediately: What's up with all the young people?
The 75-year-old Texas congressman packs halls on college campuses. His campaign volunteers often look too young to shave. And even at a recent New York City book signing, it's surprising how many teenagers and 20-somethings are lined up for an autograph, clutching Paul's new book, Liberty Defined.
Sixteen-year-old Rob Gray says the age of the crowd doesn't seem odd to him.
It's "the old canard of the young being more open-minded than the old," he says.
Paul, the world's most unlikely teen idol, is running again for president.
He failed to reach the White House twice before: In 1988, running as a Libertarian, he got less than 1 percent of the vote; in 2008, he made a losing shot at the Republican nomination.
But don't expect the man to reinvent himself. Paul is nothing if not consistent. He still wants to shut down the Federal Reserve; still wants to slash the size of government and bring the troops home. Already in the first Republican primary debate, he restated his long-held belief that drugs should be legalized.
It's a unique set of beliefs for a congressman, but that's why his fans love him.
At the New York City event, the young people keep packing into the bookstore. The line starts in the children's section, moves through self-help and recovery, past the memoirs and along the great ideas bookshelf.
When Paul arrives, he sits down in the World History section, and his bushy eyebrows go up in surprise.
Paul says it still amazes him when kids want to talk about the Federal Reserve.
"When I was in high school and college, at the age many of those young people are now, I didn't have much interest in politics at all," Paul says. "I was probably more interested in trying to get into medical school."
Looking back at his youth, you can see the spark that drove Paul is the same as the one that inspires his fans: a desire for a unified philosophy to make sense of the world.
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