Mary Meehan writes: Voters who are weary of endless war may have no choice at the presidential level next November. This is a very large group to be denied a vote on a key issue.
A CNN/ORC poll released in November found that 68 percent of Americans opposed the war in Iraq and 63 percent are against the one in Afghanistan. Yet, we keep hearing that only hawks have a chance to be elected president.
Or, in the case of Barack Obama, reelected. Although President Obama has withdrawn U.S. troops from Iraq, the war in Afghanistan grinds on. Mr. Obama expanded the drone warfare that has killed many civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He ordered military action in Libya without even consulting Congress.
President Obama also supports war-related violations of the Bill of Rights, such as the misnamed Patriot Act and the indefinite detention — without trial — of terrorism suspects. And his administration failed to prosecute U.S. officials from the previous administration who authorized or practiced torture.
All of this makes many people think about voting for Rep. Ron Paul, the anti-war Republican congressman from Texas. Establishment political observers insist Dr. Paul has no chance to win the Republican nomination. They have been shocked, though, by recent headlines such as “Ron Paul rising in Iowa polls” and “Can Ron Paul win New Hampshire?”
BuzzFeed reports: Ron Paul — poised to finish strong in the Iowa caucuses – has begun to implement a quiet, complex plan to force a long battle with Mitt Romney for delegates to the Republican National Convention in August. His advantages: Experience, organization, and the legacy of the 2010 Tea Party revival, which convinced Republicans that anti-government figures like Paul just aren’t as weird as they’d thought.
Paul is following the roadmap set by Barack Obama’s 2008 strategy: Start early, learn the rules, and use superior organization and devoted young supporters to dominate the arcane but crucial party procedures in states your rivals are ignoring — states where caucuses and conventions that elect the delegates who will ultimately choose the Republican candidate. The plan begins in places like Minnetonka, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb where Paul has based his state headquarters, and where staffers have already begun running “mock-auses” — practice runs for Minnesota’s February 7 caucuses.
Paul’s rivals dismiss his chances. “Ron Paul’s not going to be our nominee,” Mitt Romney said flatly in December. But Paul’s organization is girding for the long haul, and while the 76-year old Texan is vanishingly unlikely to be the nominee — primaries in big states like New York and California could shut him out — observers in the caucus states say they expect Paul to win, and perhaps sweep, dozens of delegates from unexpected corners of the map. Those delegates, in turn, will give him at least a prominent position at the Republican National Convention, and a plausible shot at emerging as a kingmaker if a strong mainstream challenger to Romney emerges.