There’s a congressman in the U.S. that is an icon to some, an oddball to others. His name is Ron Paul, and he has become the most consistent, determined voice for libertarianism in that country and beyond.
Libertarianism is a belief in personal liberty taken to its ultimate extreme. If elected, Paul would move to legalize drugs and prostitution, allow states to implement their own legislation on controversial social issues, and practically eliminate social programs.
He would cut the number of government departments in half and withdraw U.S. troops from around the world, including those involved in peacekeeping.
Furthermore, he would remove government restrictions to prevent massive corporate monopolies, and eliminate environmental oversight.
For most, it seems like a strange, fairy-tale world he envisions. So it’s odd that every four years, Paul makes a strong showing in Republican presidential nominations.
Other Republicans don’t take him seriously. Even the media ignore him. Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart highlighted a string of news reports about straw polls that mentioned every candidate but Paul — even though he often placed second or third.
“How did Ron Paul become the 13th floor in a hotel?” Stewart quipped.
One thing the Republicans don’t do, however, is disqualify him from the race. As much as his fans adore his straight-shooting style, Paul never manages to make it into the final stretch. The more mainstream voters get to know his radical policies, the lower his numbers sag.
Like any party, the Progressive Conservatives in this province have had their share of dark-horse hopefuls — unknown candidates who emerge from the shadows expecting to charm their way past the party’s old guard.
And twice in the past few years, the party has chosen to bury them, rather than let them dig their own graves.
The latest, Wayne Bennett, would have had a long climb to the top if he’d been allowed to stay in the race. He had already alienated the party, accusing it of sabotage and comparing his online critics to everything from mobsters to suicide bombers.
It’s the latter reference that spurred the party to kick him out of contention Thursday. In Twitter comments, he compared his detractors to suicide bombers, and suggested Muslim women and boys can’t be trusted.
Distasteful, to say the least, but that should be something for party members to decide at the ballot, not the executive.
Outspoken blogger Brad Cabana met the same fate. Although he was a long shot by any stretch in his run for the PC leadership in 2011, the party found a way to disqualify his candidacy. And so, like Bennett, Cabana continues to be the banished man, rather than someone who would have likely been trounced fair and square.
Perhaps, for once, such candidates should be left to the mercy of delegates.
This story has been revised to correct information.