Ron Paul is the most important politician in America today because he's the rare politician — maybe the only politician — who always says exactly what he really believes. Unlike Paul Ryan, Hayley Barbour, Mitt Romney, Mitch Daniels, and Mike Huckabee, who all raised taxes while calling for lower taxes, Ron Paul gives us a chance to examine the ideas currently driving the conservative movement in their pure form.
For example, here are some of the things Paul said to me during an interview in his office earlier this year, for a new profile about him that appears in the May issue of Esquire.
Take small government: Paul never plays the familiar game of defending social programs (Obama is going to reduce Medicare!) while secretly plotting to destroy them. I argue the case," he told me, "that if 1 percent of the people need food stamps, you give up 100 percent of the principle. And then 1 percent becomes 2 percent, until now we have 30 percent. It's not gonna be the perfect free society until you reject the whole idea that the government should be redistributing wealth."
Constitutionalism? Everyone loves the Constitution these days, but most of them seem to think it gives America the power to police the world. Paul actually read the thing and saw the lines about avoiding "foreign entanglements" and all the clauses that try to inhibit a rush to war, such as giving the right to declare war to our endlessly squabbling Congress instead of to the "unitary executive" that other conservatives love whenever they're in power and despise the second they lose it. As a result, Paul is very nearly a pacifist:
"If we had more freedom, we would be more prosperous, we would have less wars, and we would have more influence because we would be a better example. Whether it was the Spanish-American War or World War I or Vietnam, how many millions of people died, how much wealth was consumed? Boy, I don't know how anybody could argue the case that we would be a better nation if we hadn't all adjusted to big-government programs and become Hamiltonians."