As the 2012 race for the Republican Party presidential nomination winds down, the last runner-up standing is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. This time around, Paul has managed to snag about 10 percent of the overall primary vote (as of late April), up from 4 percent total in his 2008 campaign. He is sure to finish no lower than fourth in the delegate count and has hopes of climbing higher as the primary season stretches out through June 26.
By holding on, and by competing most heavily in states with convoluted caucusing procedures that allow his enthusiastic supporters to punch above their voting weight, Paul guaranteed that his voice—arguing, as always, for shrinking the scope of the U.S. government at home and abroad—will be heard at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August. Meanwhile, the candidate’s ability to draw a crowd remain undiminished, with thousands routinely turning out for campus visits throughout the spring.
That said, 2012 marks the end of Ron Paul’s career as a politician. He is not running to retain the Texas House seat he has held since 1997, and there is no realistic chance that he will ponder another WhiteHouse run in 2016 at the ripe old age of 81. The future of Paul’s ideas in the GOP will depend not on him but on the voters, activists, and candidates who follow in his footsteps.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Brian Doherty.