"At first glance, he looks like every other congressman in the Canon Building. His suit is dark. His tie is striped. He is convivial with his colleagues, who genuinely like him. But there is something different about Ron Paul.
You can hear congressmen when they walk down the hall, strutting their own importance. After all, there are regulations to be implemented, special interests to serve, a teetering American Empire that would collapse without their management. They wear black or cordovan leather shoes -- captoes, wingtips and brogues -- clacking down the hall, their bellies full of medium-rare steak from Capital Grille. They are surrounded by ambitious interns and legislative aides. They fiddle with their BlackBerries. You can't miss them tromping out of the elevators.
Ron Paul is easy to overlook. He takes the stairs; he does not have an entourage. You can't hear him coming because he's wearing plain black tennis shoes. In a bag he carries a can of soup that he will heat for himself in the microwave in his office. Beneath pictures of Austrian economists Frederick Von Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, he will eat his lunch alone and in peace.
What is the purpose of Ron Paul's candidacy for the presidency of the United States? Some longshots run because their egos demand it. Others want to raise their lecture fees. Some run because they have plenty of money and nothing better to do. Following a flood of viewer requests, the Texas congressman recently appeared on Fox News to explain himself. His answer was buoyant though laconic: "I want to be president because I have this dream. I'd like to reinstate the Constitution and restore the Republic." His answer was also revolutionary.
Paul's doggedness in advancing the causes of individual responsibility and limited government could intimidate almost anyone who clings to the label "conservative" or "libertarian." Perhaps that is why he avoids those abused designations and calls himself a "constitutionalist." His philosophy is simple: "no government intervention, not in personal life, not in economic life, not in affairs of other nations."
Naturally he opposes almost everything Congress does. The physician cum congressman earned the nickname "Dr. No" early on. His opposition to what he considers unconstitutional spending even earned the grudging respect of GOP leaders. When Newt Gingrich cracked the whip on party members to support a messy budget compromise, he excused Paul from the duty to support the budget, and the "Ron Paul exemption" entered the congressional vocabulary. What did it take for other members to earn this privilege to buck the party? A voting record that opposed all unnecessary federal spending, even in their home district. No one else has been granted the exemption.
When Paul does propose legislation, it is simple, direct and radical. He's compiled an impressive list of bills that remain ignored to this day. HR 1146: To end membership of the United States in the United Nations. HR 776: To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception. HR 1658: To ensure that the courts interpret the Constitution in the manner that the Framers intended.
His cheerful consistency doesn't end there. Paul not only votes against nearly all government spending, he has refused to be the beneficiary of it as well. As a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, he has delivered more than 4,000 babies. He accepted no money from Medicare or Medicaid, often working for free for needy patients. With his support, his five children finished school without subsidized federal student loans. He has refused a congressional pension."