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Will Ron Paul and the Gold Standard Emerge the Winners Tonight?

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When he takes the stage tonight in the GOP presidential debate (8 p.m. EST on CNN), Congressman Ron Paul will do so with a chance to make history.

Unlike his previous runs for President (1988 as a Libertarian candidate and 2008, where he was beaten by Senator John McCain), Paul enters this race as a serious candidate to take his ideas all the way to the White House. Some may quibble with calling Paul anything but a serious candidate in 2008; after all, he had a string of good showings and raised significant money. He also never broke through beyond his fervent supporters to attract the kind of broader support that can drive a candidate to the nomination.

However, 2012 is unlike 2008 in so many ways. In particular, Ron Paul's dismissed theories about the size and scope of government are suddenly...not so dismissed. Voters are rethinking his views on the bailouts, the size of government, the cost of government, and the benefits of spending trillions of borrowed dollars backed by nothing. Tea Party sentiment has bubbled over into outright antipathy toward government spending — and no one argues against government spending more consistently or coherently than Paul.

Paul's path to the 2012 nomination is still, in the eyes of many pundits, a long-shot. He does, however, have some things working in his favor this time around.

Un-serious Contenders All you need to know about the current GOP field is that Mitt Romney is currently the front runner. Mitt Romney is also the number one target of tea party activists and would represent the establishment choice for the Republicans. He also has a snowball's chance in hell of beating Obama in the general, in large part because he's taken many similar positions to Obama.

Number two is Sarah Palin, and she's a semi-literate reality tv show version of a candidate, and happens to be despised by more voters than she is beloved by supporters. That leaves Newt Gingrich, who has already seen most of his senior staff resign, and a few psychotic social conservatives.

Other than that, the only real contenders left are Texans: Rick Perry, who is George Bush's replacement as governor of Texas (and roughly on-par, intellectually) and Ron Paul, the congressman who has actually had a real job (he is a licensed physician) and has actually read the Constitution. Advantage? Paul.

Anti-government sentiment I don't like the term anti-government sentiment, because it's a bit loaded. I mean, Timothy McVeigh was called an anti-government extremist. Ron Paul is about as far away from McVeigh as you can get on the humanity scale. Nonetheless, it is somewhat accurate.

In today's political climate, voters who see the government as the problem are desperate to find a candidate to rally around. They've even formed a tea party caucus, with the intent of coalescing around one candidate and amplifying their voice in the primary election. However, Ron Paul is the only candidate in the race who really speaks to those voters. He may not always make religious conservatives happy with some of his libertarian stances, he will win some over with his limited government talk.

The Economy Sucks When the economy sucks, and right now it completely sucks, Main Street looks for a candidate with new ideas — something they haven't seen tried before. While it may be ironic that the oldest candidate is the one with new ideas, it is a matter of fact that Paul brings the most change to the table for his supporters.

The Gold Standard Long-debated as the answer to everything from inflation to the end of government largesse, the gold standard has been a libertarian talking point since...well, since they got rid of the gold standard. While many economists are against returning to the gold standard, some, including Paul, believe that eliminating some market disincentives against gold and silver would allow the marketplace to determine the truly best currency. Whether that is dollars backed by nothing or banknotes backed by literal gold would depend.

For the first time since the gold standard was done away with, it is making a serious comeback as a political theory. For traders, this could have huge effects on everything from commodities to forex trades. (Speculators of the world are probably not huge Ron Paul fans.) Will this be enough to give him the nomination? Tune in tonight and see how Paul and the other candidates fare in this early-season debate.

 

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