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Ron Paul's Big Moment: Final Pre-Iowa GOP Debate Tonight

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He has millions of volunteers, tens of millions of dollars, and one consistent message. After tonight's 9 p.m EST debate, only one question will remain for Ron Paul: Is he a plausible presidential nominee for the Republicans?

That's the one question standing between a third place finish and a possible first place finish in Iowa's Caucuses, slated for January 3rd.

Much has been made about Paul's record and his policy stances, which are consistently right-of-center libertarianism in a nutshell. He is, at his core, the definition of a limited government conservative. And yet, he is consistently written off by smarmy journalists as a sure loser and someone who cannot capture the nomination of the GOP.

But, why? He supports limited government. He supports low taxes. He supports minimal regulation. He supports an end to the banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve. He's socially conservative. He supports the troops by advocating bringing them home. As the candidate who has an actual service record, I would imagine his call for peace and avoiding war would mean more than the warmongering of the other candidates.

Does he say things that seem outlandish? Of course he does. We live in ridiculous times, with a government that is completely out of control and unable to function. All politicians who advocate massive change sound like zealots or morons when their ideas are out of favor. Once the rest of the world catches up, we suddenly see those same politicians as sages and ahead of their time.

If the tea party could go back in time and design a candidate that would be a perfect platform for their message of reform (you know, back before the Koch Brother co-opted the movement for their own purposes) they could do no better than selecting Ron Paul as their standard bearer. I cannot think of one good reason for anyone who supports the Tea Party to vote for anyone other than Ron Paul.

Except, of course, no one can agree on whether or not Ron Paul is electable as President. Well, that's an awfully artful question, isn't it? Every four years, one of the two major parties nominates someone who is ultimately judged non-electable as President. John McCain was unelectable as President. So was Bob Dole in 1996. Doesn't mean that either man should have been replaced on the ticket with someone else. It was simply their turn in the Old White Man Lottery that usually determines presidential nominations.

Still, the talking heads insist on electability and plausibility, and that is exactly what Ron Paul must show tonight. He must go beyond the talking points he's used and show that he, and not Stormin' Mormon Romney, should be the leader of the GOP. He must show that he, and not thrice-married Newt Gingrich should be the nominee. Same for Crazy Rick Perry and the rest of the traveling sideshow that still attends these debates.

Today, Ron Paul actually has a chance to reach out beyond the standard GOP base and talk directly to people like me. I am, as I have said before, a socialist-libertarian. Or perhaps a libertarian socialist. You can pick your own label, really. Whatever the case may be, I am drawn to Paul because he has clearly read and understands the Constitution.

Ironically, or perhaps because the universe favors good people, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party failed the American people today. They passed a bill which allows the government to detain any American in a military court without a trial and without any rights whatsoever, for an indefinite period of time, whenever they want. This bill goes against the Bill of Rights and is the most damning piece of legislation that has crossed any president's desk in 200 years.

Naturally, Barack Obama, despite threatening a veto, will sign it. In doing so, he leaves people like me with little choice: how can I vote for a man who takes an oath to defend the Constitution and then spends his time in office destroying the very document he swore to uphold? Sure, if the choice is between Romney (who would sign similar bills) or Obama, I may as well choose Obama. His tyranny would at least be closer to my preferred form of government. Same for Gingrich vs Obama, or really any of the GOP candidates against Obama — except Ron Paul.

Ron Paul would never sign that bill. Ron Paul would never throw away Constitutional rights. That, and that along, is why he has sparked my interest. As I have said before, what good is universal health care if I am not free? What good are nice roads and clean water if I am not free? What good is any of this if I am not free, if I am a serf of the government, of a corporation, or of some entity beyond myself?

Where Ron Paul and I differ, honestly, there is a large gap of ideas. He advocates things that I could not support, and I would assume the opposite is true. But on the things that matter, on liberty, he is someone we can count on.

Practically speaking, we will as a nation sort out our economic problems. We will sort out health care and arrive at something that works and is fair. We will sort out all of these things because we are pragmatic and because they need solving. Time is on our side there. But liberty? Liberty is fleeting, and once given away, is near impossible to regain without bloodshed.

That is why Ron Paul is a plausible candidate for President. When you have die-hard progressives and freedom-loving tea partiers uniting under one common cause, you are officially electable. He may not be the prettiest candidate. He may not have the catchiest slogans. He may be overlooked by most of the media. But he, above all else, will defend freedom from its daily assault.

And tonight, let's see if he makes that case to the rest of America.

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Read more of my stories at Benzinga. You can also reach me by email john@benzinga.com or on twitter @johndthorpe.

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