Say he's elected president. What's the worst that could happen? Be specific.
Every presidential candidate inspires voters to ask themselves, "If this person is elected, what's the worst that could plausibly happen?" Since we're risk averse, the imagined answers that take hold are huge factors in campaigns. In 1964, when Barry Goldwater ran, the worst case scenario in the minds of the electorate was that if he won, there would be nuclear war with the USSR. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton tried and failed to persuade voters that if Barack Obama was elected, the worst case scenario was a 3 a.m. phone call that he was too inexperienced to handle. Evaluating John McCain, a lot of voters, myself included, thought the worst case scenario was that he'd die, making Sarah Palin into the world's most powerful person.
So I got to thinking. What's the worst thing that could plausibly happen if Ron Paul wins? And by that metric, how does he measure up to the folks he's running against? Don't ask why I chose him. It's obvious. The idea of him in the White House makes a lot of the people reading this post uneasy. Despite my libertarian sympathies, there is even a part of me that has always felt, without ever having thought it through, that putting Paul in the White House would be the biggest gamble of all the possible candidates running in the GOP primary. His tenure might have tremendous upsides: zero imprudently launched wars, a resurgence of civil liberties, more transparency. But he's also a radical who wants to see more fundamental change than any other candidate, he is least beholden to the political establishment, which constrains the behavior of conventional pols, and we've never seen him operate as an executive. One reason I prefer Gary Johnson, the other libertarian in the race, is that he was governor of New Mexico. We've seen how he would act given executive responsibilities. He didn't do anything that was crazy or obviously damaging to the state. As it turns out, he was easily reelected.