Of the 620 bills sponsored by Ron Paul during his long career in the House of Representatives, only four have ever made it to a vote on the House floor and only one of those became an actual law. An analysis by The Washington Post shows that Paul's success rate of 0.2 percent falls far below that of most legislators, as Paul has chosen to stand up for his personal crusades, rather that build coalitions for more popular, but less ambitious, proposals.
Paul, who has served 11 terms in three different stages dating back to 1976, didn't get a single law passed until 2009, when he authored a bill that allowed for the sale of a customs house in Galveston, Texas. Failure is often the norm in Congress, where only 4 percent of proposed bills get a President's signature, but Paul's approach to lawmaking is particularly suited to not getting things done.
For a limited-government advocate like Paul, of course, his record of failure is actually a badge of honor. He has no interest in creating new programs or expanding regulations and is at great pains to spend the government's money — normally a popular pastime in Washington. In fact, most of the bills that he does sponsor usually involve some attempt to eliminate or hamstring government activity, such as proposals to abolish OSHA, disband the Department of Education, and repeal the income tax. In a world resistant to big change, bills like that have little chance of becoming law and many never get out of committee. But for Paul, the purpose is not to pad a record of small accomplishments, but to take a stand for his more radical ideas on the Constitution and the role of government.
Paul also shows little interest in the schmoozy deal-making that is the stock-in-trade of most Congresspeople. Nobody succeeds at anything without building a coalition of willing partners, but as any reality show contestant might say, he isn't there to make friends. His campaign operatives insist that won't be a problem should he become the President and it's clear that his approach is actually the key to his popularity among supporters. However, those who abhor D.C. gridlock can probably expect a Paul administration to attempt very little and accomplish even less.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.