Various friends and family have commented that they could never support a Ron Paul Presidency because "his positions are too extreme...he is an isolationist...he would cut all aid to all countries...he would radically slash spending and shrink the size and scope of government to dangerous levels..."
Unless Dr. Paul is secretly a wizard who possesses magical powers that would enable him to become the first politician in American history to push through their entire platform without making huge compromises, these concerns are totally groundless.
Such a wizard would have to magically disarm the very powerful interests and their well funded lobbyists who would fight tooth and nail to protect the programs, policies and subsidies that benefit them.
Such a wizard would have to invoke a powerful spell to change the minds and hearts of the millions of Americans who would raise high hell if anyone touched the entitlements that they have become addicted to.
And to forge a completely non-interventionist foreign policy, he would have to cast a powerful spell that would return the United States to an epoch (over 100 years ago) when the majority of Americans were not yet convinced of the merits of being "globo cop."
So, if Dr. Paul and his followers could not achieve their end goals, what good could they accomplish? And better yet, why should you support someone whose end goals you may not share?
The answer is that even the best of mainstream democratic and republican reformers have only been able to shift our trajectory by a few degrees, when real change is needed to address unsustainable domestic and foreign policies. As president Dr. Paul would quickly learn that his only options would be to get his reforms voted down or to pass them by making significant compromises. This means that he would have to focus on reforms that would generate manageable resistance from lobbyists and the American People.
So, while he would not be able to achieve "isolationism," he might be able to curb our nation building impulse, which has cost us countless lives and trillions of dollars. A more modest, reserved foreign policy is a prospect that most liberals and conservatives could agree upon.
And while he may be able to eliminate aid to the unpopular regime in Pakistan, he would almost certainly compromise on "political landmines," like aid to Israel and funding HIV Treatment in Sub Saharan Africa.
In his quest to eliminate subsidies, he would score victories against easy targets like oil, tobacco, petroleum and bio fuels (that have driven up food prices), but would face stiff resistance if he were to go against student loans. In other words, he may be able to achieve a more balanced, rational regimen of subsidies.
Regarding social issues, he might be the least contentious president of our time, because he would seek to maximize the extent to which states determined their own drug, marriage and abortion policies. It would take a great deal of effort to shift the debate away from divisive national cultural wars towards a more intelligent one centered on a discussion of merits of self governance and tolerance for culturally and politically diverse communities, but it would be tremendously beneficial for the nation. And while Dr. Paul would never be able to achieve the level of local control that he hopes for, he may be able to curb the worst examples of centralization of power.
Under the best of circumstances he might be able to curb the most noxious examples of waste, warfare and welfare, but he would never be able to create the libertarian heaven or hell that his followers dream of his and opponents fear. But, it doesn't take a wizard to see that if we keep on choosing the same Democrats and same Republicans, we will continue down the path to fiscal ruin.