There will be a total collapse of the economy. An eruption of violence in the streets. Martial law is just around the corner.
Paul says he would like to cut $1 trillion out of the budget.
“People say that means everybody will suffer,” he adds. Some probably will, he concedes, but “they should have to suffer.”
And then there are the sorts of ominous predictions he made at an evening rally here Wednesday: “There are certain events that are coming that are going to happen — they are going to be very dangerous. They might come in a day, a week or a year.”
Not exactly morning in America.
Paul’s sky-is-falling message goes against everything a successful American politician is supposed to do. In the land of hope and change, where a little malaise can undercut a campaign, it is almost always the sunniest candidate who succeeds.
But the Republican congressman from Texas is betting that the usual optimism and laundry list of promises — millions of jobs, bringing people together, changing the tone in Washington — is not what voters want to hear this year. The latest Iowa polls, which show Paul in a virtual tie for first place with Mitt Romney ahead of Tuesday’s caucuses, suggest that he has found an audience.
“I want someone to give it to me straight. We aren’t getting a lot of fluff, and he isn’t offering us a prize or a present or something to make us feel good,” said Tom Icatar, 65, who saw Paul at a West Des Moines town hall. “I think he’s been consistent and honest. He is giving people the bitter medicine they need to have.”
Jordan Sorensen, 23, of Adele, Iowa, said after an event in Perry that “we’ve heard the same old political talk of promising this and that. Ron Paul isn’t the most brilliant speaker, he isn’t great with rhetoric, but it’s refreshing for me to hear something that’s more truthful. He is realistic about what he is working with, and he is less full of it.”
The fact that Paul is resonating with some voters is more reflective of the moment than the man. Paul has long spoken in such apocalyptic terms, but after years of war and financial hardship, his leave-’em-alone foreign policy and get-the-government-off-my-lawn domestic approach is a match for the times. And to his backers, his anti-politician demeanor confirms their sense that he’s telling the truth, unlike what they see as a bunch of overproduced alternatives.
“The others are political-machinery people. They change their message to tell us what we want to hear, not what’s actually needed,” Steve Chase, 63, said at the event in Perry. Paul, he said, is “the least likely to create a situation that will lead to the destruction of everything.”
Most of Paul’s rivals also lay out the difficulties America faces — it’s just that it’s not all they focus on.