Mitt Romney/Ron Paul 2012?

Polls are closed. Perhaps this is not the best time to post this. Paul supporters would accuse me of hedging my bets, throwing in the towel, and not being loyal to principle; Romney supporters would see the suggestion as a desperate or needless promotion of influence for a fledgling and irrelevant candidate. Not knowing the outcome of Virginia’s primary election, it could be both—or neither.

But the other side of those perceptions are that Paul supporters could realize that having their man as the V.P. candidate means much more than just having the possibility of Ron Paul becoming the president of the Senate; and for Romney supporters it would mean much more than pandering to a libertarian base.

Their relationship has been notably cordial throughout the campaign—at times, Paul seeming like Romney’s attack dog; at others, Romney seeming like he is going out of his way to agree with Paul. This makes me wonder if Ron Paul has had the opportunity to talk with Romney, and find out what he believes in. Paul’s words, not mine.

It is a popular misconception that Ron Paul refuses to endorse anyone but himself, even if he loses the primary. Many people still speculate—read ,”hope”—that he just might still run as an independent. But to the contrary, Paul has stated more emphatically that he will not run third-party; he has expressed more vaguely his reservations of endorsing a different Republican nominee.

To be sure, Ron Paul disagrees with Romney on quite a few things; but I don’t think that total agreement is a condition for Paul’s endorsement. He wants to “talk to them and find out what they believe in” before he would even consider endorsing them. And this is just for an endorsement.

What if Paul were the V.P. nominee? That would be a much bigger advantage than “talking to them and finding out what they believe in.” He would be in a position of influence—more so than a one-time lobbying platform at the GOP convention.

Their main disagreement is in foreign policy. Would Paul, as a Vice President, be able to influence Romney into non-interventionism? Very doubtful, but I guarantee you a President Romney would be very, very hesitant to intervene with a Vice President Paul and his vigilant band of Paulistines.

To Paul supporters, the idea of this ticket may be unconscionable—an unthinkable violation of the unshakable Dr. Paul’s principles. Perhaps an unequivocal (and unrequited) endorsement would be. But running on the ticket is by no means the same thing as an endorsement. You need only look at Reagan/Bush to see that (and no, I am not making any personal comparisons, here). While a Paul endorsement of Romney might easily be seen as selling out, a partnership with Romney is totally different.

“Ron Paul for President,” in my opinion, has never contained the ideal of Paul being able to transform the world (nor does he claim to be able to); but it contained the ideal of legitimizing some very good arguments—some very good Constitutional arguments that have been forgotten amidst this past century’s complacent populace accepting the aggrandizement of federal power because it seemed to benefit them (who else even thought of using Letters of Marque and Reprisal?). It was never about using power to Restore America Now; it was about presence. A Vice President Paul could restore legitimacy to what once were the only legitimate arguments. A President Paul could, too. But a Representative Paul and his most ardent supporters resting in retirement, refusing even to acknowledge the general election, cannot—neither with a Mitt Romney, nor a Newt Gingrich, nor a Rick Santorum,  nor with a Barack Obama—ever hope to have their voices legitimized at a national scale.

Another advantage of that—for the Romney supporters—would be Dr. Paul’s exclusive ability among GOP candidates to energize the electorate with any consistency, longevity, and ubiquity. It is no secret that Romney—while qualified, groomed, and ‘safe,’—is very frankly boring to a large number of people. And it would be a mistake to underestimate the electoral vigor that Romney’s opponent in the general election would be able to demand and receive through demagoguery and very well organized communities.

Who else could pull votes away from Obama like Ron Paul could, even as a Vice President? Many national polls have shown this (though they have never posited a Romney/Paul ticket). And what else would be able to balance the fervor of Paul like the coolness of Romney?

For me, a presidential ticket is never just about the president. (Do you really think the McCain campaign would have been as invigorated with Mike Huckabee running as the Veep?) And the presidency is never about the man. The presidency—and the entire executive branch—is about the sum of the philosophies of all who make up that branch. Is it better to be a part of the sum than a difference unnoticed?

Surely there are many variables I haven’t considered, but I believe the question of a Romney/Paul ticket must at least be asked.

The question for Paul-can’t-win voters, who want nothing more than to see a 45th president next January, should never have been, “which candidate is more likely to beat the incumbent,” it should have been “which ticket can beat the incumbents?”

The question for Paul-or-nothing voters must not be, “Can my ideal candidate win?” It must be, “Can my ideals exist with a candidacy?”