Ronald Reagan, the golden calf of the GOP, called it "a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters and sex deviants." At the University of California, Berkley this week, though, students showed up in droves to support a Republican: Ron Paul.
Anti-war protests during the Vietnam era and mass gatherings during the Free Love movement made UC Berkley not just an unofficial hub of the hippie counterculture but also an opponent of the right-wing establishment during the 1960s and ‘70s. Only a few decades down the road, however, students enrolled at the same college that then-Governor Ronald Reagan dispatched the National Guard to are showing their support for a Republican Party presidential candidate.
Although the GOP has changed since the days of the Gipper — to a degree, at least — to say that the Republican Party would one day spawn a candidate so well condoned by Berkley students would have baffled the institution years earlier. Like his Republican Party rivals, Texas Congressman Ron Paul is indeed campaigning for the right. With college students at one of the most notoriously liberal schools of learning in the US, though, there’s a lot right about their candidate of choice.
Representative Paul was met by around 1,000 supported at UC Berkley this week, only a stone’s throw from where the US National Guard executed a student during a protest during Reagan’s reign over California. Paul may be campaigning as a Republican, but the ideas that drive his campaign are being hailed by young Americans disenfranchised by the broken promises and bad decisions delivered from the establishment through a two-party system where the sides have become indistinguishable at times.
Matt Longerbone, a senior in communications at Berkley, tells The Examiner that he identifies himself politically as an independent, but will without a doubt not being casting a ballot on the left this Election Day.
“He hasn’t really done anything great since he’s been in office,” Longerbone explains of current US president, Barack Obama. “I’m tired of his piss poor promises, and his ranting of Republicans.”
A resident of nearby Chico, California, Nelson Parmester, adds to the paper that he doesn’t plan on voting for anyone. The reason, though, is that the mainstream candidates coming from either side of the political spectrum offering no hope for the country.
“Conservatives aren’t happy, liberals aren’t happy,” he explains. “Too much has been broken, and there’s too much corruption.”
Throughout his campaign Paul has campaigned on many ideas popular with not just the youth of today, but with college students from yesteryear who flocked to Berkley to protest Reagan’s authoritative control of the state during the ‘60s. Reagan was ridiculed for using force on students, something he would go on to defend, which prompted many back then to believe that their own civil rights would be removed if the trend continued. Paul, however, has touted himself as a champion of personal liberties and the guarantees of the US Constitution that protect those powers.
“Well, I heard there were a lot of young people here who cared about liberty,” Paul announced to supporters at the college on Thursday. Some students agreed that, regardless of who gets the Republican Party nomination, it is the ideas of Ron Paul that will continue to win the support of Young America.
"This is the grass roots taking a stand to change the direction of the party from the county level," Carl Bunce, a campaigner for Paul, tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "This is bigger than just Ron Paul. This is about liberty and openness and fairness and changing the party."
Speaking to supporters this week, Paul agreed that both the left and the right were becoming too far removed from what the forefathers had envisioned. Although the framers of the Constitution advocated for limited government, only the opposite has been evident to many in reason years. In California, where medicinal marijuana continues to be a hotbed topic, Paul touched on how the topic should be uniting those of otherwise different ideologies, not driving the country apart.
"It's a great issue if you want to bring left and right together," Paul said. "People from the right talk about states' rights. Just think about it. If you had states' rights in California you wouldn't have the feds coming in and invading and telling you what you do with your own body. Prescription drugs are deadly, too, and there are probably more deaths from prescription drugs. The war on drugs is a total failure.
"I want a free society where you could actually have the freedom to drink raw milk if you want to,” added the congressman.
While his competition continues to waver to-and-fro on their stances, Paul said in Berkley that, no matter what you want this election year, his track record proves that he might very well be the only candidate willing to stick to his guns. "I'm consistent and I am truthful,” said the congressman.
"His consistency in his views; particularly his honesty is something that we need in politics today," Keely Kiczenski, a UC Berkeley junior, tells KTVU News.