It’s an election year, and time again to pick the next president.
Some Belmont students, like a significant segment of young GOP voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, have turned to Rep. Ron Paul.
“I have more faith in him than any other candidate,” said theater major Lauren Mims, who volunteered for the longtime Texas congressman during the Iowa caucuses.
For some students, this is the first election where they can contribute both their voices and their votes. And many of them say they’re using that power for Paul.
“People buy into Ron Paul’s message because it’s consistent and idealistic,” said Chase Geiser, who created the Facebook page “Belmont students for Ron Paul.”
So far, the Facebook page has 29 likes and features clips of Paul’s speeches, news pieces and even an episode of “The Daily Show.”
Geiser offered one simple statement to explain his support for Ron Paul – “Because I believe in liberty.”
Sophomore history major Seth Granda likes several of Ron Paul’s ideas, including fundamentally changing the country’s financial system, basing currency by the value of gold, and having a peace-oriented foreign policy against unnecessary wars.
“A lot of people find that [foreign policy] to be the most dangerous aspect of his campaign, but I really find it to be the most convincing for me,” Granda said.
Mims had a more personal reason for her support.
“The most important thing for me is he is a champion of civil liberties,” Mims said. “I’m a musician and an actor and being able to pursue my freedoms through music and through acting is incredibly important to me.”
During her time in Iowa, she went door to door gathering votes, answering phones and acting as a spokesperson for Paul. She’s been following him for five years.
“He’s the kind of candidate that doesn’t flip-flop,” she said.
Mims also pointed to the biggest age group for Paul’s supporters is that of young, college-aged adults.
“Based off of what we’ve seen so far in Iowa and New Hampshire, well over 40 percent of each state has voted for him that was between the ages of 18 and like 26,” she said.
So why are young people supporting the oldest candidate in the race? Geiser and Granda think it has a lot to do with his personality.
“I think that the young people really appreciate his honesty because when you’re younger, you tend to be more idealistic,” Geiser said.
“When he’s speaking to you, there’s no sense that he’s trying to mislead you or beguile you,” he said.
Mims thinks the trend is more about one of his policies in particular.
“Honestly, it’s the drug thing because Ron Paul would still legalize marijuana and a lot of the younger population wants to legalize marijuana,” she said.
Though student supporters hope he wins – and his chances are higher now than in any other election – they also believe his persistence is part of a long-range plan.
“He is ultimately going to open the door for his son Rand Paul to run in 2016,” Geiser said.
Granda also sees the younger Paul, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, as someone who could follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I think his son is going to have a pretty good chance,” he said.
But that’s for the future. In lieu of Belmont students’ support for Paul this year, Mims is planning on reviving a Republicans’ Club at Belmont to host debates and political science events.