The popularity of Ron Paul's anti-government zeal should give Democrats and Republicans alike a reason to pause, Nicholas Lemann writes in the New Yorker. First, consider how radical a Paul presidency would be: IRS and income tax abolished; no foreign wars; no foreign aid; five federal departments gone ... and so on. Paul "speaks most directly to one of his party’s deepest emotions," writes Lemann. "Especially to the self-selected group that comes to the Iowa Republican caucuses, Paul’s positions are pulse quickening."
Paul may not win the nomination, but his "brief heyday" will affect both parties. For Republicans, it could either "entrench ... government-bashing" or vaccinate the GOP against such "politically disastrous stands," Lemann writes. For Democrats, it may mean facing antipathy over every government "appointment and every expenditure." Lemann says President Obama shouldn't just sit back and watch: "Obama would do well to ... engage in the debate about fundamentals. He’ll have an easier time governing in practice if he can defend governance in principle." (Now see how Paul could win the GOP nomination.)