I sympathize with Ron Paul, but I do not wish to see him as the Republican nominee. The Ron Paul movement has a tendency to range off into conspiracy kook land (NAU anyone?). He himself gets hung up on the gold standard. But the movement is raising issues that conservatives and to a some extent the political system as a whole should have been raising since the end of the Cold War.
Here are a few important ones:
1. The proper role of government
2. Monetary policy (Paul gets hung up over the gold standard, but the role of the Fed and its lack of transparency should be a major issue)
3. Federalism -- on the GOP side at least people are seriously talking about federalism again.
4. Foreign policy -- for 45 years we had a foreign policy designed to fight the USSR. For 15 years since we have not really retooled that policy. Iraq is merely a symptom of a much larger policy failure. Why must the US be the enforcement arm of the UN? Why do we still maintain a large army in Europe? Why was Europe unable on its own to address the Balkan crisis of the late 1990s?
If nothing else, the Paul campaign should help restart the conversation about where the conservative movement and the GOP should go -- "compassionate conservatism" is not it.