Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
If you could create a political party, what would it be? How would you define it, and who would you vote for? CNN had stories about three different political umbrellas on Friday, and commenters responded with thoughts on what each says about our country.
Matt Welch wrote an editorial piece asserting that the GOP has incentive to keep Ron Paul around, even if they don't agree with a lot of his positions, because he's the key to winning over younger voters and Libertarians. Readers talked about Paul, his loyal following and the sometimes complex views about the current political landscape.
Priya86: "I've been a registered Libertarian for about 12 years. It is frustrating to watch Republicans and Democrats split down the middle so severely. You can vote Democrat and know that you are getting four years of fiscal irresponsibility or you can vote Republican and know that you're getting four years of your civil liberties being stripped if they don't line up with Christian Bible tales. The U.S. war machine has been going for most of my life. I've had friends and family killed in wars that were not needed. I've watched as my own job prospects went from great to waitress and maybe a temp even though I have a college degree and am working on my master's. Frankly, Ron Paul sounds great. Stop policing the world. (Isn't that the job of the U.N.? International cooperation and a dream of world peace?) Stop invading the private lives of citizens, stop taxing to pay for bloated and redundant (and wasteful!) federal budgets."
That was the most-liked comment, and it spurred other readers to respond with their own views about Paul.
rawfoods: "Well said. CNN will see that more and more of us aren't Democrats or Republicans. I fit more the Libertarian description and will be voting for Dr. Ron Paul!"
This reader said the donkeys and elephants are both guilty of hypocrisy.
oddjob3422: "The Libertarian position is one that removes the contradictory nonsense and insanity of self labeled 'conservatives' who really want big government and control over people's lives without going over to the dark side of the cradle to grave, nanny state, no individual responsibility insanity of self labeled 'progressives.' "
One reader said they couldn't swallow some Libertarian ideals, and another commenter gave a reply.
Valentijn: "I'm a socialist at heart, though a lot of Libertarian ideals are at least sensible compared to tea party alternatives. But I absolutely cannot agree with the Libertarian principals of no social services. If they had their way, we'd be living at the edge of anarchy based on the assumptions of responsible corporations and sufficient charity to keep the needy from dying on the streets. It simply isn't true that people will be more charitable if they don't have to pay taxes."
someguy12345: "Valentijn - Libertarianism doesn't say there should be no social services. It says that necessary social services should be done at the lowest level possible. It doesn't make sense to have federal bureaucrats making laws about education curriculums in towns they've never been in. We currently have way too many federal programs that should be implemented at the state or local levels. If a federal program is cut and deemed essential, the states should be able to create new programs to replace them that are more accountable to the people and thus better managed, right?"
Another commenter on the same thread also expressed discomfort, and received a powerful response from a reader who feels Libertarians are often misunderstood.
XKaliber: "The irony is a lot of what Paul says does indeed make sense. And you are correct with regard to the U.S. war machine. My problem is twofold. 1) I just don't trust Paul 2) His supporters are rude and arrogant. Ever try debating a Paul supporter without getting attacked? Sorry, but if I had to choose Obama v Paul, I have to go with Obama. Just too many unknowns with Paul."
devon44: "xcaliber - You don't trust Paul? I really don't get that. Everything that he proposes, he has a 30-year record of voting for the same things in Congress, exactly as he says he believes. You can trust him to do exactly what he says he will do, because he has been walking the walk for 30 years in Congress. They have attacked him and called him crazy and he has still never wavered. As for us attacking people, that may have something to do with the fact that we have been ridiculed, condescended to and generally not been taken seriously for many years. I have been guilty of the same thing myself. The mainstream media, even now, still attempts to ignore (Paul). And for us, this is not a question of a value judgment, there is a clear right and wrong answer. We have done the research and we have seen the effects of so many years of crappy government. So when someone rolls their eyes at us and acts like we are white supremacist weirdos living in caves in Montana, it really pisses us off. Make sense?"
The article's description of Paul voters fits to a T, says this commenter.
natigator1: "I am everything this article claims. I am considered a young voter, and am 100% for government reduction. I was hoodwinked by Obama and I will not vote for Romney. (Getting McCain's endorsement is like the kiss of death.) I will be voting for one man, and one man alone - Ron Paul. As an American I do NOT want a war with Iran. I do NOT want a continued war with Iraq/Afghanistan. I do NOT want to be the world's police force. I do NOT want the Patriot Act. I do NOT want this new 'America is a battlefield, throw dissidents in prison act'. I do NOT want forced Obamacare. I do NOT want a Federal Reserve handing out free money to banks and shortchanging Americans. I do NOT want the government telling me what I can and cannot do in my own home. I DO want freedom in the pursuit of individual liberty. I DO want fiscal responsibility. I DO want peace on Earth. I DO want freedom for ALL Americans."
On the other hand, this commenter was older. A person giving a response said they should be careful.
Americkan: "I'm 61 years old and am so sick of wars and Israel and all the greed taking place in business and government in this country that I'm ready for a real change and if it means someone as radical as Ron Paul, so be it. All the rest just sound like rhetoric to me."
JohnRJohnson: "If you are 61 and have no interest in ever collecting Social Security, or being on Medicare, go ahead and vote for Ron Paul. If you think people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own should not get unemployment benefits, vote for Ron Paul. If you think the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act don't need to be enforced, vote for Paul. If you want your currency to be tied to the value of gold and are prepared to pay $10 for a loaf of bread, vote for Paul. You have no idea what his policies would do to this country."
There's a branch of debate taking place about whether Paul's policy ideas would be better fit for a different era in America. Most of our readers seem to think they're currently effective.
Frankly2010: "Ron Paul espouses the same political philosophy as Thomas Jefferson, including foreign policy. Anyone who says Ron Paul is a kook for his positions is saying the same thing about one of America's greatest Founding Fathers."
p1n: "Jefferson lived in a different time with different problems. Ron Paul would probably have been an excellent president 200 years ago."
lgny: "Perhaps so, but much has changed since the 1790s. Thomas Jefferson did not receive some divine revelation that is perfectly true forever into the future."
And the debate continues, about fiscal and foreign policy and about social issues as well. What do you think? Let us know in the comments area below.
President Obama asked Congress for the ability to streamline the government, which can be interpreted as an effort to claim the middle ground going into the 2012 presidential race. Readers debated Obama's motivations, and how his policies and actions compare with Republican ideals.
Yongeblood: "In related news, Obama switches his status to Republican in order to get re-elected. When have Democrats EVER been for smaller government? Come on."
tpartypooper: "Don't ever confuse Obama with the GOP. The republicans idea of making a smaller government is to gut everything so that corporations have the power instead of the people."
Some said it's really the Ron Paul effect going on here.
Wazoo: "Ron Paul starts getting press so Democrats and Republicans both start to claim they have always been for 'streamlining' (i.e. making smaller) the federal goverment. Fine, I don't care who does it as long as it's done, maybe an end to the drug war is next ... we can hope."
Others said Obama's actions signify a lack of conviction.
BillRogers: "He is absolutely right, our needs have changed and we need a president who doesn't lie. We need a president who does what he says he will do. Not some joker like Obama who has to have a health care vote at 1 in the morning of Xmas Eve to sneak it by the people. Oh didn't he promise to close Gitmo. Hmm. Oh didn't he promise we'll be out of both wars? Hmmmm. He has yet to keep a promise. So change is needed, he is right. lol"
How much is Obama's responsibility, and where is the country headed?
syclonedave: "All he has done is made government bigger, give me a break. He's nearly doubled the debt in three years. We will be a third-world nation at this rate."
Aeromechanic: "If you really knew what you were talking about you would know that almost all of the spending done under the Obama administration is actually continued spending for programs, wars and tax breaks initiated under Bush. All those things will continue to cost us dearly for years to come. By contrast, the major spending that Obama has done, like the Stimulus, is over and has been paid for. You may choose to not believe what I have posted, but they are true none the less."
This commenter said the moderate policies are all about election season.
USCitizen21: "It's a lie. He's just speaking as a moderate again because it's election time just like he spoke when he ran before. But his voting record and policies (are) socialist, and that's why we're broke! Or worse, he's creating bigger AKORN union campaign workers."
And this commenter said the change was a long time coming.
ibuk: "About time. There are too many lazy good for nothing government employees (and that includes politicians) who turn up to work every day, do nothing, can't get fired and take home a big fat pension. Maybe this will trim the obese fat and get a good working government. Shame this was not done at the beginning of his term. Maybe he would have polled better."
Mitt Romney leads the GOP pack at 34% according to a new poll. Romney's strong standing has caused many to say he is the likely Republican nominee. Many readers had their doubts, and we heard from a few supporters, too, although we haven't seen as many comments as we would expect based on the poll numbers. Comment below and let us know why you're voting for Romney, or not.
Truth and Nothing But the Truth: "Well, those numbers look great for Romney all around. He's going to get the nomination and demolish Obama next November. The country hungers for a true leader, a capable leader. The country needs Mitt Romney to turn the Obama disaster around and get this country moving forward again."
Gingrich's behavior contributed to Romney's popularity, some readers opined.
SixDegrees: "Not surprising that he's gaining at Gingrich's expense. Gingrich completely overplayed his negative ads, and came across as mean-spirited and downright nasty to the point of turning voters off. It's the sort of antagonism that should be reserved for the actual opposition, if it's to be used at all."
Still, a lot of our readers said that on a national level, Romney will have trouble capturing the heart of Americans.
Kashbmaryd: "We'll see who beats who in the general election. I don't think Romney can pull it off. He is too timid when it comes to his own record. In other words, he can dish it out, but he can't take it. I'm going for Obama."
This commenter said Romney may have trouble in South Carolina.
Sandy: "But Romney's numbers are slipping. In South Carolina he and Ginrich are at a statistical tie, 23% to 21%. The negative ads are working."
(Republicans won't be able to vote for Stephen Colbert there, which got lots of chatter, but that's another matter entirely.)
Remarks about income equality derived from an "envy" of wealthy folks may come back to haunt Romney, says this reader.
mirrorlogic: "I'm kind of 'envious' that Romney is doing so well. ...The other candidates probably 'envy' his numbers as well. But wait until Willard Mitt gets the blow-back from his describing income inequality as just 'envy.' That will be like an iron weight on a trans-Atlantic swimmer."
What do you think about the beliefs and tactics of Libertarians, Democrats and Republicans? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.
Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.