What I Think of Ron Paul

Q: From your Living Resources Newsletter, you said to “Show me a candidate who actually stands for individual rights and freedom”, and I was wondering if you’d heard anything about Ron Paul. I quote from his website: “Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) is the leading advocate for freedom in our nation’s capital. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Paul tirelessly works for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies. He is known among his congressional colleagues and his constituents for his consistent voting record. Dr. Paul never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.”

I personally believe that, if Ron Paul is up there with a chance to win the election, he would make a much better choice than Giuliani (and Ron Paul beat Giuliani in the Iowa caucus with over 10% of the vote).

A: I couldn’t disagree more, but I’m glad you brought this up. Ron Paul is essentially a Libertarian. Libertarianism doesn’t refer to any specific or particularly coherent philosophy, any more than “liberalism” and “conservatism” did prior to their demise into irrelevancy. Essentially, libertarianism involves opposition to nearly all government. It’s an emotional manifestation of the philosophical position of anarchy. Ron Paul embodies this attitude. Although he correctly opposes the growth of government with respect to domestic spending and the welfare state, he also opposes the Iraq War. His opposition to the Iraq War is based on the principle that American intervention abroad is wrong, because it involves the use of government force and government force is just about always wrong. As I said, I couldn’t disagree more. I want huge amounts of government force (more than we have thus far used) to protect the property rights of Western oil companies, and others, in the Middle East. The property rights of these oil companies trump the desire of some king or mullah to impose dictatorship on his own people and, in the process, endanger the supply of oil to the Western civilization upon which we all depend. I have stated this many times in this column before, and I’ll use this opportunity to do so again: The American and Israeli governments, for all their flaws, are paragons of virtue and individual rights when compared to the religiously oriented terrorist gangs who try to control that part of the world. When I hear Ron Paul talk about his opposition to the Iraq War, I hear the same babble of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Barack Obama–only much more so. At least there’s some possibility that these Democratic candidates would use military force to defend America, although clearly they require more than 9/11 to consider it justified. Also, it’s important to note that Ron Paul’s opposition to the Iraq War is not based on the use of too little power, or incompetently utilized military power–but the use of too much power, in his eyes. As far as I’m concerned, he’s no different from a pacifist. We might as well have Jimmy Carter back in the Oval Office. The last thing we need in such a dangerous world is a President who thinks the military should be as shrunk and impotent as the welfare state. I don’t care if he opposes socialized medicine and Big Government, just as I do–because if you undermine the military, the rest of what’s valuable about our nation will soon perish. Paul seeks not merely to undermine the military itself, but the very principle upon which the rational and just use of military force is based.

Giuliani would be a flawed President, I’m sure, as any candidate in today’s realm would be. However, we are certain that like other Republicans he does, in principle, think the use of military force is a valid form of government. He might actually go beyond Bush in fighting terrorists, while anyone else will do much less, we can be sure. That’s reason enough to vote for him. What he espouses is more or less a philosophy, or at least an attitude, of limited government. Limited government, as opposed to the Libertarian/anarchist approach, means government stays out of everything except the use of force to harm and punish violent criminals. Giuliani, through supporting lower taxes and fewer government regulations, at least points in the right direction. He has people such as Steve Forbes, one of the few candidates of recent decades actually qualified to be President (based upon his views), advising him. As for what government is supposed to do, there are no more violent criminals than the sort we faced on 9/11 and in attacks yet to come. I don’t care if Ron Paul would shy away from the ideology I accuse him of here. So too would Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. But much more than Obama or Clinton, Ron Paul is opposed to the Iraq War on principle–precisely the wrong principle. He can’t run from that, and doesn’t seem to want to do so. You can have him–but I sure hope I won’t have to ever live under him.