Ron Paul 2012?

Q: Dr. Hurd, would you consider sharing your thoughts, if you have any, on likely 2012 Presidential candidate (and U.S. Representative) Ron Paul? As our country approaches economic and societal collapse, I am strongly considering supporting his candidacy in the hope that he will prevent a worst-case scenario from coming to pass.

A: Ron Paul is known as the limited government candidate. On the surface, you’d expect advocates of limited government to run towards him. Unfortunately, a limited government candidate in the Republican Party isn’t saying much. Up to now at least, the only difference between Republicans and Democrats has been whether to drive us towards totalitarianism at 70 mph or 90 mph — and whether to do so via the Church shuttle or the Marx Express.

Ron Paul, in two important respects, does represent a change of direction for the Republican Party — and therefore deserves consideration.

One, he’s not — at least to my knowledge — associated with the religious right. Quite simply, the religious right of the Republican Party has to go. People who want to outlaw abortion or prevent gay/lesbian couples from having individual rights are too irrational to tolerate or consider as political leaders. More than that, America’s problems will not be solved by supernaturalism or prayer. Two of the “holiest” American Presidents of the last 50 years have been two of the worst. One is Jimmy Carter and the other George W. Bush. Each of these men really meant it when they said that their first and only real loyalty was to Christian fundamentalism. Witness the results of both of their tenures.

If Ron Paul breaks with the religious right, then it takes the Republicans in a rational direction. If he means what he says, Rep. Paul should neither call himself nor consider himself a “conservative.” There’s little worth conserving about today’s bloated, expensive and unjust federal government. Probably eighty percent of it should go. I suspect Ron Paul may understand this, at least somewhat. We’re stuck with entitlements for the short run, but they should not be expanded. Younger and middle-aged people should be given the opportunity — and the responsibility — for providing for their own health care and retirement. Social Security and Medicare are not going to last, and most people in this age group know it. So policy in 2011 ought to reflect the fact that by 2050 or sooner, those disastrous programs will be history.

I don’t know where Ron Paul stands on entitlements. I’d have to see how he articulates these positions in the context of an actual run for President in 2012, something he has not yet had the opportunity to extensively do. I will be listening when he speaks, and I will consider endorsing him or at least voting for him. I could likely vote for him with less reluctance than voting for George W. Bush or John McCain — but again, that’s not saying much.

From what I know of Ron Paul, he’s a refreshing alternative to the likes of Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin. Romney’s and Palin’s fatal flaws are belief in fundamentalist religion. The disastrous policies created by such beliefs are worse than favoring bans on abortion and sex between consenting adults. Religion — every version of it — teaches the so-called virtue of self-sacrifice. This inevitably leads to liberal/socialist/collectivist policies in practice. Witness Bush’s calls to extend the welfare state under religious ideologies rather than secular ones. In essence, Bush promoted a welfare-regulatory state in which government coercion was utilized to enforce adherence to God, rather than the State. From an individual rights and liberty point-of-view, what’s the difference?

We already know what Romney’s religious fundamentalism led to in practice: Socialized medicine for the state of Massachusetts. How can he oppose ObamaCare, the very legislation he imposed on his own state? His credibility is totally ruined on that issue alone, and should be. Romney should not be considered. As for Sarah Palin, it’s not clear what her positions are on anything. At times she sounds a lot like a Tea Party proponent of the Ron Paul school. But she also ran on the presidential ticket with John McCain, who is anything but a radical for limited government (or even much of a Reagan conservative, for that matter.) The biggest worry about Sarah Palin is, once again, her religion. What disasters will that lead to in practice, as it did for Romney as well as for George W. Bush? The religious right likes Sarah Palin, and she seems to like them. That in itself could signal trouble.

The United States needs a leader along the lines of Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Great Britain in the 1980s. I see nobody like that yet emerging, other than possibly Ron Paul — who has, for example, proposed phasing out the Federal Reserve and along with it political control over the money supply. Thatcher was a similarly strong proponent of free market capitalism, and like Ron Paul she broke with her conservative Tory Party’s decades of “me too-ism.” She aggressively sold off nationally owned business and nearly broke her political back trying to privatize as much of Great Britain as she could. The private economy of Great Britain made a great turnaround during her tenure, but when it got to be too much for that essentially socialist country they sent her packing. They would not let her touch the deranged and corrupt National Health Service, either. Things have steadily worsened since then, and before long will probably be as bad as they were before she took office in 1979. That’s regrettable, but the contrast in Britain both before and after Thatcher provides a good learning opportunity — and warning — for Americans, especially as the U.S. economy plunges into the disasters that befell European welfare states.

It’s too early to endorse or reject Ron Paul. Perhaps my biggest concern is his viewpoint on the use of American military force. He opposed the Iraq War on principle, not unlike Obama. Does he ever think the use of American force abroad is justified? Americans do have interests in other parts of the world, especially the Middle East. We don’t need an Obama foreign policy of appeasement under a Ron Paul administration, and we need someone who will unequivocally stand up to terrorist thugs such as the Iranian government.

America is in serious trouble, more than most Americans realize. The hard fact is that extreme problems call for drastic solutions. Most Americans hate “extreme” policies, but that’s what we’re going to get, one way or the other, as things continue to worsen. The choice is: Will we make radical strides towards freedom, individual rights and capitalism — or will we collapse into some form of fascism?

This is the generation of Americans that will either face that choice, or evade it.