Why Not Support Ron Paul if You Love Free Markets?

Dr. Hurd: I’ve read your previous commentary on Ron Paul and I agree with your criticism of his foreign policy. However, I have so far been supporting him anyway because, in my judgment, the government’s financial behavior seems to be a much greater immediate threat to my well-being than any foreign enemy, and Ron Paul is the only candidate who understands the problem and champions the principle of individual rights in the realm of economics. Furthermore, it seems that a financial collapse brought about by a big-spending President would do even more to weaken America militarily than Ron Paul’s mistaken foreign policy, so if he gives us the best chance of avoiding such an outcome, he might actually do the most to preserve our military strength. Do you believe that I can rationally continue to support Ron Paul on this basis?

Dr. Hurd replies: I respect your reasons for supporting Ron Paul, and I agree those are good reasons. Just yesterday, he came out in favor of phasing out the government student loan program, on the premise that government should not be involved in the college loan or subsidy business. Where else will you ever find a candidate who takes this rational and principled position?

At the same time, arguably the most important role of a President is as commander-in-chief. It’s not necessary to agree with the President on everything related to foreign affairs. And maybe Rep. Paul misspoke when he said, in an earlier debate, that it would a good thing for Iran to have a nuclear bomb. But if there’s even one small part of a President who believes such a thing, it’s too dangerous to take a chance on supporting that candidate for a high office with such grave, life-or-death responsibility. I’m not even sure that Obama is that bad, and Obama is very bad indeed with respect to foreign policy in general, and Iran in particular.

Based on what we know about Obama, what would happen if Iran obtained nuclear weapons? He would condemn Iran for having them, but do nothing about it. What would happen if Iran used nuclear force against Israel, or any other American ally? It’s almost certain that he would not respond, not militarily, based on what we know about Obama. What about Ron Paul? We can likewise be certain that he would not respond to an attack. If he supported Iran having nuclear weapons in the first place, why would he be so against using them in what they would undoubtedly claim is self-defense? He’d say, ‘It’s not our concern. It’s between Israel and Iran.’ Maybe President Paul would contradict his previously stated foreign policy when placed in such a situation, but why go out of your way to support a candidate with such an outrageous, unthinkable stand — or even a feeling of that kind?

You argue that the economic issues are so great, and so pressing, that it’s better to have Ron Paul as President than any of the Republicans who clearly have no grasp of what a free market is, much less support it. OK, then. But of what value is a stable economy if our physical safety is so threatened by a President who doesn’t believe the U.S. has a moral right to have its troops anywhere in the world, if that serves its interests? American civilization depends on foreign oil, and will continue to for some time to come, probably all of our lifetimes. Should we withdraw all our troops from foreign countries, as Ron Paul suggests, and risk civilization as we know it? Of what good is his economic policy if we have no gas, no fuel, and most of us perish in the process?

I fully agree that a stronger economy enables a stronger military, and is essential if a country is to militarily and physically survive. At the same time, we can make our economy as strong as we like, but if we’re idiotic and foolish in our foreign policy, we’re still going to be doomed.

This is to a great extent an academic argument. You and I know that Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee, and will never be President. He could run as a third party and potentially ensure Obama’s reelection, but based on Paul’s miniscule support within the Republican party, I doubt that he would be of much influence in such a third party race.

There are two things Americans have got to realize. One, nobody is coming to rescue them. Two, the problems are the fault of the great majority of Americans. People want the “benefits” of Big Government, with trillions of dollars worth of services, but they don’t want to pay the inevitable price for them.

I’m not just talking about money, debts and deficits. I’m also talking about the slow death which befalls a private economy over time, as the welfare state becomes more and more of a drain on the private economy.

The problems that came to a peak level starting in 2007-2008 were inevitable. Things can only get worse as we continue to do nothing about the imposition the welfare-regulatory Big Government state puts on the productive sector of the economy.

Americans don’t get this — not a majority of them at least — and the likelihood of either a second Obama term or something equally disastrous, such as a Mitt Romney presidency, is symptomatic of what I’m claiming. You could magically pluck Ron Paul into office tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter a bit. Ninety-percent of Americans would stand in his way, because they don’t want what Ron Paul wants, economically speaking. That’s the real problem.