In a recent debate, candidate for President Ron Paul claimed we should practice the “Golden Rule” in the Middle East. If we treat people like we want to be treated, Paul claims, then we’ll be treated the same way in return.
How can a man as intelligent as Ron Paul appears to be, when it comes to economics, be so profoundly wrong — so absurd, in his position, that one is almost brought to laughter?
My answer: religion. Religion is the toxic element of conservatism.
On the surface, Ron Paul is not a “conservative.” He’s a libertarian. A libertarian is someone who says that the primary if not sole purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of the people, to be free from force or fraud. This is what leads Ron Paul and other libertarians like him to insist that institutions such as Social Security, Medicare and the Federal Reserve — structures designed to redistribute wealth, not to protect individuals — are inherently unconstitutional, and never should have come into existence.
I agree wholeheartedly. However, libertarians like Ron Paul are attempting to hitch a political philosophy of individual rights on to an ethical system of Christianity. What this means in practice is, “Man should be free. Government should be limited to only protecting man’s freedom. But man’s job is to take care of his fellow man.” Therein lies the contradiction. You cannot have your Christianity and freedom too. If you try to base freedom on a platform of Christianity, you end up eating your freedom.
That’s why Paul’s political program, if enacted, would lead to massive spending cuts and privatization of government programs, things desperately needed if the private economy is to come back to life, and if government is to even survive all the national debt. But Ron Paul will also be telling people that we must practice Christian ethics of “turn the other cheek” when it comes to our enemies. What happens if certain enemies don’t practice the same ethics? Ron Paul has no answer. All we’re left with is to be run over by them. A heck of a lot of good economic recovery will do us then.
Of course, Ron Paul and other conservative Christians like him would reply at this point, “No, treat them nicely. And then they’ll treat you nicely back.” This is breathtaking in its naivetand evasion of obvious fact. What are you supposed to do with people who think you’re an infidel, and who believe that you must die? Anything short of total conversion to radically fundamentalist Islam, imposed by our very own government, will fail to satisfy the Iranians who run the most threatening government in the Middle East. Even then, they’d probably still annihilate us once they got the necessary weapons.
Ron Paul, just like the more conventional conservatives, is undercut by his own ethics. He thinks that you can advocate an ethics of “love your fellow man” and “turn the other cheek” while, at one and the same time, advancing the cause of capitalism, limited government and individual rights. But his political philosophy is not compatible with his ethics. His ethics IS compatible with … you guessed it, socialism. Or welfare state liberalism, or “Obamaism”, or whatever variety of socialism happens to be on the menu this decade.
I would love to say, “Vote for Ron Paul. His personal religious views are his own thing. At least he’d be a good President.” But that’s just it. He wouldn’t be a good President. You couldn’t count on him to argue effectively for cutting the budget by a trillion dollars when his own foreign policy proves what he really believes — that we are all our brother’s keepers, and we must bow to the humanity of our fellow man no matter what they do to us. You can’t have it both ways Ron Paul!
This is exactly the same problem we had with conventional conservatives. People like George W. Bush deeply subscribed to Christian ethics, but they thought the economy should thrive and we should stand up to our enemies, at the same time. But the more you subscribe to Christian ethics, the more you’re undercut in your supposed quest to expand capitalism, free markets, private property, and making the world safe for America.
Let’s face facts. If we’re ever going to have a free country again, we’re going to have to let go of a lot of stupid ideas that have undercut us for centuries. We are either our brothers’ keepers (as Obama openly claims), or we’re not. If we are, then don’t vote for Ron Paul. Be consistent and vote for Obama. If we aren’t our brothers’ keepers, then let’s look for a candidate — in 2016 — who will decisively and without reservation cut the budget, privatize the economy, and vigorously defend American interests against violent hoodlums, whenever and wherever necessary.