The Candidates: Ron Paul

Only one candidate in this race has met Bruno (Sasha Baron Cohen).  Only one does not care what you think.  That man is libertarian champion Ron Paul.

I can’t help but be fascinated by the Congressman from Texas for his unwavering commitment to his own principles.  Obviously none of his views are poll tested and there is no vagueness about what he wants to accomplish.  Consequently, while part of me admires Ron Paul, it’s clear why he can not and should not get to sit in the Oval Office.

Ron Paul seems to ache for an America that disappeared over 100 years ago, but he has never paused to ask why.  With Paul you take the crazy with the good, and he does hold some rational views that many Democrats aren’t even willing to support.   In the end however, he is blinded by ideology just as much as any other candidate in the race.  I could go in depth on almost any point here, but it’s all pretty obvious.  Ron Paul wants to live in the Wild West, and while his supporters may see him as as a lonesome hero among a sea of corrupt politicians, his brand of crazy is not a serious answer to this country’s problems.

The Good

The Bad

  • Fun fact – Paul was an OB/GYN before he entered politics.  He takes a staunchly pro-life stance, advocating for legislative action to define the beginning of life as conception and repeal Roe vs. Wade.
  • There is too much to get into here but the more radical of his views on healthcare include “Stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from interfering with Americans’ knowledge of and access to dietary supplements and alternative treatments.”
  • Paul thinks America shouldn’t have any foreign military bases.  While we cannot be the “World Police” we do have international obligations to NATO, Japan, and Korea that are important to maintain.  We probably don’t need as many military bases as we have, but our military does have altruistic responsibilities like rendering humanitarian aid.  However, I get the feeling he doesn’t support that either.
  • Paul wants to completely destroy unions.
  • He wants Americans home-schooled.  This should remain a parent’s right, but is not at all feasible on a broader societal scale and will become increasingly rare as both parents find the need to work.  We should do more to bolster our public education system rather than turning kids to insular and dogmatic homes.  School is not just about education or socialization, but exposure to new thoughts and ideas without the the censorship of parent led teaching.
  • Paul takes a hard line on immigration.  He wants to end birth-right citizenship, seal the borders, and dismantle our so called “welfare state” because it acts as an incentive to cross the border.

The Ugly

  • He wants abolish the Federal Reserve and return to the gold standard.  Paul is furious over the inflation that has occurred over the past century, but doesn’t seem to understand economics or monetary policy.  Inflation in and of itself is not bad, it’s purchasing power that matters.
  • Paul thinks we should completely eliminate income, capital gains, and estate taxes.  He hates the IRS probably more than any other man in Washington, which is saying a lot.  He even wants Social Security to be abolished.  Obviously this is lunacy. In fact I don’t understand where Paul expects the government to get any money because basically every tax is on the chopping block.
  • He also would refuse to further raise the debt ceiling.  He is not the only one threatening to veto budget deficits, but collision with the debt ceiling comes from money already spent.  Not raising it would be a disaster.  If he thinks the Federal Reserve is bad, I hope he never has to see what a nation in default is like.
  • Ron Paul is so pro-gun that he led the fight to end the assault weapons ban and wants us out of the United Nations because of its efforts to control the international gun trade through the Small Arms Treaty.  While gun-nuts are afraid for their precious toys, hundreds of thousands die every year from the international gun trade and the US is the largest exporter.  I know it’s Hollywood and Nicolas Cage, but I highly recommend Lord of War.
  • Paul wants to eliminate the EPA.  This has become a new obsession with the Republican party and warrants its own post in the near future.  Ron Paul is old enough to remember acid rain, but funny how that’s not a problem anymore.  Experience has proven that corporations at large are not willing to look out for the public good at the cost of short term profit.

Most recently in the news, Paul took the lone stance among politicians to decry the killing of Anwar al-Awaki last week. Joined by the ACLU, Paul believes this is a violation of the Constitution because as an American al-Awaki deserved to be charged and brought to trial.  It’s a pretty tough argument to make considering the existential threat that al-Awaki posed to the U.S. and his obvious guilt, but it is a debate worth having.

Hopefully without me sounding repetitive you have grasped that Ron Paul wants to completely dismantle the government.  I like his passion for personal liberty, but as a true libertarian he believes government exists pretty much just for national defense.   So say good bye to all those regulations and agencies that arose out of real needs.  He doesn’t overtly bow down to corporations like other Republicans, but he seems largely ignorant of their impact on society.  The FDA, FAA, SEC etc. all exist for a reason.  Corporations aim for profit, not social well-being, and a reasonable amount of regulation will always be required.  There are Republican calls for reduction in government and then there is what Ron Paul advocates: complete destruction of the government and everything the social contract has come to mean.

My hope is that Ron Paul will continue to run as an independent when he inevitably cannot secure the Republican nomination.  He may very well split the Republican base enough to do to the 2012 election what Nader did in 2000.  It’s obvious that Ron Paul has no chance of going anywhere higher in political office because his views are just too outside the mainstream.

I admire the man for refusing to bow down to anyone just to score a few more votes, but do not be deceived by his independent charm.  Under closer review the rational parts of his agenda are overshadowed by his borderline anarchic zeal.  At the end of the day Ron Paul is crazy, if in an underdog kind of way.  So cheer for him if you must, but do it for the right reasons.