I’ve had to discuss Ron Paul frequently over the holiday break. Not because I brought him up. For some reason, friends wanted to talk about him. Here below are links saying a little of what I tried to say about him in response, summarised by those more knowledgeable about the subject than I.
Short summary? Ron Paul is not a libertarian. He
- rejects the Jeffersonian principle of a "wall of separation" between religion and government;
- is anti-immigration (“to the right of most Republicans” says Vodka Pundit Steve Green);
- is anti-abortion (Paul describes "the rights of unborn people” [sic] as “the greatest moral issue of our time," and "abortion on demand" as "the ultimate State tyranny");
- “plays footsie” with racists and kooks;
- is a hypocritical supporter of pork-barrel earmarks for his own congressional district;
- is opposed to free-trade agreements (like NAFTA); and
- is appallingly “blame-America-first” on foreign policy.
In addition, he is a Creationist—a point of view disqualifying the holder from intelligent discussion of, well, virtually everything.
In short, then, and to repeat, he is not a libertarian: he is a “states-rights” religious conservative, with all the intellectual confusion that implies—yet his growing public prominence as a self-proclaimed spokesman for the ideas of liberty gives grave concern for the fate of those ideas.
- And you, sir, are no libertarian – ABC (Australia): T H E D R U M
- The Great Society's Great Defender –Mark Steyn, W E E K L Y S T A N D A R D
- Ron Paul Doesn’t Want To Talk About His Newsletters Anymore – O U T S I D E T H E B E L T W A Y
- "...his views on foreign policy alone singularly disqualify him to run as president."
– Michael Moeller, S O L O
- On Foreign Policy, Our Founders vs. Ron Paul – W O R D S B Y W O O D S
- "Ron Paul defended the states' rights view..." – Michael Moeller, S O L O
- Ron Paul's advocacy of "states' rights" extends to more than just social issues
– Michael Moeller, S O L O
- Kook Paul – Gregster, S O L O
- Ron Paul on Foreign Policy - Diana Hsieh, N O O D L E F O O D
- Ron Paul on Israel - - Diana Hsieh, N O O D L E F O O D
- Videos: An Early Look at the Election and GOP Candidates - Diana Hsieh, N O O D L E F O O D
UPDATE: Clearly, Ron Paul is far from the secular freedom lover many would like him to be. Argues Gus Van Horn,
he functions as a Trojan horse for the religious right even as he pretends that personal freedom is as obviously good and uncontroversial as breathing on a regular basis. (Personal freedom is good, but this is neither obvious nor uncontroversial.)So what then about his claims to being a lover of freedom? What exactly is Paul's vision of "a free society"? On that subject, this Open Letter to Ron Paul is an eye-opener, written by one Duncan Bayne in response to this article by Paul criticising the 1993 BATF & FBI assault on the Branch Davidians in Waco. Says Bayne:
While I agreed with many of your criticisms of BATF and FBI tactics & strategy, it became apparent to me that your article was not primarily concerned with those criticisms: the main thrust of the article was to whitewash the monstrous evil committed by David Koresh and his followers. You wrote:
‘The community of faith that once lived at Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas, believed the promise of a free society.’
“This is the "community of faith" that sacrificed twelve-year old girls to Koresh so they could serve as his 'wives' - some of whom bore his children. If that level of barbarism - a religious community complicit in the slavery and rape of young girls - represents anything approaching your idea of what is a ‘free society,’ then I don't want you having any say in how society operates.
Too true. There is no need to defend the barbarism and paedophilia of Koresh’s supporters in order to attack the BATF and FBI goons who killed them. Yet Paul is happy to embrace the barbarity, and in doing so demonstrates the Objectivist argument against irrational libertarianism. Without a rational philosophical foundation, argue Objectivists, without a decent "philosophical infrastructure," politics becomes a dangerous pursuit of empty words, floating abstractions, and range-of-the-moment compromises. How can you call libertarians allies in freedom, ask hardcore Objectivists, when libertarians such as Ron Paul can't even agree on what the word "freedom" stands for? And how can you call someone an advocate of freedom at all when their vision of a "free society" apparently includes the the freedom to rape twelve-year-old girls?
It's clear, just as Van Horn charges, that freedom is neither obvious nor uncontroversial. In fact, personal freedom can and does (and must) be predicated on the base of reason, not of subjective whim. As Michael Berliner points out in this article on Ayn Rand,
She understood that to defend the individual she must penetrate to the root: his need to use reason to survive. ‘I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism,’ she wrote in 1971, ‘but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.’ This radical view put her at odds with conservatives, whom she vilified for their attempts to base capitalism on faith and altruism. Advocating a government to protect the individual's right to his property, she was not a liberal (or an anarchist). Advocating the indispensability of philosophy, she was not a libertarian.The point could hardly be clearer. Van Horn concludes:
The fight for freedom is, as I have pointed out, a war on two fronts: the political and the intellectual. Of the two, the intellectual is the more fundamental, and cannot be lost. The longer enemies to freedom like Ron Paul can masquerade as friends, the longer it will take for people to become aware of the actual requirements for a society that respects individual rights.
That he can masquerade as a friend to freedom at all demonstrates how far the intellectual battle for freedom still needs to travel.
Because the harsh fact about Ron Paul is that on the few occasions he takes off the tinfoil hat and talks Austrian he’s damn good. But when he’s wearing the tinfoil headwear, as he does the rest of the time, he’s rotten.