Today the top story on Ron Paul’s web site says that, according to a recent poll, Ron Paul would, if elections were held today, have a realistic chance of beating Barack Obama. Now, there are many people who would vote for a wet blanket over Barack Obama in 2012, so this isn’t saying too much, but it is the first time that Ron Paul seems to be being taken seriously as a presidential contender. And so it is necessary that I speak out against his candidacy.
The reason that he has so much appeal as a candidate for 2012 is, of course, because of the Tea Party. In fact, I believe someone during the first GOP/conservative/whatever debate that was conducted in South Carolina last week actually called him the “godfather” of the Tea Party. Ron Paul’s been around for years and there was no Tea Party until recently, so just using Mill’s Methods you can see that isn’t true. It was Rick Santelli who started the Tea Party movement and he credits Ayn Rand for inspiring him. “I’m an Ayn Rander,” he said. (He mentions Ayn Rand in this video, for example.)
Nonetheless, Ron Paul seems to be the candidate who has the longest track record with respect to supporting the drastic spending cuts and radical reforms in monetary policies that Tea Party members would like to see. For instance he has supported “open competition” in currency and the gold standard for years. He advocates abolishing the Income Tax and the IRS, and would instead finance the federal government via excise taxes and non-protectionist tariffs (which would be possible to do only because he also advocates massive cuts in spending). He has criticized race-based quotas and, while he at first seemed to be duped (like virtually everyone else) about the dangers of global warming, he has since described it as a “hoax.” Music to our ears, right?
In fact, if all one considered were the statements he made during the recent South Carolina debate, Paul sounded like the best candidate on the stage, on nearly every issue he discussed. But some important issues weren’t discussed, and I believe he somewhat misrepresented his view on foreign policy, which, to me, is the biggest reason not to vote for him.
First is Paul’s stand on abortion. Here on his site, Paul describes women’s rights with respect to the abortion debate to be a “secondary consideration,” and states that he believes life begins at conception. Why? Because he delivered 4,000 babies. He also recounts a “dramatic” experience of watching a late-term abortion and says that he thinks legalizing abortion puts us on a slippery slope that will lead to legalizing euthanasia. He doesn’t give an argument as to what’s wrong with euthanasia, I guess he just expects you to agree that it would be horrible to legalize it, regardless of the safeguards put in place to make sure it wasn’t abused, etc. I understand that many people agree with Paul on this issue, but I don’t, and I do not appreciate him describing women’s rights as “secondary.”
As for what Paul would do about abortion, if he were elected, he says he would not create a *federal* abortion police, but he makes it clear that he thinks the states should criminalize it and punish abortion doctors accordingly. That means, of course, overturning Roe v. Wade, and allowing the various states to fall where they may on the issue.
As for education, Paul is fine with public education, he just thinks the bureaucracy and control should be a smaller one, at the state and local level, rather than the federal:
[The Department of Education] is a huge bureaucracy that squanders our money. We send billions of dollars to Washington and get back less than we sent. The money would be much better off left in states and local communities rather than being squandered in Washington.
If it is wrong for the federal government to tax us and use the money to pay for government-controlled education, it is just as wrong for the states or local governments to do it. How is his position consistent with “liberty”?
These are just a couple examples. I’m sure if I dug deeper, I would find more about his domestic policy with which to disagree. Again, the biggest reason that I will not vote for Ron Paul in 2012 is his foreign policy.
During the debate in South Carolina, all that Ron Paul said, with respect to recent events in the Middle East, was that we should not be telling Israel what to do with its foreign policy, and that he advocates ceasing all foreign aid, to any country. As I recall, he added that this would not be bad for Israel, because we give more to Israel’s enemies right now anyway. Probably to most of the audience watching, Paul’s position didn’t sound too bad. Surely it sounds better than pressuring Israel to make “peace” with those who would like to destroy it, or than criticizing Israel for taking steps to defend itself, both of which we’ve been doing for years.
So, suppose you love everything about Ron Paul that I’ve told you so far, and you’re ready to vote for him now. If that describes you, you need to watch this short video (really, you need only listen to the audio because the video is just of Imus, who was interviewing Paul for his radio show):
In this interview, which took place in June of 2010, Paul states that he voted against imposing sanctions on Iran, and that he thought we should oppose Israel’s blockade of the flow of weapons into Gaza. If you listen (at some point I suspect that Ron Paul’s supporters will take this interview down — yes, *they* posted it — but maybe not), you will hear that at first Paul’s argument rests on how evil Israel is for blocking the flow of “humanitarian” supplies into Gaza. When Imus informs him that Israel was allowing food and medicine to pass, but was stopping only the flow of weapons, Paul replies that, since Hamas was democratically elected, they should have the right to get the weapons, too.
Hamas, who is out to destroy Israel, should be entitled to get weapons masquerading as humanitarian aid, simply because they were democratically elected. He went on to say that we should go ahead and “talk” to Hamas and the like, because it would likely do some good, as it has with China. Anyway, listen for yourself.
Given what Paul says in the interview, I suspect that he might defend his position here by reiterating the “context” that he alludes to in the clip: that the U.S. is currently giving aid and weapons to Israel, so what Israel does with those weapons reflects on us. He would say this in response to my charge that he misrepresented his view on Israel in last week’s debate. Last week he said we should leave Israel alone, last June he said we should oppose Israel’s attempt to defend itself.
In fact, both these positions are wrong. We should support Israel. In the context of the Middle East, Israel is the lone beacon representing the protection of individual rights. (True, it doesn’t do this perfectly — not by a longshot — but it does so far better than any other country in the region.) It is for this reason that Leonard Peikoff argues that every person who is anti-Israel is also anti-American. And, if that commonality is not enough, Israel has also proven itself to be a valuable ally against our enemies, contributing intelligence along with military expertise and capability to the war against Islamic Jihad.
(For a rational approach to today’s most pressing foreign policy issue, the war on Islamic Jihad, see generally this article.)
No, I will not vote for Ron Paul in 2012. I just hope that someone better emerges. And given that the debates already seem to be starting, I hope that he (or she) does so soon!
[UPDATE: Check out this story over on Hot Air. Apparently Ron Paul said, in an interview on Tuesday May 10, that Obama's killing of Osama bin Laden was "absolutely unnecessary."]
[UPDATE 2: To those commenters who would like to see more on why Paul's non-interventionism is bad, check out this video clip, which Bosch Fawstin found on Hot Air.
If Paul thinks we are to blame for the terrorists' behavior because we are "occupiers," then could he think we'd be morally justified in retaliating against them (much less stopping them from getting nuclear weapons, etc.)? Of course, I thought that point was already made pretty clearly when Paul, in the other clip I posted, above, said that Hamas should have free access to weapons, even though it has repeatedly attacked Israel with same. But in case another piece of evidence might help...
On my view, both Obama and Bush lacked the moral certainty necessary to properly defend our country. (In fact, even Reagan wasn't perfect in this regard.) And neither of them has come out explicitly and said that we're to blame for terrorism, as Paul has. I assume that, if he were elected President, Paul's actions (or his choice to refrain from acting) would follow from these ideas. And so I will vote accordingly.
For those who are interested, I will have a little more to say about Ron Paul during today's podcast, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., PST. Register to attend live here, or you can download the recorded podcast either here or on iTunes later this evening.]