Where This Meets That
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act”
— attributed to George Orwell
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Big news: Ron Paul won’t win the U.S. presidency. Nor will he win the Republican nomination.
Four years ago, I discussed the then-upcoming election with a friend from Congo. About Ron Paul, he said, “he cannot win, because he is too honest.”
Nevertheless, over the last four years, Paul has completely re-framed the Republican perspective. In 2007, the Republican establishment, far astray from its tenets, alienated itself from Paul’s platform to its own demise. The year that followed realized nearly every major assessment and warning Paul had made while campaigning. The party’s recognition of that is largely reflected in the resurrected “tea party” sect of Republicans (that Paul himself is not a part of).
Ron Paul is not psychic. Nor is he, as many dismissively claim, crazy. He is an avid student of history and economics and is, in every sense of the word, a statesman.
Throughout his many terms in Congress, his voting record has held steadfast to the Constitution. In many cases, this has resulted in Paul being a sole dissenting vote, earning him the nickname “Dr. No”.
Skeptics argue that it’s easy to vote “no” when the outcome is foregone, but with Paul it’s much deeper. Take, for instance, his refusal to allow his own children to accept government grants or loans to pay for college, or his refusal to accept Medicare or Medicaid at his private medical practice, offering instead discounted payment plans or even free treatment to those in need. The way Paul sees it, it is unethical for the government to take money from one group of people (through taxation) and give it to another, so he set that example first in his own life. Of course, being a successful, Duke-educated, OB/GYN in Texas positioned him well to help his children pay for their own higher learning.
As an OB/GYN, Paul has delivered over 4,000 babies. Not only does his professional expertise separate him from his peers on the abortion issues, but he is also the clear leader on taking action against federally protected abortion.
He has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at recognizing life as beginning at conception and removing the “right to abortion” from federal jurisdiction. Further, his book Abortion and Liberty is perhaps the best religion-neutral defense of life at conception I have ever read.
I’ve often said that if only Ron Paul could be packaged in Mitt Romney’s form, he would be a nonpareil Republican candidate. In response, I usually get comments blasting his “weak” or “naive foreign policy”. The only shame in Paul’s foreign policy is that it can’t easily be packaged into tough-sounding one-minute debate responses.
Paul’s foreign policy is holistic, emphasizing power through trade. While opponents have made the illogical claim that his non-interventionist philosophy equates to isolationism, it is actually the opposite. In Paul’s own words, “A proper foreign policy of non-intervention is built on friendship with other nations, free trade, and open travel, maximizing the exchanges of goods and services and ideas.” (“A Foreign Policy for Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty”, House of Representatives, 9/5/2002)
In other words, precisely the policy our nation was founded on.
He continues, “Nations that trade with each other are definitely less likely to fight against each other. Unnecessary bellicosity and jingoism is detrimental to peace and prosperity, and incites unnecessary confrontation.”
Paul’s perceived military “weakness” in foreign policy is simply wrong. He believes, “A moral war is one that is defensive and a legal war is one that is declared by Congress. We should only pursue an act of war when our national security is threatened.” (House of Representatives, 1/28/1998)
He is not opposed to “war” per se but believes it should be waged to defend our nation, when necessary, and by whatever means appropriate to the threat.
Take the attack on the USS Cole, for example. In one of Paul’s many speeches that proved woefully prophetic, he commented:
“The Cole disaster was needless and preventable. The loss of this vessel and the senseless deaths of 17 Americans were a consequence of a policy that has led to a lack of military readiness for our country, while increasing the danger to all Americans, and in particular our servicemen in that region. It’s positively amazing that, with a military budget of $300 billion, we do not have the ability to protect ourselves against a rubber raft, which destroyed a $1 billion vessel. Our sentries on duty had rifles without bullets and were prohibited from firing on any enemy targets. This policy is absurd if not insane.” (“Our Foolish War in the Middle East”, House of Representatives, 11/15/2000)
The larger issue behind these comments is our government’s grand foreign strategy. This strategy dictates that we want to keep the regions where we have special interests in turmoil. By keeping those regions in turmoil, we help ensure nobody in that region can grow powerful enough to rival us. And more often than not, we sponsor said turmoil through various forms of intervention.
This interventionist strategy negatively impacts us in at least two major ways:
1) It empowers non-U.S. forces against each other, often with our military training and/or technologies
2) It causes resentment of our nation
The attacks on 9/11 are the most vivid example (yet) of what happens when those two consequences of our interventionist policies converge and thus demonstrate why Paul so passionately advocates “friendship and trade with all who would be friends, and subsidies to none.” (“State of the Republic”, House of Representatives, 1/28/1998)
It doesn’t make him cowardly or crazy; it just proves him a believer in the power of economics over bombs. To that point, he rightly says, “By averting to the dignity of [our] high calling, our forefathers turned a savage wilderness into a glorious nation, and have made the most extensive and the only honorable conquests, not by bombing and sabre-rattling, but by promoting the wealth, the liberty, and the peace of mankind.” (“Closer to Empire”, House of Representatives, March 25, 1999)
Paul’s domestic policy is tied fundamentally to his non-interventionist foreign policy. More than any other current Republican, he champions small government, believing that the federal government should be involved in little more than national defense of liberty.
In defending national liberty, he believes our troops should be here at home and our tax dollars here in our pockets. By having our troops home, our security, our infrastructure, and our economy improve. In addition, the Federal government should be severely diluted to the benefit of the states.
He advocates shuttering many regulatory agencies and streamlining many others in order to:
1) minimize government intrusion into the lives of individual citizens, and
2) cede power to a true free market
To the former, he rightly says, “Government cannot make people morally better by laws that interfere with nonviolent personal acts that produce no victims. Disapproving of another’s behavior is not enough to justify a law prohibiting it.” (“Some Observations on Four Terms in Congress”, House of Representatives, 9/19/1984)
This stance should be common sense for all Americans and, as such, hearkens back to Thomas Paine’s First Principles of Government, that “He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself”. Such precedents form the basis of Martin Niemoller’s haunting poem “First They Came . . .” and have played out since time immemorial.
America is not immune.
As for empowering a true free market, Paul highlights the oxymoronic essence of organizations like the World Trade (WTO) and North Atlantic Free Trade Organizations (NAFTA): “To establish genuine free trade, no such transfer of power is necessary. True free trade does not require treaties or agreements between governments. On the contrary, true free trade occurs in the absence of government intervention in the free flow of goods across borders. Organizations like the WTO and NAFTA represent government-managed trade schemes, not free trade.” (The Revolution: a Manifesto, 2008)
Abolish the Federal Reserve
Perhaps no issue vindicated Paul’s 2008 platform better than the government’s mismanagement of the economy since that time. The reason is that the government, for the most part, outsources its management of the economy to the Fed.
The Federal Reserve is at face value a ruse: it is neither “federal” nor a “reserve”. The official reason it was created was to increase the elasticity of our economy in the wake of a cycle of downturns and recessions around the turn of the 20th century. Not long after the Fed took over, however, we fell into the Great Depression. Not long after that, we severed the dollar from its gold backing, which left the dollar with no tangible foundation and the Fed with little limitation for “elasticity”.
The evils that come from this “Pandora’s box” are discussed at length in G. Edward Griffin’s broadside attack on the Fed, The Creature from Jekyll Island, but Paul concisely exposes the way the Fed really works in the “Money: The Forbidden Issue in American Politics” chapter of his 2008 book, The Revolution: A Manifesto.
Paul believes the Federal Reserve is not only unconstitutional but also immoral due to its mechanisms for valuing and devaluing currency and, consequently, actively redistributing our society’s wealth on its own whims. As such, he believes it should be abolished.
In 2008, Paul was ridiculed for his views on the Fed. In a mild glimmer of progress (or sanity), those who called him nuts back then now only call consider his position extreme.
Clearly I could go on, because there are so many fundamental issues that our nation needs a different perspective on; whether Paul offers the perspective that’s needed is up to each voter to decide. I have tried to hit examples of Paul’s overarching philosophy, which faithfully adheres to the Constitution as a living document in a time when his fellow candidates seem to treat it only as a burden of convenience. I can only hope voters make their decisions based on a true principled stand and not the popular choice.