Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ron Paul

My good friend Casey has invited me to reconsider my feelings for Ron Paul. I have, actually, always liked Ron Paul. He's honest, tenacious, principled and possesing of great integrity, at least as far as I can tell. However, like many in the "mainstream media" and many Americans in general I've dismissed him as an "also ran," too far out on the political spectrum to have any hope of getting elected. However, as the political spectrum has shifted recently more to the side of Sen. Paul, it has become apparent that he has been dismissed a little too easily for how good his chances might be this election.

So, after thinking for aproximately 5 hours solely about Ron Paul, here are some thoughts (largely a response to this article which states Ron Paul's plans once he is president):

Ron Paul has a very clear idea of what he would do as President, and were he to become President I would expect him to be pretty dogged in trying to accomplish these goals, and a lot less "flip-floppy" than probably any President in history.

He would start (maybe after cutting Presidential dicretionary spending) his cutting of America's budget with the military, which is where I would almost certainly start. The military of the US has shifted from protecting us to largely strong arming a largely colonialistic foreign policy. It needs massively reduced.

He would almost certainly balance the budget by being willing to cut more than any other candidate out there today (there's also some cons here).

He would be fairly practical, it seems, in weening America off of entitlements, rather than massively cutting them. He would cut military spending and corporate tax breaks first and then work on entitlements (pretty much the reverse of Paul Ryan, except they would both go after discretionary funding first).

He would willfuly reduce the power of his own executive branch and bring the balance of powers back into balance.

He would localize government by giving back power to states.

Although he doesn't state it here, he would most likely get the federal government out of the anti-narcotics businees, into which we are dumping way too much money for too few results.

First big one is his harping on the idea of "liberty." I think a healthy dose of liberty (by what I think is Sen. Paul's deinition) is good for any democracy, of course, but I don't see it as the main goal of the government as Sen. Paul seems to. I want "quality of life" results, which are a lot more messy, I know, than "liberty" results. The US, for being a highly developed country, has a larger amount of liberty by almost any definition I can think of, but ranks near the bottom of most "quality of life" indicators that I know of. Maybe a more generalized liberty will make a difference, but I want a rationlist argument for why that will happen, rather than having "liberty" be the ends rather than the means.

Ron Paul falls into the distrous trend of idealizing the founding fathers. "The founding fathers intended" is a phrase I would be happy never to hear again. Even if we had a perfectly clear and unified idea of what the collective founding fathers intended (which we never will, because it doesn't exist), basing the direction of our country off a the intentions of men of a substantially different time would still be a terrible mistake. I'm all for the constitution and enforcing its laws precepts and the laws that result therefrom fully and indiscriminately, but don't pretend it has some mystical power to guide every action and isn't up for modern interpretation.

Those two basically sum up the cons. I think a determined pursuit of "liberty" or of some "constitutional ideal" no matter how pure their form, is not a good basis for government and that I would be deeply opposed to some of the practical results of that philosophy.

Still, Ron Paul is one of my top three candidates for President, after Barack Obama (who I like because he does what I would do) and before John Huntsman (who I like because he is a desperatly needed moderate voice, in a Republican Party full of angry populists). Maybe someday, I'll see the libertarian light, but for now, I'm still sticking with my lukewarm socialism and continue wishing that the US was little more like Sweden.


  1. Good list. I don't care for Obama's administration at ALL, but Ron Paul + Jon Huntsman would be a winning ticket for me. Perhaps with the occasional Romney advice here and there.

  2. How unique, Tim. I don't know of many people who would list Obama, Paul, and Huntsman as their top 3 choices, and I agree that moderates are needed. Unfortunately, they have trouble getting elected.

  3. I like your politics. And I think I'd list the same three, although I wish I could just make myself a composite candidate out of each of their good points. American politics so often leaves me feeling lost and disenfranchised.
    I agree with you about Sweden (and Europe in general). My friends here in Europe look at the healthcare debate in America, and just shake their heads. But I don't think you could really get European quality of life in the United States by legislating. Americans are too married to the values of convenience and consumerism.

  4. By European I hope you don't mean England...because I never want to live with their kind of offense England. I still love you.