Monday, January 16, 2012

The Imperfect Messenger - Why Ron Paul

"I am an imperfect messenger, but the message is perfect.” - Ron Paul

Right up front, let admit that the quote above from the good doctor is spot on. My reference to him as the good doctor also tells you that, on balance, I'm still quite a fan.

As a believer in maxizing liberty, minimizing coercion, and advancing society against the darkness of ignorance into the light of scientific knowledge, I can find plenty of fault with Ron Paul. Some of his faith-based pronouncements, such as challenging evolution, strike me as throwbacks to the century before last. His stance on abortion, although principled and based on a career as an OB/GYN, portends damage to liberty fully as draconian as alcohol prohibition and the war on drugs if ever enacted.

Another oft-referenced issue, the newsletters containing some racist and politically-incorrect commentary and published under his name, bother me less than many who have not been as involved in the ongoing struggle for liberty, simply because I've fairly intimate knowledge that Dr. Paul actually believes in the liberty he spends so much time supporting. Allow me to digress; we'll return here by a somewhat circuitous route.

I watched, sometimes appalled, as Ron Paul supporters in the 2008 election cycle spoke of 9/11 conspiracy theories, the potential for a North American Union and the Amero, and the planned (now canceled) construction of the Trans-Texas Corridor in terms that relegated serious discussion of those topics to the loony bin.

I watched as they constructed elaborate theories around organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg meetings, and the Bohemian Grove, arriving at the correct conclusion that moneyed interests have real desires to see the world evolve in particular ways, but presented in such bizarre, convoluted theories that any serious attempts to discuss these concentrations of power are routinely dismissed today.

And through it all, I watched as Ron Paul stood quietly observing, unhappy that a small minority of supporters were garnering such attention, derailing the political dialogue when important issues were at hand, willing to disassociate himself from such conspiracy talk, yet unwilling to demand that supporters discussing such controversial topics disassociate themselves from his campaign.

"You have a right to your life and your liberty," Ron Paul declares, and he believes it as surely as he believes the sun will rise tomorrow. He believes not only in the right to be free in ways of which he approves, but to be free in ways which he strongly opposes. He supports neither prostitution nor drug use, for example, but argues that government intervention is an inappropriate response to such activity. His belief in non-intervention extends to his followers, admonishing them only with the libertarian motto "anything that's peaceful" first propounded by Lawrence Reed in his book by the same name.

I believe this same virtue became a failing when a discouraged Ron Paul abandoned Washington and politics and retreated to his Texas home and his OB/GYN practice after his defeat in the 1994 U.S. Senate race, pausing occasionally to write an economics column for publication. I'm not surprised that he turned his focus elsewhere and depended on those he trusted to do the right thing, without dedicating any particular effort to protecting his "brand name." It's so consistent with his philosophy and his actions in the 2008 primary cycle that it fits. He maintained an amazingly hands-off attitude toward thousands of people he knew not at all, united with them only in the cause of freedom. He gave them carte blanche to act in his name, as long as those actions were peaceful, and trusted that they would obey that unwritten contract. That he would give the same freedom to trusted associates surprises me not at all. Nothing in his long history of writings or public appearances convince me that the opinions stated were his or that he would have approved of them.

Was it a horrid mistake that haunts him even today? Undoubtedly. Was it by any means a disqualifier? Not in my eyes, although it means that were he to become president, we the people would have to be as diligent as we should always be about the authority he grants to those around him.

So, as one who recognizes some serious misalignments between the society I envision and the one he promotes, who recognizes that his freedom philosophy may have some serious shortcomings when applied to those exercising persuasive or coercive power in his name, how can I support Ron Paul for President?

Philosophically, I can support Ron Paul because I believe in maximizing freedom for everyone, even those with whom I vehemently disagree. I support Ron Paul because I believe that a society that limits control over individual behavior to preventing aggression against others through force or fraud and extracting restitution for such behavior is the apex of civilization, and will result in less strife and a faster improvement in the human condition than any other possible system.

More pragmatically, I can support Ron Paul because I recognize that, contrary to the attention paid to the process, the popular opinion, and the actions of our past several Presidents, our Presidents are not Kings; they are constrained in their actions by two houses that purport to represent the people and a court meant to strike down the most egregious actions of an overreaching government.

I can support Ron Paul for President because he has the courage and integrity to bring to the table for discussion a long list of issues that have been kept off the table by the political establishment for far too long; the expense in blood and money of our ever-expanding empire; the cost to our youth, the inner cities and minority populations of the War on Drugs; the cost in an informed populace of the centralization of education; the cost to our economy of crony capitalism, the "too big to fail" mentality, and a monopolized fiat currency system operating under cover of darkness. I can support Ron Paul because he is the single individual willing to bring these issues to the table at a time when those in power openly mock him for doing so.

I can support Ron Paul for President because he alone has demonstrated an ability to predict the impact of these issues, a willingness to tackle them, and a long record of working to resolve them even when that required standing alone against popular opinion and his peers.

The Chief Executive does not write the law, nor does he write the budget. He does, however, have executive control over many Federal operations, and has the potential to do much to correct the overrreach of the executive branch we've seen over the last decades. As commander-in-chief, he can end the constant waging of war in distant lands simply by demanding that Congress declare war when appropriate, answering directly to their constituencies when they decide to do so. He can do much to restore liberty by striking down a long list of executive orders that have nibbled away at the exercise of choice and empowered the internal security state. He can direct Federal agencies to stop prosecuting the War on Drugs, returning the discussion over medical marijuana to the states, where it rightfully belongs. And he can pardon thousands of incarcerated individuals whose major crime was becoming intoxicated by using an illegal, rather than a legal, drug.

From his bully pulpit, he can expose the crony capitalists for what they are, contrasting the crony capitalism of global corporations and Wall Street against the (relatively) free-market capitalism of Main Street. He can continue his educational efforts in the cause of Liberty and against the coercive, top-down mismanagement of the economy by bringing real scrutiny to the Federal Reserve and the millions of regulations that tie the hands of those who would compete in the free market. He can rally the populace as no other modern politician can to bring fresh faces and ideas to the house and senate.

And above all, he can bring the message of "liberty and justice for all" back to the forefront of political discourse.

And that is how I can support Ron Paul, imperfect messenger he may be, for President of the United States.

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