I’ve been asked to provide the reasons I do not support Ron Paul for President. Invariably, the mere mention of this fact on Facebook or Twitter generates a barrage of messages, many of them exceedingly personal in nature. They attack my intelligence, commitment to freedom and moral integrity. It would be easy to let loose with a string of profanities, but I’d really rather not. Instead this blog post will outline my primary reasons for voting for someone other than Ron Paul (I am at this point undecided). I don’t intend on defending this any further, as I’ve heard the arguments to virtually every point I’m making. This is just a position paper of sorts.
My opposition to Paul falls under four different categories:
- Personal integrity and issues of race.
- Commitment to life.
- Foreign policy.
- His supporters’ treatment of me and other people, as well as the constant string of conspiracy theories that are either easily disprovable or theories for which there is no proof but do great damage and harm to the reputation of good people.
(1) First let’s tackle the personal issues.
I have no interest in having a personally perfect president, but I do think the candidate selected by the GOP to run against President Obama should be (a) electable and (b) of sufficient moral fiber to withstand the pressures of the presidency.
There are major concerns about Ron Paul’s comments on race in a newsletter called “The Ron Paul Political Report” during the early 1990s. The report in 1992 stated that, 95 percent of the black men in Washington, D.C., are “semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”
One of the newsletters also stated, ”If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”
Many more things were said, including references to African American males as “animals”, and suggesting that the L.A. Riots only ended with blacks went to pick up their welfare checks. For brevity’s sake, I won’t go into further detail.
In 1996, Paul defended “his” writings, telling a reporter with the Dallas Mornings News they were taken out of context. In 2001, Paul seemed to indicate that he’d been telling half-truths (or flat-out lying) all along when he said, “I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me,” he said. “It wasn’t my language at all. Other people help me with my newsletter as I travel around.”
Which story was true? If he told the truth in 1996, he’s at the very least a complete moron to write those things, even if he did believe them to be true. At worst, he’s a flipping racist. But what about his 2001 comments? The Texas Monthly, which conducted the interview, said of Paul: “It is a measure of his stubbornness, determination, and ultimately his contrarian nature that, until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret. It seems, in retrospect, that it would have been far, far easier to have told the truth at the time.”
Precisely. If the truth is that he didn’t write that stuff, he shouldn’t have been so incredibly hard-headed and lied about it in 1996. He should have apologized, saying that virtually all politicians have ghost-writers (a fact that all remotely sophisticated people understand) and said that he took responsibility for the things that were published under his name. He could then phone up the NAACP (which the above cited Dallas Morning News article shows was furious at the time) and apologized for the error. He didn’t. Instead he defended the writings, and accused the NAACP of demagoguing!
This is a critical character flaw for which he has never apologized and, as far as I can tell, has never told us the full truth. We need to know which time he was lying. Was he lying in 1996 or 2001 & now?
And of course, this is all much bigger than just this one issue. He has other race issues. Namely, he is surrounded by people who have controversial views on race.
He once invited Thomas DiLorenzo, a known white supremacist and neo-confederate to testify before Congress.
Paul is also tied closely with Lew Rockwell, who has certainly done at least some ghostwriting for Paul and has at times invited him to speak at his functions. Lew Rockwell is a known neo-confederate. I was at first drawn to his states’ rights arguments and advocacy for free market capitalism. Unfortunately, if you read some of the things he’s written (especially concerning slavery) you’ll be appalled. Newsletters almost certainly tied to Rockwell but published by Paul asserted that liberals, “want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare,” adding, “Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems.” According to Rockwell, slavery is a divine institution.
Paul has also been tied to Gary North, who supports stoning children who curse their parents and actually promoted his book.
I realize that some of this is “guilt by association”. The question becomes, “At what point do associations begin to mean something?” I think we know the answer, at least in some respect. Paul crossed over that line, without a doubt, in the 1990s – and continues many of these relationships to this day.
Without the Internet as fully-developed as it is today, I didn’t know these things about Paul back in the 1990s. While many of his supporters of today were doing the things that most teenagers and twenty-somethings were doing, I was reading. A lot. I was absolutely obsessed with The Road to Serfdom, & The Federalist Papers during High School. I had some friends who knew Ron Paul personally, and we started conversing. I (shamefully) said several times, “Ron Paul is the only candidate who cares about the constitution”. How foolish! How childish!
More on that later.
But for now, let’s just say that all of these things matter. No matter what Paul meant to say, actually said, or should have said but didn’t, Obama will beat him over the head with this until his campaign is unconscious. Ron Paul is the least electable candidate in the current Republican field. While his supporters are principled, I fear that they allow their approval of his policies in public life to overshadow, at least for them, the very real character and race issues he must deal with to win. I truly believe that their judgment is clouded by their love for his policies, many of which are very, very good.
(2) Commitment to life. I’ll be brief on this one. While I do not doubt that Paul is personally very pro-life (I saw his great YouTube ad on abortion, which is probably the best political ad of the season) I sense that he does believe that the federal government should not ban abortion as a means of birth control. He believes that states should be allowed to legislate on it. I have two problems with this position: one is philosophical, the other practical.
Philosophically, I believe that our Declaration of Independence guarantees each person the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If we have not life, our very most basic and cherished benefits of citizenship and life under our Lord is gone. Wasted. Useless. The federal government must, in order to properly represent the ideas of the Declaration, protect human life from conception until natural death. A failure to do so is morally unconscionable and against the very foundation of our nation. If the constitution does not allow for this, it should be amended. Life is precious.
Practically, I have some of the same issues with this as I do the legalization of hard drugs. You must, by necessity, regulate interstate commerce. When a young girl is carried across state lines for an abortion this violates the sovereignty of the other state, in a way, and our legal traditions (and constitution) give the federal government the ability to regulate such commerce. Do we really want the federal government regulating health care in this way?
(3) Foreign policy.
The entire foreign policy debate has been destroyed by the two extremes: on one side we have a group of people who are intellectually inconsistent about both the reasoning and ability to wage war, while the other side is inconsistent about its argument and the desires of the other side.
First, the pro-war or “neo-conservative” side. Some people refuse to understand the argument of anti-war people that Iran and other countries want a nuclear weapon to protect themselves. They’re wrong to discount this theory. Just look what happened to Libya: Ghaddafi gave up his WMD program and was promised security by President Bush. While Bush was true to his word and didn’t intervene in their affairs, President Obama threw the agreement away, bombed the country and allowed Al Qaeda criminals to murder Ghaddafi without trial. While I have no love lost for Ghaddafi, his murder was unconscionable and lends a hand to people who say they want nuclear weapons to protect themselves against the U.S. and other powers. But to the pro-war person, all countries that want nukes are inherently evil. They must be stopped.
On the other side of the issue, you have anti-war people. Most of them in the Republican Party support Ron Paul. Ron Paul’s foreign policy is predicated upon the idea that I described above. Namely, that countries pursue their own best self-interest in all affairs. This is largely true. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) worked during the Cold War because the Soviet Union acted in their own best self-interest. Starting a nuclear war is not a very good idea if you want to live. Such was the case with Ghaddafi, who renounced international terrorism in exchange for what he hoped would be military security. Paul believes that Iran is the exact same way. He thinks they want nuclear arms to prevent a U.S. invasion of their country.
Both sides are wrong to be so dogmatic. In reality, it’s more complicated. Let’s focus on Iran. If you think that Iran is only acting in its self-interest, allowing them to have nukes isn’t such a bad idea. If you think Iran is an exception to that rule, it could be disastrous. Personally, I just don’t know what they intend to do. I can’t read their minds. But I will say that I am alarmed by Paul’s dogmatic insistence that Iran isn’t trying to bring about a 12th-Imam by starting a holy war (this is all part of a theological discussion going on in Islam that I won’t go into here, but you should read up on if you haven’t already). If Iran is religiously fanatical to the point of allowing themselves to be wiped cleanly from the map by U.S. nukes, then we certainly should do something.
Like I said, I don’t know which side is right. But, a dogmatic insistence from both sides is alarming to me because it shows a lack of thought. It shows that the person assumes they know something that I know they can’t personally know. Does that make sense? I need more intellectualism from my president. I know Paul is capable of that, as his thoughts on economics are largely solid. But I need some sign… some hope… that he isn’t as dogmatically challenged as his public words would suggest. Much the same, Rick Santorum’s inability to see Paul’s position is equally as alarming. I won’t be voting for him, either.
We’ve always used pre-emptive war. I don’t honestly think that Paul would literally wait for our opponents to strike first if he saw the attack as being imminent and knew he could save a million American lives by launching the first missile, ordering the first bombing run or sending in the infantry immediately. I am concerned that he would allow Iran, or some other certifiably insane country to acquire nukes under the assumption that they will always act in their own best self-interest. The existence of suicide bombers teaches us that not all people’s brains are wired correctly. That’s something none of us should ever forget.
(4) His supporters.
I know it isn’t fair to lambast Paul over his supporters’ actions, but he is routinely asked to distance himself from some of their attacks and he refuses to do it. He reasons that they have the freedom to do and say what they want – and they do. But he controls much of this. These people love him like a brother, and many of them would stop their offending actions if he’d only ask.
Here are a few things that are horribly offensive that have happened just this week, all coming from Paul supporters I know:
(a) 9/11 conspiracy rants
(b) Neo-confederate rants
(c) I’ve been called all sorts of names, including progressive, ignorant and have been told that I “can’t handle freedom”. Such stupidity!
I was fighting this fight while one of the guys who said I was “ignorant” was still in diapers. I actually agree with these folks on 90% of the issues. Where there is disagreement, they assume that I’m ignorant and they know all. Even though I’m much better read and educated than many of these people, I certainly don’t assume that. I have well-formed opinions on political matters that go back to when I read my first book expressly about political thought in 1995. I also understand that a guy who just noticed politics in 2008 might have some valid opinions, so I listen. I ask questions. Sometimes I’m satisfied with the response; other times, I am not.
I’ve also witnessed attacks on folks’ intentions that are just wrong. One Paul supporter yesterday wrote that the Bush White House was happy about 9/11, and agreed with Paul’s assumption about the reasoning behind actions in the White House as being “gleeful” about 9/11. If you don’t understand that you can’t read minds, you’ll assume things like that. Because to you, it would be true. To people in the Bush White House, it wasn’t. I personally know some of the people being slandered and libeled. They are good people. I don’t always agree with their foreign policy views, but they don’t have a “thirst for blood”, they don’t want to “kill all the Muslims” and they weren’t “gleeful” about 9/11. They just have different preconceptions about whether (in this case, Iraq) behaved as a self-interest nation-state or as a bunch of psychos. I tend to agree with the former, rather than the latter assumption. But that isn’t the issue here: the issue is extreme and extraordinary arrogance. It is allowing one’s own arrogance to then be used to libel good people who did, perhaps wrongly, what they thought was right and good to protect this country.
This is groupthink at its worst because it ruins other conversations and valuable friendships. It perpetuates a dangerous cycle of the inbreeding of thought. This is just terribly unhealthy.
All of this, in total, leads me to the conclusion that while Ron Paul is probably not racist, would probably defend America and wouldn’t get his way on a handful of things I disagree with but didn’t mention (legalization of hard drugs comes to mind) that he isn’t electable and, despite far superior positions on the economy to most of the other candidates, has serious problems. I cannot in good conscience support him in the Republican Primary, but I understand why some people do like him so much, and I greatly respect their decision. Were Paul to be the GOP nominee, I would of course vote for him over Obama. I hope all of my very good and loyal friends who are supporters of Ron Paul can respect my positions.
Upward and Onward!