Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), according to the latest news, may earn the top pick, or second, in the Iowa caucus today for the Republican nomination for President. His numerous public speeches are well covered, but I was curious about his academic work – after all, Rep. Paul holds a B.S. in Biology and an M.D.
I came across an article he published in 2003 in the highly respected Project Muse from the Johns Hopkins University Press, titled “Trading Freedom for Security: Drifting toward a Police State.” Rep. Paul devotes fully twenty pages to explain how America is rapidly approaching a police state. What do you think?
It is interesting to consider his writing for an academic audience, in the context of the role of a possible future President of the United States. Below are some excerpts:
Most Americans believe we live in dangerous times, and I must agree. In
this essay, I want to discuss how I see those dangers and what Congress
ought to do about them. Of course, the Monday-morning quarterbacks are
now explaining, with political overtones, what we should have done to prevent
the 11 September tragedy. Unfortunately, in doing so, foreign policy
changes are never considered. I have, for more than two decades, been
severely critical of our post-World War II foreign policy. I have perceived it
to be not in our best interest and have believed that it presented a serious
danger to our security.
What, then, is the answer to the question, Is America a police state? My
answer is, maybe not yet, but it is fast approaching. The seeds have been
sown, and many of our basic protections against tyranny have been and are
constantly being undermined. The post-11 September atmosphere in Congress
has provided ample excuse to concentrate on safety at the expense of
liberty, failing to recognize that we cannot have one without the other.
When the government keeps detailed records on every move we make and
we either need advance permission for everything we do or are penalized for
not knowing what the rules are, America will be declared a police state. Personal
privacy for law-abiding citizens will be a thing of the past. Enforcement
of laws against economic and political crimes will exceed that of violent crimes (just look at what’s coming under the new Federal Election Commission
law). War will be the prerogative of the administration. Civil liberties
will be suspended for suspects, and their prosecution will not be carried
out by an independent judiciary. In a police state, this becomes common
practice rather than a rare incident.
Some argue that we already live in a police state and that Congress does
not have the foggiest notion of what it is dealing with, so forget it and use
your energy for your own survival. Some advise that the momentum toward
the monolithic state cannot be reversed. Possibly that is true, but l am optimistic
that if we do the right thing and do not capitulate to popular fancy
and the incessant war propaganda, the onslaught of statism can be reversed.
To do so, we as a people will once again have to dedicate ourselves to
establishing the proper role a government plays in a free society. That does
not involve the redistribution of wealth through force. It does not mean that
government dictates the moral and religious standards of the people. It does
not allow us to police the world by involving ourselves in every conflict as if
it is our responsibility to manage a worldwide American empire.
But it does mean government has a proper role in guaranteeing free markets,
protecting voluntary and religious choices, and guaranteeing private
property ownership, while punishing those who violate these rules–
whether foreign or domestic. In a free society, the government’s job is simply
to protect liberty–the people do the rest. Let us not give up on a grand
experiment that has provided so much for so many. Let us reject the police state.