Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Ron Paul Issue

I decided to move a comment up and reply to it as its own post because I want to really lay down my thoughts on why I have decided not to support Ron Paul. A commenter named Mike said:

Your blog for the most part has been pretty reasonable. Yet, you really seem to have it out for Paul. In the past few weeks it seems like your blog has been more of a hit blog against Paul.

I think he has misunderstood my purpose, but that’s likely because I haven’t taken the time to address the issue in a more comprehensive way than just posting about a specific issue that I have a problem with regarding Ron Paul. So let me do that now and explain my thinking in more detail.

It isn’t a matter of having it in for him. Ron Paul says and really believes a lot of things I really, really like. He has been unwavering in his criticism of a wide range of constitutional abuses – suspension of habeas corpus, the weakening of the the 4th amendment, unconstitutional hate speech rules, etc. He has called for a complete ban on torture and for the closing of the gitmo detention center. He has called for the unequivocal end of warrantless wiretaps under any circumstances. He’s the only candidate from either party with the guts to call for drug legalization. Those things are very important to me and I find the unequivocal nature of his stands on them refreshing. There’s a lot about Ron Paul that I like a lot and I’d like to support him.

I and a group of friends, all libertarian minded, have been actively debating this issue lately among ourselves and I’ve been asking myself whether I can really support him. The disagreements among us are honest and sincere. The opinions range from relatively enthusiastic support (I think that’s a fair characterization of the position of my friend Jim Babka) to unfortunate reluctance (which is what I would call my position). It’s unfortunate because, as I said, there’s a lot to stand up and cheer for in Paul’s platform.

Over the last few weeks I have reached the reluctant conclusion that Paul is what Sandefur calls a “doughface libertarian.” The evidence is clear to me that he supports what I consider to be the reactionary elements of libertarianism, the neo-confederate, anti-14th amendment wing. It isn’t just that he takes money from them; he has actively courted their support. He’s spoken to their organizations, he writes for their websites, he’s put their most prominent voices, like Lew Rockwell and Gary North, on his Congressional staff. This is going far beyond the “any libertarian is going to attract some kooks” argument (which is undoubtedly true in and of itself). And for me, that is enough to make me decide that I can’t support him.

Let me also say that I do not begrudge Jim, Perry, Gretchen and others for not reaching the same decision I have. I think they recognize that many of the things I’ve said are disturbing, but they may also ask: isn’t there enough good in his bold stands for ending government abuses to justify supporting him anyway? They may also ask, when will you get the opportunity to vote for a major party candidate who takes such strong, unwavering positions on these issues again?

These are very legitimate questions. They seem especially legitimate to someone like me who has always voted with the very long term goals of influencing the public debate by moving beyond the simple two-party dichotomy we are stuck with and who has always voted for people with whom I’ve disagreed on some pretty big things. I think this is a close call and I do not begrudge anyone who decides the other way. It’s a tempting position for me, even if it is one I ultimately do not take. A lot of people I respect a great deal will decide differently than I have on this, and that does not diminish my respect for them in the least. In the end, we all have to decide for ourselves what we are comfortable with.

So no, I don’t really have it in for Ron Paul. I’ve just been debating this inside my own head very publicly.