Let’s establish from the beginning that on the spectrum of political ideologies, I consider myself to be a libertarian leaning conservative. I attribute that to my father, who for many years considered himself entirely libertarian, and tried to pass those thoughts and views along to his children. I like small government. But let me again make it clear that I do not consider myself to be a staunch libertarian. I do think that the current system is extremely bloated and that, for many, the Constitution has been considered nothing more than an old piece of paper in a museum. I agree this must change, but maybe not in the same way others may want it to. In changing the current system we need to rely on libertarian ideals of small government as our guide while also being willing to mold each individual policy so that the United States of America can best promote peace and prosperity at home and abroad.
Over the course of this primary season, I have personally come into contact with many strong Ron Paul supporters. Ron Paul is the candidate who is the champion of libertarian ideals. But in my conversations with Ron Paul supporters, I often feel like I’m being accused of supporting a socialist run police state, where Big Brother is as common as the taxes which fund him. Considering the fact, as I mentioned earlier, that I like to think of myself as being a libertarian leaning conservative, I am taken aback and left with a bad taste in my mouth by these encounters. I’m left to reflect on my own political decisions and decide if I’m really supporting the right candidate. I ask myself, “Well, aren’t I in favor of limited government? … Don’t I want to see one trillion in debt cut in the budget? … Don’t I want states rights and federalism to thrive?” The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes,” but still Ron Paul is not the one for me. Here are some examples of issues that should be considered exceptions to the hard fast rules present in the minds of libertarians like Ron Paul.
One reason for this is that I do not believe that the world is as black and white as Paul believes it is. Libertarianism to me represents the ideal. It represents what we should be striving towards. If you are a typical Ron Paul person, you have likely already yelled at the computer, “Well then why not support the guy who is going to do that?!” Why not? Because, though I believe that libertarianism embodies the ideal form of government, we do not live in an ideal world. As much as it may pain us to admit it, the world is more gray than it is black and white. Foreign policy seems to me to be the most obvious example of this.
“Taxpayers are forced to spend billions of dollars each year to protect the borders of other countries, while Washington refuses to deal with our own border security needs.
“Congress has been rendered virtually irrelevant in foreign policy decisions and regularly cedes authority to an executive branch that refuses to be held accountable for its actions.”
I personally think that these are great arguments against current National Defense policies. Like Ron Paul suggests, we need to avoid unnecessary war and always go about engaging in war in a constitutional fashion, but we need to allow for exceptions to the rule. I know this is a slippery slope, but it is necessary to consider.
When asked about what the United States should do in Syria, Ron Paul answered “It’s none of our business” (Read full statement here). In that interview he makes very valid points about how it’s not expressly in our national interest to care. I would agree with him, but we should still care. Thousands, even tens of thousands, of innocent civilians in Syria have died for desiring to overthrow a repressive regime, for desiring the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do we just sit back and let them die; let them work it out themselves, while the regime kills more and more everyday? Think about that. According to the black and white libertarian logic, the answer is yes, let them be, because it’s not our problem. But in any case when people are treated inhumanly, do we just sit back knowing that we have the resources to help and just let these people suffer? Do we let these tyrants consolidate their power so that they can continue to harbor non-state actors that are determined to see the destruction of the west? I understand that intervention in any way is costly, so let’s cut the fat elsewhere in the budget and come up with the cash to help these suffering people. Though I know that we could easily avoid such an increase in taxes if we cut the budget elsewhere, even if it means paying a few more dollars, sign me up, and if that makes me a raving liberal, then so be it.
His stance on foreign policy might be enough to convince me not to vote for him, even if it were the only problem I had with Paul’s policy. I am in agreement with all of the ideals of his domestic policies (just like I, in principle, favor the ideals of his foreign policy). The major issue I have with his domestic policy lies mostly in his stance on social issues.
It is the libertarian ideal that all of these kinds of decisions and policies regarding social issues should be left up to the states. That is the ideal, and I agree with the ideal. But again, there are some things that are just too important to leave up to the states, and Ron Paul even agrees with me on that! Take his stance on abortion for instance. According to Ron Paul’s official campaign website, abortion is the only social issue which Ron Paul feels the national government should have a say in. He feels, as president it would be his responsibility to repeal Roe v. Wade to put the decision back in the hands of the states, and also pass a “Sanctity of Life Act” which would define life as beginning upon conception. From there it would be easier for states to then undo the legalization of abortions. This is a wonderful idea and a great start. It is no wonder why Dr. Ron Paul feels this way. He has worked for years as an OB/GYN and has seen the terrors of abortion. So in no way is my point here to attack Dr. Paul’s stance on abortion, but to ask the question, what about other social issues? Other social issues that are equally important to me, in Paul’s view, should be left up entirely to the states. Again, I agree with the principle of his ideas. For issues such as health care and education, get the federal government out of the way and let states govern. However, just as Paul feels that the sanctity of life is too important to be defined by the states, I feel that there are other things that deserve a definition and support from the national government so that the government can fulfill its duty to “promote the general welfare” of our nation.
I really like Ron Paul; I think his is a wonderful man who is doing wonderful things in educating the nation about the ideals of true libertarianism. The more people strive towards having a smaller, less intrusive government, the more prosperity we will see. That I believe. But I also believe that the world isn’t as black and white as we wish it may be. For these reasons and others, I have decided that even though I like the principles that Ron Paul proclaims, I support a different candidate who also believes in those values of small non-intrusive government while at the same time being willing to shape policy around the specific issue.