Libertarianism as a Guide, not a Rule

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.

This is a direct quote from the National Defense Policy page from http://www.ronpaul2012.com:

“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.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Libertarianism as a Guide, not a Rule

  1. You did a horrible job of convincing me that you won’t vote for Ron Paul. All I got from reading this is that you love Ron Paul, but you’re not going to vote for him. Tell me, how would you deal with the Syria issue? Would you arm the protesters? Ya, that will bring about peace in the world…. Would you impose sanctions?? PLEASE! Tell me! What would you do????

    Who else running for President do you agree with then? It better be Gary Johnson, cause no one else has remotely similar policies to Paul.

    • Let’s take Syria for example. The one thing we cannot do is let those people just die because it’s not in our express national interest to help. Because lets be honest, if the Syrian government kills all of their people, is that going to affect us? Not really, no. But does that mean we should just sit back and do nothing. We need to end the fighting and be seeking out every possible option. Because we can do something. I think that arming the rebels is the most wrong thing that we could do. But we can assist the red cross in delivering medical aid, we can use our own guns (in our own hands) to help end the fighting. But I personally feel, to just say we won’t do anything because it doesn’t directly benefit us is the wrong way to go. We have the means to help, so I feel we should.

      • I think we can both agree that we know very little about the exact details of what is going on in Syria. Yes, thousands of people have died, we know that, but we don’t really know the politics of whats happening (obviously that can be attributed to the difficulty of getting reporters into syria). I am all for sending medical aid and providing amnesty for refugees etc, but completely against using force or arming the protesters. Unfortunately the most common solution provided by the establishment to the Syrian problem involves using force of some kind. If I can be assured that we would send medical aid and only medical aid, then I would definitely consider supporting it. My problem is that people feel our GOVERNMENTS have a duty to help, when I feel our governments should not play a role whatsoever in defining the type of government other countries have. NGO Aid organizations are a wonderful thing and they should play the only role in sending help. I don’t have much money to give, but I urge you to give as much as you can to aid organizations, take out your check book and write a check, but don’t use my money to achieve your goals(even though I fully support humanitarian help), because when our governments send ‘humanitarian aid’, it usually has a sinister political goal, and I dont want to be a part of that.

  2. I loved this article, and Ron Paul has great ideas. There is no such thing as forcing someone to pay, if it the will of the people it is what has to be enforced in a democracy, if they don’t like the system they can leave. I am a libertarian, but I think socialism can be a great thing as well.

  3. I have just a few responses to your post. They might be rather naive, but these are just my immediate thoughts while perusing your post. If I am just completely ignorant, please enlighten me 🙂

    Number one: We have the resources to help these people? What resources? Money? Why then, are we so grossly in debt? Lives? Sure, but whose? At what cost do we help these people? Are you, Brian Anderson, willing to see your family members die to help protect people in another nation? Are you willing to die yourself? It is not that we choose not to help because it brings no benefit to us, it is because it comes at such a high price, and who is to say that American lives should be lost to save Syrian lives? I have brothers in the military, this is very real to me.

    Number two: who has the responsibility to pick and choose which people we help, what suffering we relieve? There is suffering going on all over the world. Suffering that we could help prevent. But there is no possible way for the United States of America to solve the all worlds problems.

    • Bex, the problem is that there is no one right answer, so people don’t feel naive. We learn and solidify our own opinions through discussions like these.
      So here are my responses to your responses:
      1) America has lots of money that it could be allocating to peace keeping/ promoting operations in the world but a lot of it is tied up in the bureaucratic mess we call the federal government. We need to cut spending all over the place in the government. A HUGE drain on our budget is Obamacare. Get rid of that, then we have some more money. There is even waste in the military budget that if we would just reallocate, we could use elsewhere in places that could use it. As far as people being willing to die to save the lives of others. I have the absolute deepest respect for the men and women serving in our armed forces and its a shame that this administration keeps cutting their benefits. People like your brothers are true American heroes and their lives should be valued. I believe that it is an honorable thing to be able to protect people who cannot protect themselves. That being said, there are means that we could provide military support without even putting any troops in harms way. For example, with strategic airstrikes by the means of either manned, or unmanned aircrafts. Either way, Syrian or American, we shouldn’t sit idly by while people are being massacred.

      2) And I agree that there is not possible to fix every problem in the world. But why should that stop us from trying where we can? Why should I be more entitled to freedom from an oppressive regime simply because I was born in America? Of course American national security is priority number one, but if we can help in other places, why not?

  4. Hey, I wish I can pass this to all the Ron Paul supporters. This is not the perfect world as we see on wall green advertisements. This is the real world, People with al kind of Ideas and views, Most of them believe their way is the best. So there is no way one can achieve anything 100%, unless he himself isolated from the rest.
    Liberal radicals think their way is better and Libertarians think their way is the best. Well they all are right, if the country is full of people with same views.
    America may be too into other countries businesses. We may be needed to back down. But backing down from the right thing to do is not the way to cut spending. This is the best country on earth. As a foreigner I came here with all the good intentions to be part of this great nation. Although having said that, I need to remind ever one that there is a big hate on this country from the other side of the world. Only reason for this is America based on freedom, Religion, women right and free market economy. Especially Middle East countries cannot stand for this.
    Bottom line, national security should not be compromised no matter how expensive it is, cannot afford another 911.As a president George Bush did what he had to do. And it was a right thing to do.

    • I’m a Ron Paul supporter, and don’t you even worry, I’ve read and analyzed this post extensively 😉

      I just have a question for you: Who decides, then, what the right thing to do is? You say that “backing down from the right thing to do is not the way to cut spending” but how do you know that we’re doing the right thing in spending our money where it is being spent right now? I agree, this is the best country on earth. I agree that we have a great nation. Let me enlighten you, Ron Paul is not wanting to compromise national security. He wants to do, what in my opinion (and what is in line with our constitution) the RIGHT thing and stop forcing our own citizens to spend their lives fighting for someone else’s freedoms, not protecting their own country, which is what they actually enlisted to do.

      • I agree with you Ron Paul Is awesome. I love listening to his debates, but our main goal is win the election. Taking the country back from Liberals is our main goal. Am I right? Believe me, we can’t go for another 4 years like this. We can’t win this by going to extremes. First get the country back from these liberals, then will make it perfect on 2016.Ron Paul is a Patriot we all know that. I did not mean to offend any of his supporters. Wish he start this campaign long time ago. Most of us got to know him on these primary debates.
        And again my point of view for right thing is based on what majority of the country want. After all this is a country with democracy right?

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s