Monday, November 5, 2007

(Qualified) sympathy for Ron Paul

By Rick Morris

Every presidential election cycle features an unlikely breakthrough candidate who captivates the mainstream with eccentricities that set him apart from the pack. Unlike Howard Dean in 2004 or John McCain in 2000, however, this year’s refugee from obscurity has no chance of even coming close to the nomination. But Texas Congressman Ron Paul has separated himself from the rest of the Republican candidates by taking positions radically different from the rest – and in so doing, he has angered members of this royalist political party whose idea of responsibility is to sit down, shut up, and swallow the pabulum being pushed by the leadership.

Make no mistake – I am not a Paul supporter. Like other members of The FDH Lounge program, I am backing Fred Thompson and see him as the only viable candidate to save our country from further doom. But I harbor some sympathies for some of the Paul positions and certainly for the spirit that animates his candidacy.

Recently the website made headlines by taking the extraordinary approach of prohibiting any new Ron Paul supporters from establishing a presence in the community. They are well within their legal rights to do so. Moreover, in light of the annoying tendencies of Paul supporters to spam and perform various Internet acts of harassment on behalf of their candidate, I understand the unwillingness that RedState may have to deal with the antics of a candidate almost universally regarded as “fringe.”

But the RedState folks were incredibly ill-advised in defending their decision by labeling the Ron Paul movement as “liberal.” Ron Paul is a self-described libertarian who takes paleoconservative positions on many foreign policy matters. Now, I must admit, as a self-identified paleoconservative, that Paul seems to go beyond where I and other paleos are at and does seem to advocate liberal foreign policy positions (such as the nature of the disengagement he seeks from the Middle East). My disagreements with him about this are such that they would preclude my support of him for the Republican nomination for president.

However, even if you grant some matters of foreign policy to those questioning Paul, he’s one of the least liberal candidates ever to run for public office. The man is a radical libertarian. Name any aspect of the modern welfare state and he’s against it. He speaks fondly of the gold standard and the reintroduction of principles from the Austrian economic school of thought. The aspects of complete individualism he preaches run so counter to liberal philosophies that the RedState justification stands as one of the more asinine explanations of any decision in this election cycle.

For a Republican Party that sold its soul this decade to try to buy more votes by embracing a boondoggle Medicare prescription drug program, the heinous, dollar-sucking No Child Left Behind, amnesty for illegal immigrants and all forms of corrupt pork barreling, a moral watchdog like Ron Paul serves a vital purpose – even if he does offend the Powers That Be in the GOP who want everyone to sit down and shut up as our Old American Republic yields to the New World Order, piece by piece. When the guardians of conservative purity have more sympathy for the blow-dried power brokers at the RNC than they do the pursuit of sound domestic public policy, they have nobody to blame but themselves for a world ready to embrace Hillary Clinton and empower the wackos at DailyKos.

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