Remembering the Fifth of November as a Victory for Ron Paul, But Not Necessarily Pro-Freedom Beliefs

Ron Paul’s supporters (and it was his supporters more than the official campaign) raised over four million dollars yesterday in an internet fund raising effort. In general Paul’s supporters, by their violations of the “netiquette” which allows for the wide open internet to operate as freely and effectively as it does, often do their candidate more harm than good. Hopefully this will help encourage his supporters to devote their efforts to such positive endeavors as opposed to their spamming which only creates ill will towards their cause.

As with almost everything involving the Paul candidacy, there are two sides to this fund raiser. While they raised less than half of their goal, which is a reflection of both the depth of support of his followers and their exaggerated sense of their numbers, this remains an impressive achievement. There has been some criticism for the tie in to Guy Fawkes Day, but I see this as far more a matter of appealing to a more symbolic dream of throwing off oppression than to any real advocacy of terrorism.

While some Republicans may not be pleased, there is certainly value to Ron Paul having the ability to remain in the race and challenge the party’s positions on Iraq and civil liberties. This fund raiser does not change the fact that Paul has virtually no chance to win either the nomination or the election, but it does enable him to engage in a far more effective protest campaign. While Paul has many negatives, including many non-libertarian ideas, these are barely a problem in the Republican race where the other candidates share many of these views.

Beyond the Republican nomination battle, Paul presents problems for those of us interested in the philosophy of libertarianism in its broad historical scope, dating back to even before the days of the Libertarian Party. Attempts to move the Democratic Party in a libertarian direction are often complicated by the feeling by many on the left that libertarians are just Republicans who have smoked marijuana. Paul reinforces this view when, while right with regards to both the war in Iraq and the war on drugs, he generally sides with social conservatives in the culture wars which involve many of the crucial issues of today with regards to individual liberty.

Paul’s active opposition to abortion rights, along with his vote for a federal ban on so-called partial birth abortions undermines his claims to support both individual liberty and his support for state’s rights. His absurd claim that “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers” prevents me from taking him seriously as a candidate, or respecting his claims of being a strict defender of the Constitution. Paul has supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. Paul has both criticized secularism and claimed that the Founding Fathers envisioned a Christian America. However, as distasteful as these views are, they echo the beliefs of other social conservatives in the Republican race. Paul at least differs from them in his positions on the war and civil liberties. Movement of the Republican Party in Paul’s direction, even where it is not truly libertarian, would be an improvement over many of their current stands.

Ultimately the Fifth of November should be remembered as a victory for the power of the internet and a victory for Ron Paul’s dedicated supporters, but not necessarily as a victory for pro-freedom beliefs.

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11 Comments

  1. 1
    FreedomDemocrat says:

    Ron, I was looking into the school prayer amendment, I see that he co-sponsored and then voted against it.

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1998/roll201.xml

    What’s that mean?

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s curious. I wasn’t aware that he voted against it after cosponsoring it. I would think that he would have made some type of statement at the time of his vote. Maybe one of his supporters is a aware of the specifics and can provide a link. Hopefully he changed his views at some point on the issue.

  3. 3
    Keith says:

    I have looked into his Votes against bills he sponsors and earmarks and have come to the theory that he does it to represent his constituency, then represent his ideology.

    He puts requests in for Pork like every other congressman, and other things to serve the people of his district, then votes against them as it is counter to his ideology.

    This means that he can serve his district, while not betraying his beliefs.

    This thoery is just my take on it, so if anyone else knows better please correct me.

  4. 4
    Mark says:

    which explains why he would cosponsor an amendment on school prayer and vote against it, the people he represent are probably heavily for it, but on principle, he knows that’s not the federal governments pervue, so voted against it. It may seem illogical to some, but it strikes me as very consistent.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    Interesting about the pork. I had read a report recently on pork which Paul has supported which listed a number of examples. I attributed this to a need to play the game to get reelected. It would be interesting to check the final votes on the items listed (if I can still find the article) to see if they are cases where Paul introduced them and then voted against them.

    There’s still the question of the final outcome with the pork. If he introduced the pork measures and then they died it might be argued that he deceived his constituents but no harm was done financially. On the other hand, if the measures he introduced passed, even without his vote, it could still be said he is responsible for adding unnecessary spending to the budget.

    If he routinely introduced pork to get support in his district and then voted against it, I would think that sooner or later someone would catch on and this would be used against him in a campaign.

  6. 6
    Justin O. says:

    One important thing to remember is that Paul isn’t voting to spend more money, but rather putting in requests as to how that money is spent (earmarks). The money will be spent regardless, and since his constituents do pay federal taxes, they deserve to get money back just like everyone else.
    Some argue this is hypocritical, others say it’s a political necessity, still others think that as long as he votes against the spending bill in the end, it’s fine. In all honesty, I can see the points on each side but I tend to land in the third camp.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    I don’t buy the argument that the money will be spent regardless. While it might be a political fact of life and impossible to stop, if Congressmen would not put in earmarks we would have less spending. I also don’t think he is off the hook money gets spent that he introduced, regardless of how he votes in the end. Regardless this isn’t a particularly important issue as at worst it shows that Paul isn’t perfect and does what everyone else does.

  8. 8
    Al Richardson says:

    As a physician and strong supporter of Dr. Paul (simply leveraging this accidental visit) recommend you all to leave yourself in the capable hands of Dr. Paul for healing and understanding.

  9. 9
    bill says:

    I understand where you are coming from on many of your points, abortion is probably my largest disagreement with paul

    however there is no one who comes even close to his integrity running for pres, let alone in washington. so dispite his shortcomings a vote for paul is not a vote for the lesser of two evils or against someone who is crappy. it is a vote for someone who is actually pretty good.

    I am not saying that we should not talk about what we disagree with him on but that it makes sense to show support even when we do to help show people the direction to liberty even if paul is not the final stop

  10. 10
    Naughten says:

    DAWN OF THE AMERICAN REFORMATION, AND END OF THE ERA OF THE UGLY AMERICAN

    This Ron Paul constitutional rebellion is an escallation and re-orientation of the American Cultural War, by the American People, against the rising governmental tyranny by Neoconservative Republicans and Leftist Democrats. It is sweeping across America like a wildfire – ignited by the illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq.

    It raises many crucial questions; such as, where does the American Constitution give my government the right to sacrifice precious American wealth and blood, in interests of domestic and foreign lobbies?

    And, where does the American Constitution give my government the right to allow my nation to be invaded and permanently by illegal aliens?

    And, where does the American Constitution give my government the right to support the sacrificial killing of children, by their own mothers?

    And, where does the American Constitution give my government the right to discriminate against traditional religious practices in public schools, universities, marriage institutions, armed forces, and governmental offices?

    This creeping governmental tyranny, driven by perverse special interests, has now been going on for so many decades, like the illegal invasion, that the impending American Reformation is regarded with fear and loathing, by those who are to lose their illicit gains.

    Like Gandhi, Ron Paul is drawing his intrepid volunteers from the full spectrum of humanity; and World is cheering him on to victory.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    Naughten got this right in one way. “This Ron Paul constitutional rebellion is an escallation and re-orientation of the American Cultural War.”

    Unfortunately Paul is on the wrong side of the cultural war. He is also not on the Constitutional side as he basic principles including separation of church and state and the later application of Constitutional liberties to the states.

    Paul is on the wrong side of the culture wars, as well ignoring Constitutional rights regarding freedom of religion and privacy when he supports a woman’s right to control her own body and when he supports school prayer.

    As I’ve said many times before, and as Naughten demonstrates, the Paul campaign is a far right wing social conservative movement, not a libertarian movement.

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