How the Founding Fathers Would View the Republican Attacks on Secularism

The previous post looks at how Mike Huckabee would use the powers of government to impose his religious views. I’ve also noted multiple time the contradiction between Ron Paul’s claims to be a strict defender of the Constitution while he denies the importance of separation of church and state. Mitt Romney has also demonstrated a lack of understanding of the role of religion in government.  David Ignatius has a recent column which looks at the correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to clarify how the framers of the Constitution viewed these ideas. He begins:

A bracing text for this Christmas week is the famous correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Their letters are a reminder that the Founders were men of the Enlightenment — supreme rationalists who would have found the religiosity of much of our modern political life quite abhorrent…

It’s useful to examine the musings of these American rationalists in this political season when religion has been a prominent topic. Politicians and commentators have suggested that for the Founders, the very idea of freedom was God-given — or, as the Declaration of Independence puts it, that human beings are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Yet this famous passage begins with a distillation of the Enlightenment’s celebration of human reason: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”

After reviewing Romney’s recent speech he sums up the likely response from the founding fathers:

Anyone who reads Adams and Jefferson — or for that matter, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton or other voices of the American Enlightenment — can make their own judgment about what the Founders would say about Romney’s broadside against secularism. My guess is that their response would be something like: “That is bunkum, sir.”

After further discussion which is worth reading, Ignatius concludes:

One theme in this year’s political campaign has been whether the United States will move from the faith-based policies the Bush administration has celebrated to a more rationalist and secular approach. In this debate, religious conservatives like to stress their connection to the Founders and to the republic’s birth as “one nation under God.” But a rereading of the Adams-Jefferson letters is a reminder that in this debate, the Founders — as men of the Enlightenment — would surely have sided with the party of Reason.

Mike Huckabee and the First Amendment

Mike Huckabee was questioned about a number of topics on Meet the Press this week but the most significant were related to his views on religion as they impacted public policy. Tim Russert confronted Huckabee with a statement from a 1998 speech where he said, “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.” Huckabee stood by that statement however initially it appeared that there was hope for some moderation of his views in a follow up exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: But where does this leave non-Christians?

GOV. HUCKABEE: Oh, it leaves them right in the middle of America. I think the Judeo-Christian background of this country is one that respects people not only of faith, but it respects people who don’t have faith. The, the key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else’s faith or to restrict. I think the First Amendment, Tim, is explicitly clear. Government should be restricted, not faith, government. And government’s restriction is on two fronts: one, it’s not to prefer one faith over another; and the second, it’s not to prohibit the practice of somebody’s religion, period.

Unfortunately these principles don’t spill over into practice, as is seen in subsequent discussion of issues such as homosexuality and abortion. He considers gay behavior a matter of choice and apparently feels that regardless of whether one is born gay they should refrain from having sex. He is already on record as opposing gay marriage and has stated “There’s never been a civilization that has rewritten what marriage and family means and survived.” (Hat tip to Think Progress for these last two references). Huckabee also spoke of legal sanctions against doctors who perform abortions:

MR. RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?

GOV. HUCKABEE: I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior–but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I’ve been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I’m OK with that. I hope I’ve answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it’s important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I’ve never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I’ve never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I’ve never done that.

MR. RUSSERT: But you said you would ban all abortions.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, that’s not just because I’m a Christian, that’s because I’m an American. Our founding fathers said that we’re all created equal. I think every person has intrinsic worth and value…

After further discussion of abortion, Huckabee said:

GOV. HUCKABEE: I think if a doctor knowingly took the life of an unborn child for money, and that’s why he was doing it, yeah, I think you would, you would find some way to sanction that doctor. I don’t know that you’d put him in prison, but there’s something to me untoward about a person who has committed himself to healing people and to making people alive who would take money to take an innocent life and to make that life dead. There’s something that just doesn’t ring true about the purpose of medical practice when the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is “First, do no harm.” Well, if you take the life and suction out the pieces of an unborn child for no reason than its inconvenience to the mother, I don’t think you’ve lived up to your Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm.

Huckabee, along with Ron Paul, is one of two remaining contenders for the Republican nomination who have admitted they accept fundamentalist biblical claims and reject modern science, at least with regards to evolution. Huckabee does at least state, “I’ve never tried to rewrite science textbooks.” Huckabee might not have rewritten any text books personally, but he has supported the teaching of creationism as opposed to evolution in the Arkansas schools. In 2006 The Arkansas Times quoted Huckabee as supporting the teaching of creationism, repeating the common conservative misconception about the meaning of the word “theory” when used in science. Huckabee made this statement in response to a question called into Arkansas Educational Television Network:

Darwinism is not an established scientific fact. It is a theory of evolution, that’s why it’s called the theory of evolution. And I think that what I’d be concerned with is that it should be taught as one of the views that’s held by people. But it’s not the only view that’s held. And any time you teach one thing as that it’s the only thing, then I think that has a real problem to it.

In addition to his error with regards to the meaning of “theory” and his failure to recognize that evolution has become established science because the theory has been tested and proven, Huckabee’s answer contained another falacy described in the article:

Huckabee’s answer was laced with important misconceptions about science. Perhaps the most insidious problem with his response is that it plays on our sense of democracy and free expression. But several court decisions have concluded that fairness and free expression are not violated when public school teachers are required to teach the approved curriculum. These decisions recognized that teaching creationism is little more than thinly veiled religious advocacy.

Fairness does not mean we should teach science and unproven religious claims along with established science. On teaching of creationism, as well as his views on homosexuality and abortion, Huckabee fails to support the First Amendment’s guarantee of separation of church and state despite his initial words in support of the First Amendment

Paul Krugman Misses His Own Answer To His Question

Paul Krugman has asked a question he did not believe there was an answer to and then, without realizing it, answered it twice. At his blog he links to Chris Bowers’ dismissive post at Open Left on the contemplated presidential run by Michael Bloomberg and then asks, “Seriously, why does anyone think this makes sense? I read a lot of polls, and they suggest that the center of public opinion on the issues is, if anything, left of the center of the Democratic Party. This seems to be a solution in search of a problem.”

The first answer comes from reading Bowers’ post, which uses a pack of straw man arguments to dismiss the whole idea, showing no understanding of other viewpoints. If this is the mind set of today’s Democrats, I desperately want an alternative.

The second answer is found in his column in the Monday New York Times. Krugman compares the two parties and finds there is no common ground. Each party is now is dominated by a set of ideas with no room for compromise and no middle ground. This is exactly why we need an alternative.

The current two party divide might be fine for those who hold one of the two sets of views held by the major parties, but not all of us entirely share one set or the other. In 2004 the Republicans were speaking of a permanent majority and by 2006 they were being voted out. There was not suddenly a decision by a block of far right Republicans that they were wrong on everything and therefore they would become Edwards/Krugman style Democrats, making for a new populist majority as Krugman believes exists.

In reality many people including independents, moderates, and “Starbucks Republicans” realized that the Republican policies were wrong. In a two party system that meant voting Democratic, but that did not mean we all agreed with every position of the Democratic Party. Many of us want out of Iraq, want a restoration of a rational foreign policy, want to restore the checks on balances on government which have been eroded, and want an end to the abuses of civil liberties. Many of us also see a need for government action to solve some problems. This includes health care reform to solve some of the problems in the insurance industry, but not necessarily destroying the industry or creating mandatory programs. This also includes dealing with environmental problems such as climate change which are beyond the ability of the free market to resolve.

This does not mean we accept big government solutions for all problems. The knee jerk offering of a government program to provide assistance in every circumstance by people like Edwards is just a transparent method of seeking voters and is simply a mirror image of Republicans offering tax cuts we cannot afford to receive the votes of their constituents.

We also enjoy the products and services provided by the supposedly evil corporate America. Many have good jobs thanks to corporate America. Many of us have built substantial nest eggs thanks to investing in corporate America. This includes many middle class Americans who have taken advantage of such opportunities. A candidate such as John Edwards who makes corporate America the enemy will not receive the votes of many of us who helped the Democrats take control of Congress in 2006. This does not mean that we would naively allow corporate America to do everything and anything it wanted to increase profits. If we were that kind of monster we would be Bush/Cheney Republicans.

Krugman wrote that “the center of public opinion on the issues is, if anything, left of the center of the Democratic Party.” I imagine that would be somewhere around Barack Obama looking at the choices this year. If Obama is the nominee, then Krugman is right that here is no need for an independent alternative. However if the only choice is Edwards style populism or a return to Republican rule, we desperately need another alternative. I certainly don’t know if this independent group will provide the alternative we need, and I’m realistic enough to doubt I will agree with them on all issues. I certainly fear they will be somewhat more moderate than I am on social issues. However I am willing to listen to what they have to offer, rather than dismissing their views as Krugman does or distorting their views as Bowers does to attack them.

Related Stories On Bloomberg’s Possible Candidacy:
Bipartisan Group Meeting To Consider Unity Government

Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

New York Times Provides Further Information on Potential Independent Campaign

New York Times Provides Further Information on Potential Independent Campaign

The New York Times reports further on the Michael Bloomberg’s possible bid to run for president. They report that a decision won’t be made until February but a bipartisan group is “positioning themselves so that if the mayor declares his candidacy, a turnkey campaign infrastructure will virtually be in place.” The Times reports:

On Sunday, the mayor will join Democratic and Republican elder statesmen at the University of Oklahoma in what the conveners are billing as an effort to pressure the major party candidates to renounce partisan gridlock.

Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized the session with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested in an interview that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”

Next week’s meeting, reported on Sunday in The Washington Post, comes as the mayor’s advisers have been quietly canvassing potential campaign consultants about their availability in the coming months.

And Mr. Bloomberg himself has become more candid in conversations with friends and associates about his interest in running, according to participants in those talks. Despite public denials, the mayor has privately suggested scenarios in which he might be a viable candidate: for instance, if the opposing major party candidates are poles apart, like Mike Huckabee, a Republican, versus Barack Obama or John Edwards as the Democratic nominee.

As I’ve discussed previously, such a bid would make far more sense, and have a greater chance of victory, if Edwards as opposed to Obama was the Democratic nominee. There has also been speculation since they met last month that Bloomberg would be less likely to run if Obama won the nomination and continued to oppose the current hyper-partisanship. All the potential Republican nominees are so far to the right that a centrist alternative might be viable, but Huckabee would provide Bloomberg with the greatest chance to pick up the most Republican votes.

The bipartisan meeting to consider this effort will include a public panel discussion and be followed by a press conference. This will hopefully provide further information as to the specific policies they might advocate. It will be necessary to see who the major party nominees are, as well as the specific policies of this group, to determine if they are worth supporting. Regardless, I am enjoying all the exploding heads in the liberal blogosphere among those who mistook rejection of right wing extremism as support for all their positions. With the Republicans no longer offering a meaningful choice as they are dominated by the religious right and neoconservatives, this might also provide the framework of an alternative to the Democrats to ensure that we continue to have the benefits of a two party system. A copy of the invitation to the planned gathering is under the fold.


More Controversy On Edwards Fund Raising

John Edwards has often claimed to be more pure than his opponents with regards to fund raising but I’ve previously noted many of the contradictions in his claims. He obtains a tremendous percentage of his funds from a single source–trial lawyers. A candidate who receives such a large percentage of his contributions from a single source is in no position to take such a high moral ground or claim independence. Edwards also didn’t come out too well when The Washington Post looked at how pure the candidates were on campaign finance issues. Edwards was the most secretive with regards to revealing the identities of his big fund raisers. Today The Trail presents further questions regarding Edwards’ fund raising:

Funding for Edwards Sparks Controversy
John Edwards’s populist message has, without a doubt, helped distinguish him from the other Democratic candidates in Iowa.

But a central tenet of that message — that he is campaigning free from the influence of the powerful forces that control Washington — is being challenged in light of the most recent federal election filings by one of the outside groups advocating on his behalf, and has sparked a round of dueling memos by the managers of the Barack Obama and the Edwards campaigns.

As The Washington Post reported Friday, the independent expenditure group Alliance for a New America recently received nearly $500,000 from Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, a 97-year-old socialite who is the widow of Paul Mellon and daughter-in-law of industrialist Andrew Mellon. It is at least the second check that Mellon has written to an Edwards-affiliated entity. The first, for $250,000, came in 2006, to the One America independent group, which helped support Edwards’s political efforts between his presidential bids.

“These latest revelations make it clear why Edwards was able to announce that he could accept public funds while still spending all he needed to spend in Iowa,” wrote Obama campaign manager David Plouffe in memo released Saturday morning. “His campaign simply exploited the biggest loophole in the campaign finance system in order to get public matching funds while arranging through allies to benefit from a 527. That’s how they avoided the spending limits that are a condition of the public matching funds.”

Edwards invoked the Mellon family name a month ago, and for very different reasons, when a New Hampshire voter at a town-hall meeting in Bow asked about the last time a president stood up to powerful, wealthy forces in America.

“The ones who are best known are not recent,” Edwards said. “I mean Teddy Roosevelt did it, he did it very clearly, and he did it, I might add, in a time where there was a huge concentration of wealth and power, because he was back in the days when — you know, some people refer to it as the Gilded Age — back in the period where, you know, the Rockefellers and the Mellons and the Carnegies, all these people, owned most of America or a big chunk of America, and they used their money and power to dominate what was happening in the government and to dominate what was happening in the economy.

“If we continue in the cycle — which is what’s happening now — if we continue in the cycle where what we do is we try to see, you know, who can raise the most money from whomever they can get it from to win this election and then be beholden to the people who helped them, nothing will change. That’s my whole point. Nothing will change.”

I’ve also noted another recent report suggesting that the Edwards campaign might have been coordinating efforts with a 527 group supporting him.

Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

Earlier I commented on the report of Michael Bloomberg meeting with members of both parties to consider alternatives to our current hyper-polarization. Most expect this to lead to a third party candidacy by Michael Bloomberg. While I would need to see the actual positions that this group takes before deciding upon support, I see something of potential value here. In contrast, the liberal blogosphere has been quite vitriolic in its condemnation of this idea, with many examples available through Memeorandum.

There are some exceptions. Naturally moderates see this as something of benefit, including Michael van der Galien and Justin Gardner. Libby is a rare liberal blogger who joins me in her concern over the ferocity of the response from other liberal bloggers.

Libby both sees some value in polarization but also recognizes its problems. Three have been many blogs posting on polarization lately. Many confuse sorting of the parties with polarization when they see this as a good thing.

Sorting of the parties is the separation of liberals into the Democratic Party and conservatives into the Republican Party. There are arguments for why this is preferable to the situation in the days in which the Democrats had both liberals and southern conservatives, and even Republicans had a real liberal contingent. With this sorting we now have a situation where each party does stand for something different in contrast to the days when it was commonly argued that there was not a dime’s worth of difference between the two.

Sorting is not the same as today’s hyper-partisanship. This partisanship not only divides the parties ideologically, but growing numbers in each party not only ignore the views of the other party but look with disdain on all but those on the extremes. We’ve already seen the Republicans ostracize the moderates from their party, resulting in them becoming no longer able to either govern effectively or win elections.

We are now seeing the same among many on the left. Elizabeth Edwards claims that those who do not support her husband’s policies are not actual Democrats. John Edwards and supporters like Paul Krugman, as well as many liberal bloggers, are attacking Obama for simply being willing to consider the views of others. When someone like Obama is being attacked for not being pure enough, the Democrats risk becoming just a mirror image of the extremist Republicans.

We’ve also seen plenty of situations in recent years when each party will block measures of the other not based upon what is good policy but based upon preventing the other from having a political victory. We have moved well beyond the days when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could share a friendly drink at the end of the day, and sometimes even cooperate on policy.

This is the situation which has made such a unity movement necessary. The vitriol with which many liberal bloggers are attacking the concept demonstrates exactly why this is necessary. It also solves a potential dilemma for me. Under normal circumstances if someone like Edwards were to receive the Democratic nomination I’d stay home, or possibly hold my nose and vote Republican. This is much harder to contemplate with the movement of the GOP to the far right, making me happy to have an alternative to consider such as Bloomberg.

Obama Addressed The Free Rider Program on MTP

Ben Smith notes that Barack Obama addressed the “free rider” problem on Meet the Press. Supporters of mandates for health care coverage argue that young healthy people would simply wait until they are sick to get insurance. Obama suggested you could “charge a penalty if they try to sign up later.”

This is an obvious solution–one so obvious that I already discussed it in previous posts on mandates such as here. There is precedent for such an idea in the Medicare Part D program. As I previously wrote:

It wouldn’t be difficult to structure the system to prevent people from getting a free ride by waiting until they have medical problems. This might be one situation in which preexisting condition clauses could be maintained. There is also a far better analogy from Medicare than the one Krugman provides in the Medicare Part D Program. The new program which covers pharmaceuticals, despite having many other flaws, has found a way around this type of problem. The plan is voluntary to join the plan but there are two forms of restrictions on those who haven’t joined but decide to join in the future. There is open enrollment for only part of the year, making it a gamble for people who might develop an expensive medical condition in March and have to pay for their prescriptions out of pocket until the following January. There is also a penalty as those who join later must pay higher premiums once they opt in to offset the fact that they didn’t pay into the system when they were younger and presumably less expensive to cover.

The underlying problem with mandates remains that this could be a deal breaker for many voters. Americans do not want to be told what to do. However, most Americans would rather have health insurance if they could afford it. Offering ways for those without coverage to obtain coverage will be far more effective, and far more likely to receive political support, than any mandatory program. The goal of health care reform should be to make health care coverage affordable, with universal coverage hopefully becoming the eventual consequence of this. Making coverage affordable, and not making it universal, should be the immediate goal of any health care plan. Politicians like Clinton and Edwards who consider whether a plan is universal to be the major criteria to compare plans miss the point.

Bipartisan Group Meeting To Consider Unity Government

For years the Republicans have ruled from the extreme right based and forcing the moderates out of their party until they wound up in the present situation where they first lost Congress and now look likely to lose the White House. Rather than learning from this experience, many Democrats are supporting John Edwards, who proposes to do exactly the same with his newly-adopted extreme populist polices. Numerous posts on liberal blogs, as well as writings from Paul Krugman, have promoted such hyper-partisanship, even to the point of dismissing Obama as undesirable. If the Democrats should be so foolish as to go this route, or to nominate Hillary Clinton who is also opposed by a considerable portion of the electorate, it will serve them right if they are denied the White House due to a new force in politics.

The Washington Post reports that Michael Bloomberg will be meeting with a group of Democrats and Republicans on January 7 to discuss developing a government of national unity. This would possibly include supporting a third party candidate for president. While they do not specifically bill this as backing Bloomberg, considering the money he would bring to such a campaign this would be the most likely outcome. Multiple supporters of the effort are mentioned:

Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.), and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman…

The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Historically third parties have performed poorly, but the situation is now quite different. Both parties are in danger of being controlled by their extremes leaving many people who feel that neither party represents them. The internet provides a mechanism for organization and fund raising which can challenge the advantages of the established parties. Bloomberg’s wealth would further decrease the advantages of the major parties, and the campaign could get off the ground more quickly than the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees. In 2004, after clinching the Democratic nomination, John Kerry had to spend most of his time raising money before his campaign got off the ground. Without the advantages of incumbency, and with decreased contributions to Republicans this year, they would also be in a similar situation. Should either party have a protracted primary campaign they could be at an even further disadvantage. Ross Perot led the major party candidates in the polls at one point, and Bloomberg would be a much more “reasonable” candidate to borrow from Peggy Noonan’s recent analysis.

The chances of success of such an effort will depend upon who the major parties nominate. There have been rumors since their recent meeting that Bloomberg will not run if Obama is the Democratic nominee, and such a challenge would be futile considering Obama’s support among independents, many moderate Republicans, and even some libertarians who are disillusioned with Paul’s social conservatism and ties to right wing extremists.

Bloomberg’s best chance for victory would be if John Edwards received the Democratic nomination. In such a three way race, Bloomberg would prevent Edwards from winning the electoral votes of the east and west coasts. The Republicans would take the south and mountain states, and the midwest would be a battleground where Edwards would also have a difficult job winning many states. In such a situation many Democrats might ultimately decide to go with Bloomberg as opposed to risking support for Edwards who would place them in danger of coming in third. With Edwards made irrelevant, Bloomberg could then take the blue states and be more competitive than the Democrats have been in several red states. His chances would be best if Mike Huckabee won the Republican nomination as many Wall Street and country club Republicans would prefer Bloomberg over him.

There are many other possible scenarios. Knocking out the Republicans would be even easier if Ron Paul won the nomination, but this is hardly within the realm of reality. If Clinton won the Democratic nomination, Bloomberg would have a more difficult job of winning than if Edwards won the nomination, but with Clinton’s negatives a victory still might be possible. Even if Bloomberg could not win, such a candidacy would dramatically change the election and all previous predictions of the outcome would be irrelevant.

Update: Liberal Hostility To Bipartisanship

Paris Hilton Loses Bulk of Expected Inheritance


Paris Hilton is might not inherit as much money as she expected as The Telegraph report that her grandfather has decided to donate 97% of his fortune to charity:

Barron Hilton, 80, whose father Conrad founded the Hilton Hotel chain in 1919, will donate most of his fortune to the Conrad N Hilton Foundation. Only three per cent – $69 million – will be left to his heirs…

Paris, who had stood to inherit an estimated $100 million, will now receive about $5 million after tax.

An inheritance of $5 million will allow someone to live an upper middle class lifestyle without further resources but will not provide for the lifestyle that Paris accustomed to. It is a good thing that she has other sources of income. She did earn $5.6 million last year, so we don’t have to worry about Paris.

Barron Hilton claims to have followed his father’s example but the story does present a contradiction here:

Mr Hilton, the chairman of the foundation, said he was “proud to follow my father’s example”. On his death, in 1979, Conrad Hilton left 97 per cent of his money to the foundation he had founded in 1944. But his son challenged the will and reached an accord dividing ownership of the shares with the foundation.

Perhaps Paris or other family members will decide to follow that example and challenge the will.

Ron Paul Might Be Excluded From New Hampshire Republican Debate

Ron Paul is currently not listed among those invited to paticipate in a Republican debate to be held prior to the New Hampshire primary. His campaign has issued the following statement:

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – According to the New Hampshire State Republican Party and an Associated Press report, Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul will be excluded from an upcoming forum of Republican candidates to be broadcast by Fox News on January 6, 2008.

“Given Ron Paul’s support in New Hampshire and his recent historic fundraising success, it is outrageous that Dr. Paul would be excluded,” said Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder. “Dr. Paul has consistently polled higher in New Hampshire than some of the other candidates who have been invited.”

Snyder continued, “Paul supporters should know that we are continuing to make inquiries with Fox News as to why they have apparently excluded Dr. Paul from this event.”

As expected Paul’s supporters are furious over this, but this is not a matter of whether one supports or opposes a particular candidate. Decisions on whether a candidate should be included at a debate should be based upon objective criteria and not one’s opinion of the candidate.

As the statement notes, Paul does sometimes poll better than some of the mainstream Republican candidates. Paul does have a real constituency, even if its size is probably exaggerated by the noise it makes on line. While the number of votes he can actually receive is questionable, he does have enough cash on hand to mount a campaign. As I noted recently, while I do not believe Paul has a chance win the Repubican nomination, he does have a chance to do as well as third place in Iowa considering that it is largely a two way race, and the influence of independents in New Hampshire could also help Paul do better than expected there.

While I do not believe Paul can win the nomination, and there is a chance he could also wind up doing much more poorly in the early states than they more optimistic scenarios I mention above, participation in debates should not be based upon predictions. If only those who are believed to have a chance to win are included, this risks becoming a self-fulfilling prediction. Whether a candidate can win should ultimately be decided by the voters who have the opportunity to see all the candidates.

If candidates were excluded based upon their perceived position in the horse race, Mike Huckabee would have been excluded from the early debates. It was largely because of being included in the debates that Huckabee went from single digits to becoming a leading contender as the social conservatives discovered a candidate who shared their views.

Ron Paul appeals to a different constituency than most current Republican voters, but his views are not necessarily out of line with historic conservative beliefs. I’ve often noted that Paul is far more a social conservative and paleoconservative than a libertarian but this also leaves open the possibility that he can still attract more Republican support. There is also a strong historic Republican tradition of opposing foreign intervention and presumably not every Republican has permanently moved to the neoconservative camp.

While it seems like the race has been going on forever, the first vote has not yet taken place and we should not assume that the rankings of the candidates is now frozen. Many voters do not make up their minds until the last minute and some might still be receptive to the arguments of candidates they have not yet considered. Regardless of what we think of Paul’s chances for success, Paul should be given the opportunity to take the case for his views before the Republican voters.

Update: There are now numerous reports on line, such as here, stating that it is untrue that Paul is being excluded.

Update II: It has been confirmed that Paul is being excluded.