Nick Gillespie’s Five Myths About Libertarians

Nick Gillespie of Reason had an op-ed in The Washington Post yesterday on Five Myths About Libertarians. Here’s my take on these alleged myths, which generally have some degree of truth but are not necessarily completely true:

1. Libertarians are a fringe band of “hippies of the right.”

The classic description that libertarians who have smoked marijuana is true (even if simplistic) about many but certainly not all. There are libertarians on the left and right, but this doesn’t have as much electoral significance as Gillespie suggests when writing:

Libertarians are found across the political spectrum and in both major parties. In September 2012, the Reason-Rupe Poll found that about one-quarter of Americans fall into the roughly libertarian category of wanting to reduce the government’s roles in economic and social affairs. That’s in the same ballpark as what other surveys have found and more than enough to swing an election.

Looking beyond the likelihood that a Reason poll might tilt the questions and definitions towards such a finding, there are vast differences between right-libertarians and left-libertarians. Sure, if there was a Democratic candidate who is terrible (as very many are) on civil liberties and social issues it is conceivable I might vote for a libertarian Republican for the Senate who might provide a strong voice for some issues I support. Of course this would not include someone like Rand Paul. Left-libertarians see the issues which impact individual liberty far differently from right-libertarians, many of whom don’t even support abortion rights. Left-libertarians disagree with right-libertarians as to the importance of some regulation of the economy, realizing that markets are human inventions which require regulation to function. Many of the left-libertarians who are not thrilled with ObamaCare prefer a single payer system which directly conflicts with the core values of right libertarians. There is simply a huge gap between different people who might be lumped together as libertarians in such a poll.

Left-libertarians and right-libertarians are unlikely to join together to swing an election, but there is hope that the two could exert pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to change some of their policies in areas where the two groups agree.

2. Libertarians don’t care about minorities or the poor.

Few outside the libertarian movement really buy their claims that libertarianism helps the poor. Democratic economic policies may not be libertarian (nor are they socialist) but the historical fact remains that the economy does better under Democrats. As opposed to the right wing view of trickle-down economics, a rising tide under Democrats is more likely to raise all ships. Where this doesn’t work, the social safety-net which libertarians oppose remains necessary. On the other hand I do agree with Gillespie to a degree that there are areas where it would be beneficial to reduce regulations on small business. That said, I run a small business and do manage to survive with all the regulations in place.

Gillespie is right about the drug war, which is largely a war on poor minorities. What other result is possible after you imprison minorities for drug possession, and then release them from prison with a criminal record which makes it very difficult to ever get a  job?

3. Libertarianism is a boys’ club.

He is right here. There have been prominent libertarians among libertarian intellectual leaders. I have known female libertarians. They do exist.

4. Libertarians are pro-drug, pro-abortion and anti-religion.

As I mentioned above, it is a favorable characteristic that libertarians oppose the drug war (which is not the same as supporting drug use). Having thirty percent of libertarians opposing abortion rights is a negative.

Saying any political group is anti-religion is likely to be fallacious. Republicans have often claimed Democrats are anti-religion but the percentage of atheists among Democrats is fairly low (even if  higher than among Republicans). The difference is that liberals who are religious see religion far differently than conservatives, and do not have the desire to use government to impose their religious views upon others.

Some libertarians are quite hostile to religion. Ayn Rand (who didn’t actually consider herself part of the libertarian movement) has writings as  hostile towards religion as to socialism (which in her mind would include the views of Democrats). On the other hand, there are some called libertarians such as Ron Paul and Rand Paul who support many of the views of the religious right, and whose  philosophy is not one I would consider to be pro-freedom. I have discussed Ron Paul’s anti-freedom views at length here. People of the old right such as Ron Paul also carry much of their baggage including racism, creating further problems when considering libertarians and minorities.

5. Libertarians are destroying the Republican Party.

On the one hand Republicans do need a reboot in their ideas. It is a good sign when some Republicans join some Democrats on issues such as opposing violations of privacy rights from NSA surveillance programs. On the other hand, opposing all government activity regardless of importance just pulls Republicans further from mainstream views.


Rand Paul Making Sense On Civil Liberties–But Where Libertarians Go Wrong

Sometimes Rand Paul makes a lot of sense, such as when saying that the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing should be tried in civilian as opposed to military courts (which many other Republicans have been advocating):

“You know, I want to congratulate law enforcement for getting and capturing these terrorists, first of all, but what we do with them, I think we can still preserve the Bill of Rights, I see no reason why our Constitution is not strong enough to convict this young man with a jury trial, with the Bill of Rights,” Paul (R-Ky.) said on “Cavuto” on Fox Business Network. “We do it to horrible people all of the time: Rapists and murderers, they get lawyers, they get trials with juries. We seem to do a pretty good job of justice. So I think we can do it with our court system.”

If only Rand Paul and other libertarians would stick more to civil liberties issues. Then they would sound much more rational and we would have more in common with them.

I think that one reason Rand Paul and many other libertarians come across as crackpots is the company they keep. The close affiliation between libertarianism and the conservative movement has been disastrous for libertarianism. You can’t mix a pro-freedom philosophy with the views of the authoritarian right and remain consistently pro-freedom (or make much sense).

The Rand (and Ron) Paul form of libertarianism has many of the negative attributes of the far right. In the case of Ron Paul this has included racism, but this isn’t universal to all libertarians who became influenced by conservative views. This also includes support for states’ rights, which opposes excessive government power at the national level but often allows for far more restrictions on liberty at the state level (frequently at the expense of minorities.)

Many libertarians ignore religious liberty while promoting what they would describe as economic liberty. In some cases they are right to oppose unfair restrictions on business and counter-productive regulations. Far too often this really translates into opposing the types of regulation which are necessary for a free economy to work. They believe that markets are something arising from nature which must be left without restrictions, failing to realize that markets are creations of man which only work with a certain amount of regulation. This must come from government, not always Adam Smith’s invisible hand. In the worst cases, libertarianism is used to justify lack of activity against powerful business interests who exploit the pubic or harm the environment. They universally support business over government. While government is not always right in such disputes, when the system is working government provides a means for the public to work in unison against special interests which are too powerful for individuals to take on.

Many libertarians aligned with the conservative movement  have adopted views of the religious right, failing to realize that mixing religion with government is one of the greatest threats to freedom we face.

Libertarians would be much more consistent supporters of individual liberty (as opposed to being opponents of government action on a national level) if they continued their support of civil liberties but also  recognized the importance of separation of church and state, while giving up racism, state’s rights, and a knee-jerk opposition to economic regulation where it is needed. Of course those who hold this viewpoint are better known as liberals.

Where We Stand In The Final Weekend Of Campaign 2012

The polls are looking favorable for Obama going into the final weekend before the election.

From the battleground states:

Colorado: Obama 46%, Romney 46% (Reuters/Ipsos)

Colorado: Obama 50%, Romney 46% (Public Policy Polling)

Colorado: Obama 47%, Romney 45% (Denver Post/SurveyUSA)

Florida: Obama 48%, Romney 46% (Reuters/Ipsos)

Iowa: Obama 49%, Romney 45% (Gravis)

Michigan: Obama 52%, Romney 47% (Rasmussen)

Michigan: Obama 52%, Romney 46% (Public Policy Polling)

Nevada: Obama 50%, Romney 44% (Mellman)

New Hampshire: Obama 50%, Romney 44% (New England College)

New Hampshire: Obama 50%, Romney 49% (Gravis)

Ohio: Obama 50%, Romney 47% (CNN/ORC)

Ohio: Obama 49%, Romney 49% (Rasmussen)

Ohio: Obama 47%, Romney 45% (Reuters/Ipsos)

Ohio: Obama 50%, Romney 46% (We Ask America)

Virginia: Obama 48%, Romney 45% (Reuters/Ipsos)

Virginia: Obama 49%, Romney 48% (We Ask America)

Wisconsin: Obama 52%, Romney 45% (We Ask America)

Daily Tracking Polls:

ABC News/Washington Post: Obama 49%, Romney 48%

Public Policy Polling: Obama 49%, Romney 48%

Purple Strategies: Obama 47%, Romney 46%

Rasmussen: Obama 48%, Romney 48%

Reuters/Ipsos: Obama 46%, Romney 46%

Rasmussen typically has a two point Republican bias. Still, just showing a tie has Dick Morris backing off on his predictions which I discussed earlier this week.

Romney could still win, but would have to out-perform the polls by over two percent to have a chance. The Denver Post has nine electoral college predictions–showing different combinations of states which lead to an Obama victory.

Supporters of each party are looking for ways in which their party could out-perform the polls (with Obama merely needing to match the polls at this point). Both parties have argued that early voting is helping them. The problem for the Republicans is that much of their early voting is occurring in southern states which will go Republican regardless of when people vote. The real question is not who is getting the most early votes, but whether Democrats will increase their total turnout with early voting. Polls of all registered voters typically show the Democrats doing five points better than polls of likely voters. If the Democrats can narrow this gap they can boost the numbers above.

Back in 2004 liberal blogs were counting on the Incumbent Rule to give Kerry the victory. The basic idea is that if the incumbent is running at under 50 percent, the majority of undecided voters will break for the challenger (already knowing the incumbent), giving a challenger who is close behind the victory. That didn’t work for Kerry, and it doesn’t look like this will work for Romney.

Other factors might also alter the results compared to the polls. The Libertarian Party, along with the Constitution Party in Virginia, might take a small number of votes away from Romney. I don’t see the Green Party as being a threat to Obama this year as Nader was to Al Gore in 2000. The Constitution Party’s candidate, Virgil Goode, is from Virginia and has the potential of taking enough votes from Romney to give Obama the state in a close race, while Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson might be a spoiler in some western battle ground states.

There is speculation that the polls might be under-counting Latino votes, possibly enabling Obama to do several points better in some states, as Harry Reid did when running for reelection two years ago.

Under counting cell phone users might also play a part. Polls using robocalls are legally not allowed to call cell phone, underestimating younger voters who are more likely to vote Democratic (assuming they do show up to vote). Polls not using cell phones do try to adjust their numbers but at least one Democratic pollster believes that Obama is actually  doing much better than the polls show.

These factors favor Obama, and there is one more trend which helps Obama. He had the far better week, denying Romney the chance to regain the momentum he held after the first debate.  Besides just dominating the news, he benefits from comments from Chris Christie, the endorsement from Michael Bloomberg, and the report of an increase in jobs created. There is very little time left for something to happen to change the trajectory of the race.


In What Universe Does This Promote Liberty?

Here’s another reason I don’t take the Libertarian Party seriously. Bob Barr, the last Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2008, is supporting Newt Gingrich. And they wonder why many people just see libertarians as Republicans who have smoked marijuana.

Once Again, Ron Paul’s Views Would Promote Conservatism and Even Authoritarianism, Not Liberty

Ron Paul’s opposition to virtually any action by the federal government means that he is on the right side of issues where government is wrong, including infringements upon civil liberties and waging unjust wars. His extreme support for states’ rights should not be mistaken as a philosophy which would increase liberty. Paul opposes the extension of the Bill of Rights to the states in the Fourteenth Amendment and has on many occasions indicated that he would find infringements upon civil liberties by the sates to be acceptable. He does make an exception to this usual support of states’ rights by treating abortion as murder nationwide.

While many libertarians and civil libertarians have seen through Paul’s faux-libertariansm, especially since his relationship to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were exposed during the 2008 campaign, some remained deceived by Paul’s rhetoric. Glenn Grenwald is the latest to write in favor of Paul without really understanding his views, while continuing with his pattern of exaggerating  and distorting Obama’s faults.

The issues regarding Paul were discussed at length in 2007 in the lead up to the 2008 campaign. In early 2008, while substituting for Steve Benen at his former blog, The Carpetbagger Report, I cross-posted a summary of my previous posts to show it would be a mistake for liberals to support Ron Paul. (Steve has since moved on to The Washington Monthly.) The previous post remains relevant and I will repeat the bulk of it below:

Seeing Ron Paul debate his fellow Republicans on Iraq, and even criticize their lack of respect for civil liberties, brought Paul justifiably favorable attention. This has included the support of some liberals who have not looked carefully at Paul’s views beyond these issues. Paul has lost a considerable amount of respect the last few days after an article in The New Republic reported on the racist writings in his newsletter, but there were reasons for both liberals and libertarians to question Paul even before these revelations.

To bring those up to speed who might not have followed the events of past week, The New Republic‘s exposure of racist writings in Ron Paul’s newsletter was the final straw after which many libertarians who had previously ignored Paul’s past realized they must disassociate themselves from Paul if they wished to retain any credibility. I have quoted the responses of several libertarians here and here. Paul’s defense was that the articles were ghost written by others and that he had not read the articles. He also claimed that he disagreed with the views expressed.

Back in November I discussed how libertarians were beginning to dissociate themselves from Ron Paul, and even half jokingly suggested that Reason would eventually do so on its cover to differentiate themselves from Paul’s markedly non-libertarian views. This week Reason clearly did realize the danger to their reputation in being linked to Paul. This led to Reason doing investigative work to debunk Paul’s defense.

Reason has reviewed public statements from Paul over the years which are quite incriminating. At times Paul defended the writings, and the context of the news reports suggests Paul was aware of them even if a ghost writer assisted him. For example, the May 22, 1996 Dallas Morning News contains this (emphasis mine): “Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.”

This hardly sounds like someone who is either denying that he wrote the articles or denying that he agrees with what is published. My post on this topic yesterday includes another quote from a libertarian, Megan McArdle, which further debunks the arguments of many of Paul’s supporters, as well as dismissing the question of whether it matters if Paul is personally a racist or enabling racism.

I’ve been following Ron Paul at Liberal Values for quite a while. Initially, despite some disagreements, I found aspects of his campaign to be of interest. Besides his views on Iraq and civil liberties, I saw Paul’s campaign as a sign of the general anti-government sentiment in the country, which liberals would be wise not to ignore. As I continued to follow Paul, and reviewed his writings well before The New Republic did, I found many disturbing aspects beyond the questions of racism.

One policy I generally followed in my criticism of Paul’s views was to hold him to a standard of supporting freedom, but generally ignored disagreements based upon basic libertarian views. We might disagree with Paul over issues such as eliminating certain government programs, but in discussing libertarians that goes with the territory. Such disagreements with liberals are to be expected. Objections are much more interesting when they pertain to areas in which the so-called libertarian’s views are contrary to principles of individual liberty.

Paul’s views are far better characterized as social conservatism with extreme support for states’ rights as opposed to libertarianism. Despite his reputation as a libertarian, Paul is actually hostile towards First Amendment rights where they conflict with his religious views. Besides the Iraq war, and related abuses in the “war on terror,” the greatest threat we now face to civil liberties comes from the religious right.

As I’ve previously noted, Paul has incorrectly claimed 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.” He has also 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. Paul has supported the Sanctity of Life Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Marriage Protection Act.

Paul’s views on abortion show both his lack of respect for the rights of the individual as well as how he is willing to ignore his principles on federalism to promote his personal views. Besides supporting the federal ban on so-called partial birth abortions, Paul has supported federal legislation to over ride state law which differentiates between a zygote and a fully developed human. I would expect someone with training in Obstetrics to be concerned about such scientific nonsense, but this is less surprising after hearing his views on creationism versus evolution.

Ron Paul supports a Constitution which is quite different from that envisioned by the framers. Besides failing to understand the intent to form a secular state, Paul’s views on federalism stem from a lack of understanding of the plan to have over-lapping sources of authority with blurred jurisdiction between federal and state power. Paul ignores the reasons why the framers supported a stronger federal government following the failings of the original Articles of Confederation.

The fight for liberty is an on going process, with the American Revolution and later establishment of our democracy being steps along the way. Few would return to the conditions of our early days when slavery was allowed and women were denied the right to vote. While some of the founding fathers wished to have the Bill of Rights extended to the states, this was a battle which had to be left for a later date. The Fourteenth Amendment ultimately extended such rights, but this view is rejected by Paul and many of his supporters.

The consequences of these views are of tremendous consequence. While traditional views of liberalism and libertarianism deal with rights as being inherent in the individual, Paul’s view of states’ rights leads in practice to a situation where state governments trump the rights of the individual. I discussed this a couple of weeks ago from the context of Paul’s view that state governments have the right to ban flag burning. Similarly, Paul’s views would have prevented the federal government from taking action against Jim Crow laws. With the Bill of Rights not being seen as applying to the states, any violation of our Constitutional liberties might be justified if coming from a source other than the federal government.

This also explains why extremist groups such as the white supremacist Stormfront have endorsed Ron Paul. They understand that, even if their views might differ from Paul’s personal views, Ron Paul’s philosophy of government would allow them the chance to impose their views upon others. It is far easier for extremist groups to receive a majority vote in a local area, or even an entire state, than nationally. A campaign which started with well-deserved opposition to the Iraq war has turned into one where the main freedom they are defending is the freedom to discriminate and oppress. Paul’s refusal to return a contribution from Stormfront founder Don Black was the point when many first recognized that there is something seriously wrong with Paul and his supporters who defend this. In addition, to see that he shares the xenophobia exhibited by his fellow Republicans, check out this ad which he ran on illegal aliens and those people from “terrorist nations.”

I’ve been criticizing Paul on these issues for several months. Thanks to all the talk around the blogosphere among libertarians following the story in The New Republic I find that some libertarian sites (such as here and here) have raised very similar objections.

Since this was posted additional contradictory statements from Paul have been publicized, further demonstrating the lack of credibility of his denials of involvement with the racist and homophobic material published under his name.  More material has been posted here under the Ron Paul tag. Also see the rebuttal to Greenwood written at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money, including this accurate assessment of the consequences of Paul’s beliefs, tying in his racism and extreme view of states’ rights:

It’s wrong to think of Ron Paul’s racism and his libertarianism as two distinct parts of his political persona, when in fact they are deeply tied together. White supremacists understand what Glenn, apparently, does not; the absence of Federal authority makes it easier for private actors and local governments to repress the civil and political rights of minorities. Paul’s libertarianism emerged in a regional and cultural context that was deeply hostile to Federal efforts at integration. The newsletters give strong indication that none of this is lost on Ron Paul. A notional President Paul is just as likely to use the powers of the office to gut Federal enforcement of a wide range of civil liberties protections as he is to do any of the things that Glenn would like him to do.

Paul Accepts Support Of Advocate Of Execution Of Homosexuals

While Ron Paul has virtually zero chance of winning either the Republican nomination or a general election in this country, there is something about him which makes following his campaign interesting. Part of it is having a candidate who does not fit well into the normal left/right divide of today’s politics. It is also fascinating to watch who does and does not support his campaign. Paul is essentially a candidate of the old, isolationist right. His opposition to the war resulted in many supporting him without giving adequate consideration to his full philosophy. His support for  states’ rights and opposition to most actions by the federal government gives the illusion that he is libertarian. I’ve found that some libertarians do support him, while others do see through him, especially since his connection to other common viewpoints of the old right, racism and antisemitism, were exposed during his last presidential run. The latest embarrassment for those who mistakenly see Paul as being pro-freedom is the endorsement by of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska. Talking Points Memo discussed Kayser’s views and how they tie into Paul’s version of federalism:

Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, recently touted the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska who also draws members from Iowa, putting out a press release praising “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” But Kayser’s views on homosexuality go way beyond the bounds of typical anti-gay evangelical politics and into the violent fringe: he recently authored a paper arguing for criminalizing homosexuality and even advocated imposing the death penalty against offenders based on his reading of Biblical law.

“Difficulty in implementing Biblical law does not make non-Biblical penology just,” he argued. “But as we have seen, while many homosexuals would be executed, the threat of capital punishment can be restorative. Biblical law would recognize as a matter of justice that even if this law could be enforced today, homosexuals could not be prosecuted for something that was done before.”

Reached by phone, Kayser confirmed to TPM that he believed in reinstating Biblical punishments for homosexuals — including the death penalty — even if he didn’t see much hope for it happening anytime soon. While he said he and Paul disagree on gay rights, noting that Paul recently voted for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he supported the campaign because he believed Paul’s federalist take on the Constitution would allow states more latitude to implement fundamentalist law. Especially since under Kayser’s own interpretation of the Constitution there is no separation of Church and State.

“Under a Ron Paul presidency, states would be freed up to not have political correctness imposed on them, but obviously some state would follow what’s politically correct,” he said. “What he’s trying to do, whether he agrees with the Constitution’s position or not, is restrict himself to the Constitution. That is something I very much appreciate.”

There is a history of homophobia being expressed in Paul’s newsletters, and we recently learned of his fear of using the bathroom of a gay supporter. While Paul may not advocate the death penalty for homosexuals, he does have a strong history of accepting infringements upon individual liberty by the states (as opposed to the federal government) as part of his fanatical states’ rights viewpoint. The neo-Nazis and white supremacists who have backed Paul understand the consequences of his views far better than the remaining libertarians who support Paul. They understanding how Paul’s views would destroy civil liberties at the state level and make it far easier to impose fascism. Fortunately some libertarians do seem to understand, such as Doug Mataconis who writes:

So basically this guy supports Ron Paul because he thinks a President Paul would make it easier for him and people like him to enact state laws that mirror the Book of Leviticus, and the Paul campaign welcomes his support. This is not libertarianism.

The first commenter to the post cited above also makes it clear:  “Paul’s Federalist Libertarianism (hat tip: Popehat) is nothing new. He’s fine with authoritarianism as long as it’s at the state level.”

ABC Promoting Bloomberg Story On Koch Illegal Activities

Conservatives in general, and especially the extraordinarily ignorant people who make up the Tea Party movement, are among the most gullible people who have ever lived. If you need sheep to promote your interests who will believe that cigarettes pose no danger to one’s health or that climate change poses no danger to the environment, there are plenty of conservatives who can easily be fooled into promoting your cause. Conservatives and libertarians are also the most dangerous threat to freedom and a working capitalist system in the world–presenting a far greater threat to free market economies than the socialists ever did. Conservatives promote a world view based upon false historical and economic facts which leads the right wing sheep to promote government policies which enrich the ultra-wealthy and eliminate the regulations which are essential for a market economy to function fairly. Of course the leaders of the conservative movement are well aware that the principles they preach are false, as can be seen in their actions.

The Koch brothers have been long-time heroes to libertarians and conservatives who have been unaware of how they have used government to enrich themselves. Their brand of libertarianism also appears to mean that they feel free to ignore the law. Bloomberg published a recent report on the activities of the Koch brothers, which has now been picked up by ABC News:

In a recent documentary, David Koch can be seen addressing Tea Party leaders and espousing American values, saying, “The American dream of free enterprise, capitalism is alive and well.”

But now questions are being raised about the American values of the source of the Koch brothers’ wealth.

This week’s edition of Bloomberg Markets reveals that one Koch Industries subsidiary was trading with Iran and that another subsidiary in France was paying bribes to get business in six different countries.

In one previously undisclosed document from a French labor court case, Koch Industries admits the payments are “violations of criminal law.” A company spokesperson told ABC News that the letter relates only to the conduct of the employee fired in the bribery case and “does not discuss or concern United States law or the company’s potential liability.”

“It’s a document right there in the court record, out of the lips of Koch Industries,” said David Evans, one of the co-authors of the Bloomberg Markets article.


What Freedom Is All About To The Lunatic Fringe

Ron Paul and many on the right advocate a form of  freedom which is not recognizable as freedom to anyone not indoctrinated in their bizarre and irrational philosophy. For the most part I’ve thought of Paul as a well-meaning but not very bright man who fails to recognize that reorganizing society along his ideas would be more likely to  lead to fascism and not liberty. This is why so many neo-Nazis back Paul, understanding his philosophy far better than Paul and his followers do. After seeing the above video clip, I’m not even sure I would say anymore that Ron Paul is well-meaning. He is certainly a disgrace to the medical profession, as well as all decent human beings, in considering  it to be “freedom” to allow a thirty-year old to die because of not purchasing health insurance. The Tea Party crowd screamed out in approval of Paul’s claim that “this is what freedom is all about.” As Andrew Sullivan said, this is indecent,  “not something a decent person cheers.”

As a physician, Ron Paul didn’t give the only response which I highly object to during last night’s debate. Michele Bachmann spread a claim that Gardasil, which is recommended to protect against the virus which causes cervical cancer, causes mental retardation. The claim is not only wrong, but dangerous if it dissuades women from having the vaccine.  Such ignorance is not surprising coming from Bachmann. Many in the religious right opposed the vaccine because it reduces risks from having sex, and the religious right sees no contradiction between claiming to support small government and using government to impose their religious views on others.  False claims which contradict science are common regarding vaccines. It is not surprising that those on the religious right who reject science in other areas such as evolution and climate change would also reject science regarding vaccines.

A Libertarian View of Ron Paul’s Non-Libertarian Thought

Ron Paul has a strange assortment of followers, ranging from naive younger voters who mistakenly think that Ron Paul’s brand of conservatism promotes liberty to neo-Nazis who recognize the more likely result of a Paul government which ignores the structures of government needed to preserve liberty. Many of the libertarians who did support Paul in the past abandoned him when his old racist and ant-Semitic writings were exposed  as having been published with Paul’s approval. Libertarian writer Will Wilkinson is bothered by the fact that Paul is associated with libertarianism:

Yet it irks me that, as far as most Americans are concerned, Ron Paul is the alpha and omega of the libertarian creed. If you were an evil genius determined to promote the idea that libertarianism is a morally dubious ideology of privilege poorly disguised as a doctrine of liberation, you’d be hard pressed to improve on Ron Paul.

Much of Paul’s appeal comes from the impression he conveys of principled ideological coherence. Other Republican presidential aspirants are transparently pandering grab-bags of incoherent compromise. Ron Paul presents himself as a man of conviction devoted to liberty, plain and simple, who follows logic’s lead and tells it plain. The problem is, often he’s not.

Wilkinson’s arguments against Paul’s views are too long to quote here and I would refer readers to his full article. He concludes:

Thanks to Ron Paul, libertarianism of a certain stripe may be more popular than ever, and its influence on the Tea Party and the broader conservative movement is not hard to see. All the same, this brand of libertarianism is never going to “cross the chasm,” as the marketing folks like to say. It’s destined to remain a minority creed, and that’s not because most Americans are stupid or immoral. It’s because libertarians have done a terrible job countering the widespread suspicion that theirs is a uselessly abstract ideology of privilege for socially obtuse adolescent white guys. Ron Paul sure isn’t helping.

Rand Paul, No Libertarian On Free Speech

Pure libertarians, while disagreeing with liberals on areas where government is necessary, often are of value in supporting liberal policies on civil liberties and social issues. Unfortunately many in the libertarian movement, like the Tea Party movement, have adopted many of the attitudes of the Republican right wing. They promote a bizarre brand of libertarianism which is limited to guaranteeing the rights of the ultra-wealthy to exploit others.

I’ve pointed out several times how Ron Paul is no ally to those of us who want to promote individual liberty. His son, Rand Paul, is also showing a bizarre view of freedom. On the one hand, he equates making affordable health care available to all as slavery. On the other hand, he has no problem with restricting freedom of speech. Think Progress has this quote:

PAUL: I’m not for profiling people on the color of their skin, or on their religion, but I would take into account where they’ve been traveling and perhaps, you might have to indirectly take into account whether or not they’ve been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders. It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.

I really do hope that it turns out that Paul was quoted out of context, although it is difficult to see how this might be the case looking at the entire excerpt. I even tried checking out some of the saner libertarian-leaning blogs to see if there is an explanation. Eugene Volokh has the same wish. Even more depressing, Volokh find that, while it might not be morally right, it might even be Constitutional to deport  (but not imprison) someone under such a situation. I wouldn’t think anyone in their right mind, which apparently excludes Rand Paul, who would see imprisonment as being desirable, morally right, or Constitutional.