Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ron Paul and the politics of responsibility

When it comes to Republicans for the 2008 nomination, I have been trying to decide between John McCain or Mitt Romney for my endorsement. However, I've been hearing, through the internet grapevine, about a certain libertarian Republican named Ron Paul, a 10th-term representative from Texas. There is a lot about this surgeon-turned-congressman that I like.
1. He favors abolishing income tax as well as the Internal Revenue Service. He has battled for repeal of the 16th Amendment (which authorized income tax) and the National Taxpayers Union has consistently given him a score of 100% every year that he's been in Congress, the surest sign that Paul has a conservative voting record on how tax dollars were spent.
2. Paul proposed term limits and refused junkets or other Congressional perks. The organization Clean Up Washington reports that Paul is one of the more unlikely members of Congress to accept money from political action committees, lobbyists or donors.
3. Paul opposes any European Union-style integration of North America (a.k.a. the North American Union proposition) and he is an advocate for strong border control. He voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act, opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and supports amending the Constitution to cease the practice of conferring automatic citizenship to babies born to illegal non-citizens.
4. He faithfully adheres to his principles that "Rights belong to individuals, not groups," that "property should be owned by people, not government," and that "government exists to protect liberty, not to redistribute wealth or to grant special privileges." As such, Paul supports true equality in the form of meritocracy, and opposes the welfare state and the culture of victimization. Paul believes that "the lives and actions of people are their own responsibility, not the government's."
5. Paul favors overturning Roe vs. Wade and devolving the issue to the states. He realizes that it is politically impossible to ban abortion or make it illegal on a Federal level, but if the individual states are left to decide the issue for themselves, the tide may turn against the practice of abortion if the majority of states criminalize it. There can be no sea-change of opinion on this matter, it must happen gradually.
Paul opposed the War in Iraq, but that didn't mean he opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. He simply wanted a Congressional declaration of war to legitimize that invasion. In this, at least Paul is consistent. He also, along with 17 other members of Congress, filed a lawsuit against Bill Clinton for not obtaining a declaration of war from Congress before launching the War in Kosovo. Although I disagree with his take on the Patriot Act, which he opposed, at least that is consistent with his libertarian beliefs. I believe that if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear from the Patriot Act. But Paul believes it constituted an assault on civil liberties as well as having increased federal expenditure, which I can respect.
In fact, Paul's desire for a non-interventionist foreign policy has, for a while now, appealed to me as well. In this piece, I hypothesized that if there's no love lost between the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, why not simply say, "OK, you're on your own?" I acknoweldge that we cannot win hearts and minds in the War on Terror if we are seen as imperialists. I think Paul brought up a valid point when he said, during the May 15 debate, "I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah, yes there was blowback. The reaction to that was the taking of our hostages, and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free, they come and attack us because we're over there." Don't misunderstand me, I have consistently supported the War in Iraq, but I cannot deny the truisms in Paul's speech.
In short, I think it's healthy that Ron Paul is adding a voice of accountability to the presidential candidate debates and I can only hope his beliefs in fiscal and political responsibility rub off on the other candidates.

1 comment:

kristen said...

Sounds like a lot I can agree with, and some that I don't. But the key word is CONSERVATIVE. We definitely need an overhaul on our tax system; and it drives me crazy that there are those who honestly think wealth should be evenly distributed. That is totally against what this country was founded on.