Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Thoughts on Ron Paul and Liberty

Brewrunner, over at Against the State, wrote recently about the waxing and waning and rewaxing of his support for the Ron Paul campaign. It brought to mind some of the intellectual struggles I have had, and the thoughts I have on his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

I know I’ve blogged a lot about Paul here, almost exclusively in a favorable light. But am I supporter? For the most part, yes, I think so, but not to any major degree. I’ve not gone out and petitioned for him, nor gone to any "Meetups", and I haven’t donated any money to his campaign. I don't have a Ron Paul sticker on my car, nor a sign in my yard. My voter registration may be out of date due to a move last year, so I do not know if I will be able to vote for him, if I even decide to go that far. Admittedly, I have trouble with some of his positions, but I have been able to set aside my differences because of their comparatively low priority to things like war, foreign policy, and sound money. However, I have expressed my qualified support for him by discussing and emailing news of the Paul campaign with people who I know will be voting in the Republican primary. (Hey…it’d be better than letting them vote for Tax Hike Mike Huckabee, Mitt "Socialized Medicine" Romney, or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Mayor.)

The whole question of whether or not to engage in practical politics has long been debated in libertarian circles. At one point in the not-too-distant past, I thought it self-evident that EVERYONE should be as politically active as possible, specifically within the Libertarian Party. (Non-LPers, and non-voting libs were just irrational!) These days, however, I can see the merit behind other options, either by working within the Big Two (gasp!), or opting out of politics and focusing on education and philosophy. These days, if asked my opinion on whether or not to get involved in the Paul campaign, I’m more likely to respond with a firm encouragement to "follow your conscience!"

Bottom line...I really do wish Paul the best of luck. I think he will impact the national political discussion, the only question being to what degree. I will continue to talk about and promote his ideas, just as I would any other libertarian (leaning) person who is getting/should be getting popular attention. I’m sure I will waver back and forth with how much support I give him at any given moment (from total enthusiasm to luke-warm enthusiasm), but this is more a reflection of my own "soul searching" in regards to my evolving views on the optimal strategy for achieving liberty.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no Pauline zombie either but am astute enough to see that his candidacy this year is the best chance a vaguely cryptolibertarian politician will have in my (and probably your) lifetime.

I don't care for the illegal immigrant bashing or his seeming motive for withdrawing from world-wide empire---he seems to be saying more often than not that without pulling the plug on a highly expensive and manipulative foreign polcicy, Social Security for the plus-forty crowd cannot be saved. To hell with all manifestations of the welfare state, I say! But seriously, enough utopian dreaming!

I supported Russell Means over Paul in 1988 but at least recognized the desirability of voting for Paul over anyone else in the general. Unless your non-involvement is some other form of principled strategy, then why not bumper-stickers and why not cast a lousy vote? In 2000 I was even prepared to vote for Alan Keyes over Brown should the former somehow achieve victory over the twin devils of Bush and McCain.

There's something to be said for choosing the lesser of two evils-- unless the contrast is not sufficiently great or the evil too odius.

5:39 AM  

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