Ron Paul: More Robertson than Goldwater

Some see Paul as a last hope for America. Others see a crackpot — or, worse, a liar who won't admit his own role in publishing racist remarks over many decades in his newsletters. What's the truth?
Shawn-klein

For many libertarian-minded voters, Ron Paul represents a great opportunity. Here is a candidate, it is proclaimed, that finally gets what liberty and the free society are all about.

This hope has started to evaporate as more information about Paul’s controversial newsletters keeps surfacing.

Nonetheless, many libertarians still support Paul despite his questionable past because they think he’s right on the issues that are most fundamental to the cause of liberty.

His campaign web site provides a nicely organized summary of his views on many of these issues. What I find when looking at these, however, is that Ron Paul is more Pat Robertson than Barry Goldwater.

Debt and Taxes

I see no serious problems with Paul’s views on government debt and taxes. Essentially, he wants to limit and control federal spending by sticking to the Constitution and the powers expressly granted by that document.

He does seem overly worried about foreign banks owning the federal government’s debt. This fact, in itself, isn’t a problem. On the contrary, it seems to indicate a fundamental long-term soundness in the American economy because foreign banks are willing to buy US treasury bonds and the like.

Republican Congressman
Ron Paul
This otherwise-minor problem over economics is a worry, however, because Paul is striking, as he does elsewhere, an anti-foreigner note.

American Independence and Sovereignty

Paul believes that various free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico are threats to our freedoms because, in part, there is “a plan to erase the borders between the U.S. and Mexico” and “create a single nation out of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, with a new unelected bureaucracy and money system.”

Besides the worrisome and loony conspiracy-theorist elements, this highlights one of Paul’s great weaknesses: He comes across as being against free trade. He worries that foreign companies will take U.S. jobs and that free trade agreements undermine our national sovereignty.

Many Paul supporters point out that what Paul is attacking here are free-trade agreements like NAFTA, and not free trade as such. This may be the case, but in his main campaign vehicle — his web site — he comes across as a protectionist.

Why does he not say here that free trade is good, that we should lower tariffs and trade restrictions, and that people should be free to trade without government interference?

Either he is hiding his free-trade views or they are not a priority for him. Neither of these coheres well with the idea that Paul is candidate who cares about protecting and extending liberty.

War and Foreign Policy

Though foreign policy is where much of his growing popularity is coming from, Paul’s isolationism, or non-interventionism, is dangerous and unrealistic. He appears to accept the view, unfortunately peddled by many prominent libertarians, that if only we would leave the Islamists alone they would not attack us.

This “ignore the bully and hope he leaves us alone” approach rarely ever works, and terrorism is no time to try it. Nor is this a case where the Islamists have legitimate or reasonable gripes against American foreign policy — certainly nothing that remotely justifies taking up arms against Americans.

Islamic radicals are in this fight to destroy us because we are free and secular, and because we are not strict Muslims. They will not quit this fight if we leave Iraq, or even if we stop our (important) support of Israel and other allies. Such action would only embolden our enemies, not pacify them.

Whatever one thinks of the wisdom of invading Iraq when we did, it would be foolish and dangerous to leave now. It would quickly become a dangerous Islamist state.

The first principle of the foreign policy of a free country is the protection of the individual rights of its citizens. This view necessitates neither isolationism nor a policy of involvement.

Different historical and circumstantial contingencies will require a consideration of how best to implement the principle of protecting individual rights. At times, this might call for neutrality or non-involvement; at other times, however, it might require entering into alliances or providing material and financial support to allies. Indeed, it might require attacking and destroying regimes that pose significant threats to ourselves and our allies.

Paul’s foreign policy is essentially: “Buy our goods but then go away and please do not bomb us.” Unfortunately, this approach just does not work against Islamic terrorists.

Life and Liberty

Another major strike against Paul is his anti-abortion stance. He has sponsored bills that would block federal courts from protecting the reproductive rights of individuals where state laws prevent abortions.

Paul apparently does not support the separation of church and state, saying in a press release that there is no basis for the separation. He has also indicated that faith, namely Christian faith, should play a strong role in the president’s decision-making. And he advocates using federal power to prevent homosexual unions and marriage. Just where is the authority for this expressed in the Constitution?

This points to a more general concern. The federal government, in Paul’s view, should not interfere with state laws that prohibit abortion, homosexuality, or religious freedom.

This misunderstanding of federalism allows that states should be left free to violate individual rights. This is not a principled defense of liberty.

Social Security

For a man who claims he “never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution,” Paul strangely does not speak out against the current Social Security system.

It looks like he merely wants to reform it and make it solvent. To his credit, his does appear to advocate allowing individuals to control their own retirement funds.

Border Security and Immigration Reform

Paul’s anti-immigration stance is as unacceptable, and as un-libertarian, as his protectionist stance on trade.

Human capital needs to be as free as financial capital. It is important for liberty and economic prosperity that any peaceful individual can enter and work in this country.

Privacy and Personal Liberty

“The biggest threat to your privacy is the government,” Paul writes.

Hear! Hear! It is comments like this that attract the attention of libertarians and other pro-freedom advocates. Paul is also a strong critic of the Patriot Act.

As a whole, the Patriot Act is a dangerous threat to our freedoms, and Paul’s voice is important here.

Property Rights and Eminent Domain

Paul is good about speaking out for the importance of property rights and against eminent domain abuse. Still, there is a loony reference to a something called the “NAFTA Superhighway.”

More worrisome, however, is that Paul’s takes an inappropriate “state’s rights” view here. He says the “next president must get federal agencies out of these schemes to deny property owners their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.” Notice, he does not say anything about getting the states out of abusing eminent domain.

The real problem with eminent domain is at the state and local level, and apparently a President Paul would do little, if anything, to prevent such abuse.

Health Freedom

As with Social Security, Paul here again appears to accept the current system and does not speak out against the FDA and other government health regulations. Most disconcerting, he does not mention at all, on his web site, the plans by most of the other presidential candidates that would nationalize health care.

He is at the forefront of making sure we do not lose our right to take whatever vitamins or supplements we want to take — but he has nothing to say about HillaryCare or Medicare?

His priorities seems out of whack to me. A defender of liberty should first and foremost care about the federal takeover of health care, but Paul’s web site is silent on this.

Education and Home Schooling

Paul’s advocacy of getting rid of the Department of Education and federal subsidies for education is terrific. He also introduced legislation to protect the freedom to home school and for tax credits for those who opt out of public education.

Environment

Paul appears quite strong on this issue: “The key to sound environmental policy is respect for private property rights. The strict enforcement of property rights corrects environmental wrongs while increasing the cost of polluting.”

Racism

Paul makes some excellent points on his web site about racism. He claims that it is a form of collectivism (sound familiar?) encouraged by group identification instead of individualism. Liberty is the only appropriate social response: “Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence — not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.”

If one goes only by what is written here, then one should applaud Paul. However, there have been a recent number of revelations about Paul involving connections with neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups.

For example, he recently refused to return a donation made by a prominent neo-Nazi, though he distanced himself from the donation.

In addition, white supremacist groups claim that Paul and his aides have met regularly with these racist and anti-semitic groups.

More recently, detailed allegations in The New Republic of racist, anti-semitic, and conspiratorial newsletters written under Paul’s name have given more traction to these concerns.

Paul denies writing these, and claims that he regrets giving his name to these publications.

Even if his regret is sincere, he stills demonstrates a colossal failure of responsibility and leadership. These newsletters where published over more than a decade, and Paul had a responsibility to know what was being published under his name.

Paul is either a racist — which by most personal accounts he is not — or he’s willing to countenance racists close by. Either way, these allegations are deeply troubling and point to serious flaws in judgment.

Summary

While Paul talks the talk at times for libertarianism and pro-liberty, I don’t think he walks the walk. He is on the side of liberty on many issues and should be praised for that.

However, when it comes to many of the most important issues, including many issues most influenced by a president — such as immigration and trade — he is usually on the side of anti-liberty forces.

On social and culture issues, such as religious freedom, homosexuality, and reproductive rights, he is a traditional religious conservative and sounds nothing like a libertarian.

Most worrisome, Paul advocates dangerous and irresponsible foreign policy views.

When he claims he only supports legislation expressly authorized by the Constitution, Paul is at worse a hypocrite and at best inconsistent and superficial. Legislation that he has sponsored and touted on his own web site belies this view.

He does not speak out, on his web site, against clearly un-constitutional proposals, such as nationalizing health care. Nor does he speak out against already established, yet not constitutionally authorized, programs and agencies such as the FDA, Medicare, and Social Security.

I do not see a principled defense or advocacy of liberty here. I see a man using the ideas of liberty to protect his view of America as a white, Christian country. That is not good for liberty, libertarianism, or America.



Shawn E. Klein is a philosophy professor at the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford College in Illinois. He is a contributor and co-editor of
Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts (Open Court, 2004). He blogs at www.PhilosophyBlog.com.

21 comments from readers  

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Where can we find documentation of the alleged racism? I would prefer to read it from the original and judge for myself. [From the editor: Good point. You can read about it at The New Republic. We've added a link in the article, per your suggestion.]

In these days of political correctness, sometimes "hot button" words can get one in trouble when they are not meant that way, especially since the column writer is a college professor. Or, a person's stance on an issue can be misinterpreted as a sign of racism. On the other hand, if the writer is correct, Ron Paul would not be the first person to say they were a Libertarian, but actually have several contradictory beliefs.

Finally, I am not impressed by the effort to damn Ron Paul because of money he has received or groups he had met with. When I was younger I got tricked into meeting with some racist, ultra conservative groups, and we had a terrible bigot volunteer to speak at a Libertarian convention.

We only fell for that one once, but several attendees were very turned off to the libertarian philosophy temporarily. We quickly learned to boo or even walk out of meetings when despicable people tried to use our forum to spout their venom.
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I have written to the Ron Paul campaign expressing my concern over claims that he alleges that this is a Christian nation. It is a matter of great importance that we make it clear this it is not so. The social contract that binds us, the Constitution of the United States, pointedly omits religious refrences other than to make sure religious power is limited.

The world is full of states committed to religions and governed under constitutions that allege that legitimate authority derives from some authority outside We the People. Those who wish to live under such external authority should move to one of those states. Beautiful Teheran, Kabul and Tel Aviv await them. The American Republic is secular, under a constitution and a flag free from religious symbols and statements, leaving faith as a totally private matter.

Privatized religion is the American way and it must be defended. I fear that Ron Paul is shaky on this point.
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Excellent synopsis of the Paul campaign and positions -- bolsters my recent decision to not vote for Mr. Paul, however appealing his views on subjects near and dear to my liberterian principles.

Kudos to Mr. Klein.
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I wonder who Mr Klein sees as his perfect candidate then.

Is there another candidate on EITHER side that comes this close to the ideals of objectvism? Many of the issues you raise are strawman and uninformed. As someone who has done a lot of studying the views of Dr Paul, it's very obvious that you have done a light skim at best, allowing the media to color your views.

The only issue that Dr Paul espouses that seems explicitly contradictory to objectivism is the abortion issue, and even here, he wants states to decide. I would think objectivists would be most interested in erring on the side of individual decisions, and Dr Paul's platform comes closest BY FAR to steering in that direction.
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Dear Shawn E. Klein,

I just finished reading your column on Dr. Ron Paul and I was surprised to see what you had written. I am a 24 year old Iraq war veteran and now college student, and I first became exposed to Ayn Rand a little over a year ago. I believe in her portrait of the ideal man and her idea that laizze-faire capitalism is the only system that demands and rewards the best in every man. I first came across Ron Paul about four months ago and since then I have studied his policies and ideas pretty intensely, looking for cracks in his armor. I was curious to read your article because I expected high praise from anyone associated with Ayn Rand, because he is an economic scholar and believes that laizze-fair capitalism is the best economic system and also professes that Rand and Atlas Shrugged were a great influence to him. When I started your article and saw that the tone was going to be critical I was even more interested because i've been waiting to see somebody who can honestly critique his views and refute them, so that I can say "see, I knew he was too good to be true, he's just like all the other politicians, I was stupid to get my hopes up and believe yet another smooth talking politician". Instead I respectfully send you this email imploring you to further study what this man has stood for and against, for as far back as i'm able to discover. Real briefly I just want to highlite a few comments you made in regard to his policies and how they dont match up to what I have seen. I only ask that you suspend judgement for just a little while longer and take a closer look at his policies and perhaps you will see the simplicity of his stance, strict belief in the constitution ( the constitution that founded what Ayn considered to be the greatest nation in history and which I wholeheartedly agree with and fought for as a teenager), is what separates him from everyone else and makes him someone I believe Rand would have been proud to endorse.

Debt and Taxes- His ideas on this are correct, but you mention worry over his anti-foreigner stance, he is not anti-foreigner he is against anyone having a controlling interest of the US through money and thereby threatening the sovereignty of our nation, much like Israel is forced to subjugate its will to us due to the protection and massive foreign aid it would lose if it didn't. When other governments own our debt, they own part of us, and if that slice of the pie becomes to large...

American Independence and Sovereignty- A small amount of research will show that Paul strongly denounces any restrictions on trade is consistent in demanding less government regulation and more importantly his voting record against NAFTA and such ( which you pointed out), speaks for itself.

War and Foreign Policy- Bottom line is that the constitution forbids war without a declaration by congress and both it and our founding fathers recommended that we have no alliances with anyone but rather diplomacy and trade and exchange of ideas.
Islam does not attack us because we are free. I think more research needs to be done on this to destroy his fallacy. They attack us because we have bombed them for over ten years and have bases set up on their land and bully them into giving up their oil to us to support our interests, not theirs. If Germany set up a huge military base in your hometown and acted as if they were in charge, you would grow up hating Germans and possibly want to retaliate. The argument that they hate our freedom is just a soundbite, why dont they attack the other democracies of the world as well? Why do they only attack the nations who bring their military on onto their(Islams) sovereign soil, i.e. the US the British, the Australians, the French etc... Every nation who has been attacked by terrorism, there was a reason for it and it was not because those countries were "free". Please do some research on this important subject. I knew very little about it until I did some dirty work .Having eaten with muslims and knowing that they were good people I found the work rewarding and I wish to educate others on this.

Life and Liberty- Dr. Paul himself is Pro-Life, he understands the implications of this in regards to Liberty but he has the liberty to decide what he believes and an he has no intent of forcing those beliefs on others and does not think the federal government should be allowed to either. He does not want the states to be allowed to violate anyones rights, but the people choose who they want in power and what laws they will accept. If you are in a state that his anti-abortion, move to another state that allows abortion. If enough people do that then those anti-abortion states will, by market forces, lose money and when their population dwindles they will be forced to change the laws to those that the majority of people want. In the end liberty will reign because it is fundamental to what people want. By having the federal government force a blanket ruling whether pro or con anything (except peronal liberty) you are not allowing the human market to determine what it wants freely.

Social Security- Many, many columns written by him describing the economic terrors waiting for us due to social security and other socialist programs, many videos on youtube of him talking about this as well. Please watch them and see if you dont think a little differently about this later.

Border Security and Immigration Reform- Paul is firmly not against immigration and understands that you open legal transfer through the borders is vital to the lifeblood of a nation. He is against -illegal- immigrants being given welfare and free healthcare and believes that as long as their children will be citizens if born on our soil that illegals will continue to come and our economic free market system can not support it. If you look even closer at what he says you will see that he agues that if we did not have the socialized medicine and welfare programs we would have no problems with anyone coming across our borders because their would be no way for them to bleed our system the way they do now. Direct quote from his website about immigration â??I donâ??t think the problem of illegal immigration will ever be solved until we have a healthy, thriving economy.â?.

Privacy and Personal Liberty- Refer to numerous articles, videos and most importantly ( as with all these issues) refer to his voting record.

I could go on down the list further but you get the idea, yes someone did release racist remarks in his newsletter but refer to the NAACP who responded to this and make no question of this mans integrity.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email me back only if after you have done further research about Paul you have discovered conclusive evidence that he is in fact not what he says he is. Like Dominique I find it hard to believe that such a man exists in politics as Paul represents himself to be and I would be able to go back to my normal apathetic life if only he did not exist to me the way he does now.

Sincerely and with much respect,

Anthony
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I recently read his views on separation of church and state, gay rights, and abortion and wondered how so many libertarians could support him. Thanks for putting this out there.
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Choosing a president requires comparing the candidates. This article unfairly compared Ron Paul to an abstract standard that no candidate would meet while not bothering comparing Ron Paul to the other candidates.

But even the articles comparisons of Ron Paul to the abstract standard was unfair and biased. For example, Ron Paul has clearly stated in several venues that he is against open immigration because of the welfare state: once we weren't giving handouts to everyone coming into the country, then we can have more open immigration. Ron Paul properly identifies what's fundamental here while the writer of this article ignores it: First end the welfare state, then allow generous immigration. This is the only sensible approach; allowing free and open immigration AND freely giving handouts is asking to bankrupt everyone.

It is true that Ron Paul emphasizes state's "rights" and this isn't really the right answer, but compare this with the other candidates who would use massive federal intervention. We're safer when the federal level has less power and the states are relatively more free--at least rights-lovers can band together and move to a better state. His abortion stance is wrong, but he at least would leave states the right to permit it.

The racism charge is really below the belt, and misleading. Even if he were racist (and he is NOT), it ignores fundamentals: Who would you rather having running the government, a racist who would respect your rights, or a statist who won't? It's far worse to be a statist, someone who is committed in principle to violate rights, than a racist, who might think one race is superior but would leave everyone alone. Besides, anyone who is for affirmative action, and that includes most politicians, is a racist. Really, this racism charge is a smear tactic, one that Objectivists ought to be immune to.

The foreign policy issue is more complicated than this author comprehends, Ron Paul's arguments deserve a hearing, not the superficial, status-quo-promoting treatment that this author gave it.
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This is a poor article. Especially troubling is that the sloppy thought and research came from a philosophy professor. The author fails to look beyond one-paragraph summaries of Ron Paul's issues on the campaign website. He also makes vague statements like "this seems like," or "gives the impression of," or "one can only assume that," or "he comes across as", without investigating further and providing any facts on whether or not his assumptions turned out to be true. The full truth is easy to find in Ron Paul's speeches and publications. A couple hours of online research could have saved the author from making an article full of inaccurate assumptions about Ron Paul.

Debt and Taxes- Ron Paul calls for the abolition in the US of central banks like the Federal Reserve, (a private bank whose investors are largely foreigners) which issues non-backed currency and causes our economic booms and busts by irresponsible adjustment of interest rates. Ron Paul advocates returning to a gold-backed currency. There is no evidence of anti-foreigner sentiment in Ron Paul's speeches or publications.

American Soveignty and Independence- Ron Paul is against free trade agreements in which the government favors some nations to the detriment of others; he calls them 'managed trade'. He favors the lifting of all economic sanctions and embargoes and equal tariffs for all nations. He has never advocated high protective tariffs. Ron Paul also advocates the eventual abolition of the minimum wage and the welfare state, which he believes would improve the native workforce and help ease businesses' need for illegal immigrants. He advocates (both now and in his 1988 libertarian party run) the free flow of labor, but only after the abolition of the welfare state, which he believes would cause enough economic growth to both employ those on the welfare rolls and make millions of new immigrants necessary to the economy and welcome to the country.

War and Foreign Policy- Ron Paul believes we should conduct free trade with all nations and encourages travel to all nations. If a nation attacks us or shows that an attack is imminent, Ron Paul advocates a declaration of war by congress and an overwhelming military response against the aggressor. He does not advocate pre-emptive war. He considers terrorism a criminal act and advocates Letters of Marque and Reprisal to move within other nations and target specific terrorists. He voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Terrorists after the 9/11 attacks.

Life and Liberty- Ron Paul has never indicated that his Chistian faith should play a role in his decision-making, nor has he indicated that the federal government can regulate marriage. In fact, he sponsored a bill that bars the federal government from ruling on abortion or marriage, leaving it to the states. He has advocated the revision of the military's 'dont ask dont tell' policy to lift the its intolerance of homosexuals and focus solely on disruptive sexual behavior, be it hetero- or homosexual. Paul's stance on abortion reflects his belief that at conception, a fetus is a human life and has individual rights. the author says that Paul would condone state prohibition of religious freedom and homosexuality. This is a baseless smear of Ron Paul. Religious freedom is protected at all levels of government by the first amendment, and Paul has never suggested that sexual orientation would not be an individual right protected by the constitution. Though he does oppose financial benefits for those in homosexual unions, he also advocates the removal of all government benefits for those in heterosexual unions.

Social Security- Ron Paul has advocated voluntary participation in Social Security, with its eventual elimination as an ideal. Those that want it may into it, and those that dont want it may opt out of the system are not taxed to pay for it. He does not favor removing benefits for those who have planned their lives around receiving Social Security.

Border Security- See American Soveignty and Independence. Ron Paul is not anti-immigration. He has explained today's anti-immigrant sentiment as the scapegoating of a group for our current economic problems.

Eminent Domain- Ron Paul has said that eminent domain at all levels is unconstitutional and violates property rights. At his Philadelphia rally, Ron Paul called for an end to eminent domain at the local level.

Health Care- Ron Paul is against the FDA's criminalization of alternative supplements, medicine, and cancer treatments. His stance on the socialization of health care is that americans do not have a right to health care, and that privatization of health care would drive down prices and allow different grades of treatment for those of varying income levels. He has said this numerous times in speeches and debates.

Racism- After reading the text of the newsletters, not only the New Republic's paraphrasing of it, any honest intellect would recognize the vast majority of alleged racist or anti-Semitic comments as neither racist nor anti-Semitic. The newsletters rail against the Israeli lobby, not all Jews, and the racist black murderers of the LA riots, not all blacks. There are few if any genuinely racist statements in the newsletters; the few comments in question target specific members of a group for their actions, not the group itself for inherent characteristics. Paul's stance on not returning the small 500.00 donation (made to the campaign during a one-day, four million dollar donation drive) from a white supremacist was that the money would help only his own political agenda, not that of the white supremacists, and would not represent a bribe of Paul by the white supremacist movement to push a white supremacist agenda if Paul was elected. I do agree Paul should have been more aware of newsletters bearing his name, but considering Paul's otherwise immaculate intellectual and political record, I can overlook it.

The author is clearly troubled by Paul in some way, but he offers no rational basis for it. He references a list from Paul's campaign website of Paul's positions on popular issues, which is designed above all else to be as concise and easy-to-read, as if it represents the content of Paul's entire bibliography and lifetime of speeches on the issues. This article was my introduction to the Atlasphere. I hope the author's low-grade argument does not represent the average contribution to the site. For an Ayn Rand fan, the author makes surprising leaps of faith in his article.
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Well reasoned, well written, right on
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While some of these opinions about Paul may be valid concerns, there are two unacknowledged elephants in the room:

(1) If Paul were to win, his most objectionable policies would be blocked by a hostile congress and court system.

(2) This election, per usual, does not provide an ideal choice of candidates. We are stuck voting for "the one who doesn't suck so bad".
Looking at Paul's candidacy in relation to the rest of the field, he is far and away, the best choice for those who value liberty**. With all of his flaws, wouldn't Paul be vastly better than Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, etc.?

** Unless you want a really bad candidate to "accelerate the ruin" in the dicey hopes that what rises from the ashes is a better system.
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Dr. Paul is much better than any of the other "normal" candidates. I seriously doubt that he is racist. It is unfortunate that he made himself vulnerable to the charge by his inattention to the content of his publications. The easiest charge to make and the hardest to counter is "racist". That is why those who can't make any other really valid complaint use it. Too bad.
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I must say, he is, with all his faults DRAMATICALLY better choice than ANY of the liberal tax and spend or Christian conservative tax and spend constitution violators currently being offered for a presidential position...

What shortcomings he may have in foreign policy will quickly be corrected upon witnessing the gravity of the position of leader of the free world.
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I'm disappointed that you apparently didn't go past the Ron Paul website to validate your interpretation of his positions. I think there's been enough written and said by and about Ron Paul to clarify the questions raised.

I don't believe for a second that Dr Paul is an isolationist, nor does he suggest we ignore legitimate threats to our freedom and soverignty. You state that Islamic radicals seek to destroy us because we are "secular and free", and I certainly agree that there are a number of Koran-thumping fundamentalists out there who feel that way. What I also believe, however, is that the vast majority of the world's Muslims live in peace with their neighbors and that those amongst them who hate us and wish to do us harm do so only in response to our interventionist foreign policy. You're putting the horse before the cart when you suggests that it's important to support Israel and our other allies; it's because of our support for Israel that the Islamic fundamentalists wish to do us ill. You suggest that withdrawing from Iraq would leave that nation to become a "dangerous Islamic state." Are you suggesting that we maintain a military presence there until such time as that danger has passed? At what cost in lives and dollars? What about the other nations that are full of these "Islamic terrorists" that you suggest are running rampant throughout the world? Should we be ignoring our obligation to invade them and straigten them out as well?

Libertarians are certainly not of a like mind on abortion. I am pro live and consider myself to be a libertarian. There's nothing inconsistent about holding this position. I simply believe that the fetus is a human being and as such has a right to life. This has nothing to do with imposing my "religious" views on anyone else. It's a moral position, not a religious one. I believe that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the God-given rights of the individual (as did the Founders), but this is an entirely non sectarian viewpoint which is fully compatible with libertarian ideals. Tolerance, compassion, voluntary helping those in need and respect for the dignity and freedom of all are tenents held by those who follow Christ, Buddah, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I could go on and on, which in fact I often do, but I think I've made my point.
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Wow! What a great dialog. I am impressed by the firepower of the readers and it makes me proud to be an objectivist. I will now look a little deeper into this Ron Paul who has such informed supporters.

From what I have gathered, Ron Paul believes government and commercial presence in the Arab world has spurned their anger. This is clearly the case for some, but it is dangerous to ignore the reasons stated by the author of this article. Take for example, Sudan and the situation spreading into Chad. Many Muslims following the Koran want to see infidels converted, enslaved, or dead regardless of intervention, simply because they are not Muslims. Even if we are not directly attacked, it is in our best interest to protect people who respect the right to life and property from those who take life and property. This is part of long range thought. It is not pre-emptive when lives and property have already been taken.
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I too was bothered by the writer's frequent use of whit-washing phrases such as "comes across as" in lieu of an in-depth analysis of the position.

While Ron Paul does have some dangerously naive views in the area of foreign policy which are enough of a problem for me, the author of this article would do well to break down a few of his "package deals" before criticizing Paul on them. "Immigration" is not a one-word issue, and "foreign banks" involve more than wealthy foreign investors. One of the most disturbing blindnesses I have seen from so-called Objectivist corners has been to the fact that a great deal of what constitutes "free trade" today involves trade with foreign looters - governments who have enslaved their people, impoverished them by corruption, nationalized entire industries, and who have a great deal to gain and maintain by liberalizing America's tolerance for other nations' lip-service to freedom and Capitalism.

What protects our liberty in this country is the rule of law, and subversion of that whether barefoot at the border or by the influence of foreign governments leveraging our monetary policy is a danger to all of us. We cannot fail to remain involved in the world and maintain a vigorous defense if we do in fact wish to "protect and extend liberty". But Paul is right on in that we do need to get our own house in order. We may differ in the details, order or emphasis, but I think his domestic priority of getting back to the basics is very good.
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Admittedly, by Objectivist standards, Paul's campaign website is found wanting in places. But as other critiques of this piece have mentioned, a little more research by the good professor would yield some conclusions at odds with his initial assessment. As for the title of this article itself, Barry Goldwater Jr. would certainly take issue with it (about 2.5 mins into the clip from NH):

Ron Paul Town Hall, Pt. 2 (01/06/08)

Paul has written whole books on free market policies based on the Austrian school of economics (rather than Keynesian, i.e., government-planning, economics). Ludwig von Mises, one of the founders of this school, was praised highly by Rand, by the way. Paul has promoted these same ideas for decades:

YouTube - Ron Paul on MacNeil/Lehrer in 88

Since others have offered valuable comments here, I'll just mention one other thing. "Islamists" don't want "us" dead; rather, a small minority of Islamists named Jihadists have a violent agenda that includes killing Americans and their supporters and imposing Muslim rule, or Sharia, as far and wide as possible. Neocons and their mainstream media cronies would like us to believe that these Jihadists have the power to take over the world and make us pray to Allah, or else! But what would ever give them such power? In addition to using the proper terminology in these matters, it's important to understand what encourages Islamists to become sympathetic to various Jihadists' goals. Paul certainly does. In policy wonk circles (including the CIA), it's called blowback. To say that "...Islamists [don't] have legitimate or reasonable gripes against American foreign policy -- certainly nothing that remotely justifies taking up arms against Americans." defies both evidence and logic, and thus objectivity, on this most crucial subject. Google "Objectivist Goose-Stepping" for my more detailed discussion of this.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an advocate of complete liberty (completeliberty.com), not representative government, so I don't have a partisan dog in this fight. Still, a Paul presidency would be a benefit to our society, if only to the extent that it would embolden more Americans to stand up for their individual rights against the State's coercive employees. In turn, abolishing the central banking system (and allowing a market-driven gold standard), ending the IRS (replacing it with nothing), and stopping the War on Drugs, might become realities too. Of course, ethics determines the course of politics. Much more moral education will be needed to foster a Galt's Gulch in our lifetime.
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This article is extremely beneficial. As an objectivist-libertarian, I initially hoped that Dr. Paul's advocacy of liberty and his willingness to take some very unpopular stances within his own party, spoke to the congressman's potential to be a candidate of unique integrity, and worthy of my support. But I found trouble reconciling the very inconsistencies detailed in this article. Good stuff!!
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Ron Paul's position is about the federal government, not the states. He (correctly) ignores the states and their decisions because it has NOTHING to do with the federal government. It is the right of the states to make laws. It is the responsiblity of the supreme court to overthrow laws that violate the constitution.

Hence his stance on all issues regarding the state is to leave them alone and allow the supreme court to act as it should. The federal government's job is to make laws within the limitations of the constitution on the federal government. It is not to police the states. Policing of the states' actions is the sole pervue of the Supreme Court.

As for his health care stance: http://www.ronpaul2008.com/issues/health-care/ It's pretty clear; get the government out, encourage private health care again over time while we withdraw the crack of socialized medicine. Further, in direct communiction with him, he is very much for the elimination of Medicare/caid over tme. (transition period.)

As for protectionism: I agree with you, but then again I think that Ron Paul does too. He doesn't say it directly, but if you take the sum of his words he believes in free trade in the Laissez-faire sense of the term as long as the other country isn't giving unfair advantages to their businesses through subsidies and other hand outs that improperly advantage them against the US equivalent companies. (See this) (Also see Canada's unfair subsidizing of logging that improperly disadvantages the US equivalent companies).

America is trying to police the world instead of worrying about itself and letting others take care of themselves. This is why the rest of the world loves Canadians and hates Americans. Canada lives and allows other countries to live but defends itself at all costs, sometimes in the same countries that the US does (Afghanistan). People love Canada for its actions and hates the US for its actions. The United States interferes in situations that aren't any of its business and then wonders why people tell it to "butt out!".

Leaving the Mulsims alone: He says specifically that if Muslims attack us, then we MUST defend ourselves and not stop until we've wiped them out (i.e. Afghanistan is just, Iraq is not. Fighting in Afganistan is just, but allowing warlords that say they support us to grow poppies while destroying the crops of those that support the Taliban is not). What he also says, is what we need to do is get the hell out of their business and let them come to freedom on their own without our constant interference with weapons, money and outright bribing and begging (Bush 2 weeks ago). This is just sound practice. Do not initiate violence, but always defend yourself from it.

Racism: I run a business. I can take responsiblity for my employees' actions (which he did) but I can't ensure that I'm going to be able to prevent them from taking stupid actions. One of the most important things to do is allow your employees to make mistakes and have freedom to state their opinion. As long as you force them to take responsiblity (he did) then you're doing your job. It isn't rational to judge a man by the words of another that happened to work for him unless you take it into the full context. This is the statist media trying to slander him by taking things out of context because they are terrified of him and what his brand of government represents: Freedom, and individualism, which the media hates, because it means fewer ad-dollars.

Religion: Yes, he's pro-life and believes in god. That's a strike against him. However he believes that he doesn't have the right to interfere in your belief system either or your values so long as you don't harm another. The issue of pro-life versus pro-choice, as it pertains to the supreme court, is if the supreme court had any basis for their ruling in the first place. The constitution doesn't directly or indirectly reference abortion and does not deal with the situation clearly because depending upon your view of when life begins the rights of every individual can be applied in the womb or after birth. Since even the roman catholic church can't agree upon when life begins, and the constitution says nothing, the supreme court never had any standing to make any ruling one way or the other.

Until there is a clear definition of "life" canonized in the constitution, the supreme court does not have any right to rule on the issue at all. It was purely a ruling based on politics and personal view and UNJUST for them to even attempt to hear the case regardless of what one's personal opinion is on the subject.

Should we have a clear definition of life? YES. Is Ron Paul's position wrong? No, it's right on the money as it pertains to the court's rights, and his personal view doesn't matter taken in context.

Objectivists have it wrong: Ron Paul is the best canidate for the job right now. Is he perfect? No. Is he an objectivist? No. Is he a step in the right direction, instead of the lesser of two evils?

YES.

Vote Ron Paul if you value freedom.
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It seems after reading what others have written that this article has already been dressed down very well. This is the first article that I've ever read on this web site that infuriated me. This is the best candidate we've had in fifty years with any chance of winning. If the arguements against him were well reasoned and researched I would really appreciate it but it was basically a Fox News smear piece. Saying that they attack us because we're 'free' is probably one of the most misinformed and silly things I've read. I've been in the Army for six years and have been all over the world. The ONLY time others resent us is because of our interventionist policies. Trust me. Please stop. Be a true Objectivist and think rationally.
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This covers exactly why I went from having hopped on the Ron Paul bandwagon, to withdrawing my support, to actively opposing Paul. The only thing it leaves out are his comments about not believing in evolution - which, to me, is akin to not believing in gravity (Modern Synthesis, the theory of evolution, is equivalent to General Relativity, the theory of gravity), and disqualifies a person from being considered "intelligent".
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I have some disagreements with Mr. Klein's assessment of Congressman Paul. Let me focus on the areas where I believe he misinterprets Congressman Paul's position or where I simply believe Mr. Klein advocates a policy or position I believe is inadvisable or misinformed.

The ownership of federal debt does not indicate a "fundamental long-term soundness in the American economy". Rather it is a direct result of an unhealthy relationship between the central banks of the nations in question, and jeopardizes the long-term independence and freedom of action of the US government and people. Additionally, much of the motivation of foreign banks is likely a desire to not only support what is an overly managed economy in the US, but also that of most industrialized nations, and in turn gain leverage over the authorities and economies of those nations. It says little about the fundamental health of our economy, but a great deal about the intimate relationship between the central bankers and economy managers that dominate the halls of power in most nations. To oppose this type of relationship is not anti-foreign, but rather pro-independence. If the federal debt were not a tool of control utilized by the US government, then foreign ownership would not be so troubling. They are enablers, and that makes them anti-liberty.

Congressman Paul had repeatedly stated in his public appearances that free trade between nations and people is the desired state of affairs. To pretend that his opposition to NAFTA and the WTO is anti-free trade is a clearly a distortion of his position of opposing managed trade by our government and that of other nations. Governments all over the world pretend to advocate free-trade but at best engage in managed trade in which they manipulate markets and economies to their advantage and to the advantage of their central bankers.

To suggest that non-interventionism is dangerous and will not result in making the US less susceptible or less vulnerable to attack by other nations and terrorists is quite simply unrealistic and based upon false premises. Congressman Paul does not say that non-interventionism in itself makes us more secure, what he does say is that non-interventionism will severely reduce the ease with which terrorist organizations now are able to recruit and motivate people to join their organizations and commit acts of violence. The less the US is seen as interfering in the internal affairs of other nations the less we will be viewed as an enemy worthy of attacking. We currently facilitate the ability of terrorists to foment hatred and anger towards the US by our direct intervention in their affairs, and in particular the presence of our military forces within the country. What Dr. Paul suggests is that we stop facilitating and enabling the ability of the terrorists to recruit followers and solicit funds.

To simplify the reason Islamic radicals attack US interests, military forces and citizens cannot be limited to the fact that we are free, secular and non-Muslim. Indeed that is part of the motivation of some, but the ability to recruit and motivate many thousands of direct supporters around the world has as much to do with our propping up oppressive governments around the world, our intervention in the internal affairs of other nations, and the presence of our military forces within their borders as anything. While there are elements within the Islamic radicals that wish to create a worldwide caliphate, evidence suggests that the bulk of their sympathizers are just that for reasons other than their supposed resentment of our freedom. Many of the supporters of Islamic radicals view our subsidizing and massive support of Israel and the authoritarian governments of the Islamic world as adequate motivation for supporting terrorist organizations, and the fact that the US is considered a free and secular nation has little to do with their motivation.

Additionally, a severe reduction in current number of overseas military bases, which number in the hundreds, and the return of almost all the forces to the US will only strengthen the ability of the US to defend its borders and deter any possible military action against us by another nation. This does not mean we reduce our ability to strike back against any nation in the world that would be foolish enough to attack us, but simply that our forces should be primarily based within the US itself rather than spread around the globe in approximately 130 countries. When you are strong nowhere, you are weak everywhere, including at home. Besides, there is something inherently un-American about trying to act as the policeman of the world and will only add to the resentment of US power. It is better to be respected than feared, and having our forces in so many places around the globe makes us appear to be a threat by many people around the world.

Congressman Paul does speak out against the current Social Security system. He has repeatedly stated that the current system is faulty at its core, is particularly unfair to younger workers, and has simply become another income source for a bloated federal government. However, Dr. Paul does suggest that compassion for those citizens who have contributed to the system all their life and now or will very soon depend upon the payments promised to them compel us to live up to those obligations. You will find almost no persons in this nation who will endorse simply dismantling the system and leaving seniors to their own devices. If you endorse such a policy then you may have let your ideological purity get in the way of your common sense or compassion. Congressman Paul suggests that phasing out the Social Security system is the only way you can eliminate the current program and free younger workers. Additionally, one of the only ways the current system can be fully funded and provide for those people who are or will be dependent upon the program is to significantly reduce the spending on our global military infrastructure. The savings of hundreds of billions of dollars in this manner would certainly enable the system to be protected and phased out simultaneously.

Congressman Paul is not anti-immigration. He has repeatedly stated that once we are able to regain control of our borders and prevent the practically unrestrained entry and egress of millions of persons, combined with the reestablishment of a sound economy and non-fiat money, will enable and likely demand a much more liberal immigration and temporary worker program. To surrender control of our borders not only invites criminal activity and eliminates any pretense of national sovereignty, but would make any possibility of detecting the entry of terrorists much less likely.

Dr. Paul has also repeatedly condemned any suggestion that nationalized health care is anything but unconstitutional and ill advised. As a doctor, he never took government payments or participated in government health programs. It is my understanding that he even treated people without charge or accommodated their economic restrictions by arranging with them a method and structure for payment.

His personal opposition to abortion in based upon his religious beliefs and his many years of medical practice. Yet he does not state abortion should be outlawed by the federal government, but rather that this is an issue that should not be within the scope of the federal government to regulate or restrict. It is my understanding that he bases his position that the Constitution does not grant such a power to the federal government, and hence would be a right retained by the states their citizens.

The issue of Dr. Paul being supported by racist organizations is not troubling to me. I do not believe Dr. Paul is in any way racist. Actually, I believe the policies he promotes would do more to fight racism than most of the programs that much of the general public supports. If individuals who belong to racist organizations wish to contribute to Congressman Paul, I would endorse taking their money. It is better spent in the cause of liberty and promoting true non-racist policies than in their hands. Besides, the possibility exists than at least some of these individuals may be drawn away from racist organizations due to their exposure to principles of personal and economic liberty.

That having been said, I do believe that Dr. Paul should have been more vigilant in monitoring what was being published under his name. However, I believe Dr. Paul when he says he is willing to take responsibility for failing to be as vigilant as even he says would have been appropriate. Unbelievably, even I have made errors in judgment, as I am sure we all have done. The best we can do is work to avoid such mistakes in the future.

Personally, I do not agree with all of Congressman Paul's positions. For instance, I believe that a select few military bases should be maintained outside the US for strategic reasons. For instance, the base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is invaluable due to its position in the Indian Ocean and being on the other side of the planet. Being isolated from the nations of the region, due to its position in the middle of the ocean, also almost guarantees it will not become a point of resentment nor inadvertently draw us into conflict.

I think Congressman Paul has accomplished much for the cause of individual liberty and limited government. Any step forward, any effort that educates the public to ideas other than those so commonly popularized by mainstream media is valuable and positive. I have no objection to supporting a person with whom I may have some disagreements if I believe they are intellectually honest and a person of integrity.

I believe only fair and reasonable criticism is called for, and there is no reason to misrepresent his positions on the issues. I apologize if I have misinterpreted any of your statements and have no objection to being corrected if you believe anything I have stated is unfair or inaccurate.

Respectfully,
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