Half of you are probably saying, "Oh, of course she's into Ron Paul!" (Especially if you've been reading this blog faithfully, and know that I'm terrified of increasing government power, and that I will only support someone who wants to decrease it. Or, you know, if you saw where I said so in the comments.) And the other half are saying, "Ron Paul? Are you kidding? The guy's a nut!"
Obviously I don't think he's a nut. On the contrary, when you listen to him instead of only to his critics, you may be shocked to find out how much sense the guy makes. I reserved judgment until I saw this video in which he came out supporting exactly my beliefs on everything that really counts to me.
I'll start with his foreign policy, which is the most unpopular part of his platform, but my personal favorite. He's a non-interventionist -- believing that we should not, for instance, bomb Iran, or give millions of dollars to Israel (or anywhere else), or try to manage the whole world's affairs. I like that a lot. Every single other Republican candidate promises to be "tough" on Iran, which translates in most cases to bombing the heck out of civilian installations. Since this is against church teaching, I don't really understand how the candidate who claims to be "Catholic" and "pro-life" has promised to bomb civilian nuclear research facilities. My definition of "pro-life" includes pro-Iranian-life.
Of course I do care about our own nation's security. But I am not convinced that the Iranians would all kill us in our beds if we left them alone. We have been involved in their country since the 50's, and they really, really hate us for it. I do believe that our interference (setting up and supporting the Shah as their dictator, for instance) has played a big role in radicalizing that nation. I learned a lot about our history with Iran from this video, which I heartily recommend.
I just see that we have two options, as far as our foreign policy goes. We can attempt to police the entire world, making sure that no one who dislikes us ever becomes powerful enough to do us harm. As we do this, more and more people will come to hate us because of the "inevitable" civilian deaths that keep occurring. Meanwhile, we will become overextended in terms of money and manpower. Already we spend more on defense than all the other countries in the world put together. We can't sustain that forever, as our economy will tell you.
The other option is to stay as far away from the Middle East as we can, because it's a sticky mess, and leave other nations alone as well. We will recognize that we can't do everything, ensure democracy in every nation, prevent every oppressive regime in the world -- much as we would like to. Instead we will focus on defense, having a strong defensive force that will stop attacks on our soil. We have the manpower to secure our borders and defend our skies, while we don't have the manpower to police the whole world. Our relationships with other nations will be based on trade and diplomacy, not on drones and airstrikes. That's Ron Paul's plan, and I like it.
The second major issue on my mind coming into this election is abortion. I keep being told by my friends that Ron Paul isn't really pro-life. All I can say is, have you listened to him? He can't stand abortion. As an Ob/Gyn, he was definitely in a position to learn all about it, and he hates it. He doesn't want anyone to do them. And he doesn't want them to be legal anywhere, because he, like me, realizes the personhood of unborn babies and that no one has the right to kill another person.
However, his path to achieving this isn't primarily through the federal government. He realizes, as I do, that all our efforts to ban abortion nationwide have failed. The federal government has so much inertia and is so far removed from the people that little ever changes there. In order to ban abortion, we would first have to overturn Roe v. Wade, which requires appointing new justices to the Supreme Court, which requires congressional approval. No president has been able to do this in over thirty years they've been trying. Other tactics, like amending the Constitution, are just as difficult to do.
Ron Paul would overturn Roe v. Wade if he could. His main plan, though, involves working in the individual states. If the states were allowed to regulate abortion on their own, many of them would ban it right away, and others would add more regulation. After awhile, when the other states saw that the world didn't go completely crazy when abortion was banned, more might join in. It's allowing democracy to work -- if the people in an area really want to ban abortion, they will do so. And if they don't really want to ban abortion? Well, that's our job. We need to work, on a local level, to convince people that choosing life is better for moms and babies. All I want is the opportunity to work within my own state to get laws that support life. I don't need the federal government to handle everything while I sit and vote once every four years. I'm willing to put in the hours myself.
Most conservatives I read agree that Ron Paul's economics are sound. He subscribes to the Austrian school of economics (watch this rap battle to learn what that is, and who F. E. Hayek is). In short, he wants less regulation, less protection of big business, less spending, and lower taxes. He wants to cut the budget by a lot. That's going to hurt, but it's what we have to do to keep our economy from getting even worse.
His "crazy" ideas about the Federal Reserve do get a lot of flak, mostly from people who don't know what the Federal Reserve is. They think it's the same as the US Treasury. (I thought that, too, until I saw this cartoon, which you simply must watch if you want to understand why the Fed is a problem.) It's actually a private bank that has almost no government oversight and a ton of special privileges. And it's responsible for a lot of our current economic problems, which concentrate wealth in the hands of the 1% at the cost of the 99%, thanks to special deals for banks and other sneaky tactics most people don't know about. I simply cannot understand why the folks at Occupy Wall Street aren't waving signs that read "End the Fed."
Everything else Ron Paul stands for is a question of individual liberty. That is to say, he's the one guy who believes liberty is a good thing. He's opposed to the NDAA (the indefinite detention bill), the TSA strip searches, the Patriot Act, national ID cards, and anything else that treats American citizens as terrorism suspects.
For me to have the freedoms that are important to me, I do have to allow others to have the freedoms that are important to them. I believe that I have the right to put in my body whatever food or medicine I desire, even if the government believes that it will be harmful to me. So I have the right to drink raw milk ... and my neighbor has the right to take drugs. I don't see how you could sensibly say I have the right to one and not the other. If someone's drug use is harming someone else, though, it should be banned.
Ron Paul wants to leave drug laws and raw milk laws in the hands of the states. So if we feel strongly about them, we can campaign for them on our local level instead of nationally.
The same, by the way, goes for same-sex marriage, which is why many Catholics hate him. They would like to see marriage legally defined as exactly what we say it is. It seems to me that's a much bigger issue than banning same-sex marriage -- we would also have to make the state honor our consanguinity laws, ban divorce and remarriage, and so forth. (I feel, by the way, that divorce and adultery are WAY bigger issues, when it comes to harming society at large, than same-sex marriage is. And, from a Catholic perspective, adultery at least is just as sinful -- mortally, which is as sinful as you can get.)
Secular marriage, in my opinion, is already a joke. It bears very little resemblance to Catholic marriage. I don't see why we should cede to the government the right to decide what is a marriage and what isn't. Instead, why don't we let people have their own religious and social ceremonies and call themselves married whenever they consider themselves to be so ... and for all civil needs, have a civil union that any two people can get? That's what many other countries with large Catholic populations have, and it works fine. I've been saying this for years, but it turns out Ron Paul agrees with me on this.
Overall, Ron Paul is the only top-tier candidate that wants to increase liberty, rather than chip away at it. He's the only candidate who would like to reduce the number of wars we're in, rather than increase it. He's the only candidate who has a concrete plan for how to cut our budget by a trillion dollars the first year. He's also, incidentally, the only one who seems to actually be an honest man. He has never once flip-flopped in his entire 30-year career in the House. I can't really trust any of the other guys to even try to put forward the platform they're running on. (I know I can't trust Obama, who promised to get us out of Iraq within, what was it? Six months?)
With Ron Paul, you know what you're getting. You're getting a guy who seems incredibly extreme when compared to the other guys (who all look alike), and who actually is going to try to do what he says he is. He'll have an uphill climb trying to convince Congress of all this, but the one thing he won't do is personally sign away our liberties -- whether by authorizing drone attacks of untried American citizens, or by wiretapping our homes, or by any of the scary stuff that both Bush and Obama got in the habit of doing.
And people are getting excited that this might be the year that we actually see a change. 18- to 25-year-olds, independents, disaffected Democrats, and fringe activists of all stripes are coming out of the woodwork to participate in the political process for the first time. Even I, who hate politics as a general rule and have only ever bothered to vote once, am planning to vote in the primary and maybe even try to be a delegate. Mark Shea has written some awesome things about Ron Paul which definitely show why Catholics can and should vote for him (even if, as Shea believes, he hasn't got a chance). Ron Paul is raising ridiculous amount of money for his campaign, and almost all of it is from private individuals rather than corporations. He gets more from active military servicemen than anyone else put together. This might be our only chance in a long time to cast a vote for liberty and common sense.
What do you think about Ron Paul? I'm happy to discuss this topic all day long, especially when my interlocutors aren't foaming at the mouth and calling me a heretic or a nutjob or a racist while totally ignoring everything I say. This blog is a great place for the nicer kind of conversation, I think.