Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why I support Ron Paul

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 Linkall 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.


Bets said...

I enjoyed this so much, and I agree with nearly everything you said! SHARING!!

Sarah Faith said...

Great post. I have to disagree with you on the same sex marriage being on par with divorce or adultery. That is not true from a Catholic moral perspective. St. Thomas and other moral theologians make heavy use of natural law in their theology. Although adultery/fornication are sins, they are not against the natural law but only against God's stated law. Going against the natural law is a step worse - for a person and for a society. think about it... Bestiality is a mortal sin, as is sex before marriage. However they are CERTAINLY not on the same level morally - for a person's soul, ok, yes I suppose you could say if they're going to hell for something, then they're going to hell... but on a level of what is deemed "acceptable" by the society, accepting homosexuality as normalized is one step further down the road to judgment, as St. Paul makes clear in Romans 1.
I don't mean to hijack your Ron Paul post - love the guy and I support him too. But I couldn't really pass up that one comment as I felt it was incorrect.
Oh, and I agree, I have no problem letting RP leave it up to the states. Abortion too. I think that's the quickest way to make some progress. And maybe encourage some states to secede if they get too much flak for it. :)

Sheila said...

If only states could still secede. But precedent shows that any state that tried it would promptly be invaded, conquered, and then treated like second-class citizens for decades. I don't think anyone wants to try it.

I think I still disagree with you about same-sex marriage. In terms of the individual's soul, all sin is equal, and in terms of society, I just can't imagine a small minority of people calling themselves married is going to do more harm than the millions of children left fatherless due to divorce and premarital sex, or the millions of abortions performed because of non-marital pregnancies. They're all harmful, and I think any distinction is purely philosophical rather than practical. I don't think our society respects the Christian view of marriage at all. And whether or not same-sex marriage is legal, acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is increasing all the time. Most people are going to think it's okay whether it's legal or not.

I just want the government's grubby paws off my marriage altogether. If it has the right to say that two men are married, it also has the right to say that my husband and I aren't -- and I believe marriage precedes the state and isn't its business.

Fidelio said...

Nice summary. Just remember, abortion used to be left up to the states--that's how it landed in the Supreme Court to begin with. Interstate commerce and legality questions arose when some states made it legal and others made it illegal. Blah blah blah, crossing state lines, long sad story, you know the rest. It certainly doesn't negate your point, that the momentum appears to be there right NOW to get abortion outlawed in a lot of states, you just have to keep history in mind and remember that we've already been down that road. Will it lead to another Federal showdown in 5-10 years? Don't know.

On the opposite side of the coin, euthanasia is currently a state-level issue, and Catholics are always bitching and moaning about how the government/president/Congress/politburo/circus needs to step in and get that stopped, like, totally right away. So. Murdering little babies should be at the state level, because the states might make it illegal, but murdering old people shouldn't be at the state level because the states might make it legal?

Sigh. You can't have it both ways...and I don't know myself whether I'm more comfortable with the Federal or the State government making bad choices for me. Politics is dumb. We has it.

Fidelio said...

Oh, also, please don't equate raw milk with drugs! Illegal drugs hurt people by definition, either the person using them to hurt their own body, or the person selling them and hurting everything else about their life.

Raw milk doesn't hurt anyone! It shouldn't be grouped with drugs by anyone, especially not people who support it! Eep!

Sheila said...

I still prefer the state level, as it's easier for the people to affect the result. Euthanasia is legal in my home state, Washington, and I don't want the federal government to step in and stop it -- rather, I want the people there to start agitating for change and actually voting for state legislators who will make a change.

My comparison between raw milk and drugs is simply this: either you have the right to put what you want in your body, or you don't. Whether the *government* thinks it will hurt you or not is irrelevant. Cigarettes will kill you, but I still think people have the right to smoke (but not to use false advertising to sell cigarettes or spread around their second-hand smoke where it's not wanted). I still think that there is no justification for the government to protect us from ourselves. (I'm also against seatbelt laws. Same basic notion.)

Meanwhile, some aspects of drugs and the drug trade DO harm others -- and we should take it one drug at a time and one state at a time, trying to figure out how to eliminate/minimize the harm done. Some drugs should stay illegal (on the state level, preferably) because they impair judgment to such a dangerous degree. Others should remain legal, but regulated, to avoid what we have now -- a booming black market that gives power to gangs and drug lords.

Fidelio said...

That's a little bit of a false premise. Drugs don't become illegal suddenly because you take them--what's illegal is that you possessed them in the first place. Have a "right" to put whatever you want in your body is a little bit of a moot point.

If you ingested raw milk, there would be no way to know, and no one could send you to jail for having drunk it. However, the buying and selling of it is (at least getting to be) not okay, because supposedly it will harm you or others. IF you used cocaine, I would be able to tell, and I would put you in jail, because if you took it that means you possessed it at some point, right? And possession of that particular controlled substance is against the law.

So. It doesn't have to do with a right to put whatever you want into your own body. You can see it like that, but it simply isn't the way the laws are written or, I think, intended.

Anonymous said...

What a terrific conversation.

I am not on-board with Ron Paul's stance on social issues, but then, that will be true for me with almost any conservative candidate. I don't know that this is the place for my thoughts on that.

Paul does seem to be a real fiscal conservative and someone who understands that few issues have the simple one-note solutions we're usually fed by politicians. I like that. He also doesn't seem to play upon our baser natures to stir up support. I like that too.

It will be interesting to see what the results are from the SC primary. In South Carolina, as I recall, people can vote in *any* primary, regardless of party affiliations, but they can only vote in one. So...given the current financial climate, it should give a good feel for whether or not people will cross (imaginary) party-lines to support a fiscally conservative candidate.

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