The old progressive model is creaky and on the verge of collapse. Even some liberals will admit it is financially untenable. The orthodox statists scream for more taxpayer money, but everybody else realizes we can’t tax our way out of this.
Libertarianism is gaining a hearing from a populace that had previously viewed it as the milieu of nudist dope smokers, anarchists, and bow tied theorists. People are looking for solutions, but raw libertarianism is still too scary even for many small government types. It will take time, and the right people, for libertarianism to gain mainstream currency. Paul Ryan is not a libertarian, but he’s the kind of guy that will be needed: Smart, articulate, and able to deliver it all with a smile.
What’s Wrong with Gary Johnson?
Gary Johnson is an affable guy with a solid small-government record as governor of New Mexico, but his talk of legalizing heroin scares people. And libertarians shouldn’t accuse those folks of fearing liberty. Reasonable people are afraid that mainstreaming drug use will unleash deleterious effects, just like blasphemy, pornography and hundreds of other societal poisons did once we stopped combating them. So the fears, while debatable, are well founded.
Retreat will not bring Safety
Ron Paul’s foreign policy is naive and dangerous. His rEVOLution rhetoric warmly unites leftwing Kucinichites, Neo-nazis, 9-11 Troofers, and Isolationists, but it is folly to believe that “If we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone.”
Just because the gunslinger hangs up his spurs and spends evenings by the fireside doesn’t mean old rivals won’t still be gunning for him. And “them” is generally understood to refer to practitioners of a religion that split into two rival teams after the founder died and then set themselves to the grim task of slaughtering one another. 1500 years later they are still at it. Is Ron Paul really so naive as to believe that people who nurse thousand-year-old grudges will let The Great Satan go gently into that good isolationist night with fresh sins yet staining his unrepentant soul?
Sunni Terrorists are not fighting for deposed Iranian secularists
Then there is the ridiculous contention that our meddling in Iran in the 50’s has spawned Sunni Islamists.
Our CIA deposing secular Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh has been proffered by hoarse-throated lefties as the reason “they hate us.” I am dismayed to see many of my fellow conservatives hoist that banner, because there are several problems with such simple-minded thinking. First, “they” are Islamists, and they have always been set in opposition to the leftwing intellectual professoriate class that Mossadegh represented. Had we not removed him, his fate would have been that of the secular intelligentsia who teamed with the Mullahs to topple the Shah in 1979: The Islamists slit the throats of their revolutionary partners of convenience, and the rest is history.
I am also dismayed to see some of my fellow conservatives pick up the blowback banner. Iranians didn’t carry out the string of terrorist attacks bookended by the WTC bombings. The people we defended from Saddam Hussein carried out those attacks; and they are Sunni extremists who hate the Shia Persians!
We stopped aggression when we chased Saddam out of Kuwait, as we did when we went into The Balkans. Was the Kosovar Muslim who murdered US Air Force personnel at Frankfurt Airport blowback for our defense of his kith and kin against the bloody predations of Orthodox Christians?
The problem with the blowback argument is that world history is full of chain reactions. Blowback is nothing but the physics of human and societal interaction: humanity’s equal and opposite reaction. We’d be wise to remember that good men doing nothing will also cause the dreaded blowback.
A Tower of Babble: False Dilemmas upon Logical Fallacies
In addition to Paul’s historical mis-readings and the logical fallacies they have spawned, we also must suffer breathless false dilemmas:
* Ron Paul is a constitutionalist — If you don’t vote for him you hate the constitution.
* If you aren’t with Ron Paul on Israel you are a neocon.
* If you disagree with his foreign policy you are in favor of endless wars.
* If you agree that the CIA has done bad things then you must support dismantling it.
I don’t believe we should intervene everywhere; but we should never tie our hands and forswear intervening anywhere. I can concede that yes, the CIA has done some bad things, but it does not follow that the entire intelligence apparatus must be dismantled. Do Paulistas really want to gouge out America’s eyes and plug our ears? I don’t want us pulling dirty tricks on countries that do us no harm, but I do want us spying on enemies.
More “Constitutional” than the Founders?
Ron Paul supporters call him a constitutionalist, but nothing in our constitution prevents us from forming alliances with likeminded people around the world or taking action when authorized by congress. George Washington invaded Canada, and as president he donned his military uniform to lead a militia army in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. His protégé, Alexander Hamilton set up our nation’s first central bank, and when a later congress voted against renewing it’s charter, President Madison established the Second Bank of America, another central bank. Jefferson sent US Marines to the shores of Tripoli, and James Madison’s famous doctrine declared that any act by any European power to colonize any part of North or South America would be considered by the US government as an act of aggression to be met with military force. Would Ron Paul call these actions by our founders wrong?
Ron Paul rejects the isolationist tag while throwing up smoke screens about no more endless wars (a lefty trope), but he also thought we should have stayed out of WW II and his stated philosophies would have prevented us from winning the cold war. Western Civilization would look much different today if Dr. Paul’s views had held sway. Forming military alliances, providing military assistance, and securing landing rights in other countries is a far cry from war-mongering. On the contrary, those actions, carried out prudently, save lives and money by deterring war.
The world is a messy place, with unprincipled actors brandishing horrible weapons capable of murder on a mass scale. Those who stubbornly stand upon principle will end up standing upon rubble. Between Ron Paul and the trigger-happy statists, there exists a sensible middle, and it is on firm constitutional footing.
I understand the Paulist urge of impatient libertarians and those disgusted with our statist federal monster, but Ron Paul ain’t the guy and America ain’t ready for the libertarian full monty just yet.