The Problem with Ron Paul – 2008 redux

I was going through some old files that I wrote back during the 2008 election.  Here is one I found about Ron Paul and it’s interesting in a depressing sort of way.  Here is the text:

    Yeah, I know, Ron Paul is the fund-raising darling of the Internet and I’ve been watching him – a lot. I was actually considering voting for him despite the overall view that he has no chance to win. Yes, I said was. I don’t care about the “not winning” thing – I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate yet – but some things bother me about Ron, besides his running as a Republican, and it largely is that I don’t know what exactly I’m voting for if I vote for him.
I’ve broken down my concerns with Ron Paul into three areas: abortion, his agenda, and his people. These are the areas that I have either watched him speak about or will become an issue if he is elected President.
Abortion is an issue that he has spoken to specifically because he is a doctor who has famously delivered “4,000 babies” during his practice. He stated that he objects to abortion and has never seen a situation where the life of the mother was in question due to giving birth. He believes Roe v. Wade is wrong and would turn the abortion question over to the states to decide. I can respect his opinion on this, but his response leads to other questions I have about what exactly he has on his mind.
Perhaps my upbringing in the American South or, rather, my distaste for nearly all things “Southern” causes me to question someone who has all the earmarks of a “states’ rights” supporter. States’ Rights is the cause that helped sustain slavery in the U.S. and got us the Civil War. I have no more trust in local and state governments than I do in the federal government, perhaps less. To think that somehow, magically, state governments aren’t illicitly influenced by special interests or that state legislators don’t pander to these groups is shockingly naïve. Ron Paul undoubtably knows this but seems quite content to play Pontius Pilate and wipe his hands of the abortion issue and push it off on the states. To further the Biblical analogy, to what special interest group do state legislators most likely pander? The church. The Christian church. The right-wing, fundamentalist, abortion-is-murder-how-dare-you-not-vote-the-way-we-want-or-we-will-call-your-character-into-question, activist Christian church. Don’t believe me? Well, the next time your community leaders start making trouble for the local strip clubs, adult video stores, and bookstores, check your calendar. I bet election time is nigh.
But this is beside the point. If the state of Texas had had an abortion law that recognized a woman’s right to choose, Roe v. Wade never would have been necessary, but that would have depended upon a state legislature to objectively consider this issue. Fat chance of that ever happening. Does anyone think that much has changed in Texas since 1973? Regardless of your view on abortion, for Ron Paul to put on blinders of “Constitutionality” and declare states’ rights as if that solves anything is tantamount to reversing Roe v. Wade and giving states the green light to make abortions unattainable; and I think he knows and intends this.
But there is something more about the way Ron Paul handles this issue that disturbs me. Most of what I see of him is on YouTube and Ron Paul shows a rather duplicitous nature. On the Meet The Press-type shows, Paul is an amiable, soft-spoken man. He makes his points pleasantly and that’s pretty much it.
I found, however, a campaign speech he made in Iowa where he was much more agitated, vehemently exhorting to the crowd that “Roe v. Wade must be overturned!” Nothing short of hardcore posturing and nothing like I have seen before. I also found some of the comments to the video to be interesting: “this is what plays to Iowans,” was one comment, as was, “I wish he hadn’t led with abortion, this could lose him votes.” It seems that Ron Paul, the advocate for honest, straightforward government, is comfortable wearing different faces depending on where it “plays.”
This, naturally, leads me to my second concern: what exactly is Ron Paul going to try to accomplish? Again, on the interview shows, once he is through his “get rid of the IRS and the CIA? I think those are pretty good ideas” rhetoric, he loses steam and gets much more tentative when pressed for specifics. I have some specifics: if you do intend to get rid of the IRS, how are you going to do it? Reducing the size and cost of government ultimately means that people, people who depend on that government job, are going to lose that job. So how are you going to do that, Ron? And since our economy is as poor as you say it is, Ron, where are their new jobs going to come from? You want some tax cuts, Ron? How are you going to pay for them? Reducing costs by withdrawing from Iraq? Great, but what sort of political climate do you leave there? Eliminate our overseas military presence to cut expenses…really? Think that might have a negative effect on our intelligence gathering efforts? Even Dubya, our incompetent excuse for a President, had information that he failed to act on before the World Trade Center attack. You really think not having that information at all is better? Lots of questions and I don’t hear any real answers. I agree with your condemnation of the Bush Administration policies, but you have to have more than that.
My last item is with the people with whom Ron Paul surrounds himself. I like a lot of things Ron says about principles and freedoms. I like that he would not become part of a rival’s administration who did not espouse the same values he has. But a great part of Ron Paul’s appeal is that no one is saying what he is saying! Who, then, does he get to be his Attorney General? Who fills his Cabinet? Most importantly, who would be his Vice-President? It’s fine to be a lone man leading a movement that is long overdue, but you have to have others to get things done, to delegate authority to, people to do the “heavy lifting” for the Paul Administration. Who are these people, more Republicans? No, thank you. Democrats? Not much better. The Ron Paul campaign stands on the idea that Washington cannot continue to operate the way it has. The very likely candidates for appointments to the Ron Paul Administration are part of the problem!
Some of the questions I have cannot realistically be answered now, so the abortion issue becomes a greater part of the deciding factor. On that basis, I don’t trust Ron Paul not to meddle where he and the State have no rightful place. Even though I voted for him as a Libertarian in 1988, what I have heard from him thus far leads me to believe that Ron Paul will ultimately turn out to be just another Republican…and I cannot vote for that.

Not much has changed since I wrote that.  The Republicans have spent the time during the Obama Administration being obstructionists.  The economy has been in a three-year holding pattern.  Obama has had his priorities out of whack.  The stagnation in the U.S. is ridiculous and depressing.  If things looked unappealing in 2008, they are even more so now, if that’s possible.  To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Joker character from the Batman movie, “what this country needs is an enema.”

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