Posted by Jack @ 1:15 pm on December 27th 2007

Libertarian Resistance to Ron Paul

Of the worldís 20 brazillion bloggers, libertarian jack-of-all-trades Ed Brayton was the first I bookmarked, the primary catalyst for my blog fetish, and the probably root cause of my decision to give it a go myself. And thus it is with some dismay that I read his post explaining his reluctant rejection of Ron Paul. In recent months he has posted several pieces highly critical of Paul, and in response to a commenterís question, he fleshes out his objections. First, he freely admits itís not all bad:

Ron Paul says and really believes a lot of things I really, really like. He has been unwavering in his criticism of a wide range of constitutional abuses – suspension of habeas corpus, the weakening of the the 4th amendment, unconstitutional hate speech rules, etc. He has called for a complete ban on torture and for the closing of the gitmo detention center. He has called for the unequivocal end of warrantless wiretaps under any circumstances. He’s the only candidate from either party with the guts to call for drug legalization. Those things are very important to me and I find the unequivocal nature of his stands on them refreshing. There’s a lot about Ron Paul that I like a lot and I’d like to support him.

This intself is refreshing: Most Ron Paul detractors seem over the edge, screaming racism racism racism without a second thought. Ed’s objection are centered around the nature of Ron Paul’s libertarianism as evidenced by his advisors and courted supporters, his 14th amendment interpretation, and his stance on abortion, gay rights and other social conservative issues:

Over the last few weeks I have reached the reluctant conclusion that Paul is what Sandefur calls a “doughface libertarian.” The evidence is clear to me that he supports what I consider to be the reactionary elements of libertarianism, the neo-confederate, anti-14th amendment wing. It isn’t just that he takes money from them; he has actively courted their support. He’s spoken to their organizations, he writes for their websites, he’s put their most prominent voices, like Lew Rockwell and Gary North, on his Congressional staff. This is going far beyond the “any libertarian is going to attract some kooks” argument (which is undoubtedly true in and of itself). And for me, that is enough to make me decide that I can’t support him.

These are, by and large, the critiques I have for Ron Paul, although with less emphasis on the supporters he attracts and more concern regarding his inconsistent stance on civil liberties. As we have debated at length, Ron Paulís political philosophy strikes me as more hardcore federalist than libertarian, he grants great deference to state power (as opposed to Federal) even at the expense of civil liberties, and he seems comfortable using the full weight of federal power when certain social issues arise, particularly related to gay equality and reproductive choice. But in the end, I have to go with Edís interlocutors, who ask:

isn’t there enough good in his bold stands for ending government abuses to justify supporting him anyway? They may also ask, when will you get the opportunity to vote for a major party candidate who takes such strong, unwavering positions on these issues again?

While Brad and Rojas likely will take exception to Edís characterization of Ron Paul’s positions and beliefs, I tend to accept it in very general terms and choose to support him despite the areas of strong disagreement. My question to Ed and others of similar thought: assuming you donít simply opt out of the election in general, whom do you support? For whom will you vote? Which candidate is superior across the range of issues? My Ron Paul concerns are largely in areas he has limited power to effect, and my Ron Paul admiration comes in areas where he truly can make a difference.


  1. He seems pretty reasonable on the fact that he’s not far from supporting Paul. I’m with him, pretty much, although I’m moving steadily farther away from support because I suspect that Paul isn’t really particularly competent as a leader.

    Comment by Adam — 12/27/2007 @ 2:56 pm

  2. I don’t necessarily think that Paul would be a good leader either… but I don’t think that is any reason to not support him. At this point, I don’t see any way he can win the election, so his leadership will never be relevant. However, I think that the more support he garners, the more likely it is that the good things he represents will permeate the system.

    Comment by Redland Jack — 12/27/2007 @ 3:01 pm

  3. The position that Paul could push my favoured issues up the agenda is essentially the prime source for my relative* support for Paul, too. I am, however, becoming a little concerned; as I said to Rojas the other day, too much focus on the Gold Standard issue, or the ‘the North should have bought the slaves from the South’ stuff, is going to make him appear to rank and file to be a loonie and the parts of his platform with which I agree will get tarred with that same brush. Now, I don’t hold either of those positions myself, but you can make a respectable case for either or both of them; the problem is that making that case takes a lot of time and requires a lot of attention from the listener and I don’t think that either of those are in sufficient supply. I am far from certain that he won’t just be dismissed as a nutjob by people that might otherwise like the same parts of his agenda that I do. If that happens, those parts of the agenda might not progress very far.

    *’Relative’ increasingly being the key word.

    Comment by Adam — 12/27/2007 @ 3:13 pm

  4. Yes, the question is, is Ron Paul a compromiser or just another quasi-asperger’s libertarian?

    He is a Doctor, not some quant geek. He deals with people every day and real-life situations that require artful decisions.

    He has run a credible – no incredible – campaign so far, given the attacks made against him.

    I think he can make the compromises necessary should he find himself in a position of power.

    Comment by daveg — 12/28/2007 @ 4:54 am

  5. Which is more fundamental, the right to free speech, the right against search and seizure, the rights not to be tortured and the right to a trial, or the right to abortion and same-sex marriage?

    Do the latter two mean anything without the former? Not really, in my mind.

    And Ron Paul is not against the latter two in any real way, other than to get the fed out of the way.

    Comment by daveg — 12/28/2007 @ 5:15 am

  6. People could vote Obama and get a strong protection of protection against search and seizure and torture and right to trial, abortion AND same-sex marriage though, presumably? I’m not sure how Obama is on speech.

    The premise on which the right to an abortion is built is, in most significant part, privacy; would Paul aim to take that down (including Griswold)?

    Comment by Adam — 12/28/2007 @ 9:03 am

  7. It seems to me that Paul’s most enduring general appeal will be on the matter of smaller government as a principle. However, that’s also my favoured position, so I may not be viewing him with an unbiased eye.

    Comment by Adam — 12/28/2007 @ 10:07 am

  8. Tax & spender Democrat Obama against search & seizure? LOOOOOOL
    Not too fond of free speech either.
    They largely agree on LGBTQRYZ marriage.
    On libertarianism vs federalism I call BS.

    Comment by scineram — 12/28/2007 @ 10:41 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.