To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ron Paul As President vs. Ron Paul As Person

I was going to write a post on the importance of distinguishing Ron Paul as a person and Ron Paul as president, but then I found this Samizdata post in which Perry de Havilland says almost exactly what I was going to say, but far more eloquently.

In response to David Boaz's (pretty good) post at Cato@Liberty that mentions how Paul has "slimed the noble cause of liberty and limited government," here are the money paragraphs from de Havilland:
Please, gentlemen, take a deep breath. I realise racism is the cardinal sin of our time and that it carries the automatic penalty of public abomination and auto da fe, followed by burning at the stake (it even gets you banned from commenting at Samizdata, although probably not for the reasons most people think), but the notion that the cause of liberty is inextricably tied up with Ron Paul's campaign is excessive hyperventilating, both from Ron Paul's supporters and his detractors.

I never felt he was the dream candidate, just the only one serious about shrinking the size of the state and frankly if he wanted to do that in order to preserve the purity of his precious bodily fluids rather than to increase the general sum of liberty, well so be it, just so long as he really is serious about shrinking the state.

Most of the quotes from the Paul newsletter really are indefensible (some are defensible), but I won't get into that since they have been covered and covered again since the TNR article. What is obvious is that Ron Paul's character has been tarnished.

The point is that I still believe, despite his character and how important his character may be to voters, that Ron Paul as president would understand the limitations of his presidential powers as delimited by the Constitution. And most, if not all, of the other candidates would not.

Not only because of the newsletter controversy but also because of the recent elections, Paul's hopes for president are now none (as opposed to slim-to-none before). This may very well be my last post about Ron Paul. But goddamn, the remainder of the field is depressing.

As far as the claim that Paul has tarnished libertarianism goes, I don't buy it. After all, libertarianism hasn't really been drawing the masses recently. Is there really that much to tarnish? Although each person at both Cato and Reason is a far more "solid libertarian" than Ron Paul, let's face it, Paul has reached more people. And if a few of those people were intrigued enough to look into libertarianism further (like I was about 4 years ago, thanks to Radley Balko's FoxNews articles), perhaps they will discover the ideals for the sake of the ideals, not for the sake of the candidate.

Ron Paul deserves the criticism he has brought upon himself. But I believe that libertarianism in general has been helped by his campaign, not hurt. Those who have been drawn to libertarian ideals thanks to Paul's campaign will - and must, if the libertarian movement is to become significant - understand individual liberty as an ideal in and of itself and look past the quirkiness of Ron Paul as an individual.

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