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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why We Can't Afford to Take Ron Paul Seriously

The question that has been popping up, both on facebook and in the media - and then brought to the forefront by comedian Jon Stewart - is "Why does the mainstream media and the GOP insist on ignoring Ron Paul as a serious Presidential contender?" The question becomes especially pertinent when you consider the strong second place showing he made at the straw poll in Iowa last week.

The problem that I have, and that many others seem to share with me, is that Ron Paul has done such a fantastic job of painting himself into an extremely tight corner that even those who agree with Paul on most issues are afraid that the mess we would make getting him out would ultimately be prohibitive. It is true that most conservatives and Tea Party activists are thrilled with his voting record when it comes to fiscal issues. He takes a very strong pro life stance as well, which is refreshing, as that is somewhat less common among libertarians. But his opinions on things like drugs and prostitution still rub the majority of Americans the wrong way. For example, his comments about addiction in the Michael Gerson article below paint addicts as lesser human being who do not deserve help or sympathy. The problem is that in America today, just about everyone has either struggled with addiction himself or has been affected by someone who has.

 But the big sticking point is foreign policy. Ron Paul looks at foreign policy in a way that is far too oversimplified. His comments lead you to believe that foreign policy is nothing more than a global game of "Gotcha last," where the United States tags people and then plants bases on their land to prevent them from ever having a turn. Of course those other nations hate us now - it's because we've taken away their autonomy and abused their sovereignty. He doesn't mention the fact that, after two strikes, we made sure that we could keep a military presence in Germany to avoid another World War or a Holocaust. The same goes for Italy and Japan. And Ron Paul also doesn't mention the fact that Italy, Germany and Japan don't seem to hate us all that much, despite the fact that our military presence there has been larger than in other nations and has been there longer.

In the case of Iran, Paul suggests that Iran hates the United States simply because we refuse to just allow them to have nuclear weapon capabilities. 
He neglects the fact that Iran has issued statements condemning the United States on a cultural basis for years, and the fact that Iran has quietly been at war with the United States since the early 1980's. Paul says that if Iran did indeed get nuclear weapons, they would be stopped by Pakistan or China, or the fact that they have no air force before they could make a strike on the United States. He ignores the fact that Pakistan, though claiming to cooperate, failed to disclose the location of Osama Bin Laden. He also glosses over the fact that China has made moves in the last several years to overtake the United States as globally dominant, and may not actually have a problem with another nation taking potshots in our direction. But by far the most dangerous assumption is the fact that Iran's lack of air force will keep them from attacking the Continental United States. If you recall, the last time a major attack was executed on U.S. soil, those involved were perfectly content to use our own planes against us. The other issue is that even more than the United States, Iran hates Israel. And many of the nations that Paul claims will "keep Iran's nuclear ambitions contained" stand with Iran in that hatred. A nuclear attack on Israel would most definitely lead to an Israeli response in kind, which could easily be the start of another world war.

His foreign policy, in fact, is most reminiscent of one-time FDR Vice President Henry Wallace - the same Henry Wallace who was demoted from Vice President to Secretary of Commerce because of his extreme reverence for Joseph Stalin.

"After FDR died, the new president, Truman, kept Wallace as secretary of commerce. With the war over, however, Wallace found himself in a tough spot. Troubled by the onset of the Cold War, he was driven to speak out on September 1946, and denounce the new threat to world peace: that is, the threat posed by America and Truman to that amiable peacenik Joe Stalin. Shortly thereafter, Wallace was removed from his position.
Importantly, Wallace was far from finished. Like Ron Paul, Wallace steadily denounced American foreign policy, as pursued by both Democrats and Republicans—and he pursued the presidency.
Like Ron Paul, Wallace would not let those World War III seeking “Imperialists” working in the interests of “British Colonialism” get off easy. (For Paul today, replace the words “Imperialists” with “Neo-cons” and “British Colonialism” with “Israel.”) And when Stalin would do something unpleasant, such as take over Czechoslovakia in February of 1948, Wallace would explain that it was Truman’s fault. Wallace blamed America first, in spite of the blatantly aggressive actions of an obvious external enemy."

Ron Paul speaks of "militants" in many countries who would like to see the United States hurt, crippled or even destroyed. Currently they are focusing their attacks on our soldiers overseas, soldiers who are well trained to handle insurgents and terrorist activities. If we withdraw all of our troops from overseas and return them to the United States, we leave those militants no recourse but to bring the fight to our backyard. That greatly increases the possibility that their targets will be civilian, and thus unprepared and untrained for an urban combat situation.
Paul also suggests, however, that those militants would be neutralized by the United States' withdrawal of troops from their nations. What he forgets to take into account is the elementary school playground. On the playground, there is no guarantee that all of the kids you are nice to will reciprocate. There is no guarantee that the kid you push on the swings will not tie your shoes together when you are not looking. Ron Paul forgets to account for that guy.
He also fails to account for the baseball theory. How many people in the United States hate the New York Yankees - and for no other reason than the fact that they are nearly always at the top of the league? People want to see someone, anyone, take them down - and not by one run, by double digits if possible. The United States, the global Yankees, have been on top for so long that there are nations who would like nothing better to see someone - anyone - take us down a few notches. They don't care if the force comes externally (from a military defeat, a terrorist attack) or internally (from economic policies such as the ones being implemented by the current administration) as long as it comes.
So why are people dismissing Ron Paul as a serious candidate? Because taking him seriously means failing to take the future of the United States seriously.


  1. I had written a well thought out response to this that got lost when I tried to post it, so this will be much shorter.

    No matter what you think of Ron Paul's viability as a candidate, it is not the media's job to tell people who is viable. I think someone who statistically tied for first in the Iowa straw poll and come in first in subsequent polls is a viable candidate. The media blackout of Ron Paul is despicable and blatant. It is their job to cover the news, not give us the news in a way they think we need to hear it. Open your eyes to the deception. It comes from both sides of the aisle.

    The association between Ron Paul and Henry Wallace is a straw man. He does not have any reverence for Iraq. He does however respect their national sovereignty and does not think we should be involved in Nation building or acting as the World Police. It was not our business to depose Saddam Husein (as despicable as he was), nor was it our right to murder Osama bin Laden. Had he been killed in an attempt to capture him I would not have a problem with it but that is not the case. As a Christian, I am appalled at all of the Christians who support such actions. It's not justice, it's bloodthirsty revenge.

    As for his views on prostitution and drugs, he wants to get the Federal Government out of the business of regulating them (as it is not Constitutional) and make them be State's issues. He does not want to legalize either. You need to pay attention to what he says, not what the media tells you he is saying.

    I think he is really the only viable candidate out there and the only one I have any trust in. This article does a decent job of stating most of my views:

  2. First of all, I agree that the media is wrong to ignore Ron Paul. It is no different than their insistence on painting Michelle Bachmann as a crazy woman or using selectively edited video (a la MSNBC)to make Rick Perry look like a racist. The media seems to fancy itself a fourth branch of the government - or perhaps an extension of the Obama White House - and that is not the way that the system is supposed to work.
    Second, the comparison between Henry Wallace and Ron Paul stands. It is not based on Ron Paul's opinions of Iraq or Wallace's views on Stalin, rather on the fact that both are quite willing to place the blame on America for things that obviously have external players outside our influence or control. Incidentally, Ron Paul voted to support military action to hunt down terrorists.
    Third, I did not suggest that Ron Paul wants the legalization of drugs or prostitution - nor did Michael Gerson in the posted article. I simply stated that the way he presents the issue makes him look callous and arrogant, and creates unnecessary distance between him and the people he is hoping will support him.
    If you'll notice, I never suggested that Ron Paul should be ignored either by the media or the public. In fact, I think the media's insistence on ignoring him makes him more dangerous. Many conservatives watch the media and see them treating someone badly, and automatically assume that from the left-controlled media that is a statement that their target is doing something right. They vote then based on the fact that the media has targeted him rather than because they understand his positions.
    I have spent quite a bit of time studying Ron Paul, his voting record and his 2012 platform - and I have the added benefit of having served the last ten years in the military. I have many friends who have served overseas, and a few who never came home. And I can tell you that from the point of people who give their lives for the purpose of applying foreign policy on a daily basis, Ron Paul's foreign policy will at best weaken the United States, and at worst leave us vulnerable to homeland attacks.
    I do not expect you to agree with me, but do not make the mistake of assuming that the fact that I do not agree with you means that I have less education on the subject or that I have bought into the media narrative.

  3. I took your opening line as saying that the media had a right to interject their opinion on this. If that's not what you think, fantastic, because there are a lot of people who would call themselves conservative who don't care that Paul is being ignored and liken it to Herman Cain and his supporters saying that Cain is being ignored. Paul is a legitimate front runner this time and should not be swept under the rug.

    I still disagree with the comparison between Wallace and Paul, but your stance makes more sense to me now. I do think that some of America's foreign policy decisions have made this situation much worse and I think that is what Paul is alluding to. He's a non-interventionist (as are many if not most traditional Conservatives, pre WWII) and as such doesn't think we should have been meddling in foreign affairs where we were not directly involved (say the Iran/Iraq war in the 80s?). I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but that's my opinion on things. I don't have a problem with military action to hunt down terrorists, either. Our opinions on foreign policy obviously greatly differ and it's really not worth arguing about.

    I don't agree that Paul's comments degrade addicts. His point was that the majority of people who want to do drugs do them regardless of whether or not they are legal. There are many addicts in my husband's family and one died from addiction. I have dealt with minor addiction issues myself. Paul's statements have nothing to do with addicts and everything to do with protecting liberty on all fronts.

    There are many military people who do not agree with your assessment of his foreign policy as evidenced by the fact that Ron Paul has received more campaign contributions from the military than all of the other GOP candidates and Obama *combined*. It may be your opinion, but it is not the opinion of every person in the military (or even a majority, it seems). I'm not sure how bringing our troops home or even just not starting any more wars will leave us vulnerable to homeland attacks. I imagine we'd be better able to respond with our boots on our own ground.

    Like I said previously, the first response I made to this was far more well thought out and contained most of the things that I have said in this one. I hope this better explains my position on it all. I also don't think you have less education on any of the subjects discussed, I apparently misunderstood your statement about the media and honestly, your title for this blog post is rather inflammatory (and most likely the reason, along with the link the the Jon Stewart piece why I so quickly jumped to the conclusion that you were with the media on this). We need to take Ron Paul seriously because he is a serious candidate. Your disagreements with his platform mean that you should not vote for him, not that we should not take his candidacy seriously.