So, Ron Paul is rising in the polls in Iowa. Who cares? Well, I don’t. I admire Dr. Paul and think he would make a great president for several reasons (his taking only 38k a year is one of them). However, Dr. Paul is not a republican, nor can you label him as conservative. The reason you cannot do these things is because Ron Paul is not a republican, nor is he conservative (assuming conventional definitions).
My reason for pointing out this obvious fact is due to the interesting attacks levied against Dr. Paul. Many of which may stem from a failure to understand that Paul plants his ideological flag in libertarian territory -a place most conservatives consider darker than progressivism, or far too exciting (marijuana and sex ). Now, I would like to note that some of these attacks are valid (like his overzealous and conspiracy-laden world view, troubling racially-laded statements of his youth, and his dismissal of modern economic “pragmatism”), and some are not. I would like to point out the more common invalid attacks, and expose some of the sloppy reasoning behind them.
1) Ron Paul is an isolationist.
Consider this excerpt written by Medved:
America’s founding charter doesn’t place the President of the United States in charge of the economy, or social policy. But it does make him Commander-in-chief of the military and gives him principal power to conduct our relations with other nations.
This means that those who back Paul’s domestic policies but ignore his isolationist, moral-relativist approach toward America’s position in the world are actually saying they care more about presidential roles not specified in the Constitution than they do about the chief responsibility the Founders themselves had in mind. Dr. Paul wants America to play a less robust leadership role in the world—apparently agreeing with Barack Obama, but disagreeing with great Republicans Lincoln and Reagan.
So, the fact that the President is commander-in-chief of the military and holds the mantel of conducting international relationships entails that the founding father’s mind possessed the idea that we should be marching around the world shoring-up our economic interest by threat of force? Or, that we should dictate who can and who cannot have certain type of weapons? Or, that we can violate national sovereignty of other countries, just because we are at war with some vaguely defined enemy -terror? Right… I am sure that the entering any country and firing missiles would have really sat well with our founding fathers.
Mr. Medved, as do many conservatives apologists, assumes that he knows or, by some power, can determine exactly what the founding fathers had intended. This is a huge problem for me, because they are making an appeal to authority that can only be understood through a conservative-colored lens. They essentially limit the discussion to some odd regressive reality, which cannot be proven true nor false.
Moreover, how is it, Mr. Medved, that Paul’s desire to respect other cultures, governments, and economic systems, violate his duty as president? Where in the Constitution does it say that we have to be actively involved in all other countries actions?
2) Ron Paul values hookers, sex, drugs, pornography and violence.
This point is more common than , but it is not a Ron Paul critique. I know that Medved uses this as his standard ammo against Paul, but what he is actually doing is disputing libertarianism in general (Note: He advocates libertarian economics when convenient, but dismisses libertarian social views). Consider these points made by Medved in a recent article:
This addle-brained attempt to equate religious freedom with liberty to pursue profit as pimps or pushers counts as daft rather than deft. As a preening “Constitutionalist,” Paul ought to understand that the First Amendment explicitly protects “free exercise” of religion but says nothing about a right to operate bordellos or market recreational drugs.
As long we’re free to seek salvation in heaven, we must be free to enjoy drugs and hookers while we’re alive?
Wallace also asked the crotchety candidate if he was “suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise in liberty?” In effect, Paul agreed that they were. “Well, you know, I’d probably never use those words, you put those words some place,” he stammered, “but yes, in essence, if I leave it to the states, it’s going to be up to the states.”
This suggestion of leaving regulation to local authorities makes no sense at all when it comes to the drug trade, which usually involves international (or, at the very least, interstate) commerce. Moreover, his invoking of the First Amendment in the need to “protect liberty across the board” means that the states would have no more right to outlaw bongs and brothels than the federal government. The Supreme Court has federalized Bill of Rights protections since 1925 ( Gitlow v. New York), meaning that First Amendment protections restrict state power (under the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection”) just as much as they limit the Washington bureaucracy. If the feds can’t interfere with selling smack or sex (under some bizarre misinterpretation of a constitutional right to free expression) then states can’t touch those activities either.
This comment is as addle-brained as any conservative rhetoric can get. Medved wants to hold that there is some type of philosophical or metaphysical chasm amid religious freedom and social/economic freedom, and he claims that this chasm is contained in our laws. In fact, Mr. Medved points out that the Supreme Court has federalized Bill of Rights protections and that certain modern interpretations of he constitution invalidate Paul’s claims.
This is a sad, and a weak position. To argue that a law is objectively true -or maps to a true proposition- or that the laws are constitutionally consistent in their current form because some group of men decided that they were, puts a lot of trust in these men who wear those black robes -maybe, his one year of Yale law stuck well with him (if it did, then I would not expect Mr. Medved to understand that legal arguments don’t mesh well when applied to inherently philosophical documents). I would add that progressives act inversely in this particular case. They tend to hold that social freedom is exempt from constitutional oversight and that economic action is not, but a true conservative would surely hold that economic freedom should be exempt (or, maximized) and that social action should not (minimized). Medved does this, up to a point, as we soon will see.
Here is another inflammatory quote:
The only possible argument for this constitutional interpretation would involve a sweeping expansion of the fictitious “right to privacy”—a whole-cloth invention of the Warren Court that conservatives (and originalists) generally hate. If the Constitution actually hints at a right to privacy so comprehensive that it protects a previously unrecognized right to sell sex, then how can it not guarantee the freedom to terminate your pregnancy? But Paul insists he remains fervently pro-life and speaks with (appropriate) contempt of Roe v. Wade.
Did the Founders ever intend to guard “personal habits” from governmental regulation? If so, then why did prior generations fail to employ Paul’s argument to challenge the long history of strict local, state, and federal supervision of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages?
At this point it becomes important to reconcile this chasm that Medved so blindly holds in-between freedom in practicing religion and freedom of action. First, what if I were to choose to follow a religious practice in which I must consume large quantities of Ayahuasca? Ayahuasca is a psychedelic. It is a drug. Can the state regulate that? Well, before 2005 they did. However, in December 2004, the Supreme Court lifted a stay thereby allowing the Brazil-based União do Vegetal (UDV) church to use a decoction containing DMT in their Christmas services that year. This decoction is a tea made from boiled leaves and vines, known as hoasca within the UDV, and ayahuasca in different cultures. In Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, the Supreme Court heard arguments on November 1, 2005 and unanimously ruled in February 2006 that the U.S. federal government must allow the UDV to import and consume the tea for religious ceremonies under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So, it must be, by Medved’s previous arguments, legal to use drugs as a religious practice… I mean, the sacrosanct Supreme Court said it is, so it must be true, right? Well, obviously this case show that there is a strong similarity -and arguably a possible equivalence amid religious freedom and social action.
What about me wanting to have sex. Suppose that I desire sex, and that my girlfriend just can’t allocate the time for me to engage in this very natural and spiritual act. Suppose that there is some girl that I know (suppose she is a friend) who says that she will give me sex if I give her $500. This $500 compensates her for her time, and expertise (rumor has it that she is really good at giving sex). Is this illegal? Yes, it is illegal (unless you live in Nevada). The real question is: Is it constitutional?
Medved and other conservative parrots want to hold that it is not, or that we would experience mayhem if states could regulate this type of activity on their own -but Nevada does not seem to be falling into some Sodom and Gomorrah state of chaos is it? Moreover, what about the black market? What about the fact that prostitution abounds already, as does drugs and that the simple economic laws of supply and demand make these things more readily available because there is an incentive to do so?
Seriously, where in the constitution does it prohibit a adult female from providing me with sex in exchange for money? Well, it doesn’t. What happened is that some right-wing nut job decided -either by convention or religious ideals- that prostitution is a bad thing and that it is therefore ipso-facto anti-constitutional.
The $500 sex-job that I may get form some girl, is merely an action. The girl freely desires to actualize her rights. She is harming no other person, nor is she causing any type of problem in society. She is merely providing a service. How can that seriously be unconstitutional?
This is where Ron Paul hits a cord with most people (Conservative and Democrats). He is saying that we have become an authoritarian state whose efficiency and productivity, both social and economic, is stuck in a mire of regulations, international affairs, and twisted federal laws. This is why he is very popular among the left-leaning group of Occupy Wall Street folks.
The most interesting thing, here, is that Dr. Paul is consistent in his application of personal freedom; sadly, conservatives tout “free-market” ideals, but when presented with free-market systems that involve acts or products that don’t mix well with the ideas of that God that they invented, or with the words written in some archaic script (that was written by a man), they backpedal like a lumberjack on a log-roll.
Just take a look:
At its rotten (in fact putrefying) core, the Paul logic obliterates the crucial distinction between private, intimate activity and commercial enterprise
So, commercial activity cannot be private? It cannot be intimate? My using this computer to write this post involved a plethora of necessary commercial activities -yet, the act of writing this is private… This idea that commercial activity and private activity are separable, requires that commercial activity be somewhat equivalent to public activity -which is problematic for any conservative who endorses a free-market world view.
Both private and commercial activity are metaphysically and ethically inseparable. Private property and private action are not contingent upon where a good, service, or idea may lay in the economic spectrum (for a man who claims that Atlas Shrugged changed his life, he sure sounds like Wesley Mouch).
Mr. Medved, like all other conservative puppets, cannot seem to separate reason form religion, which is why conservatism is dying in America.
Note: I don’t condone Mr. Medved’s bias, nor do I condemn his inflammatory and twisted logic; Mr. Medved is in the business of making people angry, emotional, and politically charged. He makes money by feeding off the energies of others.