I was going to always avoid politics here, but its too late. I have been thinking about libertarians in general and Ron Paul in specific and organizing my thoughts against him. However, I do not intend to write much about politics, as fiction and philosophy are so interesting to me. However, philosophy frequently overlaps politics, and this is an election year….
The major issues I have with Ron Paul libertarianism (as I heard it in the presidential debates, and experienced it talking to his supporters) are three. First, the apparent abandonment of the principal by which laws are justified, secondly, the curious insistence that Ron Paul is the ultimate expression of constitutionalism and the embodiment of the American founding, and lastly, his followers seem to frequently think and behave like cult followers.
First Point: I believe that the law is always founded upon someone’s idea of what is moral. If you remove all moral thinking you actually remove all basis for law. The result is generally anarchy which in turn usually breeds tyranny. Without founding laws upon someone’s morals, (if it is one person’s morals, then it is a monarchy, if several persons, an oligarchy, if it is based on the majority opinion of a people who rule themselves, it is a democracy) how can the law say that murder is wrong, or that selling national secrets is wrong, or that rape is wrong? Every argument against these things starts with a form of morality whether the person making the argument uses that word or not. For instance, rape is wrong because it forces one persons will upon another person. The morality here is fairly obvious, just not stated explicitly. It is: “Anything that takes something without consent from someone else is wrong. Anything that does not affect someone else is acceptable.” This seems to me to be the basic morality of the libertarian position. I tend to think it is not comprehensive enough, but that is not my point. It seems to me that a Ron Paul libertarian would, if given their way, make it so that communities who have a different, more extensive, set of morals (like believing that drugs should be illegal) cannot enforce them, while at the same time denying that their laws are based on morality. I believe that this is an untenable position. It is better to admit that laws are based on what society thinks is moral and then to constantly debate what is moral and immoral and should therefore be legal or illegal.
Second point: This point actually meshes with the last point. It seems to me that somehow, through machinations unknown, a man who has sat in congress for years, who has had no applicable effect on the thinking of his colleagues or the execution of laws, who indulged in the egregious habit of earmarks just like everyone else in congress somehow claims to be ideologically pure, for small government, and a good choice for a leader. He is supposedly a pure conservative, when in fact his actions, regardless of excuses, have been almost identical to the behavior of his colleagues.
Third Point: At some point when a man’s supporters behave like followers of cult leader, speak like followers of a cult lead, and insult anyone who criticizes their leader, it seems to me to be fairly safe to think many of them are cult members. To prove me wrong, any Ron Paul supporters who reads this, I challenge you: in the comments below, describe one moderate to major flaw in your candidate: one thing that makes him less than 95% perfect for the presidency whether from personal life or legislative career. (Of course you can also make the case why he is good for the presidency.) No excuses unless the excuse leaves you at least moderately uncomfortable.
I will start. (I only support Mitt Romney because he is the republican, and I think on the presidential scale that’s the best you can do. I think America needs reforming on the local scale by people like Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, and on the federal scale we pick the least bad of two for now.) However, I do now support Mitt Romney. I will probably volunteer for his campaign and at some point I may even send him some of my hard earned money. However, it deeply disturbs me that although I agree with most things he has said since 2008, he has no political record that matches with these beliefs. I understand the excuse that people change their positions and that he had to deal with a very, very, leftist state, but these excuses make me still feel uncomfortable, and I deal with it while wishing that he was better. I also realize that every politician is going to have done things I don’t like, and I support the ones who do things the most like what I believe. Someone who follows a politician without knowing and dealing with their human shortcomings is remarkably similar to a cult member.
I just found this article, another longer discussion of the problems of Libertarianism (as opposed to my rant).