In a post earlier this week I chided Ron Paul for writing an article about murder victim Terri Schiavo in 2005 that was misleading.   Taking on Congressman Paul, from the standpoint of his supporters, is equivalent to bigotry or hate speech.  Many of them are unreasonable, conspiratorial, and downright nasty.   But I don’t hate Ron Paul, I just think he is wrong on his approach to some social issues. But I also think he has a better grasp of the limits of the government on economic issues than any of the other potential candidates.  I wish other Republicans would listen to him.

For example, Paul believes that the government-run Social Security system should eventually be abolished.  New earners should be able to opt out of the program.  Giving this option is not popular with the AARP and some senior citizens who may think that any major overhaul puts their own retirement incomes at risk but Paul has offered many potential solutions that would allow us to keep the promises to those already fully vested. Most of his ideas never make it out of committee.

The Department of Education ought to be tossed out, as well. Though Paul has many reasons to do so, the main reason is the same for much of what Paul stands for:  “First, the Constitution does not authorize…”  Limited government just doesn’t just mean smaller government, as if the problem was only the amount government spends.  The question for Paul on each piece of legislation seems to be whether the Federal Government has any constitutional authority to spend one thin dime in a particular area. (For Paul and the Constitution, the answer is usually “no”).  One basis for this is the 10th Amendment, where Government is only granted specific powers, and all other powers are left to the states and the people. 

Sometimes Congress gets around this limit by invoking the Commerce Clause, but it has been abused so much that Congress and The Supreme Court think that anything dealing with money is fair game.  One of the craziest rulings ever to come down the pike was in 1942 when in Wickard v. Filburn  

“The Court upheld the Agricultural Adjustment Act, stating that the act of growing wheat on one’s own land, for one’s own consumption, could have significant effect on interstate commerce if many farmers did the same, and therefore under the Commerce Clause was subject to federal regulation.

It’s a shame that the lion’s share of the public is not really ready for the kinds of slashing that Paul would do at the federal government level, if he could.  I say “if he could”, because even if he were to become president he doesn’t get to make all the decisions, especially since he believes in limited government. 

Can Paul seriously contend for the presidency in 2012?   Not likely, in my opinion.  Paul’s poll numbers and lack of vote-getting prowess in 2008 can be attributed to a combination of things, most which can’t be changed very easily.   His supporters think he gets a “raw deal”, and that is the only reason he doesn’t do better.  But Mike Huckabee went from nowhere to a (temporary) lead in the Republican race with no help from the media or the Republican Party.  The real reason may be that many people are not ready to give up dependence on big government as a solution to everything.   Paul must also overcome the hawk wing of the GOP that opposes his isolationist viewpoints.  He is well liked by the anti-war crowd on the left, but most of those folks can’t stomach reducing the reach of Uncle Sam in other areas and also think he is too far to the right on social issues.  One the other hand, libertarians are a small bunch who often needlessly offend social conservatives, who might otherwise be their allies. Paul’s denial that homosexuality is a sin, and his subsequent vote to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”, after previously supporting it, will seal his doom with many Christians and so-cons.

None of this should keep him off the national stage, however, and his voice needs to be heard on the economy and the U.S. Constitution.  He should be included in all the debates if he runs for president.  Other candidates should have to answer questions on the constitutionality of both programs they propose and those they would keep.  Mike Huckabee should be asked plainly where in the Constitution the Dept of Ed can be justified and whether his daughter’s one-time employment at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington has an effect upon his view of that agency.  Rick Santorum has not weighed on the constitutionality, as far as I can tell.

14 comments
  1. Rep Ron Paul is what is know as a strict constructionist that is he and people like him beieve that the Federal Government (for the most part) can only do what the Constititution alowes it to do. I am on the other hand a loose Constructionist who believes that the FG can do anything as long as it is not prohibited in the Constitution or is a violation of the Bill of Rights

    1. “as long as it is not prohibited in the Constitution”

      I agree with Jeff here. It cannot do “anything” as you say, for the document itself prohibits the things you claim it has a right to do, that is, anything beyond what it is delegated to it.

  2. @Michael S.:
    You really ought to have at least a passing familiarity with the Constitution before expounding upon it. It explicitly lays out what the federal government has authority over (see Article 1,Section 8) and specifically stipulates that ALL other powers are reserved to the People or to the States (9th and 10th Amendments ). Your being a “loose Constitutionalist” (an oxymoron if ever there was one) notwithstanding, the Federal Gov’t CANNOT do whatever it likes.

  3. Appreciate the article very much. However, I disagree with your blanket assertion that “many [Paul supporters] are unreasonable, conspiratorial, and downright nasty.

    I’m a young 20-something who is on an even keel and repulses conspiracy theories. I simply am a person who cares about limited government and it’s clear that Ron Paul is the only candidate who would have a meaningful change on our country. His principled stances inspire me and I plan on driving to neighboring Iowa next year knocking on doors to try to get people there to understand what we need to do to get this country back on the right track. I wouldn’t do it for any other candidate if they paid me $100/hr. But I’ll do it free for Dr. Paul.

    1. Thanks for your post, Mike. I think using the word “many” keeps my statement from being too big a blanket. If you read the earlier post I made about Schiavo and Paul, you will see that “many” of the posts were of the kind that I suggest. I certainly don’t think all are conspiratorial or nasty, nor even the majority. Obviously, you are not included.

  4. To start with, referring to Terri Schiavo as a “murder victim” puts a big hole in your credibility. And “denial that homosexuality is a sin?” “Sin” is one of those meaning-free religious words, but it’s pejorative intent is unmistakable.

    So, while you’re right in all essentials concerning Ron Paul, you’re obviously a religious nut, incapable of reason, superstitious enough to believe in gods and, no doubt, the Easter Bunny, all of which makes your opinions worthless.

    1. “Meaning-free” really is a “meaning free” word, at least as you use it.

      “all of which makes your opinions worthless”

      So my opinion that Paul “has a better grasp of the limits of the government on economic issues than any of the other potential candidates” is worthless. Interesting.

      “you’re obviously a religious nut, incapable of reason, superstitious enough to believe in gods and, no doubt, the Easter Bunny”

      This statement gives lots of credibility to my statement in the post that:

      “Many of them (Paul’s followers) are unreasonable, conspiratorial, and downright nasty”

    2. “Meaning-free” really is a “meaning free” word, at least as you use it.

      “all of which makes your opinions worthless”

      So my opinion that Paul “has a better grasp of the limits of the government on economic issues than any of the other potential candidates” is worthless. Interesting.

      “you’re obviously a religious nut, incapable of reason, superstitious enough to believe in gods and, no doubt, the Easter Bunny”

      This statement gives lots of credibility to my statement in the post that:

      “Many of them (Paul’s followers) are unreasonable, conspiratorial, and downright nasty”

  5. I pretty much agree with your take on Paul. He’s 95% right, but 95% of the people will never listen to him. If they’d turn off the FM and learn a little history and pay attention to what’s going on, then they might. But that’s asking more than will ever be given.

    And you are right about his supporters. Not all, not even most, but a significant segment of his supporters are fanatically irrational and as you say, rather nasty. I would vote for him. Actually, I have voted for him twice as a write in. But while I think he’s work hard (and mostly fail unless we also elected a decent congress who would also impeach all of the USSC justices) to fix most of our problems and make a good president over all, I do not think Paul would be a very good commander in chief.

  6. What we need to do better is show how local government and the free market can combine to more efficiently and effectively provide those services we need on a daily basis. Ron Paul has not done a good job on explaining this – I’m hoping we do a better job of that in 2012.

  7. Regardless of his ultimate showing in any presidential race, is there any reason he shouldn’t be shown the same level of respect as other candidates? Being kicked off a national debate when polling higher than someone left in it, and being asked as one of his few questions at another national debate: “About electability, sir……Do you have any?” are the kinds of ‘raw deals’ Huckabee never had to deal with. Some of us CAN be out of line supporting him — but I have seen that from supporters of most other candidates as well, at times. I have no problem with you or anyone else disagreeing with him, but we do have problems with people calling him names and trying to get others to not even consider him and what he has to say. We think he has a lot to say.

    Happy New Year!

  8. Regardless of his ultimate showing in any presidential race, is there any reason he shouldn’t be shown the same level of respect as other candidates? Being kicked off a national debate when polling higher than someone left in it, and being asked as one of his few questions at another national debate: “About electability, sir……Do you have any?” are the kinds of ‘raw deals’ Huckabee never had to deal with. Some of us CAN be out of line supporting him — but I have seen that from supporters of most other candidates as well, at times. I have no problem with you or anyone else disagreeing with him, but we do have problems with people calling him names and trying to get others to not even consider him and what he has to say. We think he has a lot to say.

    Happy New Year!

  9. if you think that mike huckabee rose to the top without outside help you are greatly mistaken….google huckabee richard haass council on foreign relations etc…not to sound conspiratorial or anything but come on….

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