Monday, December 26, 2011

Commentary on Ron Paul's Essay, "What Really Divides Us?"
Let me first say that Ron Paul is right in this essay, but that there are some minor sins of omission. I'm a Ron Paul supporter, and believe he's the only candidate worth supporting in the current GOP or Democratic races.

Ron Paul writes: "The real reason liberals hate the concept of states' right has nothing to do with racism, but rather reflects a hostility toward anything that would act as a limit on the power of the federal government."

I hate it when libertarian politicians, who ostensibly wish to generate pro-freedom votes, paint everyone who identifies themselves with a 'suitcase word' (such as "liberal," or "conservative" -words that describe many phenomena, values, conditions, or independent variables) as possessing the most hateful formulation of that suitcase word.

Paul could equally correctly have written:
"The real reason conservatives love the concept of states' right has nothing to do with limiting the power of the federal government, but rather reflects a hostility toward minorities who would benefit from an even application of the 14th Amendment and true equality under the law." (And it would be just as wrong as slamming liberals for opposing states' right. In truth, implementing states' rights is a strategy for decentralizing power, not an end goal. As an end goal, only the preservation of individual rights is valid.)

The point isn't that Paul is wrong. Generally speaking, he's not. But he'd have been a lot more correct if he didn't paint all liberals with such a broad brush. He should have qualified his statement by saying "many liberals" or even "most liberals" or "the liberal establishment." He could have singled out ranting socialists who call themselves liberals, such as Chris Matthews (who apparently believes that all decentralists are racists). This would have left a little room in his statement for the minority of well-educated libertarian-leaning liberals (many of whom support his candidacy) to not feel like they were being painted "Obama blue." Moreover: is there any reason to alienate the "socially liberal" people who mistakenly voted for Obama because they incorrectly thought he would keep his campaign promise to stop raiding state medical marijuana collectives? Those people should vote for Paul!

In one of his most famous essays, F. A. Hayek (one of Ron Paul's heroes) states that the best word to describe his libertarian political views is still "liberal," given the history of the term. From Hayek's essay "Why I am Not A Conservative, point 6:" (also at Lew
"What I have said should suffice to explain why I do not regard myself as a conservative. Many people will feel, however, that the position which emerges is hardly what they used to call "liberal." I must, therefore, now face the question of whether this name is today the appropriate name for the party of liberty. I have already indicated that, though I have all my life described myself as a liberal, I have done so recently with increasing misgivings...

...In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use "liberal" in the sense in which I have used it, the term "libertarian" has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself."

I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that modern defenders of jury nullification and true equality under the law, such as Clay Conrad, David T. Hardy, and Paul Butler, might agree with Hayek.

I also wish Dr. Paul would have included more criticism of the drug laws, gun laws, and other mala prohibita that victimizes minorities in our society. You can't correct unfairness caused by government force until you identify it. To be fair, Paul has done this before on Nationwide TV, just not in this essay on the same subject. It would have made an excellent addition to the argument that in order to defeat racism, one needs to end institutionalized racism allowed by selective enforcement of mala prohibita.

Of course, that could fill ten times the space to fully explain and defend.

This criticism is minor, since Paul's main point is correct. Still, it's incomplete and too general. Now is the time for specifics, and for victory. I loved it when Paul was pointing out how racist the drug war is, on TV the other day, and how the drug war denies both property rights and equality under the law. He needs to do a lot more of that.

Every time he criticizes liberals, I'd also like to hear a criticism of conservatives. Neither position is legitimate, in its modern formulation.

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