How Ron Paul could change America
The 2012 election is in full swing, but for many Americans the field of potential presidential candidates seems decidedly lacking. On one side, an exhausted and cynical President Obama draws criticism from liberals and conservatives alike, while in the Republican camp the sheer volume of candidates, none of whom succeed in inspiring party members, is dividing the GOP. Neither seem to have satisfactory solutions for the problems facing our nation.
Enter Ron Paul: a former small-town Texas baby doctor, and now U.S. Representative, currently in the running for the Republican presidential nomination. Despite promising showings in several swing states, most political officials and mainstream media anchors are quick to dismiss Paul as an outlier or a non-competitor, his stabs at the policies of both his own party and the Democratic administration often regarded as just more outburst from “crazy uncle Ron.”
So what does Ron Paul believe? This itself seems to be a question with various answers: Huffington Post columnist Joel Sucher suggests anarchy, pointing out that Paul supports drastically downsizing the role and power of government in people’s lives. The New Yorker labels him a “party crasher” for his apparent distaste for the platforms of Democrats and Republicans alike. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza even called Paul “the most dangerous man in the Republican party” for the way his rise seems to be splintering the GOP.
Simply put, Paul believes in libertarianism. According to the official website of the Libertarian Party of America, the basic tenant of this political philosophy is personal freedom: Everyone should have the right to live however they choose and do whatever they want to, as long as these pursuits do not infringe on the rights of others to live how they want or do what they want. The only criminal acts in a libertarian society are those that are harmful to the rights of others. Therefore controversial social issues like prostitution, drug use and abortion would be absolutely unregulated.
While Ron Paul does stand by libertarianism in most aspects, he departs in a few situations for a more traditional Republican stance. His campaign website states he is against abortion, and he defers from the libertarian idea of unregulated immigration by saying he would tighten border security and put an end to programs that provide amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Carla Howell, executive director of the Libertarian Party of America, said her party seeks to provide an alternative to the Democratic/Republican system that has failed America for too long.
When asked to describe the ideal libertarian society, Howell said a perfect world is never a possibility but that in order to maintain personal freedom it is imperative that government be downsized.
“Our mission is to shrink the size of government and reduce waste and bureaucracy; more freedom means less government,” she said. “The best we can hope for is maximum freedom with minimum government, as a small government protects lives, liberty and property.”
Howell also said Paul’s growing support is likely due to the spreading of the libertarian message through dissatisfaction with the status quo.
“His views and agenda make him essentially Libertarian,” she said. “More young people are learning about our economic and social policies and he is a respectable leader people can rally behind.”
Ithaca College junior Molly Petrie said she supports Ron Paul because of his message of government simplification and power to the people.
“A lot of the problems in this country stem from people investing too much power in the government and having no idea of how to use the rights they are given in a democracy,” she said. “By consolidating authority in the states it would be much easier to speak up and instigate change as a citizen.”
Petrie also said she admires Paul’s honesty on his opinions and dedication to his ambitions.
“I don’t agree with him on every policy but his political philosophy gives me hope that there is a way out of this mess after all,” she said.
Others feel Paul’s ideas may be key to resolving America’s current economic crisis. Nationally recognized libertarian politician and former Libertarian vice-presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root said the candidate’s plan to restore the nation’s financial standing depends on reducing the role of government.
“The world is on the edge of a cliff,” he said. “Our economy, jobs, and our children’s future hang in the balance and it’s all caused by too much spending, too much debt and too much government intervention.
Despite this, Root said Paul’s message needs to be relaxed on certain issues to make his platform palatable to most Americans.
“Ron Paul does not have enough support to change a thing. He will not get elected,” he said. “You have to moderate the message so you don’t frighten suburban mothers and grandmothers, the independent voters. That’s the position that wins elections, and I wish Ron Paul had realized that.”
Perhaps not all Americans are ready for Ron Paul’s brand of revolution. But with the grassroots strategy and enthusiastic supporters he has mobilized this election season, Paul has assured that traditional party leaders will no longer be able to ignore his voice.
Kyle Robertson is a sophomore journalism major who believes in liberty for all. Email him at krobert4[at]ithaca[dot]edu.