Steve Ralls

The 'Libertarian' Views of Ron Paul

Filed By Steve Ralls | July 27, 2007 6:56 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: libertarian, ron paul, steve ralls

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul once ran for the White House on the Libertarian ticket, and he's labeled with the term in his 2008 race, too. But a close look at Congressman Paul's voting record, and his stated views on a number of laws and policies, makes one wonder where the 'libertarian' stops and the 'republican' begins. In fact, his views on abortion, same-sex adoption and other issues are worth some questions as Paul prepares to field inquiries in the Republican YouTube debate.

It appears that Paul's independent streak, and what many believe are his more moderate views on issues, have started to make an impact. He's the most-'friended' Republican candidate on MySpace, and he has a healthy $2 million + in the bank (more, reportedly, than Senator John McCain). And when compared to the rest of the GOP line-up for 2008, Paul does indeed offer some refreshing change: he voted against the war in Iraq, called out the other candidates on American foreign policies that inflamed Middle East tensions before September 11th, does not support Bush's domestic surveillance program, and refuses to vote for any funding bill that, in his view, is not essential and necessary.

But when it comes to social issues, how libertarian does Paul steer?

According to his website, Congressman Paul opposes abortion rights. But aren't libertarians all for keeping the government out of doctor's offices (and wombs)? He opposes same-sex adoption (but did vote against the anti-gay marriage amendment). And he didn't raise his hand at the GOP debate when Wolf Blitzer asked who opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (Though, in an encouraging sign of hope, he appears to perhaps be clarifying his position on that issue.)

If Congressman Paul would be as free-thinking and willing to break the mold on social issues as he is on economic, war and tax issues, he could make an even bigger impact in the race for the White House. Imagine a Republican calling out John McCain, a military veteran, on his refusal to honor LGBT service members. Or Paul taking up the position Giuliani used to have on abortion: safe but rare. No doubt, he'd only grow in popularity, and rise in the polls.

The upcoming CNN-YouTube debates present a unique opportunity to ask Congressman Paul about his social views and how they fit into his libertarian beliefs. (There's already one YouTube video up about the subject, from a former Navy linguist.)

Ron Paul has been willing to part ways with his party on a number of important topics, but now it's up to the public to see how much 'liberty' he'll really put into this race. Of all the GOP candidates, I have the most hope that Paul will stand up for what's right . . . and maybe all we really have to do is ask.

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Fair enough, but I think his abortion views come from the libertarian natural right theory. Right to life, liberty, and property. It's right to life he's concerned about.

And he's a lot more libertarian than any other candidates.

Ron Paul voted against the FMA because he votes against anything that is "too federal" for him.

He is, in acuality, an unapologetic anti-gay bigot:

If I were in Congress in 1996, I would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act[.]
I was an original cosponsor of the Marriage Protection Act, HR 3313, that removes challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act from federal courts' jurisdiction.
If I were a member of [a state] legislature, I would do all I could to oppose any attempt by rogue judges to impose a new definition of marriage on the people of my state.
Also, Paul himself refuses to use the word "libertarian" without exception. Indeed, his official campaign website doesn't even mention that he ran as the Libertarian candidate in 1988.

He is no more "principled" than any other politician.

The thing bothers me the most about the Libertarians (capital L) is that philosophic path leads to the destruction of community. It is the ultimate "everything revolves about me" party. They shy away from things that are foundational to healthy communities.

One nut job in my town was running for Mayor and his Libertarian platform included privatizing the sidewalks. His theory went like this - if people wanted to use the sidewalks, they could purchase a ticket similar to a bus pass from the private company that owned them.

Based upon my study of Ron Paul's positions and philosophies, I believe your concerns are unnecessary.

When Ron Paul votes "no" on various social engineering legislation at the Federal level, he's not passing judgment on the issue. He just believes (justifiably) that the Federal government has no business legislating on the topic. Should our Federal government have an opinion on same-sex adoption? No. Should our Federal government have an opinion on gay marriage? No. Should our Federal government even care if a heterosexual couple is married? Ideally not.

Check out the 10th amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.


Lynn David | July 28, 2007 1:55 AM

Ron Paul is best described as a fundamentalist Christian libertarian.

Note the qualifier... it means everything to Paul.

dave31175 | July 28, 2007 9:11 AM

While I may not agree with him 100%, I admire his strict Constitutional stand on the role of the Federal Government. As for his position on gay issues, I don't believe he's any worse than any other candidate running. Sure, some of the Democrats may be pandering for the gay vote, but watch how quickly that gay support will fade once in office (a la Bill Clinton). Additionally he's taken a stronger stand (actual voting record, not just campaign rhetoric) against the Iraq mess than any other Republicrat or Demopublican.

Ron Paul is whatever he needs to be at the time.

When he was the Libertarian Presidential Nominee he was quite hardcore libertarian, and quite anti-GOP.

Then a few years later he was running for the Congressional seat in super-Conservative South Texas and he all-of-a-sudden became a Pro-Military, Red, White & Blue, George W. Bush Conservative Republican.

Now he sees opportunity to gain liberal media coverage, and he's all-of-a-sudden a Leftwinger Pacifist "Surrender to Al Qaeda" Cindy Sheehan/Michael Moore type.

This is politics. And Ron Paul is no different from any other politician.

Eric Dondero, Fmr. Senior Aide,
US Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)

I agree, Storm. That's always been my problem with libertarianism/Libertarianism - the whole thing implies that community is unimportant - either we don't need to support it and people will just support sidewalks on their own through private companies, or that it doesn't affect people's chances at life, i.e. human interactions don't affect one's chance at a good education, positive self-image, etc. etc.

Their description of reality is so off-base, and their justifications for their "philosophy" is usually pointing to someone who's been dead for 400 years - "Adam Smith said this, and we have to follow it"; "John Locke said that the point of gov't was X, and we can't disagree - or just saying "This is what government's for". The level of illogic that they reach in justifying whatever (which sometimes gets more complicated like "If people really cared about global warming, they'd learn everything they can about every company tangentially related to everything they buy and boycott accordingly") makes the entire endeavor pretty transparent - it's just a massive power grab by those already in power and an attempt to make sure that no semi-accountable body of people (government) can ever have power over completely unaccountable bodies of people (corporations, etc.) as they exploit everyone else.

That's probably why I can understand where Republicans like Brownback and Huckabee are coming from - they see the importance of human interaction/community and take non-normative interactions as a threat. That's at least half in line with what I'm thinking.

So, yeah, Storm, I see what you're saying.

A. J. Lopp | August 1, 2007 4:03 AM

Storm is on the right track.

To further this argument, consider the libertarian's (small "l") most revered novelist: Ayn Rand. Her novels are well-written (if you are willing to plow through 60-page radio addresses) and contain penultimate versions of the American rugged individualist: cf. Dagney Taggart eagerly jumping into the ice-cold shower every morning at 4 A.M.

There is just one thing wrong with Ayn Rand novels, whether it be Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead: They contain only adult [heterosexual] couples --- but no families, and more specifically, no children. Ayn Rand lived and wrote in a world without children.

Thus, in the world of Ayn Rand (and I argue in the world of Libertarianism --- capital "L" --- generally) there is not much value, hardly any place even, for human nurturance. Does your son have problems with reading or math? Don't bother tutoring him, just tell him to buckle down more. Did your wife die in an auto wreck? Sue the bastard who hit her, but for God's sake don't allow yourself to mourn, and don't waste everyone's time by talking about things with a priest or therapist. Is your cousin homeless and on the street because of a drinking problem? Obviously his weaknesses show that he is the scum of humanity, and the world will be better off when he dies.

As I have written previously, Libertarians believe that one has a right to discriminate against any person for any reason --- even though a community that refuses to sell food to a black family or a Muslim family will force them to move away, and a nation of individuals that refuses them food can cause the family to starve to death. So much for the l/Libertarian's dedication to the "right to life"!!

Even to this day, I sometimes describe myself as a "modified libertarian" --- but the modification is that I have come to realize that even Liberty cannot be a total absolute, unless one is willing to live in complete isolation and disconnection from the rest of humanity.

As for Ron Paul, I believe that Eric Dondero has him pegged pretty good --- and I gather that Eric probably earned his disillusionment dearly and painfully.