Today was a GOP presidential debate on CNN. I hate televised debates, and the transcript isn't up, so instead I decided to go ahead and poke around Ron Paul's website. What follows is all reaction to his stated campaign opinions, and I am perfectly willing to respond to what he has said, instead of listening to people question him about issues he will dodge.
Ron Paul through the lens of Kelsey Atherton
American Independence - Strong advocate of American independence from international obligations. It's an USA-first perspective that clings more to isolationism than unilateral action. It's a stand I disagree with on many levels, and his fear-mongering about international law and community is terribly upsetting and does nothing to help improve both America's image in the world, and the idea of a world where negotiation and reason take the place of conflict and brinkmanship. If he was talking about Texas relative to the US in this way, it would be treason.
Immigration - militancy, which I suppose I should expect. I find his points about not rewarding the 10-20 million people frustrating. Deporting 10-20 million is also awful, and it doesn't really acknowledge the reality of the situation. Reform is good, but this is a nativist stance, and that too seems at least 90 if not 100 years outdated.
Debt and Taxes - he sees lots of issues with taxes, but doesn't say outright what he would cut. Reform of the Federal reserve is interesting, but without a proposed alternative, I'll treat it as bullshit.
Education - he's cutting bureaucracy everywhere. I'm skeptical of a plan that allows for $5000 tax credit to home school, but I'm more skeptical of making this entirely the parents decision. It seem possible that a parent could take the 5 grand, keep the kid at home, and then the kid would have no education and the parent would have money. Improbable, but I'll take bureaucratic waste over that possibility. Tax credit towards full time teachers is nice, though.
Environment - Ron Paul has no trust for public goods being used as public goods. I trust his actions here, if not his logic, and think environmentally, he would be a sound president. However, he follows the Lockian spirit of the constitution to the letter, and that has a serious flaw in holding that land is only valuable if it is held as private property. Interstate roads, public education, and the whole concept of the common are out of place in a Ron Paul United States.
Health Care - this is an arena where very interesting opinions have been presented, and Ron Paul's faith in the free market system to take care of us is matched only by his distrust of federal government's ability to do anything right. The free market approach here, and a return to a more constitutional (read: bare-bones) federal government seems appropriate here. I'm still skeptical, and think that health is, to a degree, a public good, but socialized medicine offers benefits in cost that it loses out in efficiency (far as I can tell). This would be okay.
Health Freedom - More fear of internationalism here, coupled with incompetence on the part of the FDA, and I think I'm picking up something implied but not overtly stated about illegal drugs here. This opinion seems among his weaker phrased -if the FDA has not done a good job protecting us, what can we trust to fill that role? Fear of international standards has flaws when he fails to take into account the role the US has in shaping international standards (hint - it's big). I do agree wholeheartedly about the forced vaccination not being something the government can order, and a violation of civil liberties (even if that is an instance of health as a public good).
Home Schooling - this is more weirdness. Yay to educational freedom, yay to resisting national standards, but providing exceptions especially for home schoolers, and using the Department of Defense instead of the Department of Education to regulate homeschooling strikes me as suspect. Also, it ignores the economic realities of those who have no choice to send their kids to public school; situations where all these great benefits will have minimal impact on working class mothers (or fathers, for that matter).
Life and Liberty - He's right to life, and he has enough evidence to prove that he is seriously committed to this idea. Good for him, and a smart move to let states overturn Roe v. Wade (instead of another supreme court decision). I disagree with it all, but he sticks to his guns, no arguing that. Using "Life and Liberty" as the title for the section does bother me.
Privacy - I agree in full. The man has this right, and I fully support him fighting these battles in congress. Working against the Patriot Act, making sure that we don't need national ID cards, and letting information be more discrete (with the subsequent reduction of identity theft possibilities), is great stuff. Bonus points here to you, good sir.
Property Rights and Eminent Domain - This one has Ron Paul in a nutshell "Property rights are the foundation of all rights in a free society." I disagree, as stated above.
Racism - Bonus points for attempting to address the issue, and bonus points for looking at institutionalized racism as a problem. While not outright saying it, his opinion has the core basis to argue against Affirmative Action, and against anything that has race as a requirement. Interesting, but the rest becomes fluff about rugged individualism, which is a concept of the American that died out (in practical terms) about a century ago, with the closing of the frontier, and that has yet to die completely in the public consciousness.
Social Security - repealing tax on Social Security rings like one of those "oh, duh" moments. As for keeping the system from paying out to illegals, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of illegals who get payroll taxed (meaning they pay into the system), but excepting that it makes cold, heartless sense. Also, letting those younger opt out (more or less), while still rewarding seniors who have paid into the system seems like the free market thing to do. Comprehensive promise, but... I mean, this is FDR's touchstone. FDR may be out of date, but this was good. Eh, I'm resistant to change - Paul may have the right idea here. It's, at the least, an original idea.
The Second Amendment - Well, the strict constitutionalist likes his guns. He;s smart about it, though, and says "this right is the guardian of every other right", which is a truism as the founders intended. I'm historically ambivalent about gun control, both wanting to not be shot, and also not wanting to have no recourse against an oppressive government. While the government has bombers and nukes, I think this right is more trivial, since no war of scale could be waged on behalf of citizens against the gov't, and instead guns will, as always, fuel crime and concerns about crime. I'll object to Ron Paul here, instead, for sponsoring "H.R. 1146 [which] would end our membership in the United Nations, protecting us from their attempts to tax our guns or disarm us entirely."
The UN is not nearly as big and scary as you want it to be, Mr. Ron Paul, and if it was, it'd be overthrown by a rebellion of most if not all member states. You want to cripple a three-legged dog, for fear that it may one day learn chase after children and brutally murder them. I think you are wrong here.
War and Foreign Policy - Despite his statements to the contrary, the man is an isolationist. This is all great stuff (again excepting the fear of the United Nations), and he knows how a foreign policy shouldn't be run. I don't think he knows how one should be run, as he quotes men who were not world leaders so much as they were leaders of a nation just barely in the world. I also have no idea what threat he feels is necessary to recall all our armies home to defend against. The last few lines might be about exercising soft power, which is a good thing.
Ron Paul is the ideal candidate for 1916. He has the right attitude, the right free market/strict constitutionalist/federal minimalist approach to better suit a long gone era in US history. Some of what he says holds true today, but on the whole, I cannot support the man. He is too wary of any good coming from governments. He fails to understand the United Nations. He has no concept of the Common Good. He believes in individual rights, to the point where I am convinced he could argue the dissolution of the state back to the level of the individual, and still have fanatical followers.
He's interesting, certainly, and it will be fascinating to watch how the republican candidate adapts to appeal to his constituency. I hope it's towards his war and privacy stances, or perhaps his health care or environmental opinion. He is, after all, not the worst man for the job, but he isn't an incredible candidate either. He would have great supreme court selections, and he would have a serious deadlock with congress all the time. Beyond that, we'd have four years of pleasant stagnation, with hopefully some small changes in the above mentioned areas, and minimal damage to the federal governments capabilities to satisfy the vital duties of a state.
I may well do another of these (the full clusterf*** is unlikely), but reading through campaign literature is very low on the fun scale. If you have a candidate you'd like me to evaluate, feel free to drop it in the comments, and if I do it, it'll be during winter break