The Case for Ron Paul
Ron Paul, a physician, has earned himself the name "Dr. No" by refusing to vote for any bill which assumes powers other than those given in Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution. When one takes a sober look at our country today, it's easy to see why Dr. Paul would behave this way.
Take note that there is no authority in the Constitution for the setting of interest rates (as the Federal Reserve does) -- interference which led directly to the housing bubble (which Ron Paul predicted). Despite U.S. participation in several sizable wars, Congress has not bothered itself with actually declaring war since 1942 (on Romania). There is no authority to bail out banks, intervene in labor disputes, subsidize farming, regulate health insurance, or set educational policies. Every one of these unauthorized activities drives costs up (or drives prosperity down) and ultimately hurts average Americans. Increasingly, Americans are realizing that most of our social and economic ills can be traced to a failure to follow our own Constitution. Ron Paul has always been a strict, unapologetic Constitutionalist. How Ron Paul would govern as president can be envisioned by simply reading Article II of the Constitution (The Executive Branch.)
When it comes to the science of government, this statement by John Adams makes a perfect starting point for any debate: "The form of government which communicates happiness to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is best."
No matter what position an individual occupies on the political spectrum, this statement is very difficult to disagree with (unless one is an advocate of totalitarianism). Once we start debating exactly what people need in order to be happy, or how they can go about securing these needs, things get ugly.
Americans are fond of calling our country an "experiment in democracy" -- but what exactly was so "experimental" about it? Democracy, the Constitutional Republic, checks and balances, and an array of other ideas in the Constitutions were not new at all. In truth, nearly every mechanism in the Constitution was many centuries old (at least) and had been borrowed from past political thinkers.
What was experimental was the way in which power flowed (from the bottom up) and how people would go about securing what they needed in order to be happy. Provided that people did not harm or injure others, they were generally not to be bothered by government, and they were to have their civil and economic freedoms protected. The Founders theorized that when human problems were solved at the lowest and most localized level possible -- be that in the family, the township, the city, the county, or a state -- the aggregate human happiness would be the greatest. Only in cases where it was not feasible for the States to solve a particular problem on their own would these problems be elevated (via the Constitution) to the federal government. This bottom-up political system was known (until the advent of Progressivism in the early 20th century) as liberal democracy. We now loosely call it conservatism, or sometimes libertarianism.
To make their classical liberal democracy work, the Founders gave around twenty specific governmental powers to the federal government, all enumerated in Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution. These power are as follows: to tax, spend, borrow, regulate interstate and international commerce, establish uniform rules of citizenship, write bankruptcy laws, coin and regulate the value of money, standardize weights and measures, punish counterfeiters, establish a postal system, pass copyright and patent laws, establish federal courts, punish crimes on the high seas, declare war, finance and raise an armed forces, set rules for the armed forces, call up state militias, administer the seat of government (Washington, D.C.), and administer federal lands. Lastly, Congress was then given the actual authority for passing laws to implement these specific powers. All other authority was reserved to the States and the People.
Why the media ignores Ron Paul
The media tries to pretend that Ron Paul does not exist, claiming that he is "extreme" or "crazy." The reason for this is very simple -- to acknowledge the legitimacy of Paul's ideas is to openly acknowledge how dangerous our national economic problems have actually become. This willful ignorance is known as Normalcy Bias, a primal fight-or-flight mental state which allows otherwise rational people to ignore danger. Notable examples of Normalcy Bias include the refusal of German Jews to flee prior to the Holocaust or the refusal of Americans to evacuate the Gulf Coast before Hurricane Katrina.
Ron Paul has proposed cutting one trillion dollars from the federal budget during his first year in office because it is mathematically unavoidable. If we do not make these cuts voluntarily now, we will be forced to make them later.
Ron Paul's statements on 9/11
Every candidate has their warts, and this is where Paul's blemishes show -- glaringly. Paul has consistently argued that American foreign policy was a contributing factor in the 9/11 attacks, and insists that the attackers were motivated by U.S. troop presence in Muslim lands. It does not matter (as Paul's most die-hard supporters argue) if Paul "has a point" -- these statements are akin to asking what a rape victim was doing or wearing at the time of an attack. There is nothing to be gained from them. Ron Paul needs to back off here (and so do his supporters). For some voters, these statements alone will be a deal-breaker at the ballot box. The upside here is that Paul is a known quantity on everything -- no one is ever left wondering what Ron Paul "really thinks."
Ron Paul on foreign policy
Ron Paul's foreign policy is actually very simple. The physical safety of individual Americans from foreign aggressors should come first. Paul extends to other nations the same basic principles that are applied to individuals -- all foreign nations should be treated equally, unless they cause harm or injury to the United States or her citizens. A strong defensive function should be maintained to disincentivize other nations from hurting or killing Americans. Ron Paul has insisted that war should be waged only when conditions meet all six criteria of the Just War Theory.
Why Ron Paul can beat Barack Obama
Even Ron Paul's detractors concede his anvil-like integrity and unflappable adherence to principle. Barack Obama, having nearly no accomplishments to run on, and deprived of everything but boogeyman arguments, will be forced into a drawn-out war of ideas against a cranky obstetrician with a Jeffersonian mastery of economics, history, philosophy, politics, and theology. In terms of honesty, intellect, and knowledge, Barack Obama has no hope of prevailing in a one-on-one debate against Ron Paul. Such a mismatch on live television would be amusing.
We as Americans are poised at a crossroads. In this race, Ron Paul truly stands alone in his efforts to preserve classical liberal democracy as it was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The Founders had a theory (which was very radical at the time) that individuals, even those of meager education and modest means, were better able to govern their own affairs than were "the wise." The vast majority of those in Washington now, both Republicans and Democrats, view themselves as being a part of "the wise" -- believing that they should govern the affairs of others.
Ron Paul believes, as the Founders did, that individuals can do a much better job governing their own selves, and should not be ruled over by government.
Jason McNew is a 38-year-old IT professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.