Why a Tea Party conservative now supports Ron Paul...including his foreign policy.
Ask any conservative about Ron Paul and you will usually hear the following statement: "I love him on fiscal policy but his foreign policy is naive and dangerous." You can also throw in the obligatory "He hates Israel." If someone had asked me about Paul from 9/12/01 through October of 2011, I'd have said the exact same things.
Something about my certitude always felt a bit uncomfortable, though, because I admired the "good parts" of Ron Paul (and later, his son Rand). Having participated in the Tea Party movement since its inception, and then witnessing the phony propaganda concocted to invalidate it, my BS meter began to pin whenever I heard (or spoke) harsh rhetoric denouncing Ron Paul. Since the contradiction bugged me, I decided to take the advice of my twenty-year-old son and read Ron Paul's book, Revolution. This required me to consider ideas which were once unthinkable. I undertook the mission with the promise to think outside my conservative box.
After reading the book, I came away with a completely different understanding of Ron Paul and his philosophy. I'm hoping my Tea Party compatriots, fellow conservatives, and all Americans will step outside their own comfort zones to do the same. It is vital that our nation seriously consider the important constitutional concepts and defense of liberty that Ron Paul espouses.
Today, the Middle East is falling to Islamic rule like a series of dominos. The supposed "friendly Arab nations" want our troops out of their land and threaten to side with our enemies. Our soldiers are hamstrung by politically correct rules of engagement that make them sitting ducks. Our economy is collapsing under the weight of our debt (a good portion of which goes to fund our worldwide military adventures), and our effort to spread a love of liberty among Middle-Eastern nations is thwarted by the unfortunate reality that the clans and cultures do not desire our brand of freedom. We were led to believe that we could leave Iraq after they became able to defend themselves. With all that we've invested, there is still uncertainty about whether they are up to the job. We have never received the oil benefits that were supposed to follow from our liberation of Iraq, as we pay upwards of $4.00 a gallon at the pump!
Our effort to be an honest broker of Israeli/Palestinian peace has produced a decades-long record of abject failure. The game is such that we give mountains of money to both sides and then compel Israel to fall in line with our demands. We simultaneously force Palestinians to make promises that they have no intention of keeping. We have tried to play both ends against the middle, and both parties look at us with suspicion and/or contempt. Perhaps it's time we heed Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu's request (from the pulpit of the U.S. Congress) that we allow Israel to negotiate and defend herself as she sees fit?
This just so happens to be the view of Ron Paul as well. He believes that we should always provide unambiguous rhetorical support for Israel and trade our goods and military armaments with her freely. We must also liberate her from the heavy hand of U.S. dominance in her affairs. If Iran or others attempt to make war on Israel, our involvement should be predicated on whether Israel asks for our military help, and then if Congress authorizes military actions by declaring war. That's how the Constitution says it's supposed to work!
Why are we are so willing to dismiss the one candidate in this race who dares to highlight the undeniable truths about our foreign policy failures? How could it be that we are terrified to consider the concept of pulling back, regrouping, and retooling that which is demonstrably failing? It's not that our soldiers have not gone above and beyond everything we've asked them to do, and done it with heroism and honor. It's that we've seen fit to keep them deployed indefinitely in an ill-defined mission, where the concept of victory is far from clear. It is less patriotic to keep the status quo than to acknowledge our foreign policy failures and correct them. Don't we owe that much to the troops? Perhaps this is why Ron Paul is far and away the choice of active duty military in terms of campaign contributions?
Our military is spread dangerously thin, and its bloated bureaucracy is just as detrimental to our physical security as our fiscal mess is to our economic security. The times demand that we elect a leader who will do more than just nibble around the edges. Ron Paul's approach is the most comprehensive of all the candidates' for returning the United States of America to its constitutional roots and founding principles. We must elect a leader who we can trust has the values, integrity, and record to follow through and get it done. Ron Paul has been doggedly consistent in his fidelity to the constitution in all his years in public office. He is a man of integrity.
Making Ron Paul the GOP candidate for president will send the strongest possible message to a Republican establishment that is hell-bent on co-opting the Tea Party and maintaining the status quo. A primary victory will make it unmistakably clear that we meant it when we marched in D.C. on 9/12/08. We meant it when we gathered in D.C. to protest the implementation of Obamacare. We mean it when we petition our representatives about government intrusions into the free market and individual liberty, and we will not be patted on the head and disregarded anymore!
Ron Paul has a complete vision for restoring our fiscal health and rebuilding our status as the world's wealthiest nation. Wealthy nations are historically the safest, and unfortunately, we are no longer the wealthiest. Paul's prescription for putting our fiscal house in order and returning us to a free-market growth economy will make our nation safer than it is today. Economic implosion is a more realistic and immediate issue than Iran delivering a nuke to our shores (a move that would ensure that nation's immediate annihilation). That's not to say that we should ever take the Islamic fundamentalist menace lightly -- far from it. We must be ever vigilant in protecting against their maniacal aims. However, at this moment we are at the tipping point of economic collapse, after which we won't be able to fend off enemies of any kind.
To this I say with confidence, Ron Paul 2012!
Russ Paladino is a small business owner who has been active in the Tea Party movement since its inception. He has served on the staff of the Staten Island Tea Party and is the co-founder of the grassroots group Staten Island LiberTEA.