Is Ron Paul Actually a Libertarian?

Add to the list of things I don’t understand about Occupy Wall Street — along with why they think blocking midday foot traffic on Wall Street with a meditation line (1) is a good idea, or (2) helps their cause — the support Ron Paul enjoys in some substantial portion of the group. I get that Paul’s wonky, anti-war, farther left than most of the Republican Field, and has some creative economic ideas that don’t involve mortgaging the country’s future to whichever bank can cut him a check the fastest. But Paul’s libertarian ideals functionally end where most liberals would like to see them begin: the bedroom. Paul’s philosophy remains just as intrusive into Americans’ intimate decisions as the rest of the Republican field, maybe not in theory, but in fact. Take as an example his “We The People” Act, the operative section of which follows:

SECTION 3: LIMITATION ON JURISDICTION

The Supreme Court of the United States and each Federal court (1) shall not adjudicate–

(A) any claim involving the laws, regulations, or policies of any State or unit of local government relating to the free exercise or establishment of religion;

(B) any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction; or

(C) any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation; and

(2) shall not rely on any judicial decision involving any issue referred to in paragraph (1).

The effect of which is, functionally, to overrule Roe, Griswold, and the entirety of Establishment Clause jurisprudence as applied to the states. Devolving social issues to the states is sound anti-federalist logic, but consider the practical result. Do we really want the kind of country where New Yorkers would enjoy most and more of the freedoms they enjoy today, but Alabama could consecrate its entire state apparatus in Jesus Christ’s own name, ban non-Christians from office, forbid abortions and the sale of contraceptives, and permanently relegate its gay citizens to second-class status? We conclusively rejected a patchwork notion of liberty in the 1860s; do we abandon that, based on some distorted re-imagining of the phrase “We, the People”? Apparently so, for that part of Zuccotti Park that doesn’t know better; but for all intents and purposes, Ron Paul is no better than Newt Gingrich or Jesse Helms.

Please, let’s just stop paying attention to Ron Paul. Maybe he’ll go away.

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3 comments

  1. I saw a description recently of Ron Paul as a “John Birch libertarian”: he’s fine with trampling individual liberty as long as it’s done by a devolved rather than centralized government. So, yeah, not really that libertarian.

    And what’s particularly bizarre to me about Ron Paul getting libertarian cred from the Occupiers is that there is another anti-war libertarian Republican presidential candidate who 1) doesn’t stop his libertarianism at the bedroom and 2) actually went to Zucotti Park to talk with Occupiers and afterwards expressed support for some of their message and goals (which to my knowledge Ron Paul hasn’t done). I’m talking, of course, about Gary Johnson.

  2. Maybe it’s not so much Occupiers who support Ron Paul as much as it’s Paul-supporters who have come out to join the fun. Our local Occupy demonstrations at least seem to attract all sorts of fringe groups whose issues are only, shall we say tangentially related to the main ones (such as they are).

    But, well, who really knows with those people?

    1. You’ve got a point. More that I think about it, the more I think Ron Paul’s support is driven by a cult of personality more than his supporters’ ideological or policy preferences.

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