Is Ron Paul a libertarian?

Apparently, there’s some doubt.

Peter Cresswell gives seven reasons why Ron Paul is not a libertarian.

Short summary? Ron Paul is not a libertarian. He

  • rejects the Jeffersonian principle of a “wall of separation” between religion and government;
  • is anti-immigration (“to the right of most Republicans” says Vodka Pundit Steve Green);
  • is anti-abortion (Paul describes “the rights of unborn people” [sic] as “the greatest moral issue of our time,” and “abortion on demand” as “the ultimate State tyranny”);
  • “plays footsie” with racists and kooks;
  • is a hypocritical supporter of pork-barrel earmarks for his own congressional district;
  • is opposed to free-trade agreements (like NAFTA); and
  • is appallingly “blame-America-first” on foreign policy.

Let’s take these one by one. (The only way to exit is going piece by piece.)

(1) Libertarians insist on the separation of church and state. If Ron Paul rejects the separation of church and state, he is not a libertarian. But what does separation of church and state entail? It comes down to freedom of religion (and freedom from religion, if you’re that way inclined). Ron Paul is not opposed to the separation of church and state. He’s opposed to the War on Religion.

(2) Libertarianism is a view on how a government should treat its citizens. Its own citizens. Libertarians can be anti-immigration.

(3) Libertarianism holds that men are endowed

with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men

Ron Paul believes that fetuses are Men, too. Thus, it is the role of government to secure one’s right to life both after and before birth. Abortion is not a moral issue. It is a metaphysical issue. Libertarians can be anti-abortion.

(4) So Ron Paul “plays footsie” with racists, 9/11 Truthers and Objectivists. What of it? Libertarians insist on the right to freedom of association. Ron Paul exercises that right.

(5) Pork barrel politics is anathema to libertarianism. Or is it? Ron Paul’s argument for pork barrel projects in his own district is that, “if they take it, we should ask for it back.” Seems reasonable to me.

(6) Ron Paul says, “I’m for free trade.” Ron Paul is opposed to NAFTA. He says, “This is regulated, managed trade for the benefit of special interests. That is why I oppose it.”

(7) Foreigners in foreign places tend to resent American government intervention in their lives, in much the same way that U.S. libertarians resent American government intervention in their lives. It is not unlibertarian to point this out. Blowback? If it’s America’s fault then blame America.

Of seven purported reasons why Ron Paul is not a libertarian, none is any good.

Ron Paul. Libertarian.

Ron Paul. Libertarian.

3 thoughts on “Is Ron Paul a libertarian?”

  1. The answer is yes and no.

    He argues for and gets earmarks for his congressional district – pork barrel politics.

    He then votes against the bill that gives the earmarks to his district – but he feels that he has to get that money allocated to his district, otherwise his constituents are unfairly punished by being denied their own tax money because they vote for a responsible politician. And obviously, if everyone voted and thought the same way he did there would be no pork barrel politics.

    It is an unfortunately nuanced position that is hard to articulate in a soundbite.

  2. Moneo – I agree. Well said. (I was editing my post while you were commenting, and edited out the question you just answered. Sorry about that!)

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