Ron Paul, and thou shalt obey the Constitution

[photopress:160px_Ron_paul1.jpg,full,alignleft]In a recent Dennis Miller interview, House Representative Ron Paul further illustrated for me exactly what it is that I find so bothersome about the Libertarian Party. Paul ran as the Libertarian candidate in the ’88 Presidential election, and is now a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC), a group within the Republican party that seeks to elect Libertarians to office.

In the interview, explaining why he believes in limited government, Paul says, “I think you follow the Constitution; that is virtually what we were instructed to do.”

The problem with Libertarianism is that it treats liberty as an axiom. The movement has no philosophic grounding with which to present a case for government’s primary function, to protect individual liberties. Instead, it accepts liberty without definition, and for that reason cannot offer a true defense of this principle. Rather than explain why government should be restricted to protecting our freedoms, what those freedoms consist of, Ron Paul takes this duty as a commandment passed down by the Founders. That is an example of the failure to think in principle.

When asked about his opposition to the Iraq War, Paul gives two reasons. First he explains that Iraq is the wrong target, which I agree with. However he goes on to say that Islamic terrorism is misunderstood. Radical Islam is not the cause, but US aggression in the Middle East:

If you understand what motivates suicide terrorism, you’ll realize it’s not radical Islam. The most motivating factor is that fact they are being occupied by a foreign force. They cannot mobilize, they cannot recruit. So we are serving the interests of Osama Bin Laden by him getting more recruits than ever before. Yes, there would be problems in the Middle East when we leave. Everybody knows we’re gonna leave because we’re gonna go broke; we won’t be able to afford it! All empires end because they eventually go broke. But who knows, there may be a tremendous incentive for them to settle their disputes. Already there’s a large number, it’s not the majority of them, of the members serving in the Parliament, Sunni’s and Shiites, that are talking to each other! And they’re getting ready to vote to ask us to leave. The Arab League could fill the vacuum; and they offered some peace treaties with Israel that are very attractive; by recognizing Israel. All kinds of good things can happen.

This is exactly the kind of evasion that is possible when you do not define your terms. Radical Islam is not behind the terrorism? Why, then, are there no atheists or Christians or Hindus in al Qaeda? Why is it Muslims who are bombing our embassies, kidnapping and killing our citizens and who ran two commercial airliners into our World Trade Center and Pentagon? The attacks are a response to US occupation? Then why have Germany and Japan not gone to war with us, since we have retained bases in their countries since WW2? It is Islamic fundamentalism that is telling Muslims to die for Allah, to kill the American infidels, and to reap the rewards in the afterlife.

The Islamic world in the Middle East has adopted a culture of death. There is no such thing as freedom of religion under an Islamic state, or even in so-called “secular” states such as Syria. To be Muslim in that region of the world means to live under an Islamic law, to practice the madates of the holy book or be punished. Libertarians like Ron Paul would have us believe that United States occupation has violated the rights of those living insuch aculture, and that what we are experiencing now is a righteous backlash that only a general retreat can cure. However to say that a country whose code is “live our way or die” is being violated somehow by the presence of the US – whose founding principle is respect and protection of Individual Rights – is absurd. Only someone who does not understand what rights consist of would make such an irrational claim. One could argue (and should, when appropriate) that troops and funds are being wasted in conflicts where US interests are not at stake, but a dictatorship – whether run by a monarchy or the mob – has no right to exist and any free country has the moral authority to reduce it to ashes if they find doing so is in their best interests.

One might wonder if I’mexaggeratingor distortingRon Paul’s argument.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Sy4Eugc0Xls
http://youtube.com/watch?v=xcQQ05XtAQ4

In one interview, he explains that aggressive military deployment in the Middle East caused 9/11, including the bombing of Iraq. In another public appearance, he likens Islamists to Americans under attack, asking what you would do if your homeland was invaded. Because he believes terrorism is the result of attacks from the US, what is his solution? – Withdrawal of our troops and negotiation with the militant groups that seek to destroy us.

Ron Paul told Dennis Miller that his duty as a politician was to follow the instructions of the Constitution (even, as he jokes, when he would rather not). However obedience is not a substitute for understanding. If you fail to understand what freedoms mean and identify the threats against them, you cannot possibly defend them or live up to the Founder’s vision.

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3 thoughts on “Ron Paul, and thou shalt obey the Constitution

  1. Dena

    Dr. Paul said that Radical Islam is not the CAUSE of terrorism; the CAUSE (at least partially) was US aggression in the Middle East, which made many Muslims resentful and frustrated. Does anyone really believe they would have arbitrarily decided to go after the United States if we hadn’t tried to force our ideas of a “just” society on them? What right have we to decide that our culture should be imposed on the rest of the world – or that our culture is, in fact, superior? I was born here, as were my parents, but I have to admit that I’m not all that impressed with the morals (or lack thereof) that is prevalent in this country today. It appears to me that we’ve made a steady slide downhill and thus, it is the height of hypocrisy to preach to other people about how they should live. The Muslim culture is just as important to them as ours is to us and their culture was being threatened by a foreign power. Freedom of religion IS important to most people in the world, but obviously, not all of them and possibly because they don’t WANT it to be. If they want to have a Moslem nation, why should we insist that they do not have the right to it? It is their country, after all – not an extension of ours. They reacted in the only way they could (since they don’t have nuclear weapons) to defend themselves and their culture – terrorism.

    I am in no way defending the beheadings, bombings and cruelty on innocent civilians, but I do believe our government has to assume at least partial responsibility for the actions of the radicalization of some Muslims. We, as U.S. citizens, also have to assume part of the responsibility also because we elected the governments that carried out these aggressions.

    You mention that rejection of “the presence of the US – whose founding principle is respect and protection of Individual Rights – is absurd. Only someone who does not understand what rights consist of would make such an irrational claim.” Libertarians, more than any other people in the United States, understand and defend those “founding principles.” We also understand that because they originated in the United States, WE should be governed by them, but that does NOT mean we have a right to force every other nation on earth to abide by them. Other nations need to have the freedom to choose their own founding principles.

    We, in this country, need to get over the idea that OUR way is the ONLY way and leave other people to work out their priorities for themselves.

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  2. BB

    Hi Dena,

    “If they want to have a Moslem nation, why should we insist that they do not have the right to it?”

    “We also understand that because they originated in the United States, WE should be governed by them, but that does NOT mean we have a right to force every other nation on earth to abide by them. Other nations need to have the freedom to choose their own founding principles.”

    What rights are we violating? The “right” to beat women for not covering every inch of their skin, or the right to execute those who convert to other religions, or to order the death of cartoonists and writers in other countries who mock Islam and their prophet, Muhammed? Or the right to establish a world order, as Hamas has been teaching Arab children? Is this the culture Muslims have a right to, that we are denying them?

    This is what I mean when I say that Libertarians claim to support liberty, but because they have no philosophic grounding for such a principle they actually end up betraying it. Freedom means freedom from the initiation of force. But why? Because the Constitution says so? Why does it say so? Because it was just the arbitrary whim of the Founders that we are now obeying?Certainly not. The freedom from force is a requirement for human survival, because reason – which is our means of survival – cannot function under coercion. Property rights, free speech, freedom of religion, et al are necessary for the natural development of man. It is the freedom from others that promotes human life, success and happiness. This is not an arbitrary principle, but one that follows from man’s nature. To ground this principle leads to thejudgment thatAmerica is GOOD, and state Islam is EVIL. Thisis an objective truth basedin therecognitionthat whileone promotes human survival, the other stunts and poisons it.

    Libertarians, however, do not believe that philosophy is necessary to promote freedom. Consequently, their movement can be defined as “pro-freedom, whatever that means to you”. If it means rights to property, speech, etc., fine; if it means beating your neighbor to death for his beliefs, that’s also fine. Rights become not natural rights but rights by the permission of the mob. Whatever the mob says is what they have a right to, and if you have a problem with itleave the country (if you’re permitted to). To the Libertarian, it’s as if the Founders said, thou shalt not force your will on your neighbor, and that’s fine for us. The Muslims on the other hand say, “our way or die” and that’s fine for them. That is why even though Libertarians such as Ron Paul may abhor the practices of the Islamists, even though they may believe they are a terrible evil (as I would hope they do!), they defend them and actually rebuke the US for interfering! They do not stand for freedom but are moral relativists who must, by the nature of their error, support our destroyers.

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