Imperfect Paul

Dave Killion — February 1, 2012

We at the Libertarian Book Club are unflinching in exposing ourselves to the views of those with whom we are in disagreement, and since so many of us are thrilled at the prospect of a Ron Paul presidency in the United States, we must grapple with his critics. One of the toughest is one of our own: Cato Adjunct Scholar Timothy Sandefur. Brace yourself –

” As I’ve noted before, the newsletters are relatively trivial, compared to Paul’s other moral and political failings. He consistently exploits libertarianism itself for political gain, claiming to be a defender of freedom while, in fact, not believing in it, and not being a libertarian—in precisely the same way that he exploited racism for the same purposes.”

I share Sandefur’s concern about Paul’s apparent willingness to permit the individual states to enact legislation violating individual rights. If the constitution permits that, then that might be the best Paul can offer, and it’s certainly better to have the states competing on regulation than to have one-size-fits-all federal rule. But even if that’s the case, I would expect a libertarian to at least point out that states shouldn’t be violating rights either. I haven’t heard Paul do that.

At any rate, it’s probably for the best that libertarians remember the way Obama supporters were behaving like they had found the messiah, and avoid making the same mistake. Reading Sandefur’s article is a good first step in that direction.


Antony Zegers says

Dave, that has to be the most ridiculous criticism of Ron Paul I’ve ever read. It’s completely misrepresents virtually all of Paul’s positions.

This guy, like many of the Cato/Reason crowd, seems to be infected with a statist mindset. Ron Paul is a federalist, and opposes using federal power to force states to do things, even if that means they might do the wrong thing. Just like freedom in general, where people might do bad things (drugs, etc.), but using force to stop them results in even more problems.

Ron Paul believes that the best way to work towards a free society, is to work within a system of laws, and follow the constitution. He is thinking long term. If you legitimize federal force to solve all these problems, you create a situation where power is concentrated and centralized, and this system will be vulnerable to takeover by ambitious politicians and special interests. Force is not the answer to our problems, freedom is the only way.

Anyway, I have lots more to say about this, maybe I’ll try to put together a blog post for tomorrow.

In closing, Ron Paul has done more to advance the cause of Liberty than anyone I can think of recently. He is inspiring people to read Bastiat, and study Austrian Economics. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with him, and arguing on issues, but to attack him so viciously and unfairly is despicable.

— February 2, 2012

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