Congressman Ron Paul knows the federal government is a mess, and that's exactly why he's currently the best candidate for president.
In writing this column, my stance on national issues routinely produces jeers of liberalism and other left-wing nonsense (except, of course, when I advocate gun rights; then I'm just a raving lunatic).
Yet I'm neither Democrat nor Republican; I simply love and respect the founding principles set down in the Constitution. When bureaucrats advocate limits on speech, religion, property, or other liberties guaranteed by our Founding Fathers, their treachery against the United States is non-partisan regardless of whether they've got an elephant or donkey on their letterhead.
Federal government is borne as a means to protect freedoms and a way of life. Does it do so today? Perhaps in some perverse sense it does; newspapers are never without stories of bloated social programs and feel-good jingoistic overseas battles. I've been saying for years, however, that something is very wrong with how we approach policy, both foreign and domestic. And very few of our elected leaders are willing to address this.
One of those few is Ron Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas. You may know him by many hats – he's been a private practice doctor and served honorably as an Air Force surgeon – but he's become increasingly popular as a 2008 presidential candidate. After hearing him speak about the morass our government is sinking into, it's easy to understand his groundswell of support. He has the courage to admit that Americans are to blame for the cancer running through Washington, D.C.
While he's been in government on and off for over 30 years, I first heard Ron Paul interviewed in a 2004 episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! A libertarian's wet dream, he hates taxes, big government, and foreign entanglements – he even ran as a Libertarian presidential candidate. In addition to his plain-spoken belief hat government should serve the people as minimally as possible, Paul has a list of impressive bullet-points regarding his political pedigree. He's:
never voted to raise taxes;
never voted for an unbalanced budget;
never voted to raise congressional pay;
never voted for federal gun regulations;
never voted for increases in executive authority; and
never taken a government-paid junket.
In addition to this, Paul has also consistently voted against war in Iraq, internet regulation, the PATRIOT Act, and national ID and drug laws. (When asked how to win the war against drugs, he responded, "let's just get rid of all the drug laws.") Oh, and he doesn't participate in the congressional pension program, either.
Sound good enough on paper? Paul also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, federal income taxes, and the Federal Reserve. And if that doesn't send you into a euphoric frenzy of patriotism, he's also the only presidential candidate looking to bring our troops home now and help rebuild a military he believes is "in shambles."
In essence, Ron Paul is everything our current system of government is not. If you're no fan of the current government, he is likely your saving grace should he gain the Republican nomination. That's a big "if," however, because the media and Paul's fellow Republicans are trying to marginalize him, despite him being the only traditional Republican running!
Paul's record speaks for itself, his message consistent and simple. Not surprisingly, pundits and politicians hate that, so they've embarked on a crusade to push him offstage in favor of media darlings like Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. The congressman has, in turn, been:
When the biggest problem the press corps can find about a presidential candidate is that he took a first class seat on a commercial flight, you know they're grabbing at straws. To pick up the slack, Paul has been reduced to a running gag in many analyses despite winning dozens of online polls after presidential debates. When that doesn't work, comments favoring Paul are summarily deleted from major news websites.
People don't like Ron Paul because it requires them to re-examine the past six years of war and bigotry heaped upon the American people by the Bush administration. In admitting Paul's message is sound, we then must look within ourselves and ask why we've tolerated so much deception and waste from our federal government. It's a strong thing to do, recognizing that the United States is not some innocent, blameless creature. Jimmy Carter attempted to do it during his term as president and it ended his political career. It's the truth, though – Americans are guilty of some cruel and unpardonable sins. And the best thing we can do as a people is to wake up and realize it. Self-delusion and benighted dogmatism serve no one well.
Is Ron Paul the greatest thing since sliced bread? That's up to you to decide; he has a fair share of politically unpopular opinions, not the least of which is cutting social programs. But the decision is the people's, not the media's. Attempting to bar veteran statesmen from presidential debates, or telling supporters to quit e-mailing them about a particular candidate, reinforces that we only have so much freedom... as much as we are willing to take.
Ron Paul has the integrity to stand up and say "enough." Enough aggressive and costly wars, enough government bloat, enough corruption from within, enough gouging of America's middle class. If you want your family members home from war, or if you want our money spent on rebuilding our infrastructure, or even if you just want to see an end to the endless nonsense that spews forth from IRS headquarters, give Ron Paul a nod. He may not be a member of your political party, but he loves and respects the Constitution the way any real American should. That's got to be worth something.
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.