Earlier this week, an event of monumental political and social proportions took place of which any self-respecting US citizen must have stood up and applauded at: Mitt Romney announced he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. If the sarcasm spewing from my bones does not come across in the above sentence, then I apologize for any potential misinterpretation. I also apologize for the biting tone of this sarcasm, but I cannot help but become enraged at the possibility that the “counter-party” may put forth another presidential candidate derived from establishment central casting. As New York Times best-selling author Tom Woods shouted to a man wearing a “Romney 2012” sticker at the CPAC event earlier this year, “nothing would change.” In fairness to Mitt, one can replace that sticker with most any of the milquetoast front-running GOP candidates and Dr. Woods’ exclamation would remain just as true. While Romney has his support of bank bailouts, depressing foreign policy confusion, and the oft mentioned “Romneycare” template for “Obamacare”…most other candidates have similar track records.
While pointing out the glaring individual flaws in Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, and so on is a worthwhile and fun exercise and certainly a worthy offering for this blog, for the sake of this post and my own sanity, I will focus on the importance and reasons why supporting a candidate whose voting record, ideas, and principles exist outside of the modern political box is preferable to perpetuating the status-quo. To push this point even further, I contend that a Ron Paul and to a lesser extent Gary Johnson losing candidacy would benefit this country far greater than a Romney-Palin-Huckabee-Gingrich victory would.
Reason #1 – National Discourse
This post is being written under the working assumption that a drastic transition must occur in our government and must occur sooner than later. This is not a piece whose objective is to convince you of that notion, but if you are among those who are in denial of this then please spend some time here. So, with this assumption in mind, we must ask ourselves what the first step must be in achieving the brand of reform that will ignite a sea-change in how our government functions. This first step must come in the form of a new national discourse, of a dialogue that dares to step outside of the left-right paradigm that has systematically delivered us unsustainable debt, mounting trade deficits, and a foreign policy reminiscent of a child playing the board game “Risk.” Mainstream discourse at present is one in which government largesse is simply a given fact and the ensuing debate is a nuanced dance around this notion. In a two party system in which the competing parties become more alike with every passing election cycle, there ultimately becomes no counter-party; a dangerous landscape in which to be governed in. Using terminology like “outliers” and “fringe” to paint anyone who strays from the modern big-government, two party system, both parties have laid out clear lines in which a candidate must color within in order to be considered passable. We can either continue to passively contribute to this or we can crush these lines and begin to have genuine discourse over the functions of government that will force renewed debate and a tangible, clear counter-party.
Reason #2 – “End The Fed!”
I know, this chant at rallies and campaign fundraisers can come across as a tad frat-boyish and annoying, but the message is a long overdue one…let’s examine the Federal Reserve. No one is more responsible for the uprising in angst and skepticism towards the Fed than Ron Paul. He has brought to light otherwise glossed over facts about this secretive, unaccountable entity, such as the consequences of artificially setting interest rates, enabling deficit spending, alleviating fiscal pressures on government via monetary supply increases, and the continued destruction of the dollar since its inception. There is simply no way that this nation regains its economic footing without reforming the role (or existence) of the Federal Reserve and young people all over the country understand this now due to Congressman Paul’s efforts. Mitt, however, disagrees.
Reason #3 – The Free Market (Not the Watered Down Version)
A recent poll conducted by GlobeScan showed that faith in free markets was down 80% from 2002 to 2010. Given that the party who supposedly represents the free market was in power for much of this period, it is understandable that a belief in free markets would be wavering. The free market system, according to mainstream thought, clearly had failed and unrestrained capitalism marked by de-regulatory behavior had brought about a recession in which no one could possibly have foreseen. Unfortunately, that last comment is justifiably the perspective held by much of the public which views the GOP as the free market party despite their track record (notably over the past decade) of corporate welfare, bailouts, accelerated nationalization of health services (via medicare legislation), deficit borrowing, and massive new regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley. When President Bush declared that he had to “abandon free market principles to save the free market system,” that should have served as a red-flag that he may never have had grounded free-market principles to begin with. If only there was a politician with national recognition who has a voting and speaking record of genuine free-market ideals with an intellectual foundation to serve as its base. If only there was such a man who actually predicted the collapse based on these principles, rather than falsely blaming the free markets. It is worthwhile to ponder this question as surely such a person could bring the perception of a free-market alternative to a reality within the scope of a debate…perhaps this guy?
Reason #4 – The Philospher-Statesman
When we think of the founders of this country, of those who established the parameters in which a free society must operate under in order to evolve, we tend to perceive a stately philosopher. Granted, the rose colored lens of history will always diminish the human flaws of these figures, but the testament of their writings is, in my view, the greatest landmark this country has to offer the world. Peruse the Federalist Papers, most any of Jefferson’s writings, Washington’s inaugural address, or any of the thousands of relevant writings from the era and a common philosophical thread connects them, even when in disagreement. This, more than anything else, is what is missing from the modern political contests and landscape, replaced with attempts to curry favor with niche segmented demands of the population. Where social considerations were once balanced amidst a scale of the collective versus individual liberties, the modern ecosystem balances one collective against another collective. This is not to say that Ron Paul is a modern day Thomas Jefferson (I find labels like that to be putrid in general), yet through unapologetic articulation of liberty based ideals in both speeches and writings, he is the closest representative we have to that throw-back philosopher-statesman. For proof of this…go here.
Reason #5 – Israel Will Benefit
Yes, this is obviously a jab at those, mostly from the right, who contend that Ron Paul and libertarians are anti-Israel. The most recent of these attacks comes from high profile “conservative” activist Gary Bauer, who sent out a fundraising letter in which he accused Paul of proposing legislation to cut all aid to Israel. What Mr. Bauer fails to mention is the fact that Paul did not propose to single out Israel, but rather seeks to end all foreign aid under the very accurate assessment that ‘foreign aid takes money from poor people in rich countries and gives it to rich people in poor countries.” Nevertheless, Bauer and nearly all other like-minded critics also fail to see the very relevant point that ending all foreign aid actually benefits Israel on net. Israel’s Arab neighbors/enemies who lack the military arsenal and force of Israel, tally a cool $12 billion in aid, while Israel garners $3 billion. These figures are clearly in favor of Israel, yet I hear little outcry or praise that Ron Paul opposes nations with a sordid history of funding terrorism. This anti-Israel criticism has always been a red-herring tactic used by neo-cons to divert a debate away from subject matter that they can’t compete on, ie. economics, but it’s still nice to have some figures to deflect it back.
The above list of reasons (which could go on and on) is symbolic of the need for an alternative. Whether one is a progressive with tendencies to serve the greater good or a rugged individualist who simply wants to be left alone, I would hope that a common goal can be shared; that an alternative must emerge, that a genuine debate benefits everyone regardless of which side you are aligned with, yet the status-quo is moving ever further away from such a vision.
Or why it would benefit the GOP (and the nation) more for Ron Paul to run and lose than for the “electable” candidate to run and win.