I voted for Mitt Romney in 2008, but in 2012 I’m voting for Ron Paul

I didn’t just vote for Mitt Romney in 2008, I donated to his campaign, asked others to donate, and volunteered at phone banks, fundraising events, the national call day in Boston, and at the Nevada caucuses. I’ve met him several times. I drank the Romney root beer (someone actually made some) and I have a Mitt Romney bobblehead. I even dressed up as Mitt Romney for Halloween 2007.

Mitt strikes me as exceptionally bright and a truly good man. We could certainly do worse than to have Mitt Romney as our president. And despite what we sometimes hear, I think I’d rather enjoy getting (root) beers with Mitt Romney. I found him to be plenty personable and warm.

However, I’d like to explain how I came to support Dr. Ron Paul. It’s been a really satisfying journey, and I’m far more enthusiastic about my candidate now.

In 2008

In retrospect, I didn’t have strong reasons for supporting Mitt Romney. I usually said something like, “Well, he’s a very successful businessman and has an incredible resume of turning around failed companies.” To be fair, his resume is far better than most candidates’. But I couldn’t say much more than that.

My response to many political issues was “it depends on the situation.” That’s what Mitt Romney often says, and that’s what most politicians say (I’ll consult the generals on the ground, I’ll gather together the experts, I’ll pull in my czars, etc.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. I came to learn that we can be guided by consistent political principles. The common thread in these principles is liberty.

From 2008 to 2012

Over the last 4 years, I studied a lot.

  • I read Ron Paul’s Revolution and End the Fed.
  • I re-read the Constitution for the first time in years.
  • I read George Washington’s farewell address.
  • I read Murray Rothbard, Peter Schiff, Ayn Rand, and Reason Magazine.
  • I listened to the CATO Daily Podcast.
  • I watched YouTube videos from Judge Napolitano, John Stossel, Tom Woods, and LearnLiberty.

Scales seemed to fall from my eyes. The principles I learned were coherent and satisfying. A bunch of topics “clicked” for me: macroeconomics, monetary policy, business cycles, political influence and lobbying, civil liberties, war, and foreign policy. Not that I know a lot, but these all make much more sense to me now.

I came to discover that liberty is a unifying principle. We can agree to live in a free society without having to agree on anything else. A free society is one that protects life, liberty, and property. The purpose of liberty is to allow us to develop “virtue and excellence”. Heaven to me is to live with family and friends in a state of complete autonomy as virtuous individuals, living correct principles because we want to.

A Few Observations

The two parties are isomorphic

Our two parties are philosophically isomorphic, meaning having the same “shape”. (It’s a large shape!) Both parties say, “I believe in letting you keep some of your liberty, but I can’t let you have liberty in areas that go against my morals.” A Democrat might say this about policies meant to stop poverty. A Republican might say this about policies meant to stop drug use. The problem isn’t in the intentions — both sides mean well — but in the use of coercion to attempt to bring about the desired results. You may have noticed that our “war on poverty” hasn’t eradicated poverty and our “war on drugs” hasn’t eradicated drug use (far from it.) We spend so much energy debating these differences, and the policies don’t even work! The better path is for individuals to learn and live correct principles, learning for themselves to take care of the poor and to avoid drugs for intrinsic reasons.

And that’s just the philosophy. In practice, the two parties aren’t just isomorphic, they’re nearly identical. Both parties break their own principles and are becoming increasingly like each other. For example, the Republican party is said to be the party of free markets and no social programs (anti-Solyndra and anti-Obamacare), but Bush signed the TARP bailout and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Democratic party is said to be the anti-war, pro-civil liberties party (anti-Iraq war and anti-Guantanamo), but Obama hasn’t closed Guantanamo, initiated a new war in Libya, and signed the NDAA bill that allows indefinite detention of Americans with no trial. Notice that neither party follows its own principles and both parties are very similar. (Can you name something you dislike about Bush or Obama that the other didn’t do?) Both are increasingly statist (in favor of a growing state).

Liberty is a set of the best principles from both parties (what they say not what they do), and would mean the reversal of the large, near-identical parties we now have. Ron Paul has consistently taught this liberty message for 30 years.

Video: The two parties are “two wings of the same bird of prey”.
Video: “It appears people now recognize that Obama is a 3rd term for Bush”
Video: Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum are all the same

The problem with a powerful, messianic presidency

Both parties have a similar attitude toward the presidency, seeming to say, “If I can just get my candidate into the presidency, all our problems will be solved.” The Democrats said “Obama will bring Change and Hope.” Republicans say “Mitt will bring a Bain-style Turnaround.” The president is ascribed an almost messiah-like quality.

If we think our president will solve our problems, we’ll give him any amount of power. Later, when the presidency changes hands, the power accumulates, and the presidency becomes more and more powerful over time. The Founders didn’t intend for the presidency to be powerful. It’s not correct to think of the president as the CEO of the country; he’s not supposed to “run” the country. We simply need a government that will protect principles of liberty, and then we can live our lives and solve our problems.

Ron Paul says “I’m not running for President because of the things I want to do, I’m running because of the things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to run your life, I don’t want to run the economy, and I don’t want to run the world.” Source

Instead of an attitude of “our president will save us,” we should change our own attitudes toward the proper role of government. We should be leery of the mindset that fixing our country is about finding the right candidate, not about making changes in ourselves. The concept of liberty requires you to make some changes in your own mindset: I won’t fear terror. I won’t expect something for nothing. I don’t need government to enforce everything I believe. I’ll work. I’ll be self-sufficient. I’ll take care of my family and the poor around me. The change needs to happen in us.

Ron Paul and Mitt Romney Are Not the Same

The Republican party of today has drifted from traditional conservatism — free markets, small government, and the Constitution. I wouldn’t have believed this in 2008, but unfortunately Mitt Romney is more typical of today’s drifted Republican party, while Ron Paul is more typical of traditional conservatism. In fact, this is where Ron Paul shines; he has consistently advocated the principles of traditional conservatism. Here are a few issues on which Mitt Romney sides with today’s Republican party and on which Ron Paul sides with traditional conservatism and liberty:

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve

It’s hard to find an economist who thinks price-fixing is a good idea, and conservatives are against central economic planning. However, our interest rate (the price of money over time) is centrally planned and fixed by our central bank, the Federal Reserve (also called “the Fed”). This means that the price of money, which is half of every financial transaction, is centrally planned. If you believe in free markets, you should take issue with this!

The temptation is strong for government to lower interest rates too far, print too much money, and use it to pay for large programs. No matter what political side you’re on, the devaluing of our currency via the Fed is probably being used to pay for programs you disagree with (domestic social programs or war or foreign aid, etc.) Without the Fed, the U.S. government could only spend what it could borrow or tax, like a state or city government, so we’d have to have some serious conversations about what we really want from government. With the Fed, we’ve been able to postpone that conversation, and it comes at the expense of savers (disproportionately elderly) and the low- and middle-income.

Ron Paul is the only candidate even talking about The Fed. Ron Paul’s book End the Fed was one of the most eye-opening books I’ve read in the last few years.

I know you’ll be tempted to think, “Mitt’s a smart guy; if he’s not worrying about this, it must not be a problem.” Fight that temptation.

Video: Tom Woods on inflation, deflation, and money
Documentary: Money, Banking and the Federal Reserve
Lecture: U.S. Monetary Policy in 2012

Capitalism / Bailouts

Republicans rightly defend capitalism. However, without a correct understanding of capitalism, there’s a growing tension between populist movements like Occupy Wall Street, some of whom mistakenly think capitalism is to blame, and Republicans, some of whom think their opposition to OWS is the defense of pure capitalism.

The liberty message makes a distinction between capitalism (free markets) and corporatism (certain businesses being favored by government.) Corporatism is also called crony capitalism.

Much of what Occupy Wall Street considers wrong about capitalism is actually instances of corporatism — large banks or defense contractors or auto manufacturers receiving special contracts or bailouts or favors from government. In pure capitalism, you can’t get rich without selling something that someone wants. In corporatism, you can get rich by receiving a bailout or contract from government.

Ron Paul is the only candidate I see making the distinction between capitalism and corporatism. Mitt Romney, like most politicians, says he is in favor of capitalism, but has occasionally disregarded his own principles and favored corporatism including bailouts for large companies.

Video: Top 3 Common Myths about Capitalism
Video: Makers vs. Takers at Occupy Wall Street

The Sixth Amendment

On Dec 31, 2011, President Obama signed a bill allowing the indefinite detention of American citizens. This contradicted the 6th Amendment, “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” The ACLU said, “We are extremely disappointed that President Obama signed this bill….” The president said he had “reservations” but signed it anyway. This seems to contradict who Democrats thought their president would be.

Mitt Romney said he would have signed the same bill. Romney said “Obama won’t abuse it, I won’t abuse it, and we simply need to elect presidents that won’t abuse it.” If you follow that logic, then we could safely grant ALL power to the presidency and then simply elect presidents who won’t abuse it. In my mind, that’s not how the 6th Amendment works.

Ron Paul, who introduced a bill to repeal the above bill, falls on the side of Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.”

Foreign Policy / Foreign Aid / War

Ron Paul’s foreign policy is to trade with all, maintain diplomatic relations with all, and give no foreign aid to any. Sometimes he’s called an “isolationist”. Mitt Romney’s foreign policy, on the other hand, is like all the other candidates’, designating some countries as special friends and others as enemies.

The foreign policy George Washington outlines in his farewell address more fully agrees with Ron Paul.

“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.

“So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”

Again, fight the temptation to say within yourself, “Things have changed; the world is a different place.” Ask yourself, if these are true principles, should we not live by principles?

Ron Paul’s policy is that wars should be declared by Congress, started, fought, and ended, and that we should go to war when there is imminent danger, not as a preventative measure. Mitt has shown a propensity to side with most politicians (from both parties) in favor of pre-emptive wars and nation building. Ron Paul makes the distinction between defense spending and military spending, the implication being that much of our current military spending doesn’t contribute to our defense and may actually endanger us.

Here, the troops are on the side of Ron Paul: active-duty military donate more to Ron Paul’s campaign than to all other Republican campaigns combined.

Text: George Washington’s farewell address
Video: Tom Woods on changing his mind on Ron Paul’s foreign policy
Video: You Like Ron Paul, Except on Foreign Policy
Video: Tribute to our Troops
Video: CIA Chief Endorses Ron Paul
Video: 10 years of foreign policy predictions by Ron Paul
Video: Ron Paul’s “What If” speech
Video: The Golden Rule applied to foreign policy
Opinion: Which GOP candidate would the Founders support?

FAQ / Objections

But Ron Paul is too far left / too far right
The modern left and modern right offer a false dichotomy; they’re actually very similar. Ron Paul offers something actually different.
But I’m a moderate
The liberty message includes the best principles of both the left and the right. (Too often, moderatism or bipartisanship is simply agreeing to give up your principles mutually and leads to the large, homogeneous parties I mentioned above.)
But I’m a liberal
The liberty message has several positions that should appeal to liberals: pro-peace, anti-war, pro-civil liberties, anti-drug war, anti-bailout, anti-cronyism. In fact, in all of these listed issues, Ron Paul is a stronger candidate than even President Obama, who has gone against these principles he said he supported.
But I’m part of the 99% / Occupy Wall Street
See my section above about capitalism and corporatism.
But I’m apathetic
Perhaps you’re sick of politics because it seems like nothing ever changes. See my section above about the two parties being the same. The liberty message is real change.
But Ron Paul is unelectable
Did you know that only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are on all states’ ballots? Gingrich and Santorum are not. In head-to-head polling against Obama, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are in a statistical tie. Gingrich and Santorum trail by 10-12 points.
But Mitt Romney is articulate and looks presidential
I don’t dispute this. Ron Paul has even said he wishes he were better able to deliver his message. However, if Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are in a statistical tie against Obama, and Mitt’s outward appearance is so much better than Ron Paul’s, what does that say about the message?
But Ron Paul is too radical
Compared to whom? Ron Paul is indeed very different from other GOP candidates, but he’s very similar to the Founding Fathers. The Founding Father might have considered Romney, Gingritch, and Santorum radically different from how they envisioned government.
But Ron Paul is an isolationist
Are you sure? Which candidate is in favor of trade with all nations? Which candidate, on the other hand, is in favor of “preventative” wars and economic sanctions?
But Ron Paul will never get Congressional support for his policies
Ron Paul’s message is about changing opinions about the role of government. For example, he wants to eliminate the income tax. I’ve never heard him say that he wants to eliminate it immediately and plunge us into more debt. He wants the people to have different expectations about government so they no longer want the programs that require an income tax.
But Ron Paul wants to eliminate the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, etc.
The liberty message requires a new mindset that separates wanting some objective from requiring that a federal agency provide it. Eliminating the above departments doesn’t mean actual education or actual commerce would disappear. (There’s no Department of Happiness, no Department of Optimism, no Department of Entrepreneurship, etc.. We don’t need a department for every worthwhile cause.)
But life with a President Ron Paul would be a wild, godless, anarchy
The proper role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. Ron Paul says the purpose of liberty is to allow us to pursue “virtue and excellence”. Law doesn’t produce virtue; that must come from inside of us, by our learning and living correct principles. We won’t legislate our way to an ideal world; we’ll get there by learning and teaching correct principles.
But I’m in favor of Buddy Roemer / Larry Lessig / Campaign Finance Reform
It’s noble to seek to remove the influence of money in politics, but campaign finance reform is like plugging holes in a bucket; if money wants to talk, it will find a way to talk. This isn’t the root of the problem. The larger government gets, the more reason there is to lobby for favors. The smaller government gets, the less reason there is to lobby for favors. In my mind, all Buddy Roemer supporters could live in their ideal world by joining the liberty movement and voting for Ron Paul. Ron Paul is already running a campaign free of large corporate donations because the liberty message doesn’t accept corporatism. (Buddy’s other large issue, banking reform, is also solved by restoring capitalism, not corporatism, to the banking sector.)

A Word to my Mormon Friends

I happen to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a “Mormon”), the same faith to which Mitt Romney belongs.

To me, the teachings of the Church allow for the liberty positions I’ve outlined above.

Several scriptures and quotations from Church leaders speak to the importance of agency — the freedom to choose. These seem to imply that free exercise of conscience is a virtue worth granting to everyone, even if they do things with which we disagree.

“Every man may act according to the moral agency which I have given unto him” (D&C 101:78)

“We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” (D&C 134:2

“A man may act as his conscience dictates so long as he does not infringe upon the rights of others.” (David O. McKay)

We are also taught, “Principles compatible with the gospel are found in the platforms of all major political parties.” Despite hearing this repeatedly, in the past I was often too quick to think of my party as having all the truths and the other party as having none of the truths. The cable news shows frame the parties this way, in absolute terms. However, if it’s true that “principles compatible with the gospel are found in…all major political parties”, which of the other party’s principles do you accept? Once I started looking through a lens of liberty, I was able to easily see true principles in both parties (in what they say, not in what they do.)

Video: 1. Our problems come from the breakdown of the family and our own values, 2. Government is a reflection of the people, 3. The purpose of liberty is to allow the pursuit of “virtue and excellence”.
Video: Christ is a God of peace
Video: Is libertarianism compatible with Mormonism?
Audio: Is libertarianism compatible with Mormonism?

Update 05/26/2014: I removed a portion of the section to “my Mormon friends” to leave behind the stronger portion.

173 thoughts on “I voted for Mitt Romney in 2008, but in 2012 I’m voting for Ron Paul”

  1. Thanks so much for the thoughtful blog post on RP! Well articulated message, great touch on all the issues.
  2. Well done Richard. Thanks for being committed to knowledge and understanding, these are things we should all strive for. As LDS I understand the Lord does not vary in the least he understands and applies the laws and principles of life and liberty perfectly, he inspired the constitution, were the authors perfect?, no. Are his prophets perfect? no, they would be the first to acknowledge their weakness and frailties. If only we would trust in the lords wisdom. It would seem the battle for minds and hearts continues, where shall we be found? Give me liberty or give me death. I am Australian and a total supporter and student of Dr Paul, I understand the Gospel of peace and happiness more because I understand the principles of Life, Liberty and property more, and I have some honourable, courageous and truly intelligent individuals to thank for that, Dr Paul being one, our prophet another. Never sacrifice truth and principle for expediency. I can tell you there is a world wide audience voting for Dr Paul, I would emigrate to the US and vote if I could. There have been others before, we know the lord raises up good men for his just and holy purposes, Dr Ron Paul is one of those good men. Truth will win the battle but where will we be found during the fight.
    Thankyou Friend
    1. Hey James, thanks for your comment. We’d love to have you here if you could! I had heard an interview about Ron Paul that said he has considerable international support because of his peaceful, pro-market positions. I’m glad to hear that’s true for you. Cheers my friend.
  3. Richard,
    Great post. Like you, I have been learning since 2008. (Paul’s influence changed the direction of my life) I specifically appreciate your section on the two parties being isomorphic. Your perspective and method of argument was an excellent way to stretch my brain in a new way about a topic I already have a firm grasp and opinion on.
  4. This was a fantastic read and clearly you are very sincere in everything you write. I’m going to pass it on to everyone I know. Thanks for taking the time to write this, and for sharing your experience.
  5. Jelaire,
    Good idea.
    Even though you may not have “enough knowledge”, you may feel the difference in the substance, manner and way, Paul and Romney answer questions, and expound on their points of view. Ask yourself is the substance clear or vague, and does it stand up to a balance of mind and heart?
  6. This is a wonderful article! You made so many great arguments for the liberty movement, I hope this is shared again and again by everyone who reads it. I support Ron Paul because he symbolizes freedom and true capitalistic free markets. And when people realize that this message goes beyond Ron Paul, that is when they will fully comprehend what liberty is. 🙂
  7. Great Post, well written and well done! Its so good it deserves to be made into a small glossy, “Give Me Liberty”, 10 page pamphlet. Sweeeeet!
  8. I voted Obama in 08, and have come over for a Ron Paul vote in 2012. I know there’s many more disenchanted democrats like me who’ve come over!

    If moderate Republicans want anyone but Obama, fiscal Conservatives want Paul, Libertarians want Paul, Independents want Paul, and disenchanted Democrats want Paul, Ron Paul is the best choice for the Republican party to beat Obama. It’s a large camp of inspired voters.

    Right now Romney just has the “anyone but Obama” vote, which by itself isn’t enough to win. If we put Paul out in front with the nomination, the enthusiasm surrounding Paul will inspire the moderates, and I believe we can ride this rocketship to the whitehouse.

  9. Richard, this article is simply outstanding. So you know, I posted a link to it on http://www.dailypaul.com (one of the top Ron Paul grassroots sites) and it has become one of the top up-voted posts of the day (at 59 and counting). Currently it has actually been placed on the front page. Keep up the good work!
  10. Great article!

    I’d also like to add that though Ron Paul wants to stop all foreign aid, it’s more accurate to say all FEDERAL foreign aid. He’s all for letting private companies and philanthropists donate whatever they want to other countries.

    You know what? I’d love to see a simple comparison chart of Paul and Romney on which prophetic principles and counsel they have/haven’t followed. (Along the top have “Romney” and “Paul” columns, and down the rows have prophetic principles. Each box would have a “check” or “x” depending on whether or not they’ve upheld that prophetic principle. It’d be an easy at-a-glance graphic that would appeal to the LDS who either don’t read much into the issues, or the ones who support Romney only because he’s LDS. I think a comparison of how Mitt Romney actually has gone, and against the words of the prophets, like David O. McKay and Ezra Taft Benson could be very helpful to swaying the opinions of many Latter-day Saints.

    In fact, I’d be happy to create such a chart, but I just don’t have enough knowledge about the specifics to begin making it. And if I started searching now, it’d take ages for me to compile enough. (We have several E.T. Benson books, but I’ve scoured my house and can’t even find one of them!) If anyone is interested in helping me know what prophetic quotes to list, please let me know @ overbeck4@yahoo.com.

  11. Hey Richard. Saw your post on facebook. I wanted to share my opinion. I know you didn’t ask for it, so do with it what you will. I just had a couple thoughts. I saw Ron Paul speak back in 2008 in Vegas. I liked a lot of what he said. Clearly you’ve done more research than I have on the subject so I don’t doubt that you can articulate solid evidence to support your decision better than I can. However, I had/have several strong problems with some of Ron Paul’s message. There are many things I like about him and what he espouses. I like that he says what he believes regardless of popularity. I like the stark contrast he has with almost all politicians. I think you make great points that in reality the parties often act the same.
    One of the things I have a hard time getting behind is going back to the gold standard. I’ve read some books about past depressions and they seemed to happen more regularly in the 1800’s than they did in the 1900’s. I don’t think going back to the gold standard is the solution. I do think there are certainly reasonable criticisms against the ultra low interest rates we currently have, but deflation can be worse than inflation.
    Another big thing from a gospel perspective that I don’t agree with is Ron Paul’s desire to pull back the military influence of the US. By having less military around the world, our influence declines. I think the Church and its missionary program benefit a lot from the influence America has. I do agree, it can and has been taken too far, but I don’t think we need to shut down everything.
    As for the wall street bailout. I hate it. Of course it looks like favoritism and I’m sure in some cases well-connected firms or individuals got special treatment. However, I think the economy would have been worse off if the banks all failed. Sure in the long run you might say that banks would learn their lesson. The problem is that you have a delay in actions and consequences. So a lot of people can get rich taking advantage of the system with no oversight and then others have to pay the consequences. I think the market fails to solve this problem. Government probably does too. But I think you try to find the balance. If you look back in history when we had less government, there were more runs on the banks than we have now. I do think markets will correct themselves, but the time delay is a problem. I think this is truly an example of the pride cycle. And there is nothing anyone can do or not do to make it change.
    These are just three small examples. But I guess the biggest thing is that while I think you can point at a lot of things both parties do and criticize fairly, I don’t necessarily believe you have to go to the opposite extreme position. Yes, the US has too large of a military and doesn’t need to be the world’s cop, but that doesn’t mean you have to go completely the opposite. I think a happy medium is the best solution.
    This brings me back to my final point. The reason I like Mitt Romney is because of how moderate he really is. I think he’s willing to go one way on certain issues and the other way on other issues. I think he will be willing to compromise to get things done. Maybe some will say that he lacks conviction, but I think a true leader has to show judgement. Rarely is there a one-size-fits-all solution to all problems. Sometimes strict ideology is good, sometimes it’s bad. Ron Paul probably wouldn’t have supported a gay marriage amendment because of his ideology, but in this case, I think clearly it’s best to have a government role. Maybe you can make a strong case that the government has too much of a role in morality, but in some cases, I think a role is a good thing. I believe you have to balance and be willing to make adjustments depending on the situation you are in. Anyway, I would vote for Ron Paul over Newt Gingrich. I think Santorum, Romney, and Ron Paul could all be good presidents.
    1. (This post started out as a short response to Ben [I think] with regard to moderation, but it quickly got away from me. Apologies for the long one, I’m sure it rambles but….anyway, this is a great discussion, and as others have already said, a very good original post)

      I tend to agree with your sentiment about moderation. However, there is one area in which I do not moderate at all: my principles. I don’t compromise when it comes to them, and I don’t trust people that do. While I’m not a particularly religious man, my principles are the basic tenants of most religions. Ten commandments, etc. I try very hard to say what I mean, and I do what I say. This country was founded on those same religious principles, outlining a federal republic, with the federal portion of the government having a VERY LIMITED set of responsibilities, and with good reason. That federal government has overstepped its bounds ever more drastically, starting back before the Civil War, and it will take more than moderation to correct that (bad) course.

      Some posters here (I have read them all) don’t think things are all that bad, and some retorts have wondered how much better things could have been without all the overreach. Those are valid discussions I guess, and things certainly could be much worse, but the real point is the overreach itself. These actions are illegal according to our most fundamental laws and we as a country should be outraged that they occur, but most of us are not even *aware* that they occur. Those that are aware of them do not seem outraged to me. I posted about the failure of Mr. Obama to veto the NDAA based on the indefinite detention clause (a clear and blatant violation of our most basic laws) and I got one response – from my wife – out of over 100 connections.

      Others have posted about the operations of the Fed and how they don’t affect rates as much as is thought, or it serves a useful purpose in regulating things, etc. The fact is, the price-fixing is only a small part of the problem, as it only interrupts proper monetary signals and causes booms and busts. A far worse effect (in my opinion), and this is the true source of federal power, is that without a central banking cartel to monetize debt, these overreaching federal departments and these interventionist wars would only be possible through direct taxation, and we all know how unpopular that would be. Bankers have used governments to siphon wealth from the populace for a very long time, and the playbook hasn’t changed much. It’s happening here now and has been for almost 100 years. And I call shenanigans on anyone that defends the Fed based on the complexity of the market or the terrible effects of deflation. I have read in counterarguments in other places but http://www.tomwoods.com/inflation is a much more learned economist than I’ll ever be, and he speaks to these things quite well.

      As others have posted here, education is key, and without more people getting some of it we will have a long uphill battle (this thread is positive evidence of a good trend). However, a good a swift jolt is going to be needed to start a correction for the better. I believe anything less will only delay the inevitable loss of all of our liberties. It has taken 100+ years to get to this point, but that is only because such dramatic alterations can only be made in small increments or they are viewed as too overreaching and create push-back. Even then, in some instances there were great moments of indignation by those knowledgeable in what was occurring (Andrew Jackson – who actually succeeded in routing the central bank, Louis McFadden, and many others, including contemporaries like Dr. Paul, and nearly all of the Austrian economists, and so on).

      What were the tactics used against those folks in the past that spoke out against those actions? Just check out what they say about Dr. Paul. To combat those tactics we simply need to fall back on principles and the law. For example, regardless of whether anyone thinks the gold standard would be a good policy or not, the Constitution doesn’t allow fiat currency. It’s not up for debate, it’s written right there in black and white in Article I, Section 10. Principles and the law. If we don’t like the law, we have a way to change it, but we cannot ignore it without sacrificing our principles.

      We could undo much of the damage done to our republic in a very short time, with very little trouble just by steadily scaling back the federal government and removing its ability to finance-at-will. But it will not happen until the people learn how their government should work, and work to ensure their government does what it is supposed to do, and ONLY what it is supposed to do.

      I’m not saying no government is needed, but it is currently way out of control. That’s not extremist, it’s not radical, and it certainly isn’t kooky. It’s simply a principled stance, based on law, in the face of a serious dearth of principles in breaking the law, rationalized as ‘for the betterment of society’. As someone said before, this isn’t about left vs. right, republican vs. democrat, or liberal vs. conservative. It’s about principles vs. lack thereof and liberty vs. tyranny. It’s hard to be wrong when you adhere to sound principles and support EVERYONE’S liberty, whether your problem is highly contextual or not.

      I’m not one to flinch at shadows, but I disagree with some others here who say things are OK. This is a very serious situation we’re in and it gets worse every cycle. However, I am given hope by all of the liberty-mindedness in evidence lately. My greatest fear now is that moderation will be called for, in the name of compromise, and this is the original reason I started this post. If moderation wins the argument, and not enough is done to curb the federal government’s power, the result will be more of the same, only just a little bit more slowly, for a little while, and then the moderation will fade and the status quo will resume apace.

      I have two little kids and I want them to know more freedom than I have known, not less. I support Dr. Paul, and ONLY Dr. Paul, because of these principles. When he’s not available I support the Constitution Party, period, again because of these principles.

    2. “deflation can be worse than inflation”

      That is a myth. The bankers promote that myth because they want constant inflation. In fact, due to their fraudulent system, deflation makes banks go bust. For regular people (and people not committing banking fraud) though, deflation is no more harmful than inflation, and in practice tends to be significantly more benign. (Deflation helps savers. Inflation makes it nearly impossible to save for retirement, whereas deflation makes it easier. Deflation costs debtors, but if the long term trend is deflation you can simply choose to avoid debt by saving for whatever it is you want instead of going into debt.)

      Watch the Tom Woods video in the link Danny provides in his response to you.

      “By having less military around the world, our influence declines.”

      That’s the wrong kind of influence. I reject the idea that toppling governments who did nothing to us is the kind of influence we should seek. I also reject the idea that giving some kind of horribly inefficient version of foreign aid by having military bases in other countries (and having our military personnel spend money there) is the kind of influence we should seek.

      We should have free trade and open communication with every country on Earth. And we should get our country in order, balance our budget, and “secure the blessing of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity”. That will provide the means for us to influence other countries in the best possible way, leading by example and through friendship, not through bribes and threats of violence.

      Mitt is not for free trade and open communication with every country. He believes in sanctions and pre-emptive war. Mitt will not balance the budget — anyone who tells you they are going to expand the military and balance the budget is either economically ignorant or is flat out lying to you. And Mitt will not help get our liberties back — he even supports the indefinite detention clause in the NDAA.

      “I don’t think we need to shut down everything.”

      Pick a case and justify it. Why should we be subsidizing Germany with our bases there? Why should we be threatening Iran? We shouldn’t have any military presence outside of our country that we can’t specifically justify.

      “I think the economy would have been worse off if the banks all failed.”

      And you are an expert in economics? For example, did you predict the housing bubble? Did Mitt? Because Ron Paul did. So did a number of other economists — most of whom believe Ron Paul is the best choice for president.

      “If you look back in history when we had less government, there were more runs on the banks than we have now.”

      There were more runs on the banks because the banks didn’t have the Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve Notes and legal tender laws, the FDIC, and a number of other legal monopolies and protections that allow them to conduct FRAUD.

      Lending out money that isn’t yours to lend, or that you don’t even have, is fraud. It’s commonly called fractional reserve banking. EVERY LAST ONE OF THOSE BANK RUNS WAS CAUSED BY THIS FRAUD!

      The simple, honest, and just solution is to end the fraud. But the banks make lots of money off of the fraud (which means they transfer a lot of wealth from US to THEM via this fraud). So they came up with a number of mechanisms to help perpetuate the fraud without the bank runs, and then got slimy politicians to enact them into law. It matters not to them that these laws hurt us. It only matters to them that these laws enrich their pockets.

      “I think a happy medium is the best solution.”

      Why? If you say I shouldn’t kill any of your family, and I say I should kill your whole family, is killing half your family “a happy medium” and therefore “the best solution”? No, the principled answer is that murder is wrong and I shouldn’t kill any of your family.

      Ron Paul is not suggesting returning most our military to our soil just to “go completely the opposite”. This is not some arbitrary decision. This is a principled, thoughtful and sound policy.

      “The reason I like Mitt Romney is because of how moderate he really is.”

      Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

      And I would add: Moderation in the defense of liberty is no virtue.

      “I think he’s willing to go one way on certain issues and the other way on other issues.”

      You like him BECAUSE he has no principles, or at least doesn’t act like it?

      “a true leader has to show judgement.”

      If he has no principles, then judgement based on what?

      “Maybe you can make a strong case that the government has too much of a role in morality, but in some cases, I think a role is a good thing.”

      No. Governemnt has NO role in morality. When you try to force people to be moral, you obliterate the very idea of being moral. And who gets to decide what is moral? Do you want Evangelicals writing federal law forcing you to behave in the way THEY think is moral? And why would you take politicians, who are generally speaking near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to morality (Ron Paul and very few others excepted), and put them in charge of dictating morality? And what do you have against freedom?

      Ron Paul: “The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions. We do not have the right to rob our neighbors to make up for our mistakes, neither does our neighbor have any right to tell us how to live, so long as we aren’t infringing on their rights. Freedom to make bad decisions is inherent in the freedom to make good ones. If we are only free to make good decisions, we are not really free.”

    3. Hey Jason, good to hear from you! Hope you and Elise are doing well.

      On the gold standard, I had the same question you did. The book “Case Against the Fed” by Murray Rothbard cleared up the issues for me. It points out that prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, we didn’t have a full gold standard “free for all” as I thought we did. We had some policies that were fully capitalistic/free-market (no lender of last resort) but we also had some policies that were not free-market (fractional reserve banking and sort of regional banking zones.) This instability might have been solved by moving toward a more free-market arrangement, but they moved the other direction and gave us a lender of last resort. The videos in the Fed section above were helpful to me.

      Our military influence would decline under Ron Paul but I think the influence of our peaceful example would increase. Other countries would view us as more peaceful. I served my mission in Brazil and it’s been my observation that most Brazilians were against the U.S.’s war in Iraq. I wonder if less intervention would give us more peaceful allies and friends and opportunities around the world. I don’t worry too much about having a Mormon in the White House, but what if Mitt Romney attacks Iran — what that might do to the influence of the Church if people associate militarism with a Mormon president?

      By the way, AFAIK, Ron Paul has always said he wants to bring home troops and if anything increase the number of troops and bases here at home. So I don’t think of him as the “opposite extreme” of a large military. He wants to continue defense spending while decreasing spending on militarism.

      On bailouts, I previously thought of policy as this very tricky balancing act of knowing when to get involved and when not to get involved. However, when looked through the lens of these liberty principles, I think it makes sense to choose to be consistent. For example, we think of the Fed as this necessary thing, but it gave us the housing bubble that made Wall Street rich. Then when the bubble popped, we instituted Dodd-Frank to regulate financial markets even more. We could arguably have solved this by rolling back government but instead we added more. I like the quote by Robert LeFevre, “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”

      “Idealogical” has come to be a dirty word in politics, though most people don’t think of being “idealogical” in their religion or morals or devotion to their family as a bad thing. I think politics can be similar.

      For me, Romney’s being moderate just means he’s like Obama or Bush or Clinton. I think of him as a boat being tossed around and just navigating whatever comes. This pragmatism seems like the opposte of “acting” instead of “being acted upon”.

  12. Thanks for your thoughtful response, @Richard.

    Clearly the challenge is how to know if God is directing the leader of our nation to go to war with another country, especially when the 12th Article of faith states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    For you and for Richard Galovan, I suggest that it was different during a significant portion of the Book of Mormon times when it could be said that the Nephites were living in a theocratic society (or a near theocracy) where either the Nephite leader A) was a prophet, or B) sought guidance from a/the prophet before making big decisions (such as where, how, when or IF to go to war). Clearly, this is not the case here in America, especially given what most people know as the “separation of Church and State” clause of the Constitution, which brings us back to the fear that some have about a Mitt Romney presidency—that he might seek counsel from the LDS Prophet before making certain decisions.

    Not that I’m suggesting that’s a bad thing, mind you. I’m just repeating what others have said and/or written.

    So at the end of the day, we’re left to our own intellects, our reasoning, and our private wrestlings within our own souls: to study out what it is that candidates say, write and do and then to make our own decisions as to the best people to back for public office, whatever the office may be. (And hopefully, more than a few of us will do so with the whisperings of the Holy Spirit touching our hearts and minds as to what candidates to support and which levers to pull when election day comes.)

    Thanks for the contemplative and impassioned yet respectful tone on this thread. I’ve enjoyed it.


    Dave Politis

  13. Thank you for this. It is very well done. I just wanted to let you know that I am very much encouraged as regards our country. I, too, plan to vote for Ron Paul and I am a fairly active supporter. I am encouraged because I am beginning to see the result of people paying attention to what Dr Paul has to say. People are actually READING the Constitution, as well as various books and online data, and sharing their new-found knowledge with others online. For the pat few months, we have seen states beginning to use th 10th amendment! A few days ago, information about “the 4th Branch of Government” hit Facebook. Then somebody posted data on how to use that data. Then someone reported actually taking action! We are winning this battle against tyranny, thanks to Dr Paul and also Rand Paul, who is being VERY active right now – taking action in the Senate to revise or reverse some of the unbelievably damaging legislation which has come about recently. I am redoubling my efforts to back Ron Paul and encouraging others to follow suit, as well as get involved in local state and County government to ensure that as many like-minded people are put into office as possible, to smooth the way for President Paul!
  14. One more thing about your fed comment, I think it’s simplistic to say that the price of money is centrally planned. The Fed can influence the price of money by various means, but ultimately cannot it set by fiat. The current 2% yield on long term treasuries reflect a combination of fed policy and the open market’s pricing. These are smart people/institutions buying treasuries, why would they accept a 2% interest rate if they expected any real long term inflation or anything else catastrophic in the US currency market? It’s tricky stuff so I could be missing something.

    Can you think of any countries which do not have some similar governmental mechanism to manipulate the currency markets?

    Thanks again for the thought provoking post.

    1. Sure, I agree there are market factors including risk premiums built into bond rates, but the Fed has huge influence through discount window rates, reserve requirements, and open market operations. The concept of “these are smart people/institutions…” is that mindset I had before but now I’m trying to avoid. Why not let the market fully set the interest rate? Might we have avoided the housing bubble by not holding down the interest rate too long?

      I don’t believe there are many countries without a central bank. Very few. But I think that’s only because the temptation is too great to grow government through inflationary spending. I do know there have been countries that have created too much money and destroy their currency (Germany during WWII, Argentina, Zimbabwe).

      I’d love for you to read Murray Rothbard’s Case Against the Fed and hear what you think.

    2. “The current 2% yield on long term treasuries reflect a combination of fed policy and the open market’s pricing.”

      The market is highly manipulated. The Fed has many tools, including direct market manip…, er, “operations” via the FOMC. (Follow zerohedge.com for a while if you want to get your eyes opened.)

      “These are smart people/institutions buying treasuries, why would they accept a 2% interest rate if they expected any real long term inflation or anything else catastrophic in the US currency market?”

      They buy them even at low rates BECAUSE they are concerned about the possibility of catastrophe. Specifically, they put money they wish to remain liquid in US bonds instead of into banks because many of the banks are zombies, already insolvent. The banks are hiding their insolvency with “mark to fantasy”. People know that if they hold US bonds, the US can count on the Federal Reserve to do what it loves to do — print, print, print — as much money as needed to “make good” on those bonds (at least in nominal terms). But if there are major bank failures the FDIC will be instantly insolvent and investors are not 100% sure the government will bail out the FDIC, or that the rules won’t be changed after the fact — for example, changing it so only the first $25,000 in each account is FDIC protected. And if there are “shenanigans”, the FDIC doesn’t even apply. Just look at what happened with the recent MF Global failure and how funds owned by their clients “vaporized” (got stolen and then lost).

      I figured out the “scared of banks” reason for the low bonds rates on my own, but recently saw it confirmed by Marc Faber. See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fIB5ePpmaw

      At 10:04 he says: “Basically what I think is happening. People have rushed into cash and government bonds because they perceive government bonds to be safe. They’re in government bonds, in the 2 year notes, in the 5 year notes, because they don’t trust the banks.”

      By the way, in that same video at 15:13 he says: “the one that would be desirable, Ron Paul, Ron Paul would be a very good president”

      And the Fed isn’t content with low rates. They are preparing for negative rates:

      “The Committee unanimously recommended that the Treasury Department allow for negative yield auction results as soon as logistically practical.”
      source: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1403.aspx

      And people will STILL buy them, because losing 0.3% per year on bonds (not counting inflation losses) is better than losing 100% in one unlucky week because the banking system finally breaks down (or at least your bank goes bust after deciding to do a bit of illegal “comingling” of your funds and theirs).

      “Can you think of any countries which do not have some similar governmental mechanism to manipulate the currency markets?”

      First of all, we have been overthrowing every country that doesn’t answer to a central bank. When Saddam wanted to sell oil in Euros instead of US dollars, we took him out — and they immediately started selling oil in US dollars again. When Gaddafi wanted to sell oil in gold instead of US dollars, we took him out — and the “rebels” set up a central bank before they even got any real control over the country. Iran has set up an oil bourse that sells oil in non-US-dollar currencies, and look who is next on the banker’s hit list.

      Second, the United States of America had no such manipulation mechanism up until the 1913 coup d’etat by the banks. And you are mistaken to think that it is a “governmental mechanism”. In the US, and in most countries, the banks run the show, not the governments. This is a total racket. The banks are “short” US dollars all of the time (due to the Fed creating money from nothing and the banks practicing fractional reserve banking), and because they are constantly “short” dollars it is in their best interest to see the dollar lose value. And it’s been losing value ever since 1913, to the tune of 97% or so. (Before 1913 the dollar’s long term value was stable.) And who has the most control over the value of the dollar? The Federal Reserve, owned and operated by the banks. That will soon change though. Unless Ron Paul gets in, the US dollar is hosed, and we are seriously hurt due to legal tender laws and anti-alternate-currency laws. Either China, Russia, India and a number of other countries will continue to make the US dollar obsolete until it goes bust, or we start WWIII to try to stop them from doing so. Us dumb Americans will apparently kill as many people as it takes (including ourselves) to keep the bankers rich.

      (The central banking story has a lot more complexity to it than can be covered here though. There is the original primary purpose, being the “lender of last resort” to try to put a stop to bank runs and panics, which are themselves a direct result of the fraud known as fractional reserve banking. And then there’s the incestuous relationship between the central bank and government, with politicians loving the ability to apply hidden inflation taxes on people in order to buy stuff we would never agree to pay for, and then using that stuff to buy votes. And then there’s the wars. We have wars for the banks. We have wars to support the currency. And the banks fund the wars by stealing from savers and decreasing everyone’s real income.)

  15. Richard:

    I realized after I wrote my post in response to Ron Paul commentary that I might not have been clear enough in my writing.

    In your blog post you cite 3 Ne. 3:20-21 as being “a case against pre-emptive war.” I don’t read it that way at all.

    In this particular Gadianton Robbers/Nephite thread in the BofM, it’s clear from Chapter 2 that the Nephites had both defended themselves in their own lands and later gone on the offensive against the Gadianton Robbers and driven them back into the mountains and their “secret places.” (See 3 Ne. 2:11-19.)

    As one reads further into Chapters 3, 4 & 5 of Third Nephi, I believe that what emerges is a prophetically directed military strategy to abandon their cities, homes, and fields so they can consolidate all of their people, flocks, food and possessions into one great whole in the center of the land. By massing into one great whole it made it impossible for the Gadianton Robbers to “plunder and obtain food” from the Nephites because “they were in one body.” (3 Ne. 4:4) Additionally, the Gadianton Robbers could not subsist by hunting beasts in the Nephite lands because the only beasts were in the wilderness. (3 Ne. 4:2) And the Gadianton Robbers could not spread themselves out in the Nephite lands to “raise grains” because then the Nephites “could come upon them and slay them.” (3 Ne. 4:6)

    So . . . the only choice the Gadianton Robbers had to win this war and obtain food to eat was to attack the Nephites en mass. And after the Nephites had temporarily turned the tide of battle and driven the Gadianton Robbers “to the borders of the wilderness” (3 Ne. 4:13) the Nephites returned to “their place of security” (3 Ne. 4:15) where all of the Nephites were gathered together into one body. By my readings it took the Nephites ~12 years to fight and win this war, a victory only made possible because they listened to and followed the prophetic directions of the Lord.

    Anyway, my apologies for belaboring the point, but I’m pretty confident 3 Ne. 3:20-21 is NOT a case against pre-emptive war but rather is God directing His people to A) amass their forces into one great whole, to B) better defend themselves, and C) lead to the eventual defeat of the Gadianton Robbers.

    That isn’t to say that pre-emptive wars are good or bad, per se. I’d even go so far as to venture that if most people knew that their sworn enemies had produced a weapon of mass destruction (or were close to completing such a weapon) and that said weapon was intended to wipe them out, but they also knew that a pre-emptive strike could prevent the completion or use of that weapon of mass destruction . . . I’d suggest that most people would say “After all other avenues fail, yes, strike pre-emptively.”

    I could be wrong, but that’s my guess.

    In closing, I appreciate your detailed treatise as to why you feel Ron Paul is the best candidate to support (at least among those running for the Republican nomination). In that regard, thank you for your well-written defense or Dr. Paul.

    And Mitt Romney’s serious win in Florida notwithstanding, I believe none of the Republican candidates for President have sewn up anything, especially as it pertains to the nomination. That said, I am NOT happy with the direction America has taken with Pres. Obama at the helm, so I am completely in favor of seeing him voted out of office. And Newt Gingrich’s past successes in the House of Representatives and his occasional good ideas notwithstanding, he is NOT someone I trust to lead this country either.

    Unfortunately, in spite of Dr. Paul’s pragmatic and sometimes great ideas, I am NOT convinced that he can win the Republican nomination. So who’s left? Rick Santorum? Not happening.

    No, for better or worse (barring self-destruction), Mitt Romney is the likely Republican nominee. So we end up with Dr. Paul either playing the role of spoiler (a la Ross Perot) or someone angling to use his support/votes to secure a place at the table to help shape Republican policy down the road. But under either scenario, Dr. Paul potentially ends up helping reelect Pres. Obama.

    Is that what you (and Dr. Paul) want to see happen?

    Anyway . . . a fascinating discussion and a glorious testament to this grand experiment called the United States of America. May God continue to bless those of her citizens who stand for freedom and right.

    1. David, thanks for the thoughtful, measured response and kind words. We sort of have two parallel conversations going, but I’ll post my response here too for the sake of the thread:

      I guess my reading of 3 Nephi 3:20-21 leads me to believe that either the passage A) is making a case against pre-emptive war or B) was an inspired strategy for a specific, one-off situation and is not applicable generally. In mind there isn’t a strong case that it’s C) “definitely NOT” a case against pre-emptive war. To be (C), it would have to have some exceptional language such as “Despite what we usually do…” or “Notwithstanding what I’ve told you before…”

      Maybe you’re defining “pre-emptive war” definitely than I am, but I’d say there definitely is something bad about pre-emptive war. Hugh Nibley spoke against it and it’s contrary to the Just War theory. I see where you’re coming from with the statement, “if most people knew…” but the problems I see are 1. how do we really know if they have a bomb? (see Iraq), 2. is there anything in ourselves to blame for their being a “sworn enemy” (see the concept “blowback”) and 3. do we really know what someone “intends” to do? (are we in Minority Report? do we prosecute thought crimes?)

      I’m not trying to play ward games with you here. I’m just trying to make the point that wars are always sold to us as emergencies requiring immediate action. We’re told that the bad guys will kill us if we don’t kill them. I used to believe it too. The alternative approach is that perhaps a more humble foreign policy (the platform on which George W. Bush ran in 2000 after seeing Clinton’s meddling in foreign affairs) would actually make us safer because we wouldn’t inflame other countries. Why would Iran bother to bomb us without cause and invite enormous retaliation or even annihilation by the force of our military?

      On this topic, the video links I posted in the foreign policy section of my blog post are very informative.

      I agree on your analysis against Gingrich and Santorum. I certainly think we could worse than Mitt Romney. I’m still going to vote for Ron Paul, and urge everyone who supports him to do likewise. If that means Obama wins again, I can live with that. Voting on principle is more important to me than playing into the game (to which the media is party) of making me choose between two fairly similar candidates.

      I think life under Romney would be marginally better but not remarkably better than under Obama. He says he’ll cut Dodd Frank and Obamacare — great. But he’ll sign/continue policies like the NDAA and the Patriot Act, probably bomb Iran, continue wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and has already said he fully supports the Fed as is. These are huge drains on the economy and on our individual liberties. I don’t have much to lose if my candiate Ron Paul doesn’t win.

      Yeah, good discussion and thanks for the thoughts.

    2. Argie Hoskins Shumway
      I agree with you Dave. What do we do then? The question: “Is Mitt Romney teachable?” I believe that he will learn lessons that will bring him to his knees and in so doing will find solutions. We absolutely can not have someone who is hand picked by the King Makers. I believe that Rick Santorum does not fit their template. I would support him, but I think that it is over for him. I saw a clip of Romney saying that he would continue to pray if in the White House. Sincere prayers are answered. I do not support a person without principle, however we are all learning how to walk the journey. I remember a story of a public servant in Canada who had made all kinds of mistakes. When election time came around he was humbled by the rough training which he had encountered. He won the next election and turned out to be an outstanding leader. We recently visited Texas and spoke with a gentleman who was acquainted with the politics of Dr. Paul. He also has some bumps. The question who can fix the mess? Who is tough enough to fix the mess? Another story: years ago, I questioned, “How come the Lord is sending that man out to lead a mission?” I personally knew that man’s faults. I learned that, the man had the talents that the Lord needed in spite of his weaknesses. Some of our Founding Father’s had slaves. Learning and doing is a process. Nothing is ideal. Humility is the key. God bless America. Our leader must be honest and even sometimes may be wrong, however willing to change and move forward. I have not always supported Mitt Romney, but I am seriously studying the issues. I have a nephew who is running for congress. I have not always supported him, but he has changed with more inspired thinking and resolve to change his direction. I now support him. Process is important to consider. This blog has helped others think more deeply and that is appreciated. I appreciate the opportunity to ponder and come to an understanding of why I think what I think. Good for you. Send your thoughts to Mitt Romney for consideration. Well, good night and God bless all you wonderful young people for your willingness to dig in and make a difference.
    3. “That isn’t to say that pre-emptive wars are good or bad, per se. I’d even go so far as to venture that if most people knew that their sworn enemies had produced a weapon of mass destruction (or were close to completing such a weapon) and that said weapon was intended to wipe them out, but they also knew that a pre-emptive strike could prevent the completion or use of that weapon of mass destruction . . . I’d suggest that most people would say “After all other avenues fail, yes, strike pre-emptively.””

      The question is why do we have “sworn enemies.” Why is Iran threatening us, and not, say, Brazil? Out of hundreds of countries around the globe, many of which are rich, free, Christian nations, how did they pick us out?

      We are like doctors going around breaking legs and offering cures.

      We stir up trouble, then we need a “preemptive strike.”

      Why did our CIA have to overthrow Iran’s elected leader Mossadegh in 1953?
      Why did our CIA help to train the secret police of the Shah we installed, the SAVAK, to brutalize his people for decades?

      Why did we have to offer assistance to Saddam in his war against Iran? Why did we give materials to Saddam to make chemical and biological weapons?

      If we want to quote scripture, how about the golden rule? Would we tolerate someone messing around in our region? What’s the difference?

      As for military strategy, read these pieces from the Art of War. We are violating some very basic concepts, such as waging war 6,000 miles away, which will contribute to our bankruptcy.

      As Admiral Mullen said, our debt is our single biggest threat, yet it doesn’t help ratings on the nightly news like a good war.

      Personally, I do not wake up in the morning wondering if we’ve been nuked by Iran. I’m more worried about the neighborhood thugs. Those who are so worried about all these potential enemies and all the humanitarian abuses in the world are certainly free to grab a gun and a plane ticket and go fight. But they’d rather just cheer from the sidelines.

      My son will soon head to Afghanistan again, for which I see no purpose.

  16. Richard-

    Great post, very thought provoking. Honestly, I’m a very torn politically.

    In general, given that we’re in a bit of a budget/debt mess, but that otherwise the quality of life is seeming to be ever increasing in this country, I’m tempted to vote for change, but slow change, and I think Romney stands the best chance (of the republican field) to push us in the right direction steadily and effectively but not so fast so as to crash or create a polarized environment where nothing gets done (like last summer). Though thought provoking, I think Ron Paul’s agenda is too radical, and castes our current predicament as too simplistic, and too grave, and too ideological. Yes, some things don’t work in Washington. That’s true in any institution, and just because Paul has a keen eye for dysfunction doesn’t convince me he’s any more qualified to fix the problem than anyone else.

    Our current debt to GDP is about what it was in 1948, about 150%. Since then we’ve done pretty well, all in all, economically, militarily, and socially. I don’t see the need for radical, immediate change.

    It’s tough because the issues range from very practical, nuts and bolts problems, to vague ideological ones, and the dialogue is not always appropriate for the problem at hand.

    Also, I think we’ll be fine regardless of the president. I don’t believe the fed is creating a dangerously high inflationary environment (I can get into the details if you’d like, some of it is debatable, but QE3 and other open market operations are much more complicated than just “printing money.”)

    Honestly, I’m not sure though, but to steal from Berkshire Hathaway’s 2010,

    “Don’t let that reality spook you. Throughout my lifetime, politicians and pundits have constantly moaned about terrifying problems facing America. Yet our citizens now live an astonishing six times better than when I was born. The prophets of doom have overlooked the all-important factor that is certain: Human potential
    is far from exhausted, and the American system for unleashing that potential – a system that has worked wonders for over two centuries despite frequent interruptions for recessions and even a Civil War – remains alive and effective.
    We are not natively smarter than we were when our country was founded nor do we work harder. But look around you and see a world beyond the dreams of any colonial citizen. Now, as in 1776, 1861, 1932 and 1941, America’s best days lie ahead.”

    Basically this compels me, to hope for a Romney-Obama race this fall, but also not to sweat it too much.

    Great post though, and a Ron Paul president sure would be interesting. If I get a chance to put some more thoughts together I’ll try and address your thesis more directly, rather than just laying out my vague one. 😉

    1. Hey Michael, thanks for your thoughts. I don’t see Ron Paul as extreme (like I used to) as much as politically principled. The principles he advocates have been very satisfying for me to learn and I just never had that with anybody else. Romney strikes me as the ultimate pragmatist — “let’s see how things are looking; consult with our people; see what we can do.” I just don’t see how you derive policy from that — where do you put your funds, where do you make cuts, when do you do it, how much. I just see a lot of ambiguity in that and no principle.

      (I also think things move along slowly enough as it is; we don’t really need to help it along by choosing “slow” people. :))

      What are your thoughts on the other issues like war and the 6th amendment?

      I like the sentiment in the B-H report. I think we have days ahead. I guess for me that doesn’t erase the question of whether we could be even better off with a more principled approach to government.

    2. “Throughout my lifetime, politicians and pundits have constantly moaned about terrifying problems facing America. Yet our citizens now live an astonishing six times better than when I was born.”

      I wonder how many times better off we would be without politicians working against us, 10 times, 50 times,100 times better than when I was born. We have thousands of people who are trying to get a job in this economy and they can’t and eventually they stop. How many of them have tried to start a business that would employ themselves and others but can’t because of licensing and regulation. Want to start a taxi company in New York City? there is a $1,000,000 licensing fee.

      1. Hmm, the liscening fee you mention seems very high. I’m trying to remember why it costs so much in the first place…that’s much higher than regulatory filings of moderate sized hedge funds. Seems like it should be a pretty low fee per cab.
        Is that something you heard or is it documented somewhere? I’m really curious. Is that for like 200 cabs or something? Can you be your 1 own cab company for less?

        and Richard-
        So, I guess my favoring Romney over Paul is I like pragmatists, people who can work effectively within an institution that’s as gridlocked as it is. Paul speaks some truths, at first glance, but many are sort of not that important, in my view. Philosphically, but there’s more important stuff. I don’t want to hear anymore pot legalization. I just don’t care that much. I bet this is his biggest attention grabber, as stoned college students, suspicious of government wiretaps realize there’s a guy in washington who’s gonna fight for their dispensary rights or something. These guys are all over Boulder btw, so you could probably go discuss “Principles, and like, you know, the corruption in congress, and how the illuminati actually control Bernanke’s thoughts via the Patriot act inside Goldman Sachs headquarters, and that’s how wars are controlled” or something. They’ll probably be out in mass to vote, making CO a swing state for the primary, but I’m betting they’ll get the munchies and get diverted to Del Taco.

        Seriously, on the whole liberty and people taking responsibility for helping each other. Really feels great to hear, and it’s inspiring that you’re confident it would work. I think you’re a bread that’s not quite in touch with how tough it is for some people (they’re just below average, nothing going for them, great personalities, people, but don’t have whatever, in particular skills that get them what more successful people have, it’s tough when you’re smart and you’ve seen a lot of how the world works) Anyway, I do, have those qualities although I’m not completely together yet. And you certainly do, and I think it’s easy to just not realize you live in a bubble with high quality people, and if you apply the law of averages a lot live in bubbles with people for whom life is more difficult. Anyway this clumping provides positive and negative feedback, and you get social inequality that often results in needless suffering that’s easily preventable. It’s usually physical or mental health related, or a temporary crisis, and isn’t very costly if you have a system in place. If left alone it just results in preventable suffering and chaos, often in chilren or elderly but anyone really. Food’s available too, it’s just cheap and there’s no reason anyone in a wealthy developed society should go hungry, not great food, but enough.. And some kind of basic shelter and an avenue to improve their life if they try, some do some don’t. The government is a good way to provide this. By good I mean practical and effective. Has pretty much since the new deal. Things have worked fine, we’ve lead the world in everything, technology, science, athletics, economic growth. It’s no sweat to have a basic system to attack that social problem, nothing huge, just getting people help they need when its around. I guess I want is to live in a world where that is effectively solved, or a solid attempt is made, and while I love the idea of everyone just snapping into gear and understanding subtle, tough to deal with issues with everyone else around them and just carrying along but just don’t see it working. The government works better. If the extra whatever weak people tax bugs you pretend you make a little less or something. I don’t understand why it bothers some people so much “freeloaders” or whatever. People do their best, they just don’t always know what the best is for themselves, and don’t have the right people around, so some don’t make it very far. Some people really screw up, like prison, etc. That’s another good role of government, although I believe in redemption, or a chance at least. Nothing works perfectly though. It works pretty well, social services, prisons, (though overcrowded probably with non violent. I’m all for improvement, streamlining, but Pauls draconian cuts to everything governmental are, honestly, absurd. There’s a market for that.

        Now, effectiveness, let’s see Paul’s record in legislation passed, since he’s known as Mr. No for his not voting yes on anyone elses bills, so I imagine…..”Paul authors more bills than the average representative, such as those that impose term limits, or abolish the income tax[85] or the Federal Reserve; almost none escape committee review. Of the 620 bills that Paul had sponsored through December 2011, over a period of more than 22 years in Congress, only one had been signed into law — a lifetime success rate of less than 0.3%.[86] The sole measure authored by Paul that was ultimately enacted allowed for a federal customhouse to be sold to a local historic preservation society (H.R. 2121 in 2009).[86]”

        Hmmmm. Not much need for comment there. Looks like he is downsizing the federal government, courthouse by courthouse, 22 years and 620 legislative attempts at a time. So if he’s president it’s very very very likely > 99.95% that nothing of his will be passed of his.

        He’s got the same problem that bugged me with obama, vague, populist, ideologue. Rather than Hope, he’s got a all these pamplets with language that seems like it’s drawn from a daytime commercial selling fake coins to old people.
        And he’s got this winny scrooge way of talking and complaining unproductively.

        Romney and Obama are great to listen to, Romney probably a clearer thinker, Obama smoother at presentation.

        Oh, and you asked about war? What is it good for? 2 thumbs down? Don’t mess with the USA, or even imply it on youtube or anything if you’re Arab (really, we have cruise missiles and shoot them at people in the middle east. Scary.

        And the 6th amendment? Sounds like the indef detention thing isn’t really compatible. Not really worried. I don’t think I’m bothering anyone enough that they’d want to detain me for any period of time. Don’t plan to. But I agree, a little creepy.

        And wire tapping? Don’t care. Eric Scmidt said it best, if your’e really concerned about others knowing what you’re doing maybe think a little more about whether you should be doing it…or something like that.

        And I didn’t read the Fed Manifesto thing. Seemed too conspiratorial, skimmed some excepts from wikipedia, just made a snap judgement it was one of those newsletters aimed at alarming alarmists. Do let me know if I’m mistaken.

        So I guess it wouldn’t be disastrous, he wouldn’t get anything passed, he’d probably veto everything.

        1. Also, here’s an essay I like by a family friend from Berkeley that encapsulates a lot of why I’m not a libertarian. I don’t know what I am, moderate or something. If the candidate is not too far to one side (I’m probably a little left), I tend to weigh personality/leadership etc. That’s why it’s tough with Romney/Obama, for me at least.


          He’s an interesting guy, sw engineer at Google, a generation ahead of me as a geek. He’s got some other essays which are interesting, and a good blog.

          Also, he’s written some cool tools, Taylor UUCP and the Gold Linker, which is optimized for writing large gnu apps. If you want to build Chromium OS for another PC on Linux, I believe Gold is required or recommended.

        2. Hey Michael, thanks for your comment. I actually think of Ron Paul as having the platform that’s friendliest to the poor and middle-class because of his positions on the Fed, war, and regulation. Inflation of the currency disproportionately hurts the poor and increases their cost of living. The great expense of ongoing war does likewise, and my understanding is that the poor disproportionately join the military based on their incentives and thus are more likely to get injured or killed than the rich. Increased regulation most hurts small businesses. Large business have the economies of scale to comply with regulations, but small businesses don’t. HIPAA means you don’t see a bunch of mom-and-pop doctor’s offices. Dodd-Frank means you don’t see mom-and-pop banks; it actually encourages large M&A. A minimum wage of $8 means that anyone who can’t provide $8 worth of labor won’t be hired. This means the poor can’t get on-the-job training and work their way up.

          Btw, I found The Case Against the Fed to be highly intellectual and rigorous. I had to re-read several parts. Definitely not some loony pamphlet. http://mises.org/books/fed.pdf

          None of the above removes the duty for Christians to take care of family and neighbors, including feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. The U.S. has a great tradition of giving to charities. I have every reason to think that would continue, and might even increase.

  17. I have a similar story, but finally googled Ron Paul before ever actually casting a vote for Mitt, though not before I had donated a fair amount to Romney’s ’07 campaign. I had foolishly dismissed Paul as a kook, and said so one day to my husband, who is an active-duty naval officer and veteran of Afghanistan. His rather quiet reply was, “Well, Ron Paul is the only one running who has a clue what he is talking about when it comes to terrorism and the Middle East.” For the first time I actually sought out what RP had to say for himself, and didn’t rely upon what others said he said….
  18. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for the thought-provoking piece, which I’d hope to spend more time piecing through with those I trust. I recognize a lot here. I’m a Mormon with mixed political leanings and with weak connections to Romney but disinclined to vote for him. And I find myself deeply attracted to libertarianism as a political platform, in large part because its principles appear to cut through the political fog with clarity and coherence.

    But this is also the same reason I am deeply suspicious of the platform. I would be interested to hear you address the objection: traditional political decisions must be made based on context exactly because the conventional parties positions are so incoherent. No conventional liberal or conservative principle applies fully in practice. Context–e.g., whose interests are allied, what is at stake, what are the possible consequences and costs associated, who wins, who loses–makes necessary regular bipartisan political debate as well as multi-party coalition building. So, while, yes, the contemporary contexts for national parties are–horribly–rank with corruption and wealth incumbents, it would be worse to drive politics capable of cutting through debate and coalition building.

    (On the side, I wonder how well would Paul be able to cut through a deadlocked congress? And, just as thought experiment, if libertarians like minimal government, might voting for both a Obama for President and a Tea Partier congressperson make a viable strategy for ensuring continued deadlock and government inaction?)

    As I see it, libertarianism (and its antithesis, statist communism) provide principles and platforms that can be judged correct and coherent purely by the principles themselves. (We can recall LDS thinkers that opposed Communism for principled, doctrinally supported reasons; those reasons sound far more libertarian than either conservative or liberal to me.)

    Take that classic example: life. Democrats are often pro-choice and anti-death penalty; Republicans are often pro-life and pro-death penalty. Admitting huge simplifications, both are incoherent positions on whether one may or may not take another’s life. Libertarian principles probably suggest, and this may be my ignorance speaking here, that women should be free to choose to the point that the fetus is considered a life, at which point abortion may be considered homicide; and that those convicted of heinous crimes should not be executed by the state because the death penalty is an excessive, irreversible, possibly faulty use of government power. In other words, the coherent principle is this: government, stay away from questions of life. (Just writing that makes me excited, yet it is that excitement I doubt!) The libertarian principle on life seems more or less coherent, which means it could be applied indiscriminate of context. The kind of context-free politics is at once the great theoretical strength as well as, I think, a significantly ignored and considerable risk of libertarian governance.

    Now, I am not saying that libertarianism wouldn’t actually be useful in the immediate context. But that is ultimately a question of context. Maybe Paul IS what we need right now, right here. Maybe not. I think that question may be best left to voters to puzzle through whether it is right for them in their immediate context or not. I am much less confident that principles, whether doctrinally supported or not, are the solution for messy (and importantly messy) democratic politics.

    In other words, a one-term Paul presidency that trims back some of the festering problems in government, and commits not to over-apply its principles outside of getting DC’s house in order? Perhaps. But libertarianism as a permanent new political position from which to govern the USA? No thanks.

    Anyway, the context problem is just one of several things bouncing around. You’ve already said a lot of the other points to keep in mind. I suppose it is fair to recognize that I’m not sure what exactly is best for America, as well as that I doubt political commentators who seem to be too sure they do know.

    So your post is great and thought-provoking. Any objections to what I am calling, for the lack of a better term, the context problem of libertarianism?

    1. This is an interesting question and perspective. I’m not Richard, but I think your question is going to need some clarification before anyone can answer it properly. What exactly do you consider the “context problem of libertarianism”? “Traditional political decisions must be made based on context exactly because the conventional parties positions are so incoherent.” What exactly do you mean by this? Sometimes, party positions are absolutely incoherent (your discussion of life points this out); however, I’m not entirely sure this contributes to context-based decisions. The reason our current dominant parties compromise on their principles and ideologies is not, in my opinion, an issue of trying to meet the context of a situation.

      I believe there are two main reasons for compromise (Am I correct in assuming this is what you mean by context-oriented decision making? Please correct me if I am wrong): one, conflicting ideas on both sides means comprising is the only way to reach an agreement, and two, ulterior motives sometimes mean that politicians propose a decision that compromises party values because it will benefit their political careers or agendas.

      An example of the first is that most bills that pass through congress include legislation tacked on to appeal to both parties, particularly if they include a component that is deeply rooted in one side’s ideas, but not the other’s (“The republicans/democrats won’t like this idea, but if we give them something they want to go with it, they’ll probably take it anyway).

      Examples of the second include the recent passing of the 2012 NDAA and our current foreign policy on both sides of the board. I’ve never known liberals or conservatives to argue for unchecked executive power or the abolishment of the 6th amendment, but this year’s NDAA passed with flying colors. Why? Well, unfortunately, it turns out that the NDAA specifies the budget of the U.S. Department of Defense. In other words, it funds the military. It’s a time-sensitive bill because of this, and it also happens to be tantamount to political suicide to vote against it in many cases. Many constituents from both parties dislike the idea of leaving the military unfunded and out to dry. We want our people in the military paid and taken care of, particularly if you’re in a military family. In such a case, the NDAA pays for your livelihood. Thus Democrats and Republicans conceded a power to the executive that it should not have, even though both of their ideologies would encourage them to do otherwise.

      Similarly, both conservative and liberal dogmas desire prosperity and despise violence. Somehow, despite that sentiment from both parties, we find ourselves in a pattern of engaging in multiple “preventative” wars. Both parties claim to deplore killing, but sometimes we still find ourselves killing foreigners in wars that are not declared, don’t fit a constitutional basis for war, and have no clear goals or purposes outlined. Why is this happening? I think there are many factors in play. Some people genuinely believe that preventative war is a good thing; however, such ideas have been encouraged by political leaders for several decades. The reality of it is that multiple wars are economically unsustainable. They are bankrupting us. They significantly devalue the dollar and funnel our money away. A consistent stream of wars leads to a consistent stream of economic crises. When we have a financial crisis on our hands, we look to our government to solve it, and when the crisis is serious enough, we become willing to grant our government excess power, or they grant it to themselves and we forgive them because it is”necessary,” given our context. Encouraging wars ensures that government won’t be shrinking any time soon. To make it more interesting, 14 of the world’s 20 largest defense contractors are U.S. companies. Almost all rank in the world’s largest 500 companies, and 9 are in the list of top 10 U.S. federal contractors. All of these companies lobby heavily and make significant donations to election campaigns. Ultimately, it is in a candidate’s best interest to promote legislation and political action that will benefit these defense contractors. I’m convinced many politicians from both parties accept these benefits and willingly promote war-like activity to ensure they continue to receive funding from their wealthy, defense contractor benefactors.

      And so our government will promote a war (which violates both parties’ principles) because it directly promotes its livelihood (though it doesn’t promote ours).

      I am not convinced that such actions and compromising of standards and principles stem from trying to best meet the context of a situation. I think compromising morals stems from previous compromise of morals. Parties break their own ideologies in public for reasons of “context” because they’ve already broken them in private for reasons of gain and need to explain their distorted new positions away somehow. The first 20 times someone compromises their morals, it may have something to do with context, but compromise for context is really just compromise with a particular end goal in mind. It becomes all too easy to plug anything into that goal slot and then proceed to compromise principles to secure it.

      I agree that our dominant parties have many incoherent positions. I also think this is caused by previous compromise. Classical liberalism is not today’s liberalism. Original conservatism is not today’s conservatism. They both began much more correct than they now are. Libertarian thinking does provide a much more coherent set of principles. They make sense together. This does make implementing those positions much simpler and easier to understand.

      Additionally, I’m not sure how anything but principles could be the solution to our messy system. Could you shed some light on what you mean when you say you aren’t confident that principles are the solution? I’m curious about this one. And again, if you can clarify what the context problem of libertarianism is (particularly if I misunderstood you – please tell me if I misunderstood you), I (or perhaps someone much wiser) would be happy to take a look at it.

      1. Thanks for the helpful response, Jake.

        We appear to agree about a number of things: conventional politics are incoherent; corruption beget more corruption. Conservatism and liberalism surely are not what they once were (although one hears that things were better in the past so often that the claim is usually best ignored). Bipartisan government perpetuates war for its own benefit, not for the public’s. And most pressingly, the current financial state is not sustainable; whatever else libertarianism may get wrong, I think its fiscal policy of enforcing a lean, efficient government is right on.

        So said, absolutely, I can definitely stand to try to clarify what I mean by the “context objection,” if that is what in fact I mean! Compromise is definitely a step in the right direction. Your second puzzle how “anything but principles could be the solution to our messy system” dovetails well with this. Read on.

        OK. So, looking at the ways government is actually practiced, it is obvious that conventional politics is messy. That messiness is not itself bad. Corruption is bad. Moral compromise is bad. Earmarks can be. But political messiness itself–by which I mean something like the complex process through which opposing parties come to the negotiation table and hash out a coalition and a negotiated compromise to get the job done–is actually a blessed part of our political system. This process can and has worked for a long time to help bring conflicting viewpoints–Democrats, Republicans, Reagan liberals, Clinton conservatives–to working solutions. And when this process works, it works because politicians are willing to negotiate and, you guessed it, compromise.

        Am I wrong, then, to think that libertarian principles may be too coherent for both kinds of compromise (both the healthy pragmatic, solution-oriented kind of compromise that characterizes a functioning democracy as well as, we can hope, the economically bankrupting and morally corrupting kind of compromise as well)?

        I’ll try to make the same point with the word playing with the word “discriminate.” Conventional political debate should make it possible for politicians, liberal and conservative alike, to build coalitions that discriminate between whose political interests win out in what contexts. So long as the traditional checks and balances work, this is actually not a bad way to govern the country, because no one side is given too much power. On the other hand, the political axioms that drive libertarianism–individuals and their rights are sovereign, the spontaneous order of free markets solve almost all the rest–are so clear, so powerful that, if blanketed onto policy making, they would apply indiscriminately across the board. The result MIGHT be, just might (I’m not sure), worse policy situation.

        Take communication policy: it’s a pretty mundane example, and thus representative of the havoc that could result from an insensitive, non-negotiated policy principle being put to work. Neither the democrats nor the republicans can propose a single policy principle to govern their own party’s approach to communication regulation: in some contexts, free speech rights unite all involved (Citizens United), in other contexts, party interests mix up internally and across the isle. If Paul comes in and says, look, my minimalist government principle works so well elsewhere (which may be true), it should work here too (which very well may not be true): then suddenly we find ourselves not only without state press censorship, without campaign money-as-free-speech regulations, without standards for protocol and proprietary rights, without media conglomerate anti-trust oversight, without broadcast spectrum allocation (Clear Channel sweeps in and no local radio D.J., or emergency public service announcement, works for the next five years while the market corrects itself), etc., etc. Some of these are good, some are not.

        Because libertarianism has the capacity to clearly be applied across the board, it threatens the possibility of killing harmful regulations, as well as good ones.

        Maybe my objection, then, is against a hard libertarianism–a libertarian White House that applies its principles broadly and indiscriminately. A soft libertarianism–where every useful government regulation (say, like restaurant inspections) has to be defended before a court–might be more palatable.

        So I hope this helps show the danger attached to principles. American politics, save libertarianism, doesn’t really have any. They have mixed platforms that have their own problems. But the clear principles of libertarianism also come with a danger: the danger of being applied–say in the euphoria that follows an election victory–indiscriminately.

        Absolutely, Principles are great for people, for moral lives, for communities. I teach Gospel Principles in Sunday School at times. But some principles may actually be too clear for actual political practice.

        A Paul White House would definitely face the temptation this objection cautions against: the temptation to clean house, and in the process throw out what little, but necessary good our (messy, compromise-ridden) government already does.

        How can one be sure that the libertarianism that will win over the public will also, once moved into the White House, also be a sane, soft libertarianism? Moderation insurance rarely wins elections, but I’d like to see some of it!

        Anyway, this is just one of several thoughts. No doubt there are many great counterpoints that haven’t occurred to me. Thanks for any of yours, all!

    2. Benjamin, as Jake mentioned, I find libertarianism to be highly coherent and thus highly satisfying. I used to think of politics as always depending on the situation, but now I see there are principles so you don’t have to worry about context as much as you think. I’ve become pretty good (not that this is hard) at guessing Ron Paul’s answers when he’s asked a question on the news — once you know the underlying principle, it’s easy to draw conclusions based on the situation.

      On a side note, grid lock isn’t all bad. My understanding is that the Founders wanted more grid lock than not. When everyone agrees and bills sail through, they’re usually bipartisan monstrosities.

      But you’re probably asking how can Ron Paul’s ideas win. What I like is that he’s more of an educator than any other candidate I’ve seen. (I didn’t find myself being awakened to new ideas when I was a Romney fan.) Now I find myself learning all sorts of interesting things by what I thought were unconventional views before. If RP is elected, it will mean that enough of the electorate learned something about his message and support the policies. (It certainly won’t mean that he was just some cool-looking figure that appealed to popularity — he just doesn’t have that appeal.) So if the public is educated, the Congress will follow.

      On a side note, there are different brands of libertarianism. I’m not an expert on the differences. Some do believe in abortion. RP disagrees; he believes protection of life means protecting the unborn.

      1. Thanks, Richard. Right on, bipartisan gridlock can be a good thing. Education is totally key.

        I’m pretty split on these issues. I totally get your main point about Paul’s answers being coherent, satisfying, and, once learned, pretty guessable beforehand. (His abortion stance makes your important point that not all libertarianisms are alike.)

        But I also wonder if our enthusiasms for libertarian coherence and intellectual satisfaction shouldn’t also be checked by some healthy doubt about whether coherence may actually be a two-edged sword–if applied broadly, it would be the first coherent political mission (aside from perhaps early twentieth-century experiments in communism) that would know what it wants, and know how to get it. (See more in response to Jake above.) This sounds great, but there is definitely something to be said for recognizing that, at least intellectually, libertarianism is in a position to actually get what it wants, and when you know you can get what you want, you are often willing to sacrifice other things (e.g. the few good policies that we need) that don’t seem as important as that overarching goal (the vast amount of government we do not need). The left and right cannot claim a coherent goal, and so they continue fighting on, which is in theory how it is supposed to work. The potential indiscriminate applicability of libertarianism is just something to keep in mind, I think.

        More practically speaking, the question of education is really key. It should come as no surprise that libertariainism is particularly popular among the educated, middle-class, young, energetic, idealistic, and tech-savvy. We could probably add men to that list too. It’s a great group to belong too, as most of the readers here, myself included, know. I think it may be useful to keep in mind that it is people like us who have the time to learn and educate and ultimately to believe in principles. Even if libertarianism IS the right thing, it faces a huge uphill education battle. It pangs us to think that most of the voting public does not have the inclination, the time, or the access to rethink their politics.

        I’m tempted to argue that Madison, among others, knew this and built a representative democracy in part so that our elected representatives could do our thinking and rethinking for us. That the resulting messy, checks-and-balances system is what the founding political theorists of liberty believed would work best for our country, given the education challenge. Even if I characterize this view wrong, I’m not sure the theory is wrong for us today.

        Or perhaps the internet, and other discussion forums like this, will over time give enough people the chance to gain a new political reeducation. We can hope!

  19. I just gave you a standing ovation in my cubicle. I appreciate you for spelling this out so plainly. It’s so wonderful to see find liberty-minded people who are also concerned enough about these issues to study things out rather than going with their gut.

    Well done, my friend. Well done indeed.

  20. By the way, your argument lost some credibility when you finished with religious interpretation. It seems inconsistent for you to say “We simply need a government that will protect principles of liberty,” and then imply that Mormons might want to elect democratic officials that gel with scripture/3Nephi, which of course was never intended as political writ, nor can it serve as a modern democratic metaphor because Nephites we’re largely governed by a theocracy and were never involved in empire-like nation building.
    1. Blake, see my discussion here with David Politis. Not intended to be a religious post and I’m definitely not advocating for a Nephite-type theocracy. I think there are plenty of truths from a variety of disciplines that argue against pre-emptive war, so I thought it was interesting to correlate that with 3 Nephi 3. If that doesn’t do it for you, no harm/no foul. The argument doesn’t depend on it.
  21. I voted for Ron Paul in 2008. I’ll write him in again this year. But I wish there was this much interest and enthusiasm towards electing local and congressional officials every two years. Electing the head of the federal executive branch attempts to solve only 1/3 of the problem at the national level, and none of the problem at the municipal and state level. Only when we start kicking out the Permanent Political Class at the local level will we see real change across the board, since federal officials always start their careers locally.
  22. The article was fantastic. I’ll take principles over popularity anyday. I do not believe Ron Paul is unelectable. How many people who commented on this article said “Ron Paul isn’t electable so I’m voting for Romney”, how many people who didn’t comment are thinking the same thing. If everyone were to choose principles over popularity Ron Paul would win by a landslide.
  23. A friend of mine linked me to this. Thank you so much for writing it. My friend and I have had this exact conversation about 30 times though not as well articulated. We concluded that this may well be one of the best articles on Ron Paul on the web. We’ve been trying to introduce the message of liberty to our Church friends and other friends alike. I think this article can really clarify some of the more brilliant points of liberty and how we need to go about bringing it back into our nation today.

    To those who are still concerned with the issue of electability and removing President Obama from office at all costs, I seriously encourage you to resist the temptation to believe that those concerns are the most important right now. There seem to be many people who understand that electability should never be the deciding factor in making a vote. Electability isn’t even a problem until it becomes a discussion point. It’s a media tool to push candidates up and down by saying one is electable while another is not. The more electability is discussed, the more realistic its power it becomes. If we ignore it, it could easily cease to be a force in American politics.

    Personally, I fail to see the benefit or honor in removing one person from office when the compromise required to do such a thing translates into electing a minimized for of the same problem. I don’t want a “fix” that only covers symptoms, or one that will only slow the lethality of a disease when a perfectly good cure is available. If I have cancer, and a doctor presents me with a choice between trying slow the cancer by a small factor or trying out an actual cure, I’ll choose the cure every time I’m presented with an opportunity for treatment, even if it’s less likely to work immediately.

    Voting for liberty is like investing in a real cure for something deadly. It may not pay out immediately, but if enough people start investing their efforts, their conversations, and their votes in its cause, it will eventually win out. Voting is not meant to be a short-term investment, but a long term one. If you’re convinced you need to invest in the short term with your votes, I urge you to reconsider. Voting short term against liberty will not ever bring us to liberty. It’s that simple.

    Voting on principle will earn us liberty. Voting on electability will not. “Electability” is a cloaked way of encouraging voters to compromise on their principles in the hope that they might receive a net gain in a new administration’s policies. We all have principles, morals, and values. If compromising your principles doesn’t sit well with the principles you’ve worked so hard to establish and live by, then you shouldn’t vote on electability.

    1. Correction: There seem to be many people who *do not* understand that electability should never be the deciding factor in making a vote.
  24. It’s becoming apparent that Dr. Paul is not a main contender…. We will see what he can do in the west. If he cannot win in Nevada then he and everyone else needs to drop out and support the cause to end Obama’s Presidency…..
    1. Spencer, it might be worthwhile to read this article about how few of the delegates have actually been decided so far.

      “…Only 5.7% of the 2286 possible delegates have been awarded, and the front runner, Romney, is only in the lead by 61 delegates, I can’t see what the rush is to close this thing out so quickly.”

      It seems to me like declaring a winner so early is just another way of discrediting the democratic process, and convincing people that their options are limited, when in fact they aren’t.

      “American Idol takes more time than the GOP to decide who will be the winner.”

  25. I’m grateful that you have written this article! I’m so inarticulate when I tell people why I support Ron Paul. I feel like not only have you said everything I’ve wished to say, but you’ve given more reasons and articulated it better! Thanks! I’m sending the link to this article to everyone I know!
  26. You know, Richard, you were doing fine with your arguments in favor of Ron Paul until you went to the Book of Mormon card with your claim that 3 Ne. 3:20-21 is a “case against pre-emptive war.”

    In reality, as found in the preceding chapter (3 Ne. 2), the Gadianton robbers have been attacking the Nephite people and the Nephites have been both defending themselves and going on the offensive.

    So A) either you do not know your Book of Mormon as well as you think you do, or B) you know this was in fact what is described in a more complete reading of Third Nephi and for some reason you chose to leave out (or twist) the writings of the Book of Mormon for your own purposes.

    So which is it?

    Dave Politis

    1. David, my mentioning 3 Nephi 3 was meant to be an additional consideration for members of our faith, but I don’t believe the article hinges on it by any means. If you choose to interpret the passage another way that’s fine. This wasn’t intended to be a religious article per se, nor did I imply being an expert on the Book of Mormon.

      (Having said that, If you want to get into the weeds on this, I don’t see anything in 3 Nephi 2 about the Nephites attacking the Gadianton robbers in their lands. It says the Nephites drove them out. That implies they were at home. I don’t see any conflict between 2 Nephi 2 and the conclusion I drew about 2 Nephi 3:20-21.)

      If you believe that we learn truth from a variety of sources including religion, science, philosophy, etc. and that someday all truth will be one great whole, I think it’s fair to try to make correlations across disciplines. The truths I see in Ron Paul’s message of liberty, in the Just War theory, in the Golden Rule, and in 3 Nephi 3:20-21 seem to correlate well with each other. Add Hugh Nibley to that list; he also spoke out against pre-emptive war. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbcP1tETASI) I’m open to the idea of that passage being interpreted some other way, but I haven’t (yet) found any other principles or truths that correlate with some alternative interpretation.

  27. Richard, great article! To be honest I was a blind Mitt follower mostly because all my research was on him and not so much on the other candidates. After reading your arguments and doing some more investigation I really like his attitude about how (un)involved the government should be. Having a canidate that looks to mirror the founding fathers and really adhere to the constitution is what’s most important to me.

    Ron Paul says “I’m not running for President because of the things I want to do, I’m running because of the things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to run your life, I don’t want to run the economy, and I don’t want to run the world.”

    Enough said! My only concern, like other people, is that he can’t win. At this point the most important this is to get Barack out of there. For this reason Mitt still might be my choice (not like it matters being a California voter).

    1. Hey thanks, Matt. I loved that line from Ron Paul too. I see your point about electability. I think Romney would be marginally better than Obama, but not drastically better since so many of their policies are similar. So in my mind there’s little risk in voting on principle for the candidate I really want. I actually think Ron Paul’s tougher election is the Primary election. If he were to win that, I think he could appeal to a lot of independent and even liberal voters in a way that Romney can’t. (And yeah you’re right about California. I guess you could send money to the campaign. :))
      1. In the general election California is actually quite red. It is only the major metro areas that force it blue. In any case, the goal now is the get out there in the primaries. So, even if Cali stays blue, your vote does count. Let’s worry about the general election later.
  28. Rich, I believe you were an American heritage TA with me. Your message almost perfectly articulates all I have felt since 2008. Thank you.
    1. Hey Steve, thanks! I actually didn’t TA for American Heritage — in fact, I didn’t take the class; I went the PolSci 110/Econ 110 route. Perhaps we met another way?
  29. Well said, Richard. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope more Republicans (and LDS Republicans) can put principle above personality and vote for Ron Paul.
  30. I liked how you presented your points. The thing the American public needs to realize is that their vote counts. Is a candidate really unelectable if a majority of everyday American citizens votes for them? I don’t really know who I’ll vote for in November, but I do like Paul’s foreign policy and war policy. I began reading this article with skepticism (a healthy attitude in all things political during an election year), especially since the only support of Paul I’ve heard from before this is a little too rabid for my tastes. You presented his policies and views very well. He doesn’t scare me now.
    1. Hey, thanks, Steph. I appreciate hearing that. I agree that in 2008 Ron Paul struck me as radical, but I think there’s a lot of principle in his policies, and I find politics far more satisfying now that I’ve learned these principles.
  31. I am quite pleased and impressed with your article. When I was voting last time in 2008 it was the hardest decision I ever made, in the voting booth, because I felt that voting for either of the parties candidates was a vote for a future that was no different than our recent past. I sat there for almost a full minute wanting to write in Ron Paul’s name but in the end I voted for McCain. I still have much more to learn about Ron Paul before I give him my 110% but I am more honestly excited for him as president than I have ever been for a president.

    I firmly believe that since we have not completely and “officially” abolished the Constitution that we MUST follow it. Also along those lines we MUST undo the damage of unconstitutional bills that have been put in place by people that do not have the People’s best interest.

    Thank you for saying there is a difference between Capitalism and Corporatism. That is something that I fear very few people actually understand.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Joshua. I thought more about electability in 2008 as well. Now it’s not a concern. If one believes, as I do, that most candidates are very different, it doesn’t really matter who wins. (Bush==McCain==Obama). Therefore, I see no risk in voting on principle. We have to change the mindset about this, and continue to vote on principle in every election. I see little to lose and a lot to gain.
      1. I definately see what you mean now Richard. There is NO RISK in voting on principle. Makes sense to me. Thank you for opening my eyes more to the big picture. I will vote on principle!
  32. As a Mormon you can also look at the Anti Nephi Lehites and how there you have Moroni using his Nephite armies to defend Lamanites who had given up warfare against Lamanites i.e. foreigners. He trained and utilized their sons (2000 Stripling Warriors) . (This has paralells with our interventions in Korea and Vietnam though not 100% that is the way of scriptural parallels)

    Japan is a Country that is constitutionally and by treaty limited in its ability to build an army you could say that they have covenanted to not take up arms. that is where we step in as their defenders.

    A strict interpretation of Ron Pauls ideals would say no foreign intervention so the Ron paul of Moroni’s time would have said let the anti nephi Lehites fend for themselves they are not our problem , we can’t risk the blowback from the Nephites.

    1. While I don’t totally agree with the post, I do question the foreign policy of Ron Paul. His position seems to me to be the Nevile Chamberlain of today. What would Ron Paul have done in the 1930’s? Would he have argued that Hitler wasn’t our concern because he hasn’t attacked us? Millions died and perhaps that could have been greatly reduced or even stopped had preemptive action been taken.
      Today, Iran is an even bigger threat than Hitler. Will hundreds of millions die and the world descend into chaos because we can’t take preemptive action? I cannot vote for Ron Paul because of this single issue.
      If you think I’m wrong, can you tell me why?
      1. Dustin Petersen
        Remember that if the US would have stayed out of World war 1, Hitler would have never risen to power and the Holocaust would not have have happened. So Interventionism in European affairs under the lead of Progressive Woodrow Wilson goes against Washington Jefferson and Ron Paul and led to World war 2 which killed more people than any other war in the History of the world.
        1. “if the US had stayed out of WWI, then Hitler would have never come to power” Are you kidding me? It wasn’t the US that demanded the hard sanctions against Germany it was the Europeans, the US Pres voiced his concerns against that Treaty but no one would budge so he signed. While I agree with you about intervention and that the US can take a lot of blame for some problems, we cannot take blame for everything.
      2. If your main concern is lowering the amount of needless deaths then you must realize that since WWII we have not once gone the war with a declaration of war, and we also have not won a single one of those wars, since WWII. I don’t know off the top of my head the death totals in all, but the number is definitely in the millions. It’s not up to one man (using the authority of the UN and NATO) to take our men and our resources and send them off to die in so many AVOIDABLE military conflicts.

        This is why Ron Paul receives up to 5 times more donations from actively duty military personnel than the other remaining candidates put together.

      3. Alan, your premise is mistakenly based on what you hear in the media. Iran is nothing close to the kind of threat Germany posed. And truth be told, Germany wasn’t the threat it was made out to be either. You might want to study the circumstances of Chamberlain’s and Churchill’s day a bit more closely. Remember that history is written by the victors, and not much stock has been placed in anything but the version we have been given by Churchill and FDR. War with Germany and Japan quite possibly could have been averted, even after Hitler’s rise to power (it most certainly could have been averted had the US never entered WWI). There is a long history of our leaders leading us into wars of choice, which afterward are presented as wars of necessity. The same is being done with Iran right now. They are following the game plan laid out by the North Koreans, which involves a lot of bluster and threats designed to shore up political support at home and extract concessions from the UN and US, but contrary to the “wisdom” of the pro-war lobby, they are not lunatics. They know Israel has 300 nuclear weapons ready to go at a moment’s notice. They know we can annihilate them. They do not want what happened in Iraq to happen to them and they have eyes to see how quickly they could be overthrown were they to start a war with the US.

        A vote for those calling for war with Iran is what will make the world a more dangerous place. Ron Paul’s stance is to engage in free trade, the way we did with China. China is much less of a threat today than they would be had we treated them like Iran because our economic interests are so entwined, and China is rapidly moving in the direction of increased individual freedom. If we want to weaken the repressive government in Iran and increase prosperity and freedom for the people of that country we should engage in a policy of peace and free trade. Don’t be brainwashed by the pro-war lobby. Their way leads to death, destruction, poverty, and misery.

      4. I definitely can appreciate this concern and agree with other comments that Iran is nowhere near the threat that Hitler is.

        We entered WWII only after Germany declared war on us. Clearly we declared war on Japan once they attacked us, but subsequently, Germany declared war on us on Dec 11. So we did not necessarily enter to stop the bloodshed elsewhere.

        Nonetheless, even if we had entered to stop the bloodshed and save millions of lives, there are countless examples in history where we’ve done nothing while millions die: Mao killed millions in China, Stalin killed millions in Russia, Pol Pot in Cambodia (which our bombing of Cambodia helped to facilitate), Sudan, Rwanda, etc. and the list goes on. We stood by and did nothing in all of these cases.

        So if our foreign policy is to protect other nations (which the Constitution doesn’t allow–it provides for a “national defense” not a “global defense”), at what point do we intervene? When 10 people die? 100? 1,000? 10,000?

        Is it only in countries that are of “strategic” interest to the US?

  33. Richard–this is an excellent post. Thank you for the concrete examples and sharing the ways that the two major parties are essentially identical. I’m in much the same boat–I thought Romney was the man for the last election, but I’m totally a Ron Paul supporter now.

    Shaun–nearly all of the candidates for both parties are the same–they vote and act the same way. When Mitt says he wouldn’t abuse the NDAA that Obama signed, it makes one realize that they are the same. If Ron Paul loses, it doesn’t matter who the other candidates are.

  34. Absolutely well said. And to answer the comment, I am completely DONE with voting for the lesser of two evils. I will vote FOR a person I believe offers the best – no matter what the polls say. If we all did that, our world would be forever changes. Ron Paul actually reads and lives the Constitution. That is what I’m looking for in a president. Thanks for this great explanation.
  35. This is amazingly similar to my experience since ’08, but Richard, you have done a much better job in expressing yourself than I have. I hope this post gets passed around to as many Latter-day Saints as possible, not to mention others.

    Shaun, I understand the desire to see anybody but Obama in office. The guy has done and continues to do horrible things. I agree that Romney would be better. But voting for the lesser of two evils is a trap, and the only escape is to vote on principle, even if the guy you support can’t win, and even if it means that the greater of the two evils wins. Imagine that there is some guy behind the scenes who wants to destroy the United States and turn it into a totalitarian state. It could be George Soros, Satan, the Sham Wow guy, or whoever you want to imagine. This guy wants to destroy the country, but he can’t do it unless he can convince/trick voters into going along with his diabolical plan. So he sets up two political parties, and he makes one of them bad, and the other one just slightly less bad. Every election cycle he makes the bad party worse, and the less-bad party worse by the same degree. And every election cycle the less-bad party wins, because people say “Well, I don’t like either party, but at least this one is less bad than the other.” But who is really winning? The guy who wants to destroy the country, of course, because it doesn’t really matter which party wins if they’re both moving in a direction that makes things worse.

    Now, imagine you discover what is going on. How do you fight this? You find a guy who will actually make things better, and you get him to run. But your enemy talks to his friends in the media and they spread the message that your guy is unelectable. You see, if people find out that they have an option that isn’t just less bad, but good, your enemy’s plan is finished. So he has to convince you that the less-bad guy is the only option you can consider because there is no way the good guy can get elected.

    You say “But even if I know this is going on, what if the good guy really isn’t electable? Shouldn’t I still vote for the less-bad guy to make sure the really bad guy doesn’t get elected?” You could, but that’s a short-term view. We know that following that path means the enemy wins. But look beyond the current election cycle. Maybe the good guy can’t win now, but what about 10 or 20 years down the road? How can we make sure a good guy wins someday, rather than never? You vote on principle. What happens when you vote on principle? At first, the enemy doesn’t worry. But then a problem happens, the less-bad guy starts to lose votes to the good guy, and the less-bad guy runs the risk of not winning. In order to win, he has to start saying the same things as the good guy, even if he doesn’t believe them. As he starts saying the same things, people start liking what is being said, because it’s good stuff. They tell their friends. More people start voting for the good guy. This compounds the problems of the less-bad guy. He has to start talking even more about the good stuff, but this just causes him to lose more votes to the truly good guy. The enemy realizes he’s in a bind, and that if the less-bad guy starts losing, it will no longer be a choice between the bad guy and the less-bad guy, but a choice between bad and good. So the enemy decides to start having his bad guy start paying lip-service to some of the good stuff. If the enemy doesn’t do this, he loses everything, and fast. But this is still a losing battle for the enemy. Eventually, more and more people become aware and educated about the good stuff, until they are no longer willing to put up with the bad or less-bad, and they elect the good guy.

    This is happening as we speak. Ron Paul was laughed at in 2008. He hardly got any votes anywhere. The other nominees completely disregarded him. This time there aren’t as many people laughing at him. His support in the early states has doubled and tripled from four years ago. The other candidates are polite, even deferential to him. Many of them have started saying the same things he has been saying for 30 years. And it’s snowballing, because the more people learn about him, the more people like him, and the more the message Paul is pushing spreads. Paul may not win the nomination, but it’s not about the man, it’s about the message, and the message is winning. We may not get the good guy this time around, but if we always vote for the lesser of two evils, we will never get a good guy. If we vote for the good guy, it will put fear into the less-bad and bad guys, and even though in the short-term this might mean the bad guy wins, this only speeds up the arrival of the day when the good guy wins, and the Sham Wow guy retreats in shameful defeat, his plan completely foiled.

    1. Really interesting way to put this, Joshua. Thanks. I agree about voting on principle. I thought about electability a lot more in 2008 than I do now. I think I used the whole “he’s not electable” line with my friends who supported Ron Paul then. But that was back when I saw the two parties as very different. As I’ve come to see the two parties as very similar, my mind changed. Now, I don’t see much risk in voting for someone who’s more principled/less electable over someone who’s more electable/less principled because if the latter person wins, it won’t make much difference overall anyway.
  36. Thank you so much for wrting this and putting this together. This will truly help to open up the eyes of countless people to wake up and have true Liberty and Freedom burn in their hearts. A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for the Constitution and for Liberty!!!! Thank you. Liberty! Liberty! Liberty! -Tim McGaffin

    And here is a comment I copied and pasted below:

    “Seems I’ve heard this speech before, about 100 times by now; and funny, each time it’s like hearing it for the first time. I want to hear it everyday, in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. Liberty, Liberty, Liberty! I feel so lucky be alive at such a this! I grew up hearing that generations before us fought and died for us to have our freedoms, well now, we get to fight and die for future generations to enjoy freedom. Keep up the fight!” -Jevans1, inspired comment posted on RonPaulFlix.com

  37. Yasser F. Sanchez
    I respect your clear position as to why you are supporting Ron Paul. This is the first time I see someone outline out why, or how they could support Congressman Paul.
    I respect Congressman Paul. I think he is good for the conservative movement in America.
  38. richard, this was a fantastic post and well articulated. i am a big fan of ron paul except when it comes to some foreign policy issues, but i will not be voting for him in the primaries for a couple reasons and they all have to do with he fact that i’m a realist.

    the first is that we have a winner-take-all voting system that has the effect of splitting votes between your most desirable candidates, thus favoring your least desirable candidates. evangelicals find themselves splitting between santorum and gingrich (and who knows why) and fiscal conservatives find themselves split between paul and romney. since paul is not the realistic front runner, i will be sticking to my guns with romney. i would be more in favor of an alternative voting system and thus more likely to throw my support behind paul. the following videos are quirky examples that illustrate the flaws and advantages of both.

    my second issue is that i do not believe ron paul is electable in a general election (or even a primary, really) despite what the polls are saying now. i know they show romney and paul at a statistical tie against obama, but paul is not a front runner and is subsequently enjoying the luxury of not having anyone campaign against him while romney is enduring the blunt of it. i think paul’s views, while i understand and agree with most of them, are easily used against him to appear extreme to an uninformed electorate (which, let’s face it, is what we’re dealing with). essentially, if paul were to win the general election, obama would unleash on him and you could bet his statistical advantage would crumble the second people realize he “hates teachers” and “wants crack and heroine sold in convenience stores,” which of course would be twisted truths used by obama to distort paul’s image. romney and his policies are much more adept to successfully defending themselves against the fickleness of the american public.

    all that said, i hope i’m wrong. were paul to win the primary, which i find unlkely, i would be enthusiastic about the prospect, but pessimistic about the reality.

    1. Nephi,

      You are basically saying it is better to vote for popularity than it is to vote for principle. This is faulty argument.

      It is better to vote for principle than it is to vote for popularity. Integrity matters.

      And the foreign policies of Ron Paul are the same foreign policies of the founding fathers. If George Washington were running for president today, Washington would be saying the same exact things as Ron Paul.

      Vote for the Constitution.


    2. to Nephi:
      Let me ask you a question. Do you vote based on principle or just the better of the two most likely to win (based on what the mainstream media says)? I have heard the argument you articulated well for several years and I have come to the conclusion that a vote for the “lesser of 2 evils” is still a vote for evil. I choose to vote based on my conscience, on what I believe are true and moral principles. I vote for the candidate that best supports and defends the principles of freedom and the inspired Constitution of the United States of America, not just whoever is can beat the worse option (aka Obama).
    3. Hey Nephi, thanks for your comment. I actually just read about the alternative voting system a little while ago and it seems really interesting and useful. In our current system, I don’t think this election is as bleak as it seems. I don’t see Santorum and Gingrich going the distance. So, those delegates will pledge to someone else. It’s not clear to me that Romney would get those extra votes. Some of those are Southern voters that will identify more with Paul than with Romney.

      In the general election it would certainly take some real education, and hopefully debates that allow for substantial conversation, but I think there are areas in which Ron Paul out-Obama’s Obama — the “liberal” issues I mentioned in the post. In some ways he’s more credible than Obama on a lot of issues Obama’s supporters favored, so in that way he can speak to a segment of the population that Romney can’t.

      The fact that Romney and his policies are “much more adept to successfully defending themselves against the fickleness of the american public” speaks fairly well to his policies not really being very different from what we’ve always had. I think Romney would be incrementally better than Obama, and he’s certainly more experienced as an executive, but I don’t they’d be remarkably different. I guess that what makes it so easy for me to vote for someone on principle, instead of someone who supposedly is more electable — if the latter guy wins, it won’t make much difference anyway.

    4. “let’s face it, is what we’re dealing with” … we are dealing with people like you. get with the program dude. america won’t last much longer.
    5. Everyone concerned about this should look up Condorcet voting, and start explaining the idea to other people. Critically, whenever possible, introduce Condorcet voting into your local organizations so that more people will be familiar with it and understand the huge advantage it would give us.

      Many, many, many people have voted at one point for “the lesser of two evils” when they really wanted to vote for someone else, so many people have the experience of disenfranchisement by the winner take all system. But very few people know that there is a viable alternative.

      (Note–the link in this comment is about Instant Runoff Voting, which is inferior to Condorcet. In IRV your vote can end up going to your 4th place choice if your 2nd or 3rd are not strong enough. Condorcet basically runs everyone against everyone else simultaneously and picks the winner based on everyone’s opinion of all the candidates–IRV still has spoiler-type effects, just not as pronounced.)

    6. It sounds like what you’re really saying is: If Jesus were high enough in the polls, I would have voted for him, but because he wasn’t, I did not!
  39. Richard –
    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this (who hasn’t) and I agree with you on most of your points about Ron Paul. I really believe that what he’s saying is correct. I believe that he will stick to his guns and strive for the changes he proposes. From everything I’ve read or seen he is a man of principle and doesn’t back down from things he believes in. I really admire that, especially in politics.
    My biggest concern is that I am concerned he can’t win… I hate when it comes down to “the best of the worst” type scenarios (like ’08) and would love to vote for him but I always have a sinking sensation that the the one I REALLY don’t like will win…
    1. I agree, my friend. We have all been faced with a lesser of 2 evils scenario but please consider the following: Ron Paul is really the only one who can beat Obama. The other 3 are just the same menu choices that Americans rejected in our last election. Ron Paul stands out from the pack. This is his 3rd run for the presidency and his following has gotten progressively stronger. In fact, it has developed into a powerful movement. I believe it is not so much the man but what he stands for that appeals to the people. The American people are beginning to get it. We should support and defend correct principles and sound policy regardless of who espouses them. It just so happens that Ron Paul represents those ideals. Instead of waiting for the lesser of 2 evils to float to the top of the cesspool we should jump in and lend aid to those who promote the ideals that will save our country and give it all we’ve got without reserve.
    2. Well, as my dad has said: “If I can’t have the best, then give me the worst.” If Paul does not win, and the worst of them is elected, this will only speen up the awakening of the People even more!
  40. Richard, phenomenal job. This is a great analysis of what our government’s role should be and what principles and policies best support that role. For those who believe the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution spell out government’s proper, specifically to protect life, liberty, and property, a quick look at both major parties shows that both are deficient at protecting all three of these ideals with equal gusto.

    For example, one ideology (liberalism) places particular liberties, such as civil liberties, high above economic liberties, so they feel justified in infringing economic liberties by promoting policies such as progressive taxes or increased eminent domain powers, all to promote the causes they feel are “moral.” This disregards government’s role to protect property. Both economic and civil liberties can be rigorously defended without trampling on the other.

    On the other hand, the other ideology (conservatism), frequently fights to strengthen the police powers of the state and the federal government (see the Patriot Act), thinking they’re protecting the “life” prong of “life, liberty, and property,” but to the great detriment of the “liberty” prong. Each side chooses what’s important to it and then defends those ideals, often to the detriment of other freedoms, which, in my opinion, results in an overall net loss of liberty.

    I recognize that the three prongs can often conflict, but I think the principles Paul promotes, if adhered to, would do the best job of keeping government focused on protecting our three core freedoms.

    1. Great thoughts, Jared. I like that approach of looking at how each party might protect a different prong of “life, liberty, and property.” I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

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