OPINION


08-01-2007 

Mike Renzulli
Should Libertarians support Ron Paul?  
 

By Mike Renzulli

This is a question I thought I would bring to light in lieu of some Libertarians deciding to back Ron Paul for President.

It is clear that Ron Paul has a wide appeal among Libertarians and has raised large amounts of money for President. Perhaps much more than his running for Congress.

While I think some of Paul's stances are notable (like his opposition to the Iraq war and other U.S. military adventures), as a Libertarian, I would have a very hard time backing him for a number of reasons:

Abortion - Ron Paul has repeatedly voted in favor of restrictions on a woman's freedom to choose with her doctor to have an abortion. Unfortunately, he is not of the mindset of opposing abortion personally but refusing to use government to interfere in a woman's ability to choose to have one.

For example, according to an article at the Free Liberal website, during the 2005 congressional session, Rep. Paul introduced H.R. 776, entitled the "Sanctity of Life Act of 2005." The article goes on to say: “Had it passed, H.R. 776 would have recognized the personhood of all unborn babies by declaring, "human life shall be deemed to exist from conception."

The bill also recognized the authority of each State to protect the lives of unborn children. In addition, H.R. 776 would have removed abortion from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, thereby nullifying the Roe v Wade decision, and the only positive feature of the bill is that H.R. 776 would have denied funding for abortion providers.

In plain language, H.R. 776 would have ended abortion on demand. It is also interesting to note that none of the religionist's pet politicians, including George W. Bush, even bothered to support Paul's bill. Back in 2005 The Free Liberal (which is a left-libertarian online publication) highlighted Paul's support of immigration restrictions. See the article here: http://www.freeliberal.com/archives/001746.html.

I can only conclude that his opposition to abortion is not only philosophical, but also grounded in his trade. Its a well-known fact that Rep. Paul is an OB/GYN by trade and, from my vantage point, it would seem to me that Paul is using the force of government to maintain his employment in delivering babies.

Immigration - Rep. Paul has also routinely voted in favor of immigration restrictions. In lieu of his claiming to be a "libertarian" one would think that Paul would not be in favor of government interference in labor markets. However, his voting record indicates exactly the opposite.

Don't get me wrong; I think screening immigrants for criminal histories and contagious diseases prior to allowing them entry is a proper function of government to prevent the initiation of force. However, a commentary by Free Liberal editor Paul Gessing came to my attention on an e-mail list I belong to that was published at The Free Liberal website December 25th 2006.

Ron Paul casted a vote in favor of a bill to further restrict the number of immigrants wanting to migrate to the U.S., increased the number of border inspectors and new requirements on employers to screen employees via Social Security number verification.

For all of his good points, Paul does himself and the libertarian movement a disservice for kow-towing to the anti-immigration faction of the libertarian and conservative movements. Especially for his support of a number of measures backed by social conservatives.

One other issue that comes to mind is I believe Paul supports allowing states to allow prayer in public schools.


Furthermore, according to ontheissues.org, Paul has also voted to keep the pledge of allegiance, ban gay adoptions in the District of Columbia, keep the Cuba travel ban until political prisoners in that country are released, vouchers for private education (except for DC schools) and he supports a constitutional amendment for school prayer.


At one web blog Paul is quoted as saying:

The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.

While one could argue that states should be able to call their own shots with how their schools are run. However, such a policy would be a clear violation of the First Amendment.


Prior to becoming an atheist, I distinctly remember reading a commentary in a religious-oriented newspaper by an Episcopal priest who, as a kid grew up in Alabama when prayer was recited in public schools. One student who was Jewish in the priest's class refused to pray and was summarily rapped on his knuckles with a wooden ruler by his class teacher each time the Jewish child would not pray since the school prayed in Christian prayers. Tears streamed down the Jewish child's face due to the humiliation and pain of his punishment in front of his classmates.

 
I do not think we would want to have situations like this come up again.

This is a long list of un-principled votes Paul has cast and, while I realize this maybe nit picking, based on these elements of Ron Paul's voting record, he is not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination.

While I respect every Libertarian's decision in whom they will back for President, Libertarians should disassociate themselves not only from Paul, but from 'the right' in general and should only back candidates and elected officials that are truly dedicated to consistently and honestly upholding the rights of the individual and not those, like Paul, who pick and choose.