Tomorrow, a part of this great country will do their part to determine who will represent the republicans in this year’s presidential election. It is a state whose decision could change the course of history; A state with its finger on the pulse of a nation (notice the racial demographics); A state whose very name is synonymous with American political ideals…. Iowa. These Iowa Caucuses will go a long way in determining who will have the opportunity to lose to Barack Obama this November.
The polls show Ron Paul about 3 percentage points behind Mitt Romney, which means that Ron Paul is going to win the Iowa Caucuses, because people are not crazy about Mitt Romney. And because people who like Ron Paul are crazy. Not “crazy” as in insane–not all of them, at least–“crazy” as in a “People who like Ron Paul REALLY freaking like Ron Paul” sort of way. And every single one of them will cast their ballot for Ron Paul. As will the four people they brought with them who each have loved ones (of non-voting age, obviously) that are bound and gagged in a crawl space somewhere. Next to shelves and shelves of canned goods, venison jerky, and bottled water. That are next to multiple laminated copies of the Constitution which are stylishly displayed above a fireproof gun cabinet.
I like Ron Paul. I like his stance on some issues (legalizing marijuana, for example…. but that’s for another blog post). I like his consistency–even about the issues with which he’s consistently misguided. And I get the draw: It’s fun to talk about liberty versus tyranny with every stinking issue. “What, you’re not a fan of liberty?!?! Why don’t you just go back to England, King George!!!!” Also, it’s easy to be a libertarian: Government is bad–we get it. Problems with the economy? Too much government. Problems with terrorism? We need less government. The Earth is getting too hot? Smaller government. Having trouble finding matches for your socks? Big government’s fault–the free market will figure it out.
As for the hubbub over the “racist newsletters,” I don’t think Ron Paul is racist. I think he believes (like every politician does) that when it comes to his own ideology, the ends justify the means. Back in the days before The Tea Party (after the actual Tea Party) and before Glenn Beck was rallying to restore honor, being a libertarian wasn’t nearly as chic. When those newsletters went out, people who would listen to fringe ideas like the ones Ron Paul was peddling were the sort of people who already believed that the government created AIDS to kill the aliens that God sent to live inside of gay people–The kind of people Agent Mulder occasionally got his info from. Anyway, back then he was selling his ideas to anyone who would listen. Now, after a war that has been waged against anyone who hates us (that has gone on three years longer than World War II), ridiculous national debt, and the financial crisis, libertarianism is borderline mainstream.
Now the people whom he needs to listen to him are Christian Conservatives. And how does one do that? That’s right…. Start talking about abortion (Like he does here). The thing is, for the US Libertarian Party, their official stance on abortion is this: “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.” Ron Paul gets around this by saying that he is personally against abortion, but is not in favor of a federal law making abortion illegal–that it should be up to the individual states. I don’t get this split. So it is okay for a smaller state to take away a person’s liberty, but it isn’t okay for a nation-state to do it? Does this make sense?
The thing about Ron Paul’s world view that I find the most misguided is how selfish it feels. I find it compelling how so many people who reject any ideas of evolution seem to end up embracing a sort of every-man-for-himself, survival of the fittest, social Darwinism when it comes to the topic of a society’s role in taking care of each other. Here is a quote by Elizabeth Warren:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody…. You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
And really, there are A LOT of people out there who need help. And yeah, I know there are also a lot of people out there who take advantage, but there are many people who actually need the help of the state to survive–through no fault of their own. When asked what should happen to a 30 year old man with a good job who doesn’t have health insurance and has an accident and goes into a coma, Ron Paul says, “That’s what freedom is all about–taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody…” (he trailed off during the applause, but he shook his head as if the thought taking care of each other was nonsense. You can see the video here. You may have already seen it–It’s the one where people cheer the idea of letting the man die). I think Ron Paul’s response to this question was a direct quote from the Bible. And it wasn’t where Cain was told that he was NOT, in fact, his brother’s keeper–I think these words were written in red.
Ron Paul’s actual response to the “let him die” question was to say that this is the responsibility of the church–much like the response of many of my churchgoing friends (who are relatively new fans of Ron Paul) would be to my above sarcasm. And I completely agree: Taking care of people in need, caring for the sick, helping the poor, setting the prisoner free–This sort of thing should be the Church’s job. That’s if the Church looked anything like what Jesus had in mind. Because if those people’s needs are left to be filled by the church as it is right now in America, I’ve got news for you: Those people are completely. Screwed. The church is way too concerned with electing Christians, keeping their assault rifles, and passing laws to make sin illegal to worry about you and your hospital bills.
So to those of you who are hoping for some sort of Christian Libertarian revolution, my advice would be to wait until Church actually starts looking like Jesus. Until then, I don’t think God cares if the hungry kid is getting fed by a church food drive or by government-issued food stamps–He just wants the kid fed. My other advice to you would be to not ask Ron Paul any questions about Israel…. You probably won’t like the answers.